For all the buzz about "connected home" appliances at this year’s International CES in Las Vegas, one of the pioneers in that field—Samsung—bucked the trend by introducing a line of premium kitchen appliances that puts design and function ahead of digital bells and whistles.
The global electronics company introduced its Club des Chefs suite of stainless steel kitchen appliances at a pair of events on January 6 and 7, and there wasn’t a touch-screen or Twitter app to be seen. Instead, the appliances boast functional and aesthetic features that Samsung developed with input from Michelin star-rated chefs, including Michel Troisgros of Maison Troisgros in Roanne, France; Eric Trochon of Semilla in Paris; and Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, California.
"These really are artists," says Kevin Dexter, Samsung’s senior vice president of home appliances sales and marketing. "Their tools, their canvas, their paintbrushes are the kitchen appliances that they work with, in addition to the food. So when you talk about the passion that they have, and so many ideas, it’s not unlike any other great artist—a musician, a painter. That beautiful mind is always working. So when you tap into that, it’s the little things that they talked about—‘Could you do this?’ and ‘Nobody’s done this.’ It’s a great environment to be in."
Won Park, senior vice president of Samsung’s sales and marketing team for digital appliances, says the chefs suggested several design tweaks to make the appliances easier to use, and easier on the eyes. "When we showed our first concept project, they said, ‘Whenever we open a refrigerator, it’s all white and plastic; it’s ugly,’" she says. "‘All refrigerators look alike.’ They said, ‘We need more metal in it,’ because it’s functional; it keeps the cold air in. But also it’s beautiful to look at. And why don’t we add a bit of color to inspire freshness? We worked on that with them."
The result is a four-door, 34-cubic-foot fridge outfitted with what Samsung calls a "Triple Cooling System," which allows for different temperatures in different sections, and for the lower-right-hand compartment to be used either as a refrigerator or a freezer. The chefs also suggested a feature that Samsung calls the Chef’s Pantry—a temperature-controlled compartment that allows items like fish to be chilled at 30 degrees to maximize quality and taste. It comes with a "chef’s pan" that can be used for marinating before being moved to the oven and, later, to the dishwasher.
The temperature of each compartment is rendered in an understated digital display on the upper-right-hand door. "We got rid of all the unnecessary things; only the essentials are there," Park says of the design. "It’s a very minimalistic treatment."
The Electric Slide-In Range gives chefs the flexibility to simultaneously prepare two meals at different temperatures, but also improves on earlier Samsung ranges by giving users more precise temperature regulation.
The dishwasher dispenses with the conventional circular water sprays in favor of a linear mechanism that moves from front to back, providing a consistent, high-pressure water stream that does not skip the corners. A "Zone Booster" function allows users to designate two cleaning zones to give pots with caked-on grime a high-pressure wash while plates and utensils receive a lighter stream of water.
The Club des Chefs line of appliances is expected to hit the North American market in February.
Will Lamb is a writer and editor based in Jersey City, New Jersey. He served as a senior editor at Dwell from 2013 to 2015.