Designing the next hairdryer

Hairdryers can be found in nearly every home across the globe yet their basic functions have remained unchanged for decades. After 25 years in the beauty industry, Volo’s founders decided it was time to launch the first salon-quality cordless dryer. Over the years we’d accumulated experience designing hairdryers for brands under the Helen of Troy umbrella while also developing a deep understanding of portable batteries through our work with MyCharge. The Volo Go, however, would be much more challenging than simply attaching a power bank to a beautifully designed product.

black volo hairdryer with other hairstyling products
black volo hairdryer curling blonde hair with brush

Ideation and prototyping

Much of the initial development revolved around understanding the limitations of the technology on which the product would rely on. We identified possible components for the fan motor and heating elements while seeking a better understanding of the resulting power consumption. After the power requirements informed the optimal battery selection, we began initial ideation and ergonomic testing to help optimize balance while making sure the user’s hands would be guided away from heat generation hotspots. An added layer of complexity was designing the battery pack to be removable.

sketches during the design process of the volo hairdryer

After extensive research and ideation helped us come up with what we expected would be a user-friendly experience, we prototyped the base geometry to test our hypotheses in different settings. Prototyping is an invaluable step in our design process as it allows us to put ourselves in the user’s shoes early on and gain insights that help inform the design and deliver a better end product. It was vital to properly test weight, balance, and size while developing a thorough understanding of how a user’s grip would change at different angles. This process helped ensure that the Volo Go would be as satisfying to use as it would be to look at.

different angles of the white volo hairdryer

Attractive things work better

We believe that constraints help enable creativity and this project was a testament to that. Some of the major innovations stemmed from thinking through ways in which we could optimize airflow. The first part of maximizing airflow was designing a wrap around intake grill that attaches magnetically on the sides and wraps far enough around to allow air to enter from roughly 180 degrees. Since the battery pack inserts through the dyer barrel, we also designed an aerodynamic wing to reduce drag as the air entered and traveled through the product.

exploded view of the black volo hairdyer

To us, aesthetics isn’t just about the final product detailing. It informs our decisions from the earliest stages of development. Our world is already filled with products created by designers and engineers so enamored by the technology that they miss a key concept that behavioral scientist and design star Don Norman so bluntly points out – “attractive things work better”. This holds especially true in the beauty industry and is an important part of why the Volo go generates such a visceral response and is a joy to use.

black volo go hairdryer infrared heating element
detailed look of black volo hairdryer