Details matter – Saturn Zen switches and sockets

May 29, 2015 Xavier Lifran

First design intent , 3D rendering

How annoying is that small pebble in your shoe? Now imagine having that pebble appear every time you wear those shoes.  That little pebble becomes a boulder when it becomes a daily annoyance.


Design inspiration from the beautiful balance of an asymmetric pebble pile

Well, in a house, switches and sockets can be this little grain of sand on a beautiful day. Each day you encounter the only detail in your house not being in harmony.

While designing the Saturn Zen range, Schneider Electric’s Pacific Design Lab had in mind the pure and modern lines carefully created by architects in todays modern home. The design intention was to create a switch that worked in harmony with the contemporary architecture.

Saturn Zen switches and sockets

First design intent , 3D rendering



First design intent , 3D rendering

Careful attention was paid to the details, finding ways to simplify and remove as much as we could, the non-essential lines. The result is geometric; with a little asymmetry in the way the buttons are positioned to balance the whole plate. It comes in a subtle white or black matte finish.

Saturn Zen switches and sockets

Final result

The button is designed perfectly flush to the surface of the plate, adjusted and precise, with an elegant pinhole to let the light shine through, which helps locate the switch.

However, the innovative process was not limited to the design. The project team worked hard to keep this design simple and perfect, overcoming the normal industrial constraints and processes.

See what Tunde Juhasz is saying about this project:

“As a Project Design Leader & Principal Designer for both the extraordinary flagship Saturn range and the current Saturn Zen range, I am ecstatic with the quality outcome seen to date with this range. There have been many technical obstacles to overcome, however a simple and minimalistic range has been implemented to complement today’s modern styles, with carefully crafted interface icons, pictos and a new sleek exterior to match our modern 240V wiring accessories range.”


Knobs design, detail work


Saturn Zen switches and sockets

Final result

One exciting innovation is the LED-backlit pictograms.

To anticipate some consumer concerns around having up to six switches on a plate, you need to know which light you are switching on or off. In the flow of your daily life you don’t really want to try reading a 2mm high word while searching for the right switch, especially in a dark room.

To help identify the loads, we designed 30 hand-drawn quality, simple and elegant icons to identify the loads. It helps us craft messages without the need of lengthy explanations.

Saturn Zen switches and sockets

Icon creation process

We found creative solutions to block the light, except within the icon. A nicely spread light illuminates the icons. This gave our engineers nightmares; we had to use ultra precise laser etching to remove a light-blocking layer of paint, and add a robust topcoat to protect from everyday use and UV discoloration.

Saturn Zen switches and sockets

Multiple layers of paint and laser hetching process

The result is absolutely stunning; the fine line produces enough light to allow you to find your switch… without keeping you awake at night.

Saturn Zen switches and sockets

Multiple trials were necessary to achieve the best quality



Final result


A popular innovation is the introduction of the Smart Shelf.

Saturn Zen USB Charger

Smart shelf – Saturn Zen USB Charger



Final result – Smart shelf – Saturn Zen USB Charger

Smart devices have changed our everyday life; just try going without it for a day! Each night as we are recharging with sleep, we recharge our smart devices by plugging them into a socket that is nearly at the ground level. Each night we reach down to plug in the device, and each morning reach down to unplug it. So, we have created a shelf that incorporates USB chargers (also available as a twin power outlet). It is neater, avoids wires and clutter and installed just above the level of the bedside table, it is high enough to be accessible.

Once the range is fitted in a house, forget it and focus on the essential: a good life without the little annoyances.

> Find more about Saturn Zen by Clipsal

*Saturn Zen is available in Australia.

Saturn Zen is a nominee for the Good Design Awards 2015 in Australia


Zoom on the Schneider Electric’s Pacific Design Lab

In order to be physically and culturally close to our customers, markets and engineering centers, Schneider Electric has located five design labs throughout the world. The Pacific Design Lab based in Adelaide, Australia. Home to the Clipsal by Schneider Electric marketing and engineering teams, manages the industrial design of Schneider Electric and its associated brands for Australia and New Zealand offers.

The post Details matter – Saturn Zen switches and sockets appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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