Tiny house trend leads to tiny kitchen appliances
As the trend of smaller living spaces has taken hold, full-size appliances just don't fit in.
GE plans to build a line of micro kitchen appliances, offering a full suite of small gizmos suitable for small homes.
Whether people are simplifying, downsizing or getting on board with the the less-is-more movement, millions of Americans from Millennials to Boomers are seeking smaller living quarters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the urban population in the U.S. grew 12 percent from 2000 to 2010, totaling 81 percent of the population.
As cities grapple with housing shortages, thetrend toward smaller living spaces is already a reality. Shrinking living spaces necessitate products and services that simplify, optimize and economize. GE Appliances’ new micro-kitchen concepts keep consumers living large in a drastically smaller footprint.
Many factors are playing a role in the trend toward smaller dwellings. As the cost per square foot of real estate in metro markets increases, some people are choosing smaller dwellings out of necessity. In the U.S., there are 32 million one-person households as of 2012 and that number is expected to grow.2 Also contributing are demographic shifts, such as the aging of the U.S. population; downsizing Baby Boomers; the changing employment picture for Gen Y; younger people delaying home purchases preferring to rent; and trends toward simplification and a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
“Boomers will have a huge impact on smaller living and it's GE’s bet that they won’t want to lose any of the luxury or convenience they’ve had in their lives,” said Lenzi. “Whether they need a micro kitchen for their downsized dwelling, vacation home, refurbished man cave or boat . . . Boomers have always wanted the best.”
GE’s unique position in the appliance industry—the first manufacturer to have its own microfactory production facility located in Louisville, Ky., called FirstBuild—will enable the company to quickly prototype, make and sell small batches of the micro kitchens in late 2014.
While the FirstBuild co-creation community will be collectively creating the first designs, Lenzi’s industrial designers have also been imagining concepts delivering the power of full-sized appliances in a pint-sized package.
One concept, dubbed the monoblock, is an integrated unit with cooking, cleaning and refrigeration in a single standalone enclosure that would become a seamless part of the cabinetry. As designed, the consumer or builder could preconfigure their choices and have the custom-fabricated unit delivered to the home or job site.
The second concept is based on a counter-top-high, 24-inch-wide modular platform. This drawer-based system allows the consumer to choose the modules they want to have in their living space. All traditional kitchen appliances, including a microwave oven, conventional oven, convertible refrigerator and freezer, and dishwasher are drawer-based. An induction or radiant glass cooktop, downdraft ventilation system, and kitchen sink with disposal complete the full kitchen experience. The micro-kitchen drawers feature panelized construction providing a nearly unlimited choice of cabinet materials and finishes, so the décor possibilities are endless.
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Companies: GE Appliances