Over the last year, life has been turned upside down. Adjusting to the “new normal” has magnified the shortcomings of existing home design and unearthed some new opportunities. This has allowed homeowners to rethink the utility of their living spaces.

One of the most significant changes has been in the area of food storage and preparation.

With most of society spending more time at home than usual, we are eating out less… and instead, preparing homecooked meals with loved ones. As a result, the kitchen has become an even greater extension of family life. And has become an even more important “hub” of the home.

What’s more, society has started embracing their “inner gardener” and local food movements. We’re cultivating outdoor (and indoor) home gardens, participating in community gardens and visiting outdoor farmers markets in search of fresh ingredients. And – on a quest for better health and less impact on the planet – many are opting for at least a partially plant-based diet, direct from the source. This increased interest in the farm-to-table lifestyle makes the ability to preserve food even more important.

Many consumers are stocking up on groceries that will last a week or more. Of course, this makes it difficult to find space to store everything… leading us to realize that we need more innovative technology to keep up with life’s evolving demands. Fridges have definitely become the “new cool” – and as a result –have been increasingly difficult to find, as manufacturers and suppliers struggle to keep up with demand.

A brief history of the fridge

The most successful kitchen appliances have been designed to address the ever-changing lifestyles of society. For example, the first fully electric refrigerator unit was introduced in the U.S. in 1913… just before World War I, when massive food shortages were occurring. It wasn’t until after the war in 1918 – and our last pandemic – that refrigerators would be mass produced, fueling the country’s ever-growing demand for consumer goods.

In response to the post-World War II boom of the industrialized food industry, fridges in the 1950s were designed to be larger and to accommodate all “off-site-inventory” purchased in suburban supermarkets.

The Kelvinator Foodarama introduced during this time was a mammoth double door unit… loaded with special features like a banana bin, breakfast bar and juice rack. Its size and storage capacity made preparing meals much easier. And allowed for fewer trips to the grocery store. While this iconic item was a marvel that featured innovations way before its time, its steep price made it accessible to only the wealthiest homeowners.

The Kelvinator Foodarama

Fast forward to 2021… following are three trends that are significantly influencing the design of today’s refrigerators.

A focus on health and wellness

There’s no doubt that, with more time on our hands, a greater number of us have started to think about wellness. One forward-thinking kitchen appliance manufacturer that is responding to this lifestyle shift is Beko. The leading appliance brand in Europe that continues to grow momentum in the U.S., Beko prides itself in offering products that incorporate premium technology to improve the health and well-being of its customers.

In pursuit of that goal, Beko has recently released a 36” French Three-Door refrigerator that boasts a number of innovative food preservation features. Advanced technologies include EverFresh+®, which helps to keep food crisp and fresh up to 30 percent longer. Its Active Fresh Blue Light™ technology, provides continuous photosynthesis by emulating the light energy provided by the sun… preserving nutrients and retaining the natural flavors of fruits and vegetables. What’s more, IonGuard® technology circulates negative ions that neutralize odor-causing bacteria and particles.

36” French Three-Door Stainless Steel Refrigerator by Beko

According to Salih Zeki Bugay, director of marketing & product management, Beko US Inc., “Through looking at and understanding consumer behavior, we at Beko aim to bring purposeful new technologies, across all product lines, that respect the planet and make everyday life easier for users.”

The large capacity fridge includes a fingerprint-proof stainless steel surface and interior wall that helps to maintain temperatures. It also offers one of the most prolific ice makers on the market, with the ability to produce up to 11 pounds of ice per day. This thoughtfully designed, eco-friendly appliance – which is also ENERGY STAR® qualified and low ozone-depleting – will help to promote the health and wellness of homeowners for years to come.

Going kitchen-to-table

Integrating health and wellness further… what’s better than being able to harvest fresh herbs and salad greens straight from your kitchen garden? Well, several manufacturers are counting on the growing desire to have a fresh, organic salad that you can hand pick minutes before you sit down to a meal.

The Urban Cultivator Residential is an all-in-one home garden that lets consumers enjoy fresh herbs, microgreens and vegetables year round. The unit can be plumbed to fit in a standard dishwasher profile and a pre-programmed control center self-regulates water, light and humidity levels. A standalone “island style” version on wheels with a butcher block top is also available, with the added benefit of increasing usable kitchen counter space.

We featured in a 2020 post a larger sized model by Natufia called the Kitchen Garden, which made its U.S. debut at KBIS 2020. The Kitchen Garden utilizes a similar concept as the Urban Cultivator… but on a bigger scale. Homeowners select seedpods – which once germinated – are transferred into ceramic cups where they receive the optimal amount of watering, light and nutrients. Specially designed LED lights mimic daylight to support plant growth. Additional functionality includes Wi-Fi capability, which allows homeowners to monitor and control the unit via their smart devices. For those who enjoy nurturing their greens even further, three music playlists are offered for the plants – classical, ambiance and nature sounds.

Urban Cultivator and Natufia Kitchen Garden

Vintage Appeal

We can’t talk about refrigeration without mentioning wine storage. A number of innovations for wine lovers make enjoying your favorite vintage easier and more enjoyable than ever before.

Liebherr has introduced the Monolith Wine Column… which showcases a homeowner’s wine collection while seamlessly complementing the aesthetic of other appliances in the kitchen. Featuring stainless-steel interiors – and either two or three temperate zones – this wine-focused offering is designed to maximize bottle storage. It offers adjustable wood slats that will accommodate any size bottle, and enables the homeowner to independently adjust the humidity and temperature to keep corks from drying out.

Side lighting can be adjusted according to personal taste. And a soft brightening effect upon opening the doors and pleasing night-dimming feature further enhances the experience. When built-in sensors detect a critical change in temperature, an alert is sent to the user to help prevent overheating or undercooling.

An intuitive electronic control panel features a 3.5-inch touch-and-swipe screen which allows users to monitor their collections via smartphone or tablet via a convenient app.

Liebherr Monolith Wine Column

It’s clear that our lifestyles are changing. The reality of today’s challenging times has allowed us to adopt a new perspective on our culinary experiences and to invest in appliances that make life easier, more organized, more enjoyable… and, perhaps most importantly, healthier.

Interested in learning about ways to build wellness for your brand? Send an email to Steve Kleber at sk@kleberandassociates.com.