Design Q&A: An air purifier worth showing off

Given the drab history of air purifiers, it’s no wonder those who have them would prefer to shove the unsightly appliances into corners, keeping them out of sight as much as possible. But, what good is a purifier going to do crammed behind an end table or shoved under a desk?

Airmega Creative Design Director Ilsoo Yeom has worked for over a year to bring the humble purifier into the light. Here, he explains what it takes to deliver cleaner air from a beautiful package.

What most sets Airmega apart from other purifiers?

Many air purifiers are electronic- or clinical-looking products, and, because of that, they disrupt the living environment they are placed in. So we focused on creating a product that performs well but that also integrates into the home, allowing health-conscious users to place this device in their home without feeling they have to hide it.

What inspired Airmega’s design?

We were most inspired by architecture’s harmony with the environment. We looked at buildings that allow air, light, and people to circulate and co-exist—all while expressing dynamic aesthetic ideas and enhancing their location. We want the product to be a lifestyle product harmonious with its surroundings, not stand in stark contrast.

Part of that is making the purifier smaller. What allows Airmega to be as compact as it is?

To build the most-compact air purifier (at least, compared to the similar performing competitors) we used our dual-fan system, which pulls in the air from both sides. We worked through several soft mockups with various proportions and performed tests with our engineers to find the most efficient and pleasing package. Also, the size and pattern of the holes on the outer grills were tweaked and tested several times to have the most efficient air intake area.

Those holes create a kind of fade as you move upward on the purifier. Why is that?

One of the concepts of Airmega was having a permeable outer skin that communicates airflow by having a pattern that dissolves as it moves up vertically. We want the pattern to reflect that the air is pulled from the sides and cleaned as it ascends upwards. The spacing of this outer layer and the legs are key to maintaining the “lightness” of the design, as well as give the feeling that air can enter the device from any direction.


Despite all this movement and power, how does the Airmega remain so quiet?

Noise from an air purifier is mostly made by the fan and the air outlet. For example, if the air outlet is small, airflow can create noise as it escapes. And, of course, if the fan speed is high there will be a lot of noise from the fan itself. Therefore, the best way to reduce the noise is to have a large air outlet and low fan speed. Reducing the fan speed, however, typically drops the product’s performance. Airmega’s dual-fan system and the hole patterns help it intake air more efficiently at slower fan speeds and, as a result, reduce the overall noise from the air purifier.

Does the upward-facing air outlet play into that, as well?

There are air purifiers that push clean air from the front, sides, or from the top. For us we have adopted a system that pushes the clean air from the top because of it is more efficient in circulating the air in a room. For instance, if the clean air pushes out from the top it will hit the ceiling and then slide along the wall and that air will go back towards the air purifier, a constant looping effect from and to the purifier.

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