More and more people are demanding that the basic appliances and functional components of a building also be aesthetically pleasing. From designer washing machines to high style cooking equipment, the functional aspects of a space are no longer things to be hidden away. Instead, these machines have become central parts of the overall design scheme.

201509081352317449The realization that technology can also be artistic, has inspired a whole generation of object redesign and the latest machine that you won’t want to hide in a utility closet is an air conditioner released by Haier Group. The unit was presented to the public for the first time at the German IFA show held on September 4.

Haier had already made a name for itself at the World Expo in March when they first presented their reconceptualization of the air conditioner, a unit for which even the LCD display was 3D printed. In this latest production, they have refined the appearance to an even greater degree and are causing quite a stir in the 3D printing community because of the extent to which 3D printing was used in its creation. Rather than only being used for the creation of the surface elements, even the board controlling the machine has been 3D printed.

Turning to the natural world for inspiration, the designers of the unit, titled Guiji, found a concept in the scales of fish. The surface of the air conditioner is covered with hexagonal ‘scales’ that open when the unit is turned on and close again when it is off. A sophisticated operating mechanism allows these panels to be open to differing degrees depending on the settings chosen by the user for strength and direction of the air flow.

201509081353278504As the scales open, they create a pattern between the light colored exterior material and the darkness of the covered interior. It’s motion gives the impression of a living, breathing creature and adds a pearlescent elegance that would be a shame to hide. That’s quite an improvement over standard air conditioning units which, when incorporated into an interior, give an industrial aesthetic. With this, it is no longer necessary to have the traditional high tech look and yet a space can remain true to the ideal that beauty is derived from function.

201509081353002646As appliances become more integrated into the general operation of the household through the introduction and continued development of smart technologies, it should come as no surprise that they are coming out of the closets and into the open. These appliances are no small add on that must be purchased just to get to the service, but are an integral part of the enjoyment of and interaction with the space itself. They are very nearly members of the family; connected to the internet, delivering timely notifications, syncing with other appliances, and responding to variations in conditions.

For this latest member of their appliance family, Haier has received an overwhelmingly positive response to this product and it has convinced them of the value of continuing to pursue this approach both for air conditioning and for other home appliances.

Let us know what you think of this latest design in the Haier 3D Printed AC forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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