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Why Design Matters: Breville Shows Why in the Kitchen


BrevilleIkonBlender.pngOn the occasion of the discovery at the mall that smoothies are an excellent fruit delivery vehicle for picky three-year-olds, I bring you the first in an occasional series of posts touting great design from (way) outside the Lotus software world. The story unfolded yesterday, when much to the chagrin of my pineapple/banana smoothie toting wife and despite a recently consumed batch of chicken nuggets, our young son decided he would finish said smoothie all by himself. Eyewitnesses (or would that be *ear*-witnesses?) reported hearing several shouts of "Yum!" interspersed with the occasional "Mine!"

Quickly recognizing the tremendous opportunities for expanding our son's nutritional horizons, and noticing that we were in a mall at that moment, my wife and I immediately set out on a quest for a smoothie maker. A short time later we received a brief but illuminating education in home smoothie manufacturing courtesy the good folks at Williams Sonoma. and shortly after that we were the proud owners of the Breville iKon Hemisphere LCD Blender (pictured here).

Why does this matter to folks accustomed to reading about Lotus Notes? In a word, *design*. In a market dominated by mediocrity, this blender is a wonder of good design, both functional and aesthetic. As practically any recently married couple can attest, the $70 Hamilton Beach that Aunt Millie purchased off their wedding registry just doesn't work very well and is a pain to clean by hand (UPDATE: Since dissing Hamilton Beach blenders I have been informed that there products may actually be better now than I remember, so I do recommend checking them out). Typically there are unblended bits of ice or whathaveyou left at the bottom of the vessel, and most of us probably think that's just the way its supposed to be. Newsflash: It isn't!

So in the same way that good software design costs a bit more but raises user expectations while making those users happier and more productive, the Breville sets a new standard for blender design. Here are just some of the design features that have motivated me to write this piece:

- THE BLADES. They are *sharp*. They look sharp too, which I've never noticed about other blenders. More importantly, the whole blade assembly is designed to sweep the bottom of the vessel in order to avoid the typical collection of unblended debris. Even better, the whole bottom of the vessel, which includes the blade assembly, easily detaches for cleaning.
- THE VESSEL. Shaped to promote even mixing, easily readable measuring marks, very comfortable handle. and dead easy to hand clean by unscrewing the bottom/blade assembly.
- THE SOUND. This thing is quiet. Relatively speaking that is. I would never run most blenders early in the morning unless I *wanted* to wake everyone else in the house. The Breville is quiet enough that I wouldn't be too worried.
- THE PLUG. Since one of the most repeated lines in the instruction manual is "unplug before...", the plug itself has been designed with a little finger hole to make that process painless and avoid damaging the cord by yanking on it.
- THE LID. again, a convenient finger hook to allow easy removal of the very snug-fitting lid. No broken fingernails.
- THE VERSATILITY. Yeah, we bought it thinking "Smoothie", but its a blender with many more capabilities. And with it's ability to uniformly blend whatever you put in it, you can do more with it, like mince meat for gourmet hamburgers.
- EASY TO CLEAN. As already mentioned. You don't have to necessarily run it through a dishwasher cycle before using it for something else (though you will need to let it dry thoroughly and going from garlic pesto to raspberry smoothie might require a bit more diligence). The bottom unscrews easily from the vessel with just a little force (though helpfully they include a wrench-like "removal tool" if your he-man hubby screws it on too tight).

So we're out $200, but I am confident that the immense ease of use, practicality, and output quality of this blender will translate into huge value over the many years of frequent use we anticipate. After all, our son is not the only one in the house who is fresh fruit challenged .


1 - I totally agree .This is teh best blender i ever had

2 - Thanks for all the recommendations, I still don't have one yet, this is why I don't usually drink too much natural juice. It could fit well in my kitchen.

3 - Seriously? You compare Notes to a blender?
The only commonality they have is that both products chew stuff up into mush!
Our company was happily on Exchange/Outlook when we were forced into Domino/Notes.
Notes is the *worst* application every written, bar none. And we're on the latest and greatest, version 8.5!
Most basic "features" do not work (rules, notifications, consistent message preview/rendering, out-of-office, archiving etc etc) or are deemed (by IBM) as 'working as designed' - search the technotes for the system tray new mail notification; it does not work if the program has the mail tab open.
I truly pity all Lotus Notes Developers (and programmers). My advise for if you get fired? Go work at a fast food restaurant and bleed the world dry of Notes developers. Maybe we can rid the world of Notes after all.
I'm not just another troll, or trying to start a flame war. Notes is just that frustrating a program. I have never *ever* commented on any other application.
Notes blows! Emoticon

4 - @3 - Your honesty is commendable. FYI I was not comparing the design of Notes itself to the blender, but rather the discipline of designing Notes *applications* to that used by the blender designers.

Since you are apparently "stuck" with Notes, you should at least try to keep an open mind. Considering that 8.5.1 truly is a big improvement over 8.5.0 in performance and feature terms, you might even be pleasantly surprised. Either way, feel free to come back and offer feedback.


5 - Kevin, I am a software engineer and can see your point (the discipline) about the blender.

It's why I love *nix (Unix, Linux, IRIX etc). The tao of programming (and system design) is inherent in all things Unix.

However, I wish IBM's Notes developers would adhere to the same design principles which they clearly did not.

But the developers of Notes (at IBM's direction) missed all those points, and created a very rigid, not well designed, buggy, and ultimately frustrating end-user program (Notes).

The design and implementation of Domino (the server component) is not something I can comment on, I was just ranting about the "program" the user has to deal with.

6 - @5 whoever you are. Have you seen/used Notes 8.5? Much better user experience over previous versions. As for the quality of the code, I wouldn't be so quick to blame just the developers. QA plays a big part too, and if Management skimps on QA (or DEV for that matter) by not allocating enough resources, THEN who do you blame? Obviously at the end of the day you blame IBM as a whole for such failures, but getting more specific than that is...complicated.

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