June 13, 2022 4 min read
Sivert Rød Hatletveit is the Principal Designer for the Wilfa ProBaker. Previous to his work with Wilfa, he studied mechanical engineering, during which he led a group of fellow students to designing an ultra-efficient carbon fibre concept vehicle. This vehicle went on to take second place in the Shel eco-marathon cup in London.
After dedicating his career to sustainable product design, it wasn’t long after this that he began working at Wilfa to design the world’s most premium kitchen appliance. Sivert worked in collaboration with the Norwegian Bakery and Pastry Teams to create the Wilfa ProBaker. Here he discusses his inspiration and the intricate design process required to create an award-winning mixer which outperforms all others in the home-baking arena.
One of the ProBaker’s most celebrated features is the system by which the machine’s hook and bowl rotate simultaneously, creating optimal kneading performance. ‘But technical considerations during the design process went beyond just kneading’, Sivert notes
‘Working with the National Baking and Pastry teams made us re-consider everything we thought we knew about baking’
For example, accessibility. The Wilfa Probaker is designed with a shorter head to allow for maximum visibility of the bowl’s contents and its development for the baker. Sivert says understanding the needs of professional bakers was key to the development of the ProBaker, ‘This is something you don’t make allowances for before you have really watched a professional baker working around their machine. Next to technical specs, accessibility to the bowl is everything’
But with a 7 Liter bowl, 20 Speed Settings and a 700W motor, the Wilfa Probaker also boasts technical specifications never seen before in a home appliance. Sivert recalls early kneading testing providing the first major challenges in the process.
‘It’s tough working with dough, especially when it’s less hydrated. I knew from the start that power usage in a machine like this would be make or break. That’s why to make the best, we would need to be one of the first consumer machines to use an industrial PMDC motor technology’. It may have taken time to develop, but not only does it knead effectively, Wilfa can also boast a Ten-Year Motor Guarantee on the Probaker motor.
As Sivert recalls it, one of the proudest moments during the process was the development and results of the DualActionTM Kneading System.
‘Creating a kinetic synergy by having the bowl rotate in counter to the rotating hook was a game-changer. The results of gluten formation tests came in and it hit me, we have made something special here’
This was an important development because the basis of working with dough is forming gluten. Gluten formation takes place when the gluten proteins form bonds with each other, but also with the water molecules in the dough. The result is a structure that we call the gluten network. Its conception is vitally important for its strength and how we perceive the texture and taste of the finished consumable product.
‘There was a no-compromise logic in the hook to bowl design’
‘The challenge once we had designed the DualAction Kneading System was protecting the power train and preventing motor burnout. For protecting the machine, the industry standard until now was to increase the distance between the hook and bowl, because this reduces power transfer, but this compromises the kneading performance.’ This was something Sivert was unwilling to compromise on, he remembers that rather than taking the usual path, the team challenged the ProBaker system to accept more power transfer over several prototypes. The result was maximum bowl to hook power transfer, and a completely unique kitchen machine.
Unlike most machines, the Wilfa ProBaker has two sensors which monitor its temperature and torque transfer to guard the machine against over-heating. ‘This Automatic Overload Protection System ensures we can push the machine in power and speed settings, in the knowledge that if it truly overloads, the power will shut down to protect the motor. Even when it’s rarely activated, this safety feature informs the everyday usage of the machine’
As well as making it indispensable while in use, the team were aware that when not in use, the ProBaker needs to justify its spot in people’s kitchens. Sivert believes this is why a kitchen appliance should be visually pleasing and inspire joy in a kitchen. ‘The visual design language was very Scandinavian. Quiet and functional, memorable in its minimalism rather than many visual statements’.
Wilfa collaborated with world-renowned Eker Designs for the visuals. Previously Eker have worked on ultra-modern designs for humanoid robots, hydrolift speed boats and Koenigsegg – a Hyper car. To perfect the design, the team used design sketches, physical prototypes and held workshops with professional and amateur bakers to watch how people interacted with the machines.
In a design process that sought to engage a specification-heavy product with an iconic visual design, Sivert admits he often dreamt about dough during the design process.
‘Whether I was eating a pizza with friends or making a sandwich for work, for about three-years I could not stop thinking about dough. I dreamt about it!’