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22 August 2009

ONE SIZE FITS ALL...THE NEW KITCHEN MATRIX

The 60cm x 60cm (24”x24”) oven size has long been a European standard for over 30 years. It was introduced in Germany in the mid-1960’s as a form of consumer protection.

This standardized oven size would allow consumers to replace their oven with newer models with new options, features and aesthetics, not on the size of the hole left by the old oven. The US appliance industry could learn a thing or two from their European cousins, as almost every US manufacturer builds their product to their on standard, forcing the American consumer to purchase a new oven from the same supplier or having to remodel the existing kitchen to allow for new appliances.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, a new size matrix of 60cm x 45cm (24”x18”) has been introduced into the US market by the Europeans. First launched in the form of a steam-convection oven and then as an integrated coffee machine. Now all cooking elements are available, including a convection oven, steam-convection oven, micro-convection oven as well as a coffee system and now, for the first time in the US, a fully integrated TV.

The new aesthetic opens up a whole new design opportunity for personalization, with the ability to introduce in line cooking as well as the opportunity to place cooking elements throughout the kitchen and living areas. With personalization at the forefront of modern kitchen design, we find that this new matrix offers the consumer the ability to mix and match appliances to reflect their individual cooking style. Though one size may not fit all...I am sure that it will find a much appreciated niche.

1 comment:

  1. The lack of standards in the US and its impact on the particular product which you point out--the oven--has relevance beyond the Essential Kitchen. A major factor in the US lag in information and communication technology can also be laid at the feet of our lack of standards.

    One example is the mobile data market where we are arguably two-to-three years behind Europe and Asia. While the iPhone and Rim have pushed the US consumer toward a social tipping point with respect to 3G, mobile video, and other applications, consumers in other countries are already accustomed to using their phones in place of or as their PCs. In the US, carriers can generally only compete on payment plans, not on content, custom features or expanded offerings.

    Even though countries like Japan have not developed a wide installed base of home computers--which has been an expansive trend--70% of all Internet Providers in Japan are mobile providers. Walking down the Ginza, if one has opted in through GPS, one can be texted a coupon when passing the Gap to come right in and receive a 10% discount. Bar code scanning on mobile phones is also standard and you can buy a coke from a vending machine with your phone. Mobile transactions and banking are the next frontier worldwide, but it will be other countries, and not the US, that are the leaders of this kind of innovation.

    And when we do try standardization in the US--as in the case of video--we are prone to make the wrong choices. It is widely accepted that Beta was the better quality standard, but corporate interests imposed VHS in a tale too long to relate here.

    The fact that European kitchen design has already addressed the transformation of mass market by the Internet to the kind of personalization allowed through a standardized approach is another sign of how the US is continuing to play a catch up role.

    Inspiring piece, Kevin, but too short. I would like to know more about personalization in the kitchen of the future as I believe that you've hit on an area that will have deep social impact in other aspects of our home and work lives.

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