Spotlight on Collections: The Krups Four Seasons Compact 1500 Watt Fan Heater

Sunday, September 2, 2012
The Krups Four Seasons Compact 1500 Watt Fan Heater.

Marc Harrison, an industrial designer, entered his design for a new electric fan heater in the Krups Design Award Competition in 1986. This innovative design, which used a newly patented foil heating element, received the first place award. The Marc Harrison Collection at the Hagley Museum and Library documents the development of the Krups Four Seasons Compact 1500 Watt Fan Heater. This design project shows the efforts of an industrial designer as he strove to create an electric fan heater that satisfied both the consumer and manufacturer. Harrison began to design the compact fan heater in 1983 and made revisions for the next several years. For instance, some of his drawings from 1984 show that the control knobs were mounted flush against the sides of the heater instead of protruding out as they did in the finished product. The stand for the heater also evolved over time. Originally, the stand had a solid base instead of the metal, cylindrical form it took later.

Harrison continued to revise the design even after receiving the Krups Design Award.  Documents in the Marc Harrison Collection show that the 1986 design was revised again in 1989 and that the heater was not produced until 1991-1992. Harrison implemented a universal design philosophy throughout his career, and he was a pioneer in that field. The Krups fan heater exemplified Harrison’s work. The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University defines universal design as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without adaptation or specialized design.” Harrison’s fan heater was simple and intuitive to use. The two control knobs employed lines and colors instead of words and numbers to differentiate between heat settings. In addition, the “Power On” indicator light provided perceptible information for people with hearing difficulties. The heater was also lighter than the majority of heaters that came before it. Weighing only three pounds, the Krups fan heater could be moved easily. Diagram of Harrison's fan heater, n.d

The user-friendly nature of the heater appealed to consumers, and it was affordable for a manufacturer to produce. Harrison ensured that the materials used in the fan heater were inexpensive and that it could be assembled quickly. In describing the heater, Harrison noted that “reduced manufacturing costs were goals” and that “low cost components [were] used.” The heating element (the material that produced the heat inside the heater), was also designed to limit manufacturing costs. The inventor of the heating element, Dov Glucksman, explained on his patent application that his new design “would provide a resistance heater of a rigid construction and of simple design, which should lend itself to manufacturing at low cost".

Harrison’s Krups Four Seasons Compact 1500 Watt Fan Heater is one of many projects documented in the design collections at Hagley. For additional information about this collection, please see the collection guide  or contact Ask Hagley. For more information about the Hagley Library, visit

Image Note:

All images are from Accession 2193, The Marc Harrison Collection, Hagley Museum and Library. All photos are by Robert Kyle Cantarera.


The Principles of Universal Design. Raleigh: NC State University, Center for Universal Design, College of Design, 1997. Dov Z. Glucksman. 1984. Electric Air Heater. US Patent 4,694,142, filed Nov. 29, 1984, and issued Sep. 15, 1987.

By Robert Kyle Cantarera, University of Delaware