2001 Annual Design Review Equipment Best of Category
The idea that an industrial container used to transport heavy-duty equipment could be redesigned as a beautiful object won the jurors’ enthusiastic appreciation. “The execution of this idea is excellent,” Yelavich said. “This project really pushes the design envelope both literally and figuratively.” The Mobile Booster, a water-supply pump station on wheels, accomplishes the seemingly impossible: It traverses endless stretches of muddy and oft-polluted roadways, and yet projects a clean and hygienic persona.
Yelavich described the container’s sleek outer shell as an industrial-strength “super-graphic.” Applied on a smaller scale, its smooth, carton-like shape might easily grace the pristine aisles of an upscale supermarket selling bottled water. There’s nothing rusty about it.
Given that the Mobile Booster provides extra capacity in the event that drinking-water transport systems fail, it was imperative that the container design silently communicate a message of safety and purity. Humming inside the Mobile Booster’s minimalist casing is a robust control system with wireless data-transmission equipment, an electric power supply, a diesel pump, fuel tank, various manometers and a water tank with connecting flanges.
Despite its formidable girth, the Mobile Booster is unobtrusive. Its rounded walls and soundproof polyester casing minimize noise while conveying the impression of bulging elasticity. “We’re used to hard edges on a truck. No one has rethought the truck concept this way,” Schiefer said. “The scale is different, but handled brilliantly.” It’s a solution as refreshing as a cool drink of water
What inspired the appearance of the transport container? We listed the preferred product characteristics and sought to translate them into a physical design. Key words like “innovative” and “reliable” (claimed by our client) seemed to conflict, but proved to be powerful when mixed the right way. Ideas such as hygiene and purity were visually implemented with clean, clear shapes and bright colors. The use of stainless steel for the accessories also underscored the notion of purity.
Why the departure from the angular edges and steel bodies found in most trucks? The essence of the product is expressed by the curved walls and convex doors, which convey a feeling of boosting power. At the same time, the curved walls help reduce internal noise. Normally, containers are made of steel. We considered this, but due to the quantities WMN wanted to sell and the benefit of design freedom, it was worth it to invest in polyester molds.
client/company: NV Waterleidingbedrijf Midden-Nederland, Utrecht, Netherlands: Fred van Laarhoven, principal consultant design: WeLL Industrial Design BV, Zeist, Netherlands: Mathijs van Dijk, principal; Alfred van Elk, industrial designer; Maurice van Beek, project manager; Fred van der Weij, Hans van Asseldonk, Markus Kamereit, development engineers; Bartold Pennings, Peter van Nugteren, model makers materials/fabrication: soundproof polyester housing, stainless-steel accessories, aluminum floorboards hardware/ software Painter, Pro/ENGINEER, Strata 3D Studio