Carrol Gantz Design asked Neoforma Design to partner in the development of a gas-powered leaf blower for Homelite, Inc., a outdoor products company primarily known for their chain saws used by the handy-man persona. We were asked to redesign their 2-cycle gas leaf blower that could appeal to the needs of non-traditional users of garden products such as women.
Multiple concept sketches were explored which arrived at a final proposed realistic full-size model prototype. Needs included approachability and ease of use. As such, an electric start and color coded controls were integrated which helps guide the user toward points of interaction. The handle was designed for grip and comfort. One salient design element shined most prominently. This was what we coined as the "gutter-intake."
Interestingly, all other manufacturers of leaf blowers at the time were using "grill-type" vents on the side which allow air to be sucked into the device. This format exposes the spinning fins and creates very loud sound pollution which we found intimidates users and feels dangerous.
Our solution conceals the intake with a friendly soft cover that serves as an iconic and differentiating form from other makers. Simultaneously, this approach significantly reduces the decibel level and allows air to enter through the sides.
Additionally, we were asked to explore concepts for the company's evolving electric line. In part, the objective searched to expand the visual design realized in the previous effort. This included an electric blower, leaf trimmer, and weed trimmer.
Lastly, we also developed product literature and packaging brand guidelines that extended the visual language across touch points.