Breaking the Mold

    How do you take an old, outdated machine and give it an updated, beautiful look? Vendor’s Exchange Global Vending approached us with the challenge of designing their new Discover and Revision vending machines doors. By replacing older vending machine doors, new technologies can be integrated to improve the user experience and increase the product’s lifespan. There was only one catch – design two different vending machine doors and two different touch screen frames that fit within the same family aesthetic, prototype them, and have them fully functional within two months for a major industry trade show.


    Approachable, dignified product design involves a lot more than simply doing a napkin sketch and calling it a day. Despite severe time limitations, we put a massive effort into the initial industrial design phase, focusing on creating concepts that were not only unique and innovative but also manufacturable. The end result was a design that utilized simplicity in order to give the machine an accessible, elegant feel through the use of lighting, surface transitions, spatial play, unconventionally rounded top and bottom edges, and an unwillingness to simply design ‘inside the box’.

    A lower-price-point version was created to emulate the styling characteristics of the Discover design but with a simplified look and fewer features.The client also wanted a touch-screen frame to be designed that stayed true to the family VBL, which would mount directly to the front of the machine. This frame could also be sold as a stand-alone product to customers, without the price tag of an entirely new door.

    These machines incorporate a variety of innovative features that serve to make them stand out in the market. Curved top and bottom edges draw the eye through the machine and add some softness to the sheet metal door. Lighting on the extruded frame surrounding the glass and vend bucket add visual interest. Glossy finishes make the glass, vend bucket door and touch screen all visually integrated. Grey signifies the POI, or points of interaction. An add-on kickplate increases the visual weight of the machine, making it look grounded and stronger. At first glance, the vend bucket door is smooth grey – but when the product dispenses, a hand icon lights up to let the customer know that their purchase is ready to retrieve. All of these elements work together to create excitement and interest in the machine.

    Construction of prototypes on so large a scale involves a lot of complexity and planning. Components had to be measured and re-measured in order to guarantee the greatest accuracy – the slightest error and pieces wouldn’t fit. We worked with the client on assembling the doors, not only within our shop but also on-site in order to work side-by-side with their team. When problems arose, we instantly interrogated and fixed the problem, making modifications much faster as a team. We dedicated ourselves completely to making sure these prototypes made it to the trade show on time in Las Vegas.

    Needless to say, the show was a great success.  The industry recognized the design as a market leader, advancing the forefront with styling, function and implementation of technology.