Rethinking the role of design – Mitsubishi Electric



The IDBM team supported Mitsubishi Electric to ”envision heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems in residential housing in 2030 and beyond”.


Almost 150 years ago an ambitious Japanese entrepreneur Yataro Iwasaki saw opportunities in overseas commerce and founded a ship building company. As a spin-off came a factory that first made electric motors for ocean-going vessels, which then transformed to a growing manufacturing company. Today this company is known as Mitsubishi Electric – a global “giant” operating in the manufacture and sales of electrical and electronic products and systems used in several fields and applications.


Mitsubishi Electric joined the IDBM programme to map new opportunities for living environment systems in Europe. The client brief was to ”envision heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems in residential housing in 2030 and beyond”.

The company’s current offering is the venerable heat pump which provides a clean and efficient supply of heat to domestic and residential buildings. However, the project allowed the team to look beyond the current offering into any other potential systems for tomorrow. When the heat pump technology matures as a product, Mitsubishi Electric should have the next innovation ready to maintain their competitive edge.

Answering the brief requires an understanding of the megatrends, technological developments, user needs and expectations that shape the future living environment.


Field trip
To gain first-hand experience of the actual living circumstances and lifestyles in different contexts the team sought accommodation in real people’s homes in three different locations in Europe. The apartments were selected to cover a wide range of house types and family structures. Geographical locations were chosen on the basis of EU ErP Directive climate zones: cold (Denmark & Sweden), moderate (Scotland) and warm (Portugal).

Different design methods and tools were used to gain an understanding of the multiple stakeholders of the HVAC industry, other stakeholders and users, and for ideation and design. In addition to different houses and habitats the team observed the cultures of the cities from large-scale urban planning to building design and to small-scale products. The goal for the observation was to compare the different areas and to note any major differences in how people live in different parts of Europe.

  • In-Depth Interview

  • Personas

  • Scenarios

  • Rapid Cultural Calibration

  • Brainstorming

  • Empathic Design

  • Service Safari

  • Customer Journey Mapping

  • Service Blueprint

  • Business Model Canvas




Sarasati Kushandani (Strategic & Industrial Design), Jesse Parviainen (Mechanical Engineering & Product Design), Saaramaria Somppi (Marketing), Eeva-Maria Piiparinen (Visual Communications Design & Art Education), Emmi Jääskeläinen (Architecture)