GE Introduces Monoblock Micro-Kitchen Concept for Small, Urban Spaces

Monday, Sep 1 2014
Posted by:
Nigel F. Maynard

Appliance giant GE has announced the production of new micro-kitchen concepts that include full suites of small appliances to address urban growth and downsizing trends.

Shrinking living spaces necessitate products and services that simplify, optimize and economize without sacrificing features, functionality or style, the company said.

“As we watch what’s happening in the U.S., there’s a clear trend toward smaller, more efficient living spaces,” said Lou Lenzi, director of industrial design for GE Appliances. “There will always be a need for larger appliances for existing homes; however, we can’t ignore the growing need in urban environments. GE Appliances is excited to tackle the design challenge of creating micro-kitchen concepts that help people maintain or enhance their lifestyle in substantially less square footage.”

Citing U.S. Census Bureau numbers, GE said urban population in the U.S. grew 12% from 2000 to 2010, totaling 81% of the population. As cities grapple with housing shortages, the trend toward smaller living spaces is already a reality, it added.

Earlier this year, GE announced its first micro-factory, FirstBuild, in Louisville, Kentucky. The factory will enable the company to quickly prototype, make and sell small batches of the micro kitchens in late 2014.

“Through FirstBuild and its global online community, GE Appliances is able to create, design, build and sell new innovations for your home faster than ever before,” Venkat Venkatakrishnan, director of R&D for GE Appliances and mentor for FirstBuild, said back in April. “We launched a micro-kitchen challenge in May, and everyone from enthusiasts to experts can join to contribute their ideas to make the concepts a reality.”

One concept, dubbed the monoblock, is an integrated unit with cooking, cleaning and refrigeration in a single standalone enclosure that would become a seamless part of the cabinetry. As designed, the consumer or builder could preconfigure their choices and have the custom-fabricated unit delivered to the home or job site, the company said.

The second concept is based on a counter-top-high, 24-in.-wide modular platform. This drawer-based system allows the consumer to choose the modules they want to have in their living space. All traditional kitchen appliances, including a microwave oven, conventional oven, convertible refrigerator and freezer, and dishwasher are drawer-based.  An induction or radiant glass cooktop, downdraft ventilation system, and kitchen sink with disposal complete the full kitchen experience.

The micro-kitchen drawers feature panelized construction providing a nearly unlimited choice of cabinet materials and finishes, so the décor possibilities are endless.


Shrinking living spaces necessitate products and services that simplify, optimize and economize. GE Appliances’ new micro kitchen concepts keep consumers living large in a drastically smaller footprint.


One of GE’s micro kitchen concepts – the monoblock – is an integrated unit with cooking, dishwashing and refrigeration in a single standalone enclosure that would become a seamless part of the cabinetry. 


GE’s micro kitchen features convertible refrigerator/freezer drawers with controls that allow you to change temperature settings and monitor energy use.


GE’s design team focuses on interaction and the experience design to create a digital interface that’s intuitive and simple.


A dish drawer is located below the sink in GE’s micro kitchen.


The front of the counter doubles as a notification area with a digital display you can see from across the room. It includes a countdown timer for the dishwasher, microwave/speedcook oven and convection oven.


The sink in the GE micro kitchen has a pull-out faucet and a removable, walnut cutting board that rests in the sink making it easy to wash and prepare foods.


The micro laundry design uses familiar touch screen technology to create controls that are both approachable and functional. By using a higher quality display, consumers can experience an enhanced interaction with the appliance – eliminating steps needed to find frequently used functions. 


GE’s combo speedcook/microwave oven combo drawer sits atop a pull-out, convection oven drawer giving double oven versatility in a very small footprint. 

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