Food for Thought
Thomas Böck sums up an extraordinary fiscal year and takes a look ahead.
Prizes such as the iF Design Award from the Industrie Forum Design association show that CLAAS is delivering on its leading ambitions here. Alain Blind and his design team have big plans as part of their efforts to create an even more emotional brand impact. It all started with Y.
Design competency at CLAAS
Alain Blind set up the industrial design team at CLAAS in 2014. Since then, the team has grown steadily larger and Blind and his ten colleagues have dedicated their time to seamless user experiences, excellent ergonomics, emotional machinery design, and intuitive operation.
Mr. Blind, what’s the Y design all about?
Our design translates the brand values – reality, passion, and agility – into recognizable forms and colors. The Y itself is the key element here, and is also a protected trademark. It serves as a three-dimensional aesthetic framework to showcase the power of the machine. Familiar shapes such as the boomerang on the wheel arch and the light-gray seat as a background for the logo are all part of the concept.
“We want to move away from the machine-specific micro-design approach we pursued for 35 years and more toward a clearly identifiable, integrated macro-design.”
What is the intended effect of the design?
Even though the architecture and layout of a combine harvester are fundamentally different from that of a tractor, both machines should still have a uniform appearance. It’s about striking a balance between performance and emotion. We don’t just build machines here, and that’s been the case for some time. Just like the advancement in agricultural equipment through smart electronics and data, it is our job to increase the emotional appeal of the brand and make working with our machinery almost seem like a hobby. To maintain this balance, we use the word “power intelligence,” controlled power that interacts with its agricultural environment and the people around it. If you are driving along and come across a tractor on the road, it shouldn’t make you scared, it should provide a connection between us and nature in the form of professional performance.
Making a mark on the front cover of the Annual Report: As a protected trademark and a central element, the Y will establish a consistent design language across all future machines.
How does CLAAS transfer the design into all of its products in the field?
The topic of design is firmly established at the highest level of the Group and we are also part of Lead Engineering, which is the team responsible for developing a consistent product experience. We are a driving force behind these areas at CLAAS. We have been responsible for the entire design concept since 2015. Before that, we worked with external partners for 35 years. It is vital that all machinery is conceived from the brand core, and this is where in-house design competency is a must.
Where do you see potential for optimization?
We want to become more dynamic, which means thinking holistically and emotionalizing the machinery in every regard. I think we achieved this well with the LEXION. There are still some areas, such as the driver’s workplace, where the technical systems and engineering are superb but there is still potential to make our design more user-friendly. We want to achieve a higher level of quality and integration to bring users even closer to the technology around them. Technology should always have that wow factor.
What does your roadmap look like moving forward?
The next products to receive the Y design will be tractors, followed by the forage harvesters. We have already gone further than that with additional equipment such as balers. We want to establish the family design across the entire portfolio over the next three to four years. Just like the kidney-shaped grilles on BMWs, the Y should be at the forefront in the visual design of all of our vehicles – it’s unique in the industry.
The DataConnect interface is opening up more possibilities to use data and is a unique partnership in the industry.