Join the global
design collective

Available in print
and online

SUBSCRIBE
Cubes Magazine
Cubes Magazine

Details Matter! Especially in Switches and Sockets

We touch them first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. Details matter in switches and sockets. Xavier Lifran from Schneider Electric explains how the Saturn Zen range can make a big difference to everyday life.



BY INDESIGNLIVE.SG

5 January, 2018


How annoying is that small pebble in your shoe? Now imagine having that pebble appear every time you wear those shoes. That little pebble becomes a boulder when it becomes a daily annoyance.

Well, in the home, light switches and sockets can be this little grain of sand on a beautiful day. Each day you encounter the only detail in your home that’s not in harmony.

While designing the Clipsal Saturn Zen range, Schneider Electric’s Pacific Design Lab had in mind the pure lines carefully created by architects in so many of today’s homes. 

The design intention was to create a switch that worked in harmony with contemporary architecture and design.

Careful attention was paid to the details, finding ways to simplify and remove as much as possible – the non-essential lines. The result is geometric; with a little asymmetry in the way the buttons are positioned to balance the whole plate. It comes in a subtle white or black matte finish.

The button is designed perfectly flush to the surface of the plate, adjusted and precise, with an elegant pinhole to let the light shine through, which helps you locate the switch.

One exciting innovation is the series of optional LED-backlit pictograms. Having up to six switches on a plate, you need to know which light you are switching on or off. In the flow of your daily life you don’t really want to try reading a 2mm-high word while searching for the right switch, especially in a dark room.

To help identify the loads, Schneider designed 30 simple and elegant icons. The light emanating from the switch itself shines only through the icon. Achieving this gave Schneider’s engineers nightmares; they had to use ultra-precise laser etching to remove a light-blocking layer of paint and add a robust topcoat to protect from everyday use and UV discolouration.


Above: The process of applying multiple layers of paint and laser etching

The result is a fine line that produces enough light to allow you to find your switch, without keeping you awake at night.

It’s about crafting messages without the need for lengthy explanations.

The Saturn Zen range also addresses our daily habits in other ways. Smart devices have changed our everyday lives; just try going without technology for a day! Each night as we are recharging with sleep, we recharge our smart devices by plugging them into a socket that is (typically) near the floor level. Each night we reach down to plug in the device, and each morning reach down to unplug it.

In response, Schneider has created a shelf that incorporates USB chargers (also available as a twin power outlet). It is neater, avoids wires and clutter, and is installed just above the level of the bedside table at an accessible height.

Once the range is fitted, forget it and focus on the essential: a good life without the little annoyances.


Follow Cubes_Indesignlivesg on Instagram