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Can an air conditioner be an object of desire?


A new line of air conditioners helps differentiate a storied brand, with unique features and a premium appearance that escapes the “sea of putty”.


Ziba made Friedrich’s superior quality and performance visible, by understanding their unique heritage and relationship with consumers.
  • Challenge

    The air conditioner is the most commoditized of all major appliances, consisting mostly of cheaply made, uniformly off-white or beige units, most still in their boxes. Shoppers decide by price point and cooling power (BTUs), with little consideration of features, interface or durability. Friedrich, on the other hand, makes A/C units that last longer and function quieter than anything else on the market. Ziba was tasked with designing a new line that would make Friedrich’s superior quality and performance visible, not just in the store, but in day-to-day use.

  • Solution

    The result was Kühl, the first window-mounted air conditioner to offer a programmable thermostat. Its bold design leaves the “sea of putty” behind, instead evoking professional-grade kitchen appliances and classic American automotive and industrial detailing. The symmetrical face visually complements household windows, and the interface uses an updated language of icons and graphics, to communicate function with clarity and consistency. Snap-on faceplates let users customize the Kühl’s color palette to match a range of interiors, elevating the unit from necessary evil to integrated home fixture.

  • Impact

    Ziba’s groundbreaking design drew reactions from the media and, most importantly, Friedrich’s customers. Despite the price premium, purchasers report incredibly high levels of satisfaction, specifically referencing the features that set Kühl apart from the sea of competitors: its reliability and quiet operation, its unique air filtration and dehumidification capabilities, its energy efficiency, and its elegant appearance and interface.

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Stats Image

The Friedrich Kuhl Smart Room window air conditioner is one of the best out there…[with] excellent smart controls via Wi-Fi and voice commands. Air filtration, looks and low running costs are all great features that make this a stand out air conditioner.”
Growth in market share after the Kuhl line was introduced

About Friedrich

Known in the industry as “The Cadillac of Air Conditioners,” Friedrich is a US based, family-owned company that’s been making some of the world’s best home appliances since the 1890s.


  • Product Design & Engineering
  • User Research
  • Interaction Design


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