Customizable Appliances Are Finally a Thing, Thanks to Café
Are you team black, stainless, copper or bronze?
You can customize pretty much anything these days. Your coffee (Starbucks!), your clothes (the tailor!) and, at home, everything from your furniture (size, finish and upholstery included) to storage solutions and fixtures.
So I was just a tad surprised to hear that Café Appliances, a recently launched line from GE, is the first in the industry to offer customizable options in the form of different-hued knobs and handles. At the same time, that’s what makes it so cool: the collection includes high-performance ovens, dishwashers, range hoods and refrigerators (from $1,100), each of which comes equipped with hardware that customers can make their own by picking from four finishes: brushed black, brushed stainless and, for those who don’t mind a little pizzazz in the kitchen, brushed copper and brushed bronze.
The appliances themselves come in design-forward hues, too: matte white, matte black—two finishes that Café chose because they saw them trending with luxury cars, headphones and other products—and the more traditional stainless steel. Basically, it’s a line designed with, well, designophiles in mind—without sacrificing the state-of-the-art features and modern conveniences craved by avid cooks. (Bluetooth connectivity and built-in hot water dispensers, anyone? One style of refrigerator even comes with a Keurig attachment that brews your coffee!)
“It’s all rooted in that personal style equation,” Bob Park, chief of brand at GE Appliances, told me during a recent launch for Café in Toronto. “Everything from Café is designed to reflect an individual’s personal style. So we’ll have different looks, different textures, different colours.”
The line launched south of the border in 2018 and has apparently been doing so well that the company has plans to launch more products in multiple colours and customizable fixtures in the next year. (Apparently, people really like options!) Although you have to wonder what took an appliance company—any appliance company—so long to jump on the customization train.
“It’s difficult to do, don’t get me wrong,” said Park. “You have to have the mechanisms in place to have the product variations available. It’s a lot easier to ship something that’s already as is. But somebody probably thought that making a bunch of different coffees was difficult, too. And I think the company that mastered that did pretty well.”