Tuesday, May 5, 2009
click on title for link to article.
Back to the future?
by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 05. 4.09
Design & Architecture
The brilliant designer James Dyson has applied for another patent to clean up our kitchens. The Dyson Team complains about the different shapes of toasters, kettles and other appliances in the New Scientist:
"Due to their various different shapes and sizes, these appliances cannot be closely packed together on the counter, resulting in an amount of wasted counter space between the appliances which can't be used for other purposes, such as food preparation."
stack'em and pack'em any way you like.
According to the abstract, it is:
A domestic equipment group includes a plurality of free standing domestic electrical appliances, at least two of which are for the preparation of foodstuffs. Each appliance has a different respective function and comprises an outer housing generally in the shape of a cuboid having two side surfaces and flat upper, front, and rear surfaces each extending between the side surfaces. The housings are substantially of equal height and equal depth, which enables the appliances to be juxtaposed on a work counter or a shelf, either with contiguous side surfaces or with contiguous rear surfaces, with no wasted space between the appliances. The flat surfaces of the appliances enables the exposed surfaces of the housings to be quickly and easily wiped clean.
But does it make sense, and is it patentable? And is it the best approach? If they are just changing the shape of an appliance, it probably is good for a design patent. As Cory at BoingBoing notes,
Hilariously, he's applied for a patent on the idea of "make-everything-square." Uh, James? I think White Castle may have some prior art.
There must be something here changing the way they actually work.
1950s: Nutone Built-In Kitchen Center
Kitchen appliances are different shapes for a reason; toast is square and mixing bowls are round. Nutone tried to reinvent the kitchen appliance in the fifties by separating the motor from the appliance, theoretically saving space, money and giving you a bigger motor that could do just about anything.
It never really caught on, possibly because one doesn't usually buy all their appliances at once, and it wasn't cheap.
1943: Kitchen of the Future in Life Magazine
In 1943 there was a proposal to integrate the kitchen appliances right into the counter;
Who wouldn't make waffles every morning if they had one of these. See the bigger versions of these photos by Nina Leen on Google Life Magazine Gallery here.
Does the Dyson model improve on this? The Nutone approach keeps your counter free, with just the drive and the controls visible. The Life kitchen integrates the appliances into the counter, but you better hope nothing breaks. The Dyson idea seems to just take up counterspace. But hey, Dyson reinvented the vacuum cleaner
1939: The Electric House of the Future
1957 Frigidaire Dream Kitchen of Tomorrow
GE Kitchen of the Future
and my favorite, The Kitchen of the Future, 1967