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Electrolux fridge design: Innovation over the years

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Raymond Loewy’s design for the L300 was hailed for its streamlined, cutting edge design, and carried onto later models like this L500 refrigerator.The Willow refrigerator brought art into the kitchen with its blend of Asian cultural art and Scandinavian sensibilities.The award-winning Ooyu fridge has been a hit with apartment dwellers as its design maximises space usage while taking up a minimum of real estate.

Since 100 BC, when the Chinese discovered the use of ice in refrigeration, preserving food and making ice were the sole province of the wealthy and powerful. Only those who could afford cellars and icehouses would be able to enjoy chilled dishes and cold relief on hot summer days.

It wasn’t until 1922 when two civil engineers, Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters patented a new device – the absorption refrigerator – that created cold through heat. The first Electrolux refrigerators with this technology, the D-fridge, was introduced to the consumer market in 1925, allowing the common man to store and preserve fresh food in his own home. “This wonderful box”, as its owners described it at the time, used water for cooling and had to be connected to the water mains.

Design innovation continued based on the patented technology, with the first built-in refrigerator – a compact product for the kitchenettes found in the small apartments of the time – launched in 1930. It wasn’t long, however, before the first air-cooled refrigerator followed in 1931, dubbed the mod L31.

By 1940, however, the streamlining of consumer products was in fashion, and Electrolux hired Raymond Loewy, an iconic designer to design its consumer products. The L300, with its spring assisted door, gently rounded edges and cream colour, became a hit for both its consumer-friendly technology and cutting-edge design.

L500

Raymond Loewy’s design for the L300 was hailed for its streamlined, cutting edge design, and carried onto later models like this L500 refrigerator.

The use of top designers continued into the 1950s, with the decade’s most popular designer, American Carl Otto, launching the Golden Lux, the first chest freezer. A table-top cabinet with a laminated working surface, the efficient freezer was big news in food storage. Otto would go onto adapt design trends to his fridges throughout the 1960s, with several fridge and freezer models featuring straight edges and minimalist stylings.

Utilising consumer insights, Electrolux learned that consumers wanted a cellar or pantry-type cabinet in their modern apartments. The SP111 was launched in 1959, featuring a refrigerator at shoulder height and a cooled cabinet underneath for items like jams and juices, became a substitute for cellars.

By 1991, sustainable design was gaining traction amongst consumer products, and Electrolux was at the forefront with its Low-Energy Refrigerator, one of the first environmentally-friendly fridges, which halved energy consumption for the user. 1993 saw a continuation of this trend with Electrolux being the first to launch a line of ozone-friendly CFC-free refrigerators.

The combination of user-friendly, stylish and sustainable design has been continued with the introduction of the Willow and Ooyu fridge lines for the Chinese market in 2011. Combining the influences of Asian art heritage with Scandinavian sensibilities, the Willow range introduced art to the kitchen, while the Ooyu’s efficient use of space for maximum storage won it the 2011 Best White Home Appliance Award at the Sina Digital Billboard awards.

Willow fridge

The Willow refrigerator brought art into the kitchen with its blend of Asian cultural art and Scandinavian sensibilities.

Ooyu

The award-winning Ooyu fridge has been a hit with apartment dwellers as its design maximises space usage while taking up a minimum of real estate.

As Electrolux continues to innovate in both form and function, keep an eye on The Little White Book for the latest in kitchen appliances.

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