The design choices behind the Scandinavian ‘green-tech’ company Easee

Electric charging points and poles for vehicles… they are increasingly appearing in parking lots, fleets and driveways. Do those poles really have to be beautiful? Not necessarily, but the eye also wants something.

Now that more and more people want and are able to charge their electric car at home, its design can play a role. Of course, functionality and ease of use are paramount, but one does not have to exclude the other, Steffen Mølgaard from Easee seems to want to say. The Norwegian company, which specializes in charging solutions for electric cars, is working hard and wants to supply many households, businesses and charging points with its products in the coming years.

Can you tell us a little more about your background at Easee?

Steffen: ‘I’m Steffen Mølgaard, co-founder and Chief Design Officer at Easee. We design, manufacture and sell smart charging products, such as our Easee Home Charging Robot for electric cars. As lead designer at Easee, I mainly deal with all design and innovation aspects of the products and services we make. Then you have to think about the design of the product, but also about the user experience, the packaging and the technical design.

I am also very interested in the design of our visual brand identity. My primary role is to ensure that everything we create at Easee is ‘on-brand’ and in line with our design principles. Ultimately, an Easee product should save our customers time, energy and money.’

Have you always been interested in design?

‘Well, I actually discovered my passion for design later in life. Growing up, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and my school years didn’t really contribute to that quest either. On the contrary, it confused me even more. Having my final job, and thus my future, determined based on how much I would earn from it did not motivate me at all.’

‘The beginning of my “design journey” only started when I seemed to lose everything. I dropped out of college, my relationship ended and suddenly had to find my own place. A difficult period came when I was forced to dig deep within myself and try to find what I was passionate about. When did I have the most fun in the past? I realized that was when I was creating things – designing things. I have always been a perfectionist and could (and still can) spend a long time developing a project’.

‘When I look back on that period, I can see that the products that fascinated me the most are more than just a beautiful design. They offer an experience that goes beyond what you can see with the naked eye. It goes deeper. They are functional in their use and interact with the user. That’s what it’s all about’.

‘That’s why I find electronic products extremely interesting. From the outside it may look sleek and simple, while the inside is full of technical complexity. They always have more layers to be “revealed”. Some you see immediately, others you have to experience over time. So for me the magic lies in making a complex product simple and pleasant for the user. ‘

What fascinated you?

‘Easee is Norwegian, but I myself am of Danish descent. From an early age I have been surrounded by Danish design culture. As a result, I think I have developed a nuanced understanding of the key elements of Scandinavian design; simplicity, minimalism and functionality.’

‘When I was about 10 years old and we got a B&O TV at home, I was very impressed with it. Specifically, I always have to think back to the remote control that came with it. It felt heavy and cold, while the buttons were soft and comfortable. The entire user experience was absolutely included in the design process. Of course, I only found that out several years later, but it already made an impression on me. Another product that really stuck with me is the Bang & Olufsen Beomaster amplifier. It consisted of a smooth plate of glass, wood and metal, with knobs to adjust pitch, volume and balance.’

‘When I came to study at Aalborg University in Denmark much later in 2011, after a confusing school period and the wrong choice of study, industrial design was an almost certain choice for me. Here I was given space to experiment myself, and next to the studio I was busy designing various electronic products. I discovered the great importance of paying attention to the user experience of a product – just as I myself had experienced the remote control and amplifier when I was young.’

How did you end up at Easee?

‘During my thesis I started making a wireless speaker for Jabra, after which I set up a design consultancy with two friends. A few years later I ended up working at Ghost Design in Norway as a senior designer, and rolled into the EV industry. During my time there, my co-founders, Jonas, Kjetil and I discovered that charging electric cars and managing your energy management must become more efficient and smarter in the future, for the user and for the planet. So we decided to set up Easee together.’

“Design was therefore central to the company from the start: The product had to be smart, intuitive and stylish in form and functionality. Instead of giving an existing product its own touch, we at Easee have chosen to design, develop and produce the product ourselves. Purely by looking at what a user really wants. For example, we were very inspired by Steve Jobs and Apple.’

How do you come up with your designs? Do many iterations precede it?

“Almost every product is preceded by a series of iterations – that’s the only way to achieve a good end result. It’s about the process, including a lot of (user) testing. It is important not to lose your own (design) values ​​and those of the end user. Keep sticking to this during the process, it saves a lot of work and so you don’t have to go back to the drawing board too often. What also works for me is understanding the problems and desires and translating them into visual concepts that are simple, functional and aesthetic.’

“When you design electronic products, for example, there are a number of things you have to consider from the very first step in the design process. At Easee, for example, we wanted a compact design for our charger, but also equipped with smart technology. In order to make such a product scalable, you have to innovate on the technical design inside.’

‘On the outside, the focus is on the user experience. For me, it’s about understanding what users want and expect from a product, and how they subsequently experience its use in their daily lives. If you think carefully about this throughout your design strategy, it will also flow into the brand experience that users have of your product & your company.’

‘I can assure you that this has also preceded many repetitions. It is a process of daring to try. And it often turns out to be wrong. This causes irritation, but above all ensures that you get the most out of it with a nice end result as a reward. It’s this part of the process – trying it, playing it and improving it – that makes me love what I do. Each stage of the process is a challenge, and it is therefore never boring!’

There are quite a few providers of charging stands in the Netherlands – how do you reach your target group?

“From the beginning, our strategy has been to be close to our installers and business partners. We needed to understand their pain points in order to design a product they would be happy to install. This thinking was a very important element during the design and development of the loader. Our goal is to save time, energy and money for end users, installers and business partners. Combined with the best technology on the market, we are able to reach our target audience through our partners and the right platforms.’

‘In addition, we also work with brands with the same passion for smart and beautiful design. Just like with Tibber, to be able to offer smart charging features to consumers. In addition to consumers, our chargers are also used by commercial parties, such as on company fleets and in apartment complexes. For example, we recently started a large project in the Netherlands together with our partner EHBI Group, which installed 1750 Easee chargers in 20 BusinessCenter.nl offices.’

Why do you think design is important for a product like a car charger? Basically, it’s all about functionality, right?

“For me, design is not just about styling and making the product look good – it’s about the process of creating something that meets the needs of the users. What matters is that the product works thanks to the design aspects. For example, we designed the Easee charger so that it tilts 45 degrees. In this way, moisture and dirt are easily drained out, it cannot get in and it does not freeze in winter, for example. The eye definitely wants something, but it must also work. The user experience must be simple and effortless – that’s why we call ourselves Easee. The combination with the look completes the circle.’

‘If you manage to make a well-thought-out product, people will be able to fall in love with it. Interest in the product begins with the buyer finding it aesthetically appealing or interesting. After that, it’s about living up to expectations by not disappointing the functionality and the way you handle it. Giving users a better and easier (‘easy’) life is what we always aim for. Design is a very important part of product development, and we hope to inspire many users with it: at home in the driveway, in the apartment complex or in the office parking lots.’

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