FIVE MINUTES WITH … Michael Opie, Panasonic Product Manager, Home Appliances.

What are the biggest trends in home appliances right now?

Colours, technology and eco. Colour is strong in both small and major appliance ranges from kettles to fridges in vibrant brights and metallic red and purple.
Technology is a way for brands to differentiate themselves from competitors and provide that a point of difference and extra value for customers. And, consumers are increasingly becoming more aware of the environment and products that offer ‘Eco’ credentials, which Panasonic, as a brand, continues to develop with our leading edge technology.

What are homeowners looking for today when it comes to selecting home appliances?

Cost efficiency, design and products with additional uses. Maior appliances including fridges, washing machines and dryers with energy and/or water ratings. That way they can judge the operating costs. And gone are the days when a toaster or washing machine is just a white box. There is a lot of design being built into the products to make them more modern and stylish.

And products with multiple uses. Panasonic sell microwaves that you can use as an oven as well. We have a multi cooker where you can bake a cake in it and a dryer that can dry multiple different clothing types.

The new Panasonic NH-P70 heat pump dryer has a 6 star energy performance rating. What qualifies it for that rating?

The Panasonic NH-P0 is designed to maximise energy and water efficiency. It qualifies for the 6 star energy rating based on the heat pump technology used to generate the heat. Through combining this with a sealed system drying loop the heat pump in the NHP70 manages to generate more energy or heat than what is employed for its operation. This can show energy and power savings of up to 40 per cent when comparing against traditional vented dryers.

Is it true that Panasonic only entered the laundry category in New Zealand in 2010?

Yes, but globally we have been making washing machines since 1951 and last year produced our 100th millionth machine. So it’s not new, just new here.

What do you consider is the most interesting aspect to your role as product manager in home appliances?

I really enjoy seeing how new technologies are being developed and applied to products within my categories. For example, there is a multi cooker coming out that can be controlled by your phone. It’s something that Panasonic is working on globally. And new technology in the dryers. Next year will see the release of a heat pump dryer with a steam function which removes a lot of the bacteria, so it’s good for allergy sufferers, and it also removes the creases from your shirts so you won’t need to iron them.

Click here to read more about Panasonic’s new heat pump dryer including a radio interview with NZ Divional Manager, Anthony Whiteman

Trevi fountain gets fashionable Fendi facelift

The fountain, made famous in the 1960’s Felinni film La Dolce Vita, will receive the most thorough restoration since its completion in 1762, and Italian luxury fashion house Fendi will be picking up the 2.2 million euro tab for the repairs.

“I think its a great idea and a great project. This fountain is a symbol of the Rome like the Colosseum and St Peter’s and I am happy that we can all help,” said Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi’s artistic director.

The Rome-based label is one of the latest brands committed to the restoration of the city’s cultural heritage sites. Luxury shoemaker and leather goods company Tod’s is currently sponsoring the restoration of the Colosseum.

The city’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno has commended the support from private businesses during the country’s tough economic times, likening companies like Fendi to the Medici families of Tuscany, which funded culture and the arts during the Renaissance period.

“This is not to shirk our duties over to the private sector but the state needs a new patronage to help Italian culture,” Mayor Alemanno said, labelling Fendi as one of the city’s ‘new partons’ of culture and the arts.

The privately funded restoration will take place over a 20-month period and will include the fountain’s famous Roman façade depicting Tritons guiding the shell chariot of the god Oceanus.

Regarded as the most thorough cleaning in the fountains 251-year history, the project will see calcium deposits removed, statues cleaned, steel posts reinforced, leaks fixed, the basin waterproofed, new pumps and electrical works installed, and a barrier added to keep pigeons at bay.

But Rome’s tourists needn’t be dismayed; only a third of the fountain will be covered by scaffolding at any time, leaving two thirds free for visitors to throw the customary coin – a tradition said to ensure they one day return to the city again.

“Throwing a coin into the fountain is a rite and a right,” says Umberto Broccoli, superintendent for Rome’s cultural heritage.

“There is no tourist in the world who does not dream of standing before the Trevi Fountain at least once in their life,” Rome’s mayor added.

More than a million euros are thrown into the Roman fountain basin each year, and all the money is collected and dispersed to the city’s various charities.

The Trevi Fountain is one of a handful being restored by the fashion house as part of its  ‘Fendi for Fountains’ initiative.