Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Round Thermostats and Crystal Lanterns, Revisited

Updates this week on two design stories I wrote about last year. I hope a little outrage is healthy.

First, it is not only me that noticed the operational similarities between the Henry Dreyfuss-designed Honeywell Round and the new Nest thermostat. This week, Honeywell sued Nest for patent infringement. Most of the cited patents had to do with new technologies involving the way the thermostat learns your heating and cooling habits, and a “natural language installer” that asks the owner questions rather than having you punch complicated combinations of buttons, but two of them, 7159789 and 7159790, date from the 1930s to the 1950s, when Honeywell’s engineers were working with Dreyfuss to make the thermostat more intuitive.