What does a “beautiful” refrigerator look like to you? If you’re like most consumers, it’s a stainless steel box. There’s good reason we’re addicted to steel: We value steel in kitchens because it’s a commercial-grade material. Steel is unbreakable, doesn’t hold smells, is non-porous for bacteria, and easily sterilizable. And it’s shiny. But while those qualities of steel matter a lot for the nonstop pace of a restaurant kitchen, perhaps durability alone shouldn’t be the defining factor of refrigerator design. Perhaps the fridge should create a sense of home.
That’s the premise behind Samsung’s reinvention of the ubiquitous kitchen appliance. The company’s new “Bespoke” fridge is a colorful, customizable appliance that’s just as at home in a living room as a kitchen. It will go on sale in Europe later this year for an undisclosed price. Additional markets may follow.
Built from any combination of colors and door configurations, Bespoke’s modular color blocks assemble to look like anything from a stylish locker to an armoire designed by Piet Mondrian. Samsung argues that millennials want color and personal expression in their homes, and Bespoke is just the first of a line of products that will be released under “Project Prism,” which will cater to these tastes.
But I can’t help wonder if there’s another motivator behind Bespoke’s modernist chameleon design. As apartment footprints continue to shrink across the world, kitchens will, too. That means we may need to reimagine large appliances like the refrigerator as beloved pieces of furniture–and perhaps the kitchen itself will need to become more of an ad hoc workspace than a separate room.
In any case, Samsung seems to be onto something. It has spent the last few years imagining how televisions don’t need to look so much like electronics hung on a wall, and now it’s applying the same ethos to its appliance division, too.