i+D - November/December 2019 - 36

TRUE REBEL
By Kim Cook

While high-tech features on kitchen appliances are getting a lot of buzz,
there's one company in St. Louis that is taking a more measured approach.
"We're not rushing to add 'smart technology,' but to be smart about what technology
we add to our appliances," says True Residential's marketing manager Andrew Shead.
True Manufacturing developed its reputation in the 1950s with roll-top bottle coolers,
freezers, and glass door-display refrigerators for companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Today, scores of restaurants and shops use the company's commercial products, and
the residential line is popular with design/build firms looking for a top-shelf appliance
with great style lines. "Few 'smart home' technologies being added to refrigerators will
be supported in 15 to 20 years," according to Shead. "The most important feedback
we're receiving from customers is that they want design flexibility, performance,
indoor/outdoor installation options, and durability.
"We're constantly applying tech to our refrigerators, but most of it is 'under the
hood'," continues Shead. "Forced-air refrigeration is a technology primarily used
in commercial environments, but it's perfect for residential use." True's system uses
evaporator coils rather than cold plates, which significantly speeds up a unit's chill
time. As well, the company's patented Ecomate foam insulation is denser and more
environmentally friendly than others on the market, so temps stay consistent.

Bonnie Steves, principal of New York City-based BJS-Assoc. Interior Design,
imagines there will be a synchronicity between tech and consumer demand,
but she's not seeing a big push in that direction yet. "Dealing with clients
that are in the technology sector, or are so captivated by technology that it
dominates their lives, I've come to realize that smart homes aren't going away.
But, I trust that the gimmicks will fade."
She says her clients are willing to spend more for quality products where
the performance, materials, and finishes are readily apparent. And, any tech
features should provide additional benefit, not be integral to the operation
of the appliance.
In his Manhattan-based practice, John Douglas Eason believes his clients
have become more mindful of making purchases that need to be replaced
less frequently and won't burden the waste stream down the road.
"Most of my clients are seasoned homeowners on their second, third, or
fourth homes. They've had the experience of purchasing items for the latest
bells and whistles, only to have them wear out sooner rather than later.
Case in point: One client who owns a high-end refrigerator said that within a
few years, the ice maker stopped working and the shelves and drawers started
giving out. She would now be inclined to purchase a simpler, more expensive
fridge that would last longer, and install a stand-alone icemaker."

Some designers, however, are noting some client pushback against the tech tide.
Matthew Frederick helms his eponymous global design/build firm out of Morristown,
New Jersey. He thinks simpler is better, and that advanced tech can sometimes
be gimmicky and destined for quick obsolescence, but also believes behind-the-scenes
tech that monitors diagnostics would be an interesting customer service
value proposition.
Shead agrees. "We'd be interested in integrated tech that monitors system diagnostics
and alerts us or our dealers directly. It's worth noting that since we manufacture all
of our appliances in-house, our team is trained to quickly diagnose any reported
issues-parts ship out immediately, and service techs will have an appliance fixed
within 48 hours."

All three designers agree on two main points. One, that our days are already
burdened with time spent on tech devices. And, two, that the best appliances
are those that simply do their primary job superbly.

KIM COOK
is a Canadian-born freelance journalist who began her career as a
marketing professional, living and working in Toronto, Tokyo, and Chicago.
Now based in New York City, she covers design, d├ęcor, and lifestyle stories for
The Associated Press, as well as several professional design publications.

Advanced technology
stays "under the
hood" at True, where
commercial advances
inform residential
appliance features.
(Image: True Residential)



i+D - November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i+D - November/December 2019

Contents
i+D - November/December 2019 - Cover1
i+D - November/December 2019 - Cover2
i+D - November/December 2019 - 3
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i+D - November/December 2019 - Contents
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