Taste of Quality #19: The Vitamix Blender
Also: Fawzi Ammache, and a lovely, bittersweet Zelda ad
Hello friend! I’m Pat and Better by Design is my newsletter where I surface lessons from iconic designs and the designers who crafted them.
I have a number of deep dives in the hopper for the coming months across product design, graphic design, industrial design, and more… but today I want to circle back to a lightweight series I put on hold in February.
I want to share some good old-fashioned design gratitude.
Let’s get to it!
Today I’m grateful for…
The Vitamix Blender
The Vitamix company was founded in 1921 by William Grover Barnard, a self-taught engineer, often referred to as "Papa" Barnard (no relation to Papa from Stranger Things… I hope 😳). The first true Vitamix blender that you would recognize was introduced sixteen years later in 1937.
The blender grew in popularity in the 1940s, gradually building its place in the market. In 1949, the company took a risk with a new form of advertising – direct response television (aka, an infomercial!) – and it paid off in a big way. The 30-minute broadcast helped introduce the Vitamix blender to millions of Americans taking its popularity to a whole new level.
By the 1960s, the blender was a household name in the US, not just for blending but also for its ability to do a range of other kitchen tasks, including churning ice cream, grinding grain, kneading dough, and even making hot soup!
So while Vitamix has become a staple in the health food community over its 100-year history, what design elements contributed the most to its success?
Let’s count the ways…
Despite its simplicity, the Vitamix blender is very innovative. As mentioned above, it pioneered a multifunctional approach that set a new standard in the marketplace, pushing the boundaries of what a blender could be. Also, while infomercials may seem pretty blasé today, Vitamix’s willingness to embrace a new form of media in its infancy directly contributed to setting a new growth trajectory for the company.
I love the simplicity of my Vitamix blender. The thing is incredibly straightforward: two switches, one knob, a million things to blend! In a world of ever more complex connected household items, these simple, clear controls make the blender a breeze to use. The interface clearly communicates what you should do and makes it effortless for users to understand how to get the most out of the device.
The Vitamix is built like a tank. There’s a reason you find them in so many commercial kitchens. It’s solid to the core using high-quality materials that withstand heavy use over the years. The company backs up that commitment to quality by offering some of the longest warranties in the industry and it’s known for its exceptional customer service. This commitment to after-sale support significantly contributes to the company’s reputation and customer loyalty. Simply put, this thing stands the test of time, making its premium price point worth the cost of entry.
Fawzi Ammache is a fellow designer with a technical background and writes the newsletter right here on Substack.
While social media feeds are currently full of people jumping on the bandwagon and labeling themselves “The AI Guy”, Fawzi’s been using his hybrid design and tech skill set to share insights from near-future technologies since way before it was cool!
He makes complex, new tech fun and approachable, and even creates his own comics to accompany his posts!
My favorite comic:
An article to check out: I created my talking AI twin. Here's how to make your own.
Newsletter: Year2049 newsletter
Moment of Zen
With the recent release of the new Zelda game, I wanted to share this lovely, if bittersweet ad from Nintendo. It’s narrated by the late Robin Williams and will 100% put you in your feels.
Simple, memorable, and emotional.
An A+ ad.
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Thanks for the shoutout, Pat! I appreciate you my friend
The Vitamix is a great choice for the design gratitude series! I've had mine for 8 years and it's still going strong.