Dezeen Magazine

Quilt heat pump by Mike and Maaike

Quilt launches whole-home heat pump system with "thoughtful design"

Studio Mike and Maaike has worked with California start-up Quilt to create a design-led heat pump system, to make it more appealing for people to switch their homes to low-carbon heating and cooling.

Launching today in the US and Canada, the Quilt heat pump system is intended to have an aesthetic appeal both inside and outside the home, while also being easy to use and install.

The electric smart home system incorporates two types of units: an outdoor unit with a simple matte black design intended to be modern and architectural, and an indoor unit that takes inspiration from built-in cabinetry, with the option of a paintable front panel and integrated lighting.

Photo of two people lounging in bed underneath a wall-mounted climate unit painted the same blue-grey as the walls
The Quilt heat pump system includes an indoor unit with a paintable front cover

There is also a Quilt Dial that functions as a thermostat in each room, and an accompanying app for more control and energy use tracking.

The heat pump is the first product from Quilt, which was founded by a group of ex-Google employees to create home climate systems that would enable a transition away from fossil fuels.

Co-founder and CEO Paul Lambert said the company set out to deliver "thoughtful design and a great experience from start to finish" while Mike Simonian of Mike and Maaike said that his studio aimed "to transform the category in a meaningful way that drives adoption".

Photo of the Quilt outdoor heat pump unit with a matt black box design, situated between two plants on a front porch
The outdoor unit was designed to be modern and architectural

"Heat pump technology works incredibly well but adoption in the US has been slow," Simonian told Dezeen. "A big reason for this has been the lack of well-considered design and user experience."

"Our goals were to take heat pump design from uninspired appliances to a welcome and permanent part of your home, from complex and difficult to operate to simple and intuitive, and from a piecemeal quick-fix to a smart whole-home solution."

Mike and Maaike were approached by Lambert when Quilt was still in its concept phase, and were tasked with developing "the smartest, most desirable home heat pump system", according to Simonian.

Photo of a woman buzzing about a dining table while an oak-panelled climate unit is wall-mounted above her, and a small circular touchscreen thermostat is visible in the foreground
The system is designed to feel like part of the home rather than a temporary appliance

The studio worked to optimise each element of the system for the space it is used in while keeping the overall design discreet and minimal.

The outdoor unit – which can be wall-mounted or placed on the ground – was given architectural lines that would work in harmony with buildings and their natural surroundings, said Mike and Maaik co-founder Maaike Evers, while the Quilt Dial has an angled screen so it can be easily read at a glance.

The indoor unit comes in either an oak veneer front or a white cover that can be painted or wallpapered to fit with the interior decor, and it also has an accent light to illuminate nooks or artworks below.

Air source heat pumps like Quilt's are considered one of the best ways to phase out home furnaces and gas boilers, which are run on fossil fuels and generate high gas emissions.

They work by absorbing heat from the outside air and transferring it to the inside of the home.

However, conversion has been slow in many countries, including in the US, which Evers blames partly on the design of existing heat pumps.

Photo of the Quilt Dial, a small circular device, sat on a wooden side table
The Quilt Dial allows room-by-room control

"In the past, heat pump technology has been seen as a supplemental fix for smaller applications, performing adequately for that limited purpose," said Evers. "But to convert an entire home in the US to a ductless heat pump system, the systems need to be designed within the broader context of home design, style, ease of use, and a sense of permanence."

"This is as much a design problem as it is an engineering challenge. For too long, the heat pump product category has suffered from being in a design desert."

On the technology side, Quilt promises its heat pump is a full generation ahead of other systems in the market today, with energy-efficient refrigerant R32 in the outdoor unit and features such as millimetre wave radar sensors indoors to detect when spaces in the home aren't occupied.

Photo of the accent light on the wall-mounted Quilt indoor home climate unit lighting up a reading corner in a dark room
The indoor unit includes an accent light

Quilt also has a vertical integration strategy, with installations carried out by its own services team to attract customers who don't like managing contractors.

Quilt plans to begin installations this summer in the San Francisco Bay Area, followed by Los Angeles. It will then expand to other areas of the US and Canada based on waitlist numbers.

A previous design-forward heat pump concept came from British studio Blond, although that product has yet to enter the market.

In a study conducted last year by the University of Cambridge, researchers found that electric heat pumps were an essential part in cutting down decarbonising residential buildings.

More images

Photo of two men installing a Quilt climate control system on the wall of a room