To Slide or Not to Slide?
Follow me into the journey of making a wonderful product for Thermomix, the Thermi Ergoslide. I am sharing my personal story behind the product and uncover some myths about the slider.
So, what’s the fuss about Thermomix sliders anyway? Well, let me tell you a personal story and how I have decided to take on the world of product development. It all started when my mum and I, both crazy Thermomix users, had another one of our Skype calls and she got so frustrated during the renovation of her kitchen. During that time she had no kitchen countertop and the only way she could make a meal for the best part of a week was by using her Thermomix on top of a small workbench and lifting it wherever there was space in that chaos. My mum suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and finds it very hard to lift even the lightest items, let alone a nearly 7Kg machine. It was then that we started our research into tools and imagined how we could design a product that would make her life a lot easier. I found myself in a similar position because I use my Thermomix in a tiny flat in London with the worktop space of what feels like only inches really. Whenever I used my Thermomix (and sometimes that is two, three times a day) I had to lift it and place it wherever I had space. After that, I needed to lift it into a corner so that I could get on with other food prep. Both of us are not alone with this problem and felt like there must be something we could do to simplify our lives.
Fast forward a few weeks to when my mum got a beautiful new kitchen with a marble worktop and plenty of space to move around. Funnily enough it was then that I received her call and she told me ‘Sophia, this bloody kitchen is still not big enough.’ She still caught herself moving her Thermomix around when she needed more space and it was then that we seriously considered our options. At that time I was still just a blogger who didn’t have any funding for product development, let alone manufacturing, so sadly we had to put the idea to bed for a while.
A few months on I taught a baking class and it was then that I was approached by one of my dearest participants who told me about her slider and asked why I haven’t thought of doing one myself because she thinks there is so much potential to make it even better. This finally triggered a question in our minds: What makes a great slider? We were convinced that we needed one in our lives because we both didn’t want to go through the pain of the past and for us it was just a question of how can we make the best slider we can possibly think of. The idea of Thermi Ergoslide was born and after much deliberation we wanted to focus on three things; ergonomics, function and design.
On my priority list was to make a slider that my mum could use without pain. She needed to be able to easily slide her Thermomix across the surface without having to exert herself and call my dad for help because it’s just too heavy to lift. And let’s face it, even when you are young and strong, it’s a pain to lift it and as a Thermomix user I know that the super sensitive scales underneath will break if I simply drag it along the surface, so that was never an option. In order for my mum to feel confident again with her Thermomix she needed to have a slider that was easy to grip and would slide smoothly and weightlessly across the surface. So why didn’t she just use a bloody chopping board? Believe me, I have been asked this question too many times and funnily enough it was our first thoughts too. But the issues we discovered unfolded quickly. First of all, she cannot grip a chopping board, her fingers will simply slipp off and she can’t manoeuvre it. Number two, there is a huge wooden surface in contact with her immaculate marble worktop which not only has a potential to scratch it but it also means there is more friction and therefore it won’t slide smoothly. A chopping board simply didn’t do the trick for us. It’s a chopping board, not a slider. Seems obvious but we also had to discover that ourselves first, never mind that we weren’t able to attach feet to it to at least to make it a little more useful. As a conclusion from our chopping board disaster we chose to design ergonomic grips that could be placed in the right spots to enable easy handling.
Then we thought about function and the first thing we wanted to answer is what else could a slider do for you? Probably the most important function it had to have was the ability to protect our scales from breaking or losing accuracy and needing recalibration which can be costly for your Thermomix. Even more traumatic is the thought of your Thermomix dancing off the kitchen worktop whilst kneading a bread which definitely needed addressing because you know how much I love my bread. So, we decided to design feet that enabled two different functions. Two feet at the back are made of Teflon which enables our slider to glide effortlessly (think frying an egg for the first time in a teflon pan) and the material won’t scratch the kitchen worktop or pick up debris. The two feet at the front are made of rubber and hold it in place when you are kneading, therefore acting as shock resisters, absorbing most of the aggressive movements of your Thermomix when in use and reducing its motion substantially. Of course, you still need to be careful. If Vorwerk could have solved the problem of vibration completely, they would have done that by now. So, this is the best we can do to support this amazing invention. So here we were, we had incorporated not only the function of ease of sliding of the Thermomix but also the protection of the scales and the motion control. Our slider was nearly done. But there was one thing left on my list.
It was the material. Let’s talk a little bit about the material that we chose. I did a lot of research about material and rejected quite a few immediately, including wood because it warps and stains, real stone because it just breaks when it falls and any other synthetic materials that are not suited for the kitchen. Finally, I discovered the material that was perfect for this purpose. I chose a material that is called a natural acrylic stone that is produced by only one company in this high quality and has been used to design airport interiors, fitted kitchens and even outdoor installations. It’s been used to make the most amazing kitchens and interiors I have ever come across for sure. What makes the material so special? Well, to start with, it is made from 75% natural minerals and pigments and is an environmentally friendly material because its manufacture is virtually waste free which is a huge advantage over other materials like wood or stone. It is also 100% pore free and completely anti-bacterial making it stain resistant and therefore perfectly suitable for me because I am a lover of all things beetroot and turmeric. This material in fact is so amazing, my manufacturer gives me 15 years warranty on it which I can pass on to my customers making it a product for life rather than a couple of years. I fell in love with the material straight away and decided it had to be used for my slider. My Thermomix deserved nothing less. And of course there was the element of colour. Gosh, they had many colours and even elegant stone finishes to choose from.
Finally, I chose to work with a manufacturer who hand crafts every single one of my sliders rather than going down the route of mass production in the Far East. The reason for that is a personal one. I have grown up surrounded by small business men and women like my parents who made a living by following their passion and I am very much in the same position so for me it is so important to support likeminded individuals. This is the reason why I chose to work with a small, independent family business in their third generation who support young people with apprenticeships and carry on the craft they’ve been perfecting for so many generations. This for me was the icing on the cake (pun intended). And my slider was born.
Before I bore you with all the other little details I’ve put on the slider, I will just leave you with a final thought about whether to slide or not to slide. I am sure you can remember when you first thought about buying a Thermomix and you were probably thinking why do I need it? Is it worth the money? And I know once you had it, you quickly realised it was the best purchase you’ve ever made. At least that’s how I felt. It is these big purchases you make life that have the potential to make a real difference and you’ll feel that with your first iPhone, your first car or your first house and those things that have profoundly changed the way you live. They are always with you and reliable and if someone asked you, was it worth it you would say, of course it was I would spend twice as much if only I knew how important this thing would have been in my life. For some of us Thermomix completely changed the way we cook and eat and the impact of that on our daily lives could never be measured. It is very rare that you can say the same about a £10 chopping board or a £15 baking tin. So when I designed this product I wanted it to be one of those things that you reflect on thinking that was money well worth spent and I know I can rely and trust on this slider when I need it. It has changed the way I use my Thermomix and transformed my daily life.
To find more information about my Thermi Ergoslide, please visit the shop or its dedicated website:
Thanks for reading and I hope I can continue to inspire you,
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