By Mark Eglington
INCREASE THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME
Art, connectivity and healthier living have all entered the appliance world in a big way: Fiat created a bar fridge in the shape of its iconic cars. Dolce & Gabbana brightened up the kitchen with artful SMEGs, my new fridge keeps my food fresher and my phone is learning to talk to it. Bigger isn’t better in the laundry room and wise advice suggests taking a second look at washing soap and dryer sheets. Let’s take a look at trends I’m that’ll make us happier, healthier and more eco-friendly.
TREND 1: SMALL APPLIANCES
High fashion meets design. Dolce & Gabbana mixes it up in the kitchen with SMEG and a stunning appliance collection called ‘Sicily is my Love.
Last year’s “Made in Italy” project saw 100 unique hand-painted SMEG refrigerators created for clients around the world. Each retro special edition of the FAB28 refrigerator is a collectible work of art with floral and fruit motives, medieval knights and battle scenes. Now, the same team has created toasters, citrus juicers, coffee machines, kettles, blenders, stand mixers and slow juicers. The folks at Fiat have also brought us their own sexy little accessory that’s bright red, part car and part bar fridge. A hot seller this season for the guy who has everything. Also, Gorenje has followed suit with its own stylish VW fridge.
TREND 2: COOKING
Smart cooks need a smart kitchen. Can you talk to your fridge and buy kitchen appliances instead of art? Seems so. Liebherr’s new Monolith refrigerator comes with a SmartDeviceBox linked to your smartphone or tablet. And you can see what’s in your fridge from anywhere you are connected — it’s a whole new way for us to be clever in the kitchen. And, speaking of clever, in a world where we are increasingly connected, our fridges will soon let us build grocery lists, check on best before dates and receive alerts when we’re running low. How smart is that!
TREND 3: LAUNDRY
Staying out of hot water in the laundry room. Greater washer capacity is not all it’s cracked up to be nor is it eco-friendly. Think of three things: a seven or eight kilogram wash capacity — that’s the size of a full laundry basket and great for duvets — eco-friendly detergent like Forever New and plenty of time for sudsing up and going slowly round and round. Some machines now have sanitary cycles that kill bacteria with a minimum of three rinses per load. Generally, people are full of it — soap, that is. The wrong detergent will over-foam, stay in the clothes and wear out your machine.
TREND 4: ENVIRONMENT
Green with Envy. Dryer sheets are full of chemicals that aren’t great for your skin or your machine. Instead, use dryer balls or fabric softener to reduce static and stop creasing. Many top-loading washing machines are water guzzlers — more than 100 litres of water per load. Concerned about saving the planet? European machines consume about 50 per cent less water and a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Look for controlled water intake, temperature and rinse performance. All better for mother earth!
TREND 5: QUIETER THAN EVER
Silence is golden. The laundry pair and dishwasher you buy should be silent. When it comes to fridges, pay attention to European sleek-flush installations versus freestanding units where the compressors and vents in the front of the unit can be like speakers, noisily broadcasting your fridge’s activity. Also watch for specially hinges for gentle door closing.
TREND 6: DURABILITY
Laundry machines that are built to last: Don’t be fooled by novelty colours that look chic and shiny. Think performance. Everything lasts longer when it’s washed gently on a slower, softer cycle. Think cold for first fills, a stainless steel drum and five-year warranties on parts and labour. And, when it comes to drying you want to avoid baking and opt for a slow, tumble with warm air that blows through the clothes. Crease-free is pretty well guaranteed when the last 12 minutes uses only cold air. Set the timer for 3 am and it’ll be ready before you head to work. Now that’s convenient!
TREND 7: CLEAN REFRIGERATION
Green means clean so meeting or exceeding Energy Star ratings is normal. But today it is cooling performance that counts when it comes to being green in refrigeration. Well-placed LEDs create a cool and uniform light source that doesn’t introduce heat. Glass shelving in doors can ensure that the overall temperature isn’t compromised and there is no plastic off-gassing. Concerned about truly green design and manufacturing? Ask whether parts are labelled for future recycling.
Moisture rules. When it comes to state-of-the-art refrigeration and helping your food last longer, you want to escape the cold dry air that causes spoilage. Separate airflows in your freezer and fridge are a must, as well as really well-designed, precise temperature control in storage compartments to prevent plastic off-gassing. Look for patented BioCool or BioFresh features that help keep food fresh longer.
Less is more. Razzle-dazzle won’t take better care of your food. There’s a lot of “good tech” in the pipeline for inventory management. Check for easy-to-read LED displays of the inside temperature, user-friendly intuitive design that supports temperature settings and an alarm to sound when the door is left open.
Two compressors are better than one. Perhaps the naughtiest little secret in the fridge biz is the single compressor. You need two speed-controlled compressors — one in the fridge and another in the freezer — to ensure freshness, performance for energy consumption and quiet operation. The best compressors will “gear down” to a low-energy overnight and “gear up” during peak use.
It’s about “usable space”. Cubic-foot comparisons aren’t useful. Instead, assess the functional space. Seek out fridges with gallon storage in the door, adjustable split shelves and thin sidewall insulation.
Good-bye freezer burn which is the result of fluctuations in temperature due to cold air rushing out when the door is opened. With proper refrigeration technology the moisture/humidity is expelled.
Quick chill for freshness. Set a “super-cool” feature before you shop to seal in nutrients and flavour. Return and your fridge will have dropped its temperature to one degree Celsius and be ready for new foods.
Upgrading appliances is a sure fire way to bring out the “home chef” in all of us and also increase the value of a home. There’s lots of new things on the horizon when it comes to technology, connectivity and convenience, but don’t get lost in the razzle-dazzle. Just like the European cars, state-of the art appliances are built to last. Family-friendly and easy-to-use are the hallmarks of today’s European manufacturers.
Mark Eglington is the President of Euro-line Appliances and is the son of a South African who taught him how to sell the very best European appliances to Canadians.