The refrigerator plays a significant role in everyone’s homes given its crucial place at the center of kitchen life. It is only natural, then, that choosing a new refrigerator for your home is an important decision. For a long while, a refrigerator’s capability and capacity for food storage used to be what consumers deliberated over the most when looking for a new model. However, this has all changed with the introduction of Samsung Electronics’ Bespoke refrigerator.
Samsung’s Bespoke refrigerators come in a range of different-sized compartments for users to mix and match according to their household size, diet choice and lifestyle. Users can choose from three different panel textures and 11 different colors to suit their personal aesthetic. The customizable Bespoke refrigerator lineup has recently taken markets all over the world by storm by merit of its eye-catching color choices and flexible design styles.
Samsung Newsroom sat down with the man in charge of designing the Bespoke range, Harry Choi, head of the Design team at Samsung Electronics’ Consumer Electronics Division, to learn more.
Q: The global launch of the Bespoke refrigerator range has garnered much attention worldwide. What are your thoughts about this development?
Since its launch last year, our Bespoke refrigerator has been a huge hit. It has been a great honor to have achieved such distinguished recognition at several major international design awards – our stylish refrigerator won a gold award at the International Forum (iF) Design Awards this year and was also a winner of the 2020 NYCxDESIGN Awards in the Kitchen Product category. Not only are these accolades an incredible honor, I believe they also serve as a surefire testament to how innovative our Bespoke range is.
European designers and products are known to be preeminent in their field, so I feel especially proud that our designs are being recognized there. I look forward to seeing users around the world enjoy our products.
Q: How did you conceive of the design for Bespoke refrigerators?
Today’s user aspires to have a coordinated design aesthetic in their home, in everything from their home appliances to their décor to their cutlery. Functionality used to be the most important purchasing factor for home appliances, but that is now viewed as a given – personal taste has come to the forefront of such decisions. Users do not want to have to decide between function and design when selecting appliances and are increasingly valuing the ability to express themselves with their home appliance choices.
Furthermore, I had observed that the role of the kitchen in the home was changing. Today’s kitchen is not just a place for cooking; it is a space where family members gather to work, play, or spend quality time together. Keeping in mind this new residential trend of utilizing the kitchen in multi-faceted ways, I devised a refrigerator that can evolve along with the lifestyles of our users. The design conceptualization for the Bespoke refrigerator started with the idea that refrigerators should not all be uniform and that they should be able to be built according to consumer tastes instead.
Q: Bespoke refrigerators come in an eye-catching array of colors. Why did you decide to place such an emphasis on color?
Color is the best way to intuitively change the traditionally rigid image of the refrigerator. We experimented with a great number of colors to effectively move past this image; since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, my team and I conceived of a wide color range for users to choose from.
In addition to these color choices, we also devised a range of texture options, as well as a variety of module sizes, to best match any individual’s lifestyle. In designing these options, we researched the relationship users have with their refrigerators extensively – from how they use their fridge to where they put it and how large it is. By curating a range of design choices that include both unprecedented novelty and timeless style, we worked hard to provide options that could suit any lifestyle.
Q: What was front of mind for you when selecting the right colors, materials and modules to offer users?
Reflecting the values and the lifestyle that users today pursue. Our focus was on making the Bespoke refrigerator line into a palette with which users can express their own creativity thanks to the infinite design combinations available.
In the past, we used to refer to the latest trending colors for decisions such as these. For the Bespoke range, however, we decided to pursue more daring color options that can stand out and bring life to spaces – while of course providing more traditional and muted options for those users that want to match their refrigerator to their existing interior.
Q: The 2020 Bespoke lineup includes some new color swatch additions. What are they?
This year’s additions to the Bespoke color lineup have been inspired by the architectures and color pallets of Stockholm, Berlin and Seoul, three cities known for being diverse and artistic cultural centers. I am pleased to say that these color options are available to customers in select markets around the globe. At the moment, our color offerings vary by region.
Q: What is new to the Bespoke lineup in terms of texture swatches in 2020?
While the color of a refrigerator is the first thing a user appreciates, the texture of the product surely comes next given that every time they go to open or close their refrigerator, they are interacting with it. In order to provide users with a range of agreeably tactile options that could stand the test of time, we made and tested over one hundred mock ups, and our Color Cotta, Satin Glass and Glam Mirror swatches are the results of this.
Color Cotta has the appearance of baked brick yet has been carefully crafted with a miniscule granular texture to avoid any rough sensations. Satin Glass and Glam Mirror were crafted with low-saturation colors to enhance the appeal of the kitchen more broadly and fit seamlessly into a kitchen’s aesthetic. We worked hard on designing a color selection and combination that was as diverse as possible for users.
Q: What design innovations have you introduced for users’ convenience?
While having many color options is of course a bonus, it might as well be slightly overwhelming at first. To help with this, we introduced detachable panels into the Bespoke refrigerator range so that users can change colors with ease. The panels have a soft but tense cushion with magnets on the back of them so they can be firmly attached to the frame of the refrigerator yet easily replaced as users desire. Users can also customize the direction of their door’s swing; whether they want to open from left to right or vice-versa.
Q: Bespoke refrigerators allow for creative self-expression. In fact, some artists have even used them as canvases. Do you have any projects in the future that include this kind of artistic collaboration?
I was genuinely surprised by the outcome of the Bespoke Design Competition held in Korea as I had no idea that home appliance design was such a cross-generational interest – we saw a lot of interest from young designers. This taught me that today’s users have moved beyond just taking into account the functionality of their consumer electronics and are starting to value cultural and creative elements, too. Going forward, I want to lay the foundation for collaboration with a variety of artists.
Furthermore, we are planning collaborations with a variety of brands, including global furniture and interior design brands. With these projects, we are looking to bring together Samsung’s philosophy of technical innovation with creative philosophies that put the consumer and their lifestyle front and center.
Q: How would you describe the home lifestyle culture Samsung’s appliances offer users?
Conventionally, when we purchase furniture pieces, we consider how and whether it will fit into our home based on aesthetic and taste preferences. But home appliances do not seem to be subject to this same level of consideration.
Ten years ago, my main priority when designing refrigerators was how to make them stand out. Nowadays, our research goes deep into user lifestyles and environments so that we can develop home appliances that fit seamlessly into a user’s existing aesthetic. I expect that, in the near future, we will be considering our home appliances in exactly the same way we might consider a stylish sofa or a sleek coffee table – which is to say, as part of our overall interior design aesthetic.
Q: Bespoke has only recently opened up a new category of lifestyle appliances. What are the next steps for developing this design approach further?
Samsung opened up this new chapter of consumer electronics built to fit user taste on the basis of a profound understanding of and empathy for the diverse ways people live their lives. Going forward, we would like to design products that continue to place the value of each individual’s lifestyle at their core. Through continuous consumer research and communication, we will work hard to help our users enjoy their own lifestyles to the fullest by developing products that are as pleasing to look at as they are to use.