Crazy cool: GE design team imagines HOME 2025, appliances of the future
“Welcome to the year 2025!”
Lou Lenzi, GE’s director of industrial design, launched this morning’s press event showcasing GE’s HOME 2025 exhibit at the University of Louisville’s Cressman Center gallery at 100 E. Main Street.
For the next six weeks, the public will be able to tour the exhibit and see GE’s designers’ vision for the home of the future. Like with the mayor’s Vision Louisville project, GE invites feedback an input. There’s a “graffiti wall” in the gallery where the public can comment.
Lenzi said that it was important to them that the exhibit was downtown so more people could interact with it.
According to GE documents, the HOME 2025 project began four months ago with a challenge to GE’s industrial designers”to conceptualize how we will make dinner, wash clothes, and interact with information over the next 12 years in order to make our lives less complex and more enjoyable.”
Lenzi urged the designers to think about technical possibilities, environment and social changes and cultural trends. But, he said, he wanted them to stay “somewhat grounded in reality.”
The designers were split into four teams and created personas of imagined users in 2025 and designed the products to fit these characters’ needs, desires and lifestyles.
Even the personas themselves reflect cultural trends. An unmarried, cohabitating couple, a single mother and same-sex partners represent three of the four families.
Chris Bissig, a member of the industrial design team, took the press on a tour of the exhibit of the designs.
- A laundry/clothes storage station. Based on an unscientific poll of audience, this appliance had by far the biggest wow factor. It is a machine the size of a standard closet that washes, dries and then compresses your clothing into hockey-puck-or-smaller-sized pellets and then stores the pellets. When you decide what you want to wear, you tell the station, it dispenses the pellet into the machine and it “revives” the pellet in under a minute. The station effectively replaces your washer, dryer, iron, ironing board, steamer and your closet and bureaus.
- A kitchen 3D printer. Tomas DeLuna, the intern-turned-designer responsible for GE’s Artistry line, talked about 3D printing of food that is “simple in its molecular structure.” He gave as an example a “printable dog bone.” You can control the ingredients and flavors and even personalize it with your dog’s name.
- A beverage station. We’re accustomed to water stations on our fridges, but this is a faucet that dispenses ice, water, sparkling water and then other beverages for which you’d buy flavor cartridges. But most interestingly, the faucet handle uses biometric readings to tell you how dehydrated you are and to recommend how much liquid you should drink to rectify that.
- A garbage disposal that doubles as a compost creator. You can flip a switch on your disposal that puts it into compost mode. It mashes the food and compresses it into pellets which then are dispensed into a bin. When the bin is full, you can deposit the pellets straight into the garden.
The HOME 2025 exhibit meshes well with Vision Louisville, a challenge to collect 45,000 ideas for Louisville in 45 days.
“We are so fortunate to have GE Appliances here in Louisville … so we can watch this major escalation in innovation for manufacturing,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.
The mayor added hat because of GE’s new rapid prototyping center that has implemented 3D printing on an industrial scale, GE can “iterate faster than any company in the world.”
“It helps set the pace for the city when you have a company with a global best practice located here,” he said.
Fischer said that he’s not a pioneer with his Vision Louisville effort. He said, “Think of what city leaders did with Fredrick Law Olmsted in the 1800s. That was a breakthrough thought. Think of the waterfront.”
Whether it’s the GE designers or someone with an idea for Vision Louisville, Fischer said that innovation starts with someone saying, “That’s a crazy idea… but it’s really cool.”
The mayor said, “The eyes of the country are on Louisville and GE.”
Cressman Center gallery is open:
Wednesday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
First Friday of Each Month (Trolley Hop): 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.