Marc Newson on Designing Heineken’s Home Draught Machine
Iconic designer discusses The SUB, a product aimed at bringing the draught experience out of the pub and into the home
Industrial designer (and newly minted Apple employee) Marc Newson, in collaboration with the head of innovation at Heineken International Mark van Iterson, created The SUB – a compact machine that lets you pour quality, chilled lager at home. PSFK spoke with Marc and Mark on the design process.
PSFK: What is the most important rule of design to you?
Marc Newson: I am a great believer in cross-pollination – in bringing fresh eyes to an industry. I think it’s healthy. For this and for every new project, I have a wealth of experience of materials, processes and technologies to draw from. I have been lucky enough to work across the board in a variety of industries from watchmaking to aerospace and really get inspired by all the knowledge I gain in the process.
PSFK: How did you incorporate this into the creation of The SUB?
Marc Newson: I like to think of myself as a problem solver, a gun for hire, brought in to solve a set of design problems. There was a certain level of complexity to the design due to the mechanics of the machine which essentially contains complex plumbing and electrics.
PSFK: The product is dubbed the Nespresso of the beer world – how does The Sub design encourage consumers to pour their own draught pint at home rather than head to a pub?
Marc Newson: I admire companies like Heineken who have the courage and foresight to embrace design as a way of differentiating themselves in the marketplace. The design world should take the opportunity to engage with large corporations to make good design accessible on many different levels.
This was a great opportunity to partner with Heineken and Krups on a completely new unique closed keg technology.
With this particular project I have been very aware of the potential user of this product – actually someone like myself – who would get a kick out of delivering a cold draught beer from this cool piece of equipment to friends at home.
Mark van Iterson: It all starts with the fact that a well-poured draught beer clearly delivers the best taste experience. The beer itself is of course exactly the same, but the carbonation and the foam structure that you get with good draught, makes the taste really smooth and fresh.
We don’t try to encourage people to stay at home instead of going out. Not at all; our tagline ‘open your world’ is also an invitation to go out, to stay curious, and meet new people. But you cannot go out every night. So if people choose to stay at home, together, with family, or friends, the SUB will add value and elevate their experience, to make those nights just a bit more special and memorable. The SUB is designed to make a statement. Having the SUB in your living room immediately promises hospitality, style, enjoyment. At the heart of this is the variety of beers available for the SUB. Now already 7 different beers from all over the world, for different occasions, different taste preferences, or to explore beers you didn’t know yet. Soon it will be 10, and the variety will keep on growing.
Of course there is a lot of state of the art technology in the SUB, because pouring a beer might sound easy, technically it’s complicated. But the user will not notice that at all. The interface is super simple and intuitive. The SUB simply delivers a very cold beer (2°C), pours with the right pressure, and loading a new TORP is very simple and fast.
PSFK: Mark – what was the inspiration behind this Heineken innovation?
Mark van Iterson – Let me put it in historical perspective. About a century ago all beer was sold in pubs, on draught. Lager simply didn’t stay well in a bottle. We invented a recipe and process that guaranteed a very bright clear lager, at consistent good quality, and this way we could pack it in bottles and start selling it through stores, for in home use. Because we wanted to differentiate our ‘gentlemen’s beer’ from regular worker’s class beers, we changed the bottle to green!
This was a huge revolution in the world of beer and home use has been a growing segment for the business ever since. Bringing draught into people’s homes could potentially be the next big revolution. We know it will take perseverance and time, but we do believe in the quality and beauty of draught and the draught ritual. And this is in fact the inspiration for the SUB. It breathes beer though its cylindrical shape and the honest brushed aluminum. It signals draught through the recognizable tap handle and drip tray. And it invites you to join and have high quality beer through its fresh, contemporary form and style, from every angle.
Marc – what was the design process behind the making of The Sub?
Marc Newson: I’ve designed appliances before and of course I live with appliances and have my own pet hates – the main one being I don’t want to look at them, so one of my primary objectives was that people could enjoy looking at it.
It’s predominantly a male-oriented object made of anodized aluminum, but it needed to look good from every angle, and that’s particularly important if you think it’s going to be sitting on someone’s bar or counter.
The SUB’s design cues are fairly obvious as it’s a giant pressurized vessel. None of us wanted to write Heineken in big green letters. We wanted The SUB to look qualitative and technical. A mysterious looking object people want to investigate and touch.
PSFK: What is next in the marriage of beer + design for you both?
Marc Newson: The SUB is a pretty good start. It will be interesting to see how it evolves.
Mark van Iterson: In general I strongly belief that design is one of the most important métiers or crafts of this era. It creates better user experiences, it shapes new business models, it differentiates one brand from the other, and it enables people to express themselves. Design and beer might not seem the most obvious combination, but if there’s one brand in the world of beer, that embraced design and recognized its value already long time ago, it’s Heineken. And I see it accelerating at the moment. One example is our vision of the future Lounge bar that we just revealed at London Design Festival last week. We experimented with many new concepts around the beer and the lounge occasion. It gave us again so much inspiration and energy to reinvent all sort of things. And that’s what drives us: progression.