The more…the better. An exhaustive design language exploration

Client: John Deere (USA)   /   Project developed with Curve ID Design Team

Side View sketch of final design. Sketch over photography


Redesigning a family of lawn mowers doesn’t sound like much. But if you consider that this new product allows John Deere to provide the customer what they want, when they want it, in less time, using less energy, at lower cost , with less risk to their workers, while still maintaining their core values of quality, integrity, innovation and commitment that they have come to expect this is a pretty big deal. The look and feel of these new tractors combined with the quality and features will allow John Deere to maintain its position as a leader in the manufacture and sale of premium lawn and garden equipment so that people will continue to say, “Nothing Runs Like a Deere”.

John Deere wanted to design the new generation of the lawn and garden tractors, which includes the X300, X500 and X700 Series following the Brand DNA that distinguish it among all the competitors. We wanted to design strong, robust and durable products; with high quality, high Class and Superior Design, and always keeping in mind the John Deere heritage.

The next work is the result of deep research work trying to consolidate the brand identity, as well as a comprehensive concept development exploration.

X100 Sketches

X700 Final Design Sketch

For the past several years, the Horicon Wisconsin factory of John Deere has manufactured the current families of lawn and garden tractors. While these tractors satisfied the values that people expected and the company was known for, we realized that things could be better. In order to better  meet our customers needs in this changing business environment we needed to be able to build these tractors faster, deliver them faster and react to our customers needs better while at the same time holding true to the values that our customers have come to expect. The John Deere Select Series Tractors are the result of this effort.

It’s more than just an icon…

This new family of tractors is replacing a very successful line of the clients products. In order to be successful there were criteria that needed to be met. Since both the X300 and X500 models share the same chassis and systems it was important that they each have their own identity. The customers each want to feel that they got something special regardless of which model they bought.

Even though they are different they still need to look like they belong to the same Deere family. The look of these products still needed to say John Deere to people when they see these.

The appearance needed to be fresh but not futuristic. It wanted to appeal to both new customers and current customers alike.

We analyzed the "family icons” of the current line-up, and suggested a new future.


The base of the line. The X100

All controls are color coded for easy identification. It was also determined that some of the icons used to mark these controls confused some users so most of the controls are marked with icons and words callouts that give the customer both ways of identifying these. We also discovered that users on larger models felt uncomfortable because they felt like they were sitting up on top of them. To change this the X500 was designed with an extra deep drawn fender deck so that the seat position from the ground is the same for the larger models as it is for the smaller X300’s. This allows the user on these larger machines to feel like they are riding in it not on it. Seat can be positioned to fit a wide range of users. All aspects of the operators station have been positioned to improve use and reduce fatigue during operation. Fuel fill/cap is positioned on the left fender to allow easy access to this area with storage container thus reducing effort needed to refuel the machine. 

Controlling Air

In addition to the distribution side of this program there were areas of the product that were also targeted for improvement. These tractors use larger more fuel efficient engines which run hotter and therefore require more airflow to keep them cool. Because the engines run hotter the mufflers also run hotter. These mufflers are usually positioned low to the ground where they operate in dry grass and leaves. This increases the chances that they could cause a fire. To address these cooling issues simulations were run to determine the proper size of openings in the hood to provide the right air flow.

Sketches showing side air-intakes in the X700


Designing a COOLer seat

Focus groups told the client that the customers would like a cooler seat. The solution was to open the back of the seat. The new seat design uses 2 separate cushions and a blow molded frame with an opening between them. The opening allows ventilation to keep the operators back cooler and at the same time provides a natural drain for moisture which helps the seat stay dry. The 2 separate cushions allow different foam and vinyl to be used in the back and bottom for optimum comfort. A handle is integrated into the top of the seat shell to provide support for the customer when getting on and off the machine as well as helping to keep their hands from getting dirt on the cushion. Finally, a cargo net is provided on the back for extra storage.


As with all John Deere equipment, special care is taken to make sure that the operator’s station is ergonomically designed and is as easy to operate as possible. However, this program took this a step further. In looking at the way the operator used products we noticed a couple of things. First, the controls that they used the least such as the ignition switch and throttle control were the closest to them and some of those they used the most were further away. The dash was reconfigured to place the controls that are used the most the closest and those used less further away but still reachable.