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GE Micro Kitchen

Courtesy of GE Appliances

Let’s play a game: Guess whether the appliance in the photo above is a dishwasher, stove, refrigerator, microwave, sink, or oven. Would you believe me if I told you it was each and every one of those? Well, meet GE’s micro-kitchen, an innovative appliance designed to house all of your kitchen needs in a compact stylish unit.

GE Micro Kitchen

Courtesy of GE Appliances

GE Micro Kitchen

Courtesy of GE Appliances

At first glance, the micro-kitchen looks like it came straight out of a futuristic movie, but this appliance is no product of fiction. Rather, it was designed to address the needs of the modern consumer, and specifically the ever-increasing “small-living” trend.

Lou Lenzi, director of industrial design for GE Appliances, explained this trend is dominated by two very different demographics: Millennials and Baby Boomers. In his research, Lenzi observed that Millennials, a group of over 80 million in the U.S. population, are choosing a downsized urban lifestyle over traditional housing options. Lenzi discovered the increased attraction to urban centers has led to high-density living in these areas, and consequently, smaller and smaller floor plans. “That was really eye opening for us,” Lenzi said. “It woke us up to the fact that our appliances didn’t fit that market.”

The second demographic Lenzi considered was the Baby Boomers, who are now reaching retirement age. As such, many are looking at vacation homes, RVs, marine living, or simply downsized dwellings more suited for an “empty nest.”

“Between the two groups, it forced us to take a step back and rethink how we were designing,” Lenzi explained. The result? GE’s micro-kitchen — designed to cleverly house a full gamut of appliances in one convenient package. The first of two micro-kitchen concepts, dubbed the “monoblock,” integrates cooking, cleaning, and refrigeration in one seamless unit. The second uses a drawer-based system to house downsized kitchen appliances, like an oven, microwave, and induction cooktop.

GE Micro Kitchen

Courtesy of GE Appliances

While Lenzi’s main goal was creating a space-saving appliance, he made sure not to compromise culinary technology or style. “We didn’t want to de-feature products to fit in these small living spaces,” he said. “If you grew up as a foodie, you don’t want to give up that lifestyle in order to downsize.” So high technology was repackaged into a smaller (and unquestionably stylish) unit. Foodies, rejoice!

GE Micro Kitchen

Courtesy of GE Appliances

GE Micro Kitchen

Courtesy of GE Appliances

It’s no mystery that Lenzi keeps the end-user in mind when he designs a product. But this consideration was taken one step farther last May when GE teamed up with Local Motors to create FirstBuild, an online community “dedicated to conceiving, engineering and building the next generation of major appliances.”

In conjunction with the launch of FirstBuild, GE kicked-off the Micro-Kitchen challenge. The contest asked outside designers to create and submit a layout of their ideal micro-kitchen. While some designers focused on solving specific small-kitchen problems and others looked at the bigger picture, the results are overall incredibly innovative. You can see the 5 finalists here. “It really speaks to the idea of getting a whole community involved,” said Lenzi. “When you take the power of the community into account it does so much for creating a solution.”

GE plans to build prototypes of these designs in the FirstBuild micro-factory in Louisville, KY and begin small batch micro-kitchen production by the end of the year. The prototype micro-kitchens are projected to cost $7,000 to $15,000, depending on which components the consumer chooses. While this may be a steep price for the average downsized dweller, Lenzi predicts the innovative product will lead future kitchen design and technology. As he confidently stated, “micro kitchen has the opportunity to redefine appliance design.”

What do you think of the new micro-kitchen? Would you buy one for your home? Tell us in the comments!

GE Micro Kitchen

Courtesy of GE Appliances

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26 Responses

  1. Barbara Cade says:

    I would definitely buy one for my home. Great concept!

  2. DBCoop says:

    I would absolutely go for the micro-kitchen technology. Taking it up a notch, imagine being able to microwave your dinner and steam-clean your laundry in the same appliance. Now that would really be a time-saver! http://blog.hgtv.com/design/2014/08/12/ge-microki

  3. Trevor_HGTV says:

    It doesn't seem to be "small" or "micro" as much as it seems to be very well designed and thought out. When I first heard of the micro-kitchen I had the mental image of a extremely inconvenient, Easy Bake Oven sized appliance. But this actually looks like something people (I) could use easily.

    Plus it's pretty.

  4. Dyann Espinosa says:

    As someone who writes about residential real estate, I find that the kitchen is often the least creative room in the house. The blocky, modular cabinets and appliances are snug against the walls, and built-in so that changing up the room (as you would in other rooms) is virtually impossible without a costly makeover. This "micro" design offers breathing space combined with efficiency and a handsome aesthetic. I think the micro kitchens will start influencing full-size ones, allowing homeowners and designers to create new and flexible spaces that work for today's homes. (IMHO)

  5. Sonja says:

    Thank you! and Thank you GE for starting to think outside the lines! I hope their thinking leads to more interesting kitchen innovation down the road. I don't care for the look exactly, but the idea of creating improved efficiency and functionality makes since…Thanks again for sharing this info.

  6. Debbie says:

    I would not buy a micro kitchen. I know that some folks like streamline and sterile but I am not one of them. Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, I want it warm and inviting

    • Angela says:

      Debbie I agree. The micro kitchen seems cold and univiting. I love my kitchen and would prefer for all my appliances to be seen.

    • nana2162 says:

      I so agree with you. I would not buy it either. It is too sterile looking with no personality. It fits with pushing us all into the city center high rises the gov't wants us in, consequently a real turn off..

  7. Stephanie says:

    I cook and agree with Debbie. This reminds me of House Hunters in Europe. Bring your own kitchen, then take it with you. Not for me!

  8. cheryl says:

    Reminds me of a kitchen from the 60's and very cheap looking. Very unattractive.

  9. Edythe says:

    I think this kitchen is ice cold! I would not enjoy cooking in this kitchen. This is something the millennium generation would want no warmth attached ..

  10. Valarie Miller says:

    Awesome, stylish, convenient, sleek, great downsizing concepts. Yes I'd buy this set up.

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