Heatpex, an established European manufacturer of Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) equipment, aims to accelerate the adoption of heat recovery devices (recuperators) by improving their design. Focusing on ease of installation and usability, they strive to enhance indoor air quality while preventing heat loss. Impressed by our work in the HVAC industry, Heatpex approached us for innovative industrial design and an intuitive user experience (UX). Through meetings and workshops, we identified pain points and areas for improvement. We created a range of design options emphasising ease of installation and use. The proposed design not only meets the main requirements but also saves costs by introducing an innovative design language that highlights, rather than hides, the main material under extra layers. We proceeded to engineer the mounting system, which is easily produced with just stock profiles of only 15mm of thickness.
The EPP (expanded polypropylene) material used in the construction of the MVHR unit is characterised by its low weight and high ductility. However, due to its polystyrene-like structure, it is often mistaken for a cheap and flimsy material. Many manufacturers choose to hide the material under additional layers of sheet metal or plastic, thereby increasing the weight of the unit, making it harder to recycle and less sustainable in general. Counter to a common practice we proposed to avoid using additional materials and, at the same time, rebalance the perception of EPP and the entire unit. In order to achieve this, we used two design strategies. To conceal the granular surface structure of the EPP, a texture was introduced to enhance the aesthetic appeal. Moreover, to add even more elegance and dynamism, additional grooves were introduced on the surface of the casing. This has practically reduced the external surface area by half, and large continuous sections with the same texture were eliminated.