Welcome to Liesl, veteran writer for many New York papers and magazines who now is weighing in on kitchen appliances instead of books for a change.
This is a copy of Liesl's letter to Big Chill, which was written at the height of her saga. They kindly replied...
"Dear Big Chill, I spoke to a Big Chill employee on the phone, and learned that you are considering making a slimline version of your fridge. Yippee..."
"I was excited to see your fridges, because I've been looking for a designy, vivid-colored gorgeous fridge, like they have all over Europe, but North American makers are behind the trend, and hardly anybody makes
them--just you and Northstar; and both of yours are too big, though they're probably great for people with
huge McMansion kitchens. I think you'd be surprised how many Americans--not only apartment-dwellers
in NYC, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, D.C., Philly, and so on...but across the country, would love to buy a
modern, slimline, artistic, colorful fridge that takes up less of their kitchen space.
Euro fridges are narrower than American fridges. As a new Yorker with a kitchen that's 6 feet x 9 feet (with
counters, stove and sink, that means i've got an under-2-foot wide aisle to work in), the king-sized specs don't work for me. But as an American, I DO demand lots of storage in the fridge! How can this seeming conflict be resolved?
Liesl's favorite, the Bombatino Doppio (left two) and the SMEG (right)
Give the fridge a narrow footprint, but make it tall. The only narrow fridges I've found here that have appealing design are the import "SMEG" (what a name), and the only model available on these shores is the SMEG Fabu28, which is barely 5-feet high, and has a freezer the size of a loaf of bread. SMEG's Fabu30, which is taller, is NOT available here. SMEG, I believe, has given up making the Fabu30 for Europe and is making bigger ones, so the Fabu30's moment is probably past, anyway.
Here's my Big Chill design wish list, which I suspect you'd find would be on the wish list of many aesthetic-minded, space-challenged customers:
1) Give it glossy, gorgeous, saturated color, but make it more modern. Not plump and retro-bulbous-- sleek. Also not quite so pale?--e.g., that pallid pastel green might be livelier if it was Granny-Smith-apple green.
2)Try to keep the footprint small, ideally 24x24 but no more than 26x26, max; but make the fridge TALL, so
the fridge still has ample storage. 5'7" to 6' 2" would make sense. Floor space is the problem, in design-
obsessed, cash-rich places like NYC and San Francisco. We've all got ceiling space, so it can go TALL; but
wide does NOT work. With my 31-inch wide GE fridge, I can't even open the door fully--the crisper drawer cannot be pulled out more than 4 inches.
3) Make the freezer-to-fridge- ratio 1 to to 4, or 1 to 3, max. The version you have is nearly fifty-fifty. That doesn't make sense. Think of all the juice, water, soda, milk, etc. we all guzzle, not to mention the fresh veg, and the salad spinners full of fresh mixed greens. The fridge section has got to be bigger.
4) For design ideas, please please look at this gorgeous fridge made by Boretti, called the Bombatino (I like the Bombatino Doppio much much better). See pix below. The Borettis are NOT available in or importable to the U.S. for some reason.
5)Try to keep the price much closer to $2000 than $3000. That higher pricetag will ultimately really suppress your sales, if you ask me. Splurging an extra 1K on a fridge makes me feel decadent. Splurging an extra 2K makes me feel stupid.
6)Make a really fun ad campaign on TV for it. Make people want it. Get OK Go to do a rock video with it, or
Feist or Franz Ferdinand, or Green Day or something. How about a DJ remix of Heard It Through The Grapevine (get it, "Big Chill"?) with hipster band in bright outfits, in choreo'd video of them putting different colored grape bunches in different colored fridges. Or maybe Franz Ferdinand would let you use "Do You Want To" to sell it.
Many thanks! The images attached are Boretti's GREEN Bombatino Doppio (my fave) and the RED Bombatino, which looks too much like a cupboard, but is still neat.
Do please let me know if you ARE in fact planning, soonish, a slimline fridge...
All best, Liesl"
They replied the following business day:
Thanks for all of your great feedback and product ideas. We will keep you posted on any new developments with any smaller products.
While not the perfect answer, we'll let you know as soon as Liesl hears anything more from Brian.
About Liesl Schillinger: ...Since 1991, she has written for many publications in the United States and Britain, chiefly The New York Times, The New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the London Independent on Sunday, where she wrote a column about New York life in 1996-98. She now writes full time, and is pursuing the goal of living like an expat in her own city.