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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Charles Jones

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

With regard to our most innovative and significant work, I will break this down into 3 key areas: brand design strategies and processes, design exploration and innovative products.

In terms of brand design strategies, Whirlpool Global Consumer Design has embraced a process we term 'Visual Brand Language' (hereafter referred to as VBL) as our framework to link together visual brand equity, multi cultural consumer requirements and innovation deployment cycle time reduction. VBL leverages brand to create brand appropriate, unified user experiences (i.e., look and feel) for future generations of products. We observed that the white goods market was dominated by a 'sea of sameness' where most competitors were competing on the mature playing field of features and price. The focus of VBL is to differentiate itself from the competition (and our own sub brands) by leverging the power of the brand itself to develop distinct and appropriate visual 'personalities' for each of our 28 global brands. In the past, independent Whirlpool product teams started from scratch with regard to what a product should 'look like' with every new project, a practice that was costly, wasteful, inefficient and eroded any kind of visual equity for the brand - everything was 'one off'. The result was a tangle of schizophrenic product lines that missed the opportunity to build brand equity through coherent appearance and operation. By being proactive about design development, VBL can help create distinct design languages for each of it's brands that reduce manufacturing cost, shorten product development cycle time, build brand equity and improve the company's bottom line. Rooted in the core values of the brand, VBL delivers a toolkit of fundamental principles and signature elements that can be used from product to product over a long term period. Think of the VBL process as a pyramid with the brand's core values (brand position) at the base, the visual position at the next level, high level design principles and the third level and signature elements at the top. Each level of the pyramid transforms the essence of each Whirlpool Corporation brand into unique, scalable visual languages. The result of this process has been the emergence of Whirlpool as a design leader within the past three years, impacting a durable goods manufacturer creating over 45 million products a year on a global basis.

Another example of linking design and innovation (and the above mentioned VBL process)is our Access global front washer platform (sold as Duet in the U.S. and Dreamspace in Europe) which led to a solution that has taken Whirlpool from 0% share of the North American front loading washer market to over 40% in two years! Duet is a breakthrough in terms of design, human factors (ease of use) energy efficiency, low water consumption and linking all of these factors into a design that reinforces the brand. Duet and Dreamspace have lifted the average price of a wsher from $499 to $1299 and two years later, Whirlpool still cannot build enough units to meet demand!

Other examples of design innovation are the Polera cooking product which features a cooking cavity that can be refrigerated. We discovered by utilizing ethnographic observational techniques that consumers increasingly are time pressed and therefore looking for ways to become more productive. The genius behind Polera is that the cooking cavity is refrigerated so the consumer can place a frozen, prepared meal in the cavity in the morning and, later in the day activated by either by cell phone or time) thecooking activity can switch 'on' and begin the cooking process. By dinner time a 'ready to go' meal is hot and ready to consume!

Other examples of Whirlpool design innovation: the PLA (Personal Lifestyle Appliances) developed in conjunction with Best Buy, a design and innovation oriented brand aimed at addressing the unique needs of Gen Y technology enthusiast. Whirlpool designers have led the research, development, product packaging, website development, purchase experience and advertising of this brand. Products include a modular, adaptable refrigerator and microwave clothes dryer that can dry a pair of wet jeans in 60 seconds! Our design exploration studies of Macrowave (based on 'macro' consumer trands and 'microwave' technology) was selected to be exhibited at the Louvre in Paris, Project 'F' a study in the future of ecology and fabric care, which received over 12 citations from various European design organizations and In.Kitchen a study of the future of the built-in kitchen are all examples of Whirlpool's commitment to the future.

Brief Biography

Charles L. Jones is the Vice President of Global Consumer Design at Whirlpool Corporation, and oversees a global staff of industrial designers, mechanical engineers, anthropologists, interaction designers, design strategists and human factors engineers. He was recruited to Whirlpool from Xerox Corporation in 1995, and initiated his career at Whirlpool as a leader in the Advanced Product Concepts group before being promoted to his current role.

He attended Purdue University and graduated Magna cum Laude in Industrial Design and Human Factors Engineering in 1981. Mr. Jones was the first student to graduate from Purdue with such a background. Additionally Mr. Jones successfully completed a non-degree MBA program while at Xerox Corporation. Mr. Jones has been an active member of the Industrial Designers Society of America and the Human Factors Society since a student at Purdue in 1979.

Mr. Jones had been selected to chair the 2002 Businessweek Design Excellence Awards, recognizing his leadership in the field of product design. Mr. Jones is the author of numerous academic publications surrounding the field of cognitive psychology and human engineering. Examples of some of his publications include: Decision Making in Intersection Entry Accidents, Linthicum, MD, Motorcycle Safety Foundation, 1980, Crowding in Elevators; Duration of Post Exposure Effects; the proceedings of the Enviromental Design Association #10, Buffalo, NY, 1978 and The Interface between Industrial Design and Human Factors Engineering, the third national symposium on human factors and industrial design in consumer products, Columbus, OH, 1982. Mr. Jones was a guest speaker at Ohio State University, 1984, Cornell University, 1994-95, Industrial Designers Society of America national symposium, 1995, University of Rochester School of Business Administration and School of Engineering, 1984, 1985. In 1999 he was named to chair the Businessweek/IDSA Designs of the Decade competition which recognized the most impactful designs for the '90's based on design and business success. He has created an exclusive annual roundtable of corporate product development leaders to exchange information and ideas about product development management, with executives from BMW, Nokia, Nike, Bose, Bombardier and Microsoft participating. Mr. Jones was appointed to the Academy of Fellows by the Industrial Design Society of America in 2001, their highest form of professional recognition.

Mr. Jones has been the subject of over 90 magazine and syndicated newspaper articles in Businessweek, International Design Magazine, Design Magazine and Habitat Ufficio Magazine as well as interviewed for numerous books related to design and business. In addition, he contributed to the editing of the recently released Creating Breakthrough products by authors Cagan and Vogel published in 2001. Mr. Jones has received over 10 international awards for product design excellence and has been awarded numerous patents, including 10 patent filings in 2001.

While under his leadership, Whirlpool has received such design and product development accolades as the Compasso d' Oro and was invited to exhibit concept designs at the Trienalle in Milan and the Louvre in Paris. The Macrowave concept work, subject of the Louvre exhibition, has been published in such international design publications as Domus, Abitare, Interni and Frame. In addition, newspapers such as La Liberation and Le Monde in France and the new York Times and Wall Street Journal in the United States have highlighted the work of the Whirlpool global design team. In 2002, Whirlpool Corporation received the National Design Award in recognition of the leadership position the company has attained in the field of product design. In 2003, Whirlpool has been recognized with three Business Week Magazine Industrial Design Excellence Awards for design leadership and connecting it to business leadership.

Mr. Jones is internationally recognized as a key leader in effectively managing multi-disciplinary product creation organizations as well as establishing and leading cross-cultural product development functions. He is viewed as a thought leader in the area of brand development, especially in the linking of brand strategies and deep consumer insights to the product development process.