White goods no longer

Jared Mankelow, Senior Product Designer at Conran Studio, spent last week amongst the fridges and flatscreens at consumer electronics show IFA Berlin. He kindly offered to share his thoughts on where are homes are headed.

How big is yours?

Firstly, TVs. IFA was dominated by size above all else: the major players have stretech their OLED displays to an eye-popping 84 inches of viewing glory. Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sharp were all pushing the boundaries of what can be manufactured in volume.


LG’s monster 84-inch 3DTV.

Panasonic’s mammoth TV booth

Away from this testosterone-fuelled competition, companies such as Loewe were thinking more about spaces/finishes and audio quality. Their Connect ID and Reference ID models look more sympathetic towards most people’s living rooms than some of their rivals.


A Loewe TV and audio system


The devil’s in the details

If IFA is anything to go by (and it probably is), there is a big trend towards elegant design details in consumer electronics.

For example, Samsung showed off these richly-detailed etched fridge doors:

Samsung’s etched fridge

Who knew a fridge could be so pretty?

If you’re in the market for a meat slicer (no?), you would do well to get one of these Graef numbers. They have a lovely Bauhaus feel:

I’m trying to think of a reason to buy a meat slicer now…


(Not so) run of the mill

Panasonic, meanwhile, did a great job of making washing machines interesting. These high tech prototypes had beautiful yet ergonomic UI, and moody black interiors:


One of Panasonic’s washing machines

Philips used demonstrations of cleaning and grooming techniques to literally liven up their home products. It is a bizarre experience to brush your teeth on a crowded conference floor, along with tens of other people, let me tell you!


Top takeaways

– Rose gold finishes

– Etching on large surfaces

– Warmer colour palettes (especially from Loewe)

– Smart technology, and especially linking to smartphones

– A great focus on texture, pattern and materials

Overall, there is a long-overdue move away from white goods being just that – bulky white things with all the elegance of beluga whales. And that, as far as designers are concerned, can only be a good thing!

1 Comment

Filed under Conran Studio

One response to “White goods no longer

  1. Wonderful to see that appliance manufacturers are at last getting it and building design into their products. Why shouldn’t traditional `white goods’ used everyday not get a designer update? Love the washing machine and would go into any well designed kitchen or utility room.

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