Molekule has had a whirlwind of a year after spending 25 years in research and development to create its revolutionary PECO air purifying technology. In 2020, COVID-19 brought an intense spotlight to the concern of indoor air quality; what was an international issue that few were talking about became a global concern that everyone was talking about.
Air quality is often more polluted inside than outside - even in the busiest cities - according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yet we spend around 90 percent of our time indoors. The COVID-19 pandemic brought air quality concerns to the forefront as people looked for ways to reduce exposure and stop the spread. Molekule air purifiers have been rated highly in a number of studies on inactivating strains of airborne animal coronavirus and influenza. While air purifiers can provide an additional layer of protection to help reduce potential viral exposure, Molekule encourages use of PPE and medical countermeasures suggested by government authorities. Molekule air purifiers have not been tested on COVID-19.
In July, the company named co-founder Jaya Rao as CEO, and in September, Peter Riering-Czekalla became the first chief design officer (CDO).
Riering-Czekalla isn't a new face to the organization. He joined Molekule in 2015 and later became vice president of product and design. He was the one who led the creation of the iconic Molekule Air shape and dreamed up the various product variations. He has helped drive the Molekule User Experience team, focusing on Molekule review feedback and customer concerns to provide a better experience at every turn and today spends his time looking at future innovation in the product pipeline.
Molekule has taken pride in offering new technology that destroys harmful particles, a process which has led to cleaner air. The brand has also created a visually pleasing unit that is sleek, modern, and quiet.
The move to create this new c-suite position enables Molekule to continue to advance innovative human-centric design elements.
"The combination of design [and] science has been central for Molekule since the start," says Rao. "Design was one of our key pillars from day one, as we knew air purifiers were typically difficult to use, easily breakable, and oftentimes, plastic boxes that people left in the corners of rooms to be forgotten. Our approach has always been different - to bring game-changing technology to people's fingertips in a form factor that people want to have in their lives."
With a change toward innovative technology, some of the top brands are realizing that their products take a central spot in the home or office. While design may not seem like a concern for a highly practical item, it's what often forms a loyal customer base. People want to buy something that both works and fits into their lifestyles.
"If you only think about technology for the sake of technology, you'll miss the consumer," Riering-Czekalla says. "Technology and science need to be designed for easy adoption by users. And I also believe that consumer tech products can and should be beautiful - not hidden away but proudly showcased."
The market was filled with air purifiers that lacked visual innovation. In many cases, the design flaws ran deep - with impractical designs that led to fewer benefits than advertised. Traditionally square air purifiers had a tendency to be pushed against a wall where it would restrict airflow. The market needed a disruption that would make people rethink the options.
"This is beyond just design," notes Jaya. "It's about integrating science, innovation, hardware, and software into products that people actually want to use."
Riering-Czekalla has also worked to create more sustainable packaging in keeping with the brand's concern for a cleaner environment. While packaging might seem like a small part of the equation, the brand wanted to stay consistent with its underlying values for clean air. Packaging contributes to some of the most concerning environmental issues, especially packaging that is single-use and not easily composted.
To create intentional packaging for Molekule units that reduced unnecessary waste, Riering-Czekalla used low-glue interlocking recyclable packaging that breaks down easier than plastics. To reduce single-use packaging and plastic wrap, he used a cloth bag to cushion the unit. These steps help make the box and reusable bag that house the device during the shipping process are eco-friendly, as well as thoughtful and easy to open.
In one Molekule review from The Sleep Sherpa, a Molekule Air user notes, "I was really impressed with the care they put into packing it. It was fun to unbox... It is protected in a white pouch, which lessens the need for more plastic."
Molekule wants the unboxing process to be both enjoyable and economical for the consumer. Therefore, the company has placed an emphasis on making the initial startup as easy as possible. Some of the initial feedback for the brand app and setup helped Molekule streamline the process.
Hiring Riering-Czekalla was a simple decision for Molekule, and his prior experience and innovative mindset have been huge assets that have advanced the company's vision of introducing PECO technology to the world.
Peter Riering-Czekalla has a strong background in design. His education came from one of the top design schools in Germany, Muthesius Kunsthochschule, where he received a master's degree in industrial design. He interned with Lunar Design and IDEO, where he learned to build by starting with an understanding of the consumers' desires. He then spent nearly a decade at IDEO, where he worked with major brands and a number of fortune 500 companies. Some of his clients included Samsung, Nike, LG, Levi's, Campbell's, Microsoft, Bacardi, and EA Sports.
He was the designer of the Nextbit Robin smartphone and helped with hands-free interaction for Microsoft. He spent time working for Motorola on developing an integrated gaming platform. His work for Acer included the company's first line of touch-screen laptops. For First Republic Bank, he worked on VIP digital service experience for high net-worth customers.
In 2012, he became a co-founder of NudeAudio, a lifestyle audio company. At NudeAudio, he produced a high performance, waterproof, and wireless speaker that won the CNBC TechCrowd competition with nearly 80 percent of the votes. He used a Kickstarter to crowdfund the NudeAudio Super-M award-winning speaker with 7,794 backers pledging $839,834 in support - passing the $75,000 goal within 24 hours. Riering-Czekalla grew the company to offer products in 36 countries and sold it two years later after joining Molekule.
His experience with design has brought a well-rounded expert perspective to Molekule. Riering-Czekalla takes pride in understanding people on a basic level - knowing what they want and using that insight to create compelling designs. In his current role, he continues to provide Molekule with incredible design elements to improve products and dream up new directions.
Molekule is driven to bring clean air to everyone, everywhere. The company's passion for clean air started when Dr. Yogi Goswami wanted to provide a better quality of life for his son, Dilip Goswami. From an early age, Dilip suffered from debilitating allergies and asthma. As a scientist, Dr. Yogi Goswami believed that there had to be a better solution than the existing options for cleaning the air and removing the particles that were potentially harming his son. Dr. Goswami spent nearly 20 years researching, the results of which he then used to invent the Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) technology used in Molekule Air units.
Molekule has now had an additional five years of third-party testing and research that has only improved its revolutionary technology. To help clean the air in healthcare settings, the company even created Molekule Air Pro RX, which has FDA clearance for medical use in destroying airborne viruses and bacteria.
The announcement that Peter Riering-Czekalla has joined the top ranks of chief officers in the company is exciting news of continued growth, which will help Molekule continue to meet its goal of bringing cleaner air to more indoor spaces.