The appliance industry has long had a problem on its hands that it only recently began to address: a lack of inspiration when it comes to colors. In the past few years, we’ve seen the mass marketization of stainless steel; black stainless was quick on its heels; there’s a new trend of matte colored appliances starting to roll out. But for all intents and purposes, appliances have been somewhere on the white to black scale—with very few adventurous takes along the way.
Bosch recognizes that problem, and they’re really attempting to tackle it head on, and they’re starting with the refrigerator. Last year, the company unveiled its Vario Style line of refrigerators, which feature a very unique front panel system that lets you seamlessly pop off the door and swap on a different color. Bosch rolled out the line with an astounding 19 different color options. At IFA 2018, Bosch expanded the line with another five panel colors joining the lineup.
Essentially, Bosch has developed a system that let’s you treat your refrigerator door like a smartphone, swapping out case after case in order to give yourself an entirely new looking device. In this case, though, they’re letting you change the look and feel of your entire kitchen.
The attachment system is built around concealed brackets and magnets, which Bosch claims makes changing the door panels a cinch. No tools are required to swap out panels; you simply need to pull the front gently towards you, lift, and remove it. The new panel simply hooks onto the door, you let it drop right into place, and, voilà, you’ve got a fresh color panel on your fridge.
“We develop our colours with contemporary home and lifestyle trends in mind,” Robert Sachon, principal designer at Bosch Home Appliances, said in a statement announcing the new colors. “Those trends are currently driven by warm and cosy environments with subtle shades and interesting, iridescent surfaces. … Our new colors now offer households even more options to express their personality in their own living environment.”
But, as Bosch showed, the potential for these panels goes way beyond just a few different color options. True customization becomes an option for the consumer when they start to view their refrigerator door as a blank canvas on which they can express themselves. Additional panels the company showed had very nontraditional patterns, decals, and even varying textures, including leather.
This level of customization really turns an appliance as simple and traditional as the refrigerator into something that can be individualized to the consumer. And the potential benefits extend well beyond Bosch as well; third parties could get involved in creating custom fridge doors for consumers, licensing deals could come into play with sports leagues, the entertainment industry, etc. The possibilities (as we’ve seen with the smartphone case market) are truly endless.
The only problem I foresee is figuring out where in my house I have the space to store my seven different refrigerator door covers. It’s not like I can just throw these in a desk drawer and forget about them for months at a time…