With a heritage spanning over 84 years, Fisher & Paykel is a household name in New Zealand kitchens and laundries. Their premium, Kiwi-designed appliances have earned respect worldwide. Building on that history to craft an exciting future is in the DNA of the company’s Dunedin design centre.
Fisher & Paykel’s chief designer for built-in cooking and companion products is Adam Moody, who has been with the company for 11 years. Adam’s fascination with design and manufacturing goes back to time spent with his dad Julian – an engineering veteran at Fisher & Paykel for 30 years.
“We spent quite a lot of time out in the garage,” Adam explains. “We did all sorts of things, like building model boats with little motors. Then later, it was real boats and restoring motorbikes. Dad built our house over my childhood. When I was young we moved into a small house. By the
time we moved out, Dad said one section of floorboards was the only part of the old house left.”
By high school Adam knew he wanted to be an industrial designer. “I wanted to travel first. I was a ski and snowboarding instructor for four years, just out of Seattle.”
It was there he met his wife, Andrea. The couple now have two children – seven-year-old Owen and Emerson, who’s just turned four.
They returned to Dunedin and Adam attended Otago Polytechnic, graduating in 2007 with a Bachelor of Design (Product). In his last year of study he organised work experience at Fisher & Paykel. Then, just a few months after he graduated, he joined the company.
Adam is now a chief designer within the Dunedin design centre, which is responsible for the design and development of the company’s outstanding range of outdoor grills, built-in ovens, induction and gas cooktops, freestanding ranges and dishwashers – including the famous DishDrawer™ Dishwasher.
Made for the future
Fisher & Paykel’s Dunedin design centre employs about 180 staff – mostly tertiary-qualified engineers, designers and scientists.
“I’ve worked across most of our cooking, dishwashing and outdoor platforms over the years,” says Adam. “New projects include the companion cooking products recently released in New Zealand. They are a modular set of companion products that can be installed in different configurations to suit a wide range of different design situations and cooking preferences – coffee maker, combination steam oven, combination microwave, warmer drawer and pyrolytic oven.”
The centre’s successes include Fisher & Paykel’s 60cm Built-In Oven, which beat thousands of entries to win the Red Dot Design Award – the world’s premier prize for product design – and its outdoor kitchen range, the Series 9 Grills.
For Adam, learning about the customer’s needs and designing a product that meets those desires is key – for both him and the user.
“Something we are constantly striving for at Fisher & Paykel is to really understand our customer. We are always looking to design the right product that truly meets our customer’s needs.
“We do this in a wide variety of ways – whether it is going to interview customers in their own home, in-store visits with customers who are looking at buying new appliances, or holding focus groups where we can get a good conversation going around products or needs. That’s a really interesting part of the process. We learn a lot from observing people without interacting – simply standing back and trying to uncover those latent needs that maybe they can’t express themselves, but through observation, we can pick up.
“I get something different out of each project I do,” he says, “whether it’s something that went really well or something that we can improve.”
Fisher & Paykel is a part of the country’s history. It would be a rare Kiwi kitchen or laundry that hasn’t housed at least one of its appliances since Sir Woolf Fisher and Maurice Paykel founded the company in 1934.
In 1955, the company acquired H. E. Shacklock Ltd – a Dunedin-based company that had manufactured cooking ranges since 1873 and dominated the domestic appliance market. Since then, Fisher & Paykel has grown and is now an innovation leader in the worldwide market.
Adam says today’s global presence means his team has to understand how people live in their homes and kitchens in many different nations.
“From a small town in New Zealand, we’re able to design for all around the world, uncovering those differences between an Australasian kitchen and the expectations that the family has, versus a tiny apartment in China or a penthouse in New York,” he explains. “It’s pretty cool to be able to design products to fit into all of those situations.”
For Adam and his team, the China-based Haier group’s purchase of Fisher & Paykel in 2012 has been very exciting. “We understand more around the high-end consumer than we would have 10 years ago. For us it is a dream come true, because we can focus on the technology and the design, and really dig into understanding those customers.”
The company has a firm vision for its products and the place they will occupy in their customers’ lives. “We are curious about people,” says Adam. “How they live, where they live, what they do and how they use things. For us, design is not a self-serving goal – it is a human endeavour to make life better.”
For Adam, that means talking to and facilitating workshops with kitchen designers and architects. “We learn a lot from them. The specification level of some of these architectural homes that our products are going into is so high – and that expectation of the level of detail of our products really has to fit,” Adam says.
He believes that Fisher & Paykel’s Kiwi roots are a real advantage for his team in designing premium, innovative products. “We have got quite a unique view of the world – being so removed can have its benefits,” he says. “Maybe we’re more open to looking outwards and pulling bits and pieces in, and tailoring things to different cultures and communities.”
Being from New Zealand creates a buzz about the brand, too. “It’s one of our points of difference that no other appliance brand can claim, right? And there’s a real resonance with people when we share imagery of our country – the beautiful landscapes, the beaches, the mountains.”
Improving everyday life
“We’ve got a really strong design community in New Zealand,” says Adam. “We’re showing we can design with the best around the world, whether it’s sailboats, rockets or appliances or some of our great interior lighting and architecture.”
At the end of the day, however, Adam’s work revolves around creating appliances to improve the quality of life. So he can’t avoid taking his work home. “As a designer you don’t really switch off, particularly when you’re in the first stages of a project and you’re bouncing a lot of ideas around,” he says. “Making sure that you can cook something quite fast and healthy for the family during the week, but then having the ability to create something a little more elaborate with the same products, if you’ve got friends over on the weekend, is a lot of fun.
“I spent quite a lot of time working on our outdoor grills for the US market a year ago and ended up building one into an outdoor kitchen space at home, which has been very rewarding. The kids really enjoy being able to cook and eat outside, just as much as the adults.”