While urging us to design unobtrusive objects, one of my Industrial Design professors used to say "No one wants a toaster. What people want is toast."
It took me years to realize that that wasn't true. If you look one of the more popular toasters on the market…
…you can see that these have enjoyed success because they announce their presence. People are plunking down $160 for a toaster that doubles as a "design accent" and has its brand prominently featured across the side, as if a toast-eater will be proud to read those letters each morning.
On the other hand, a subset of dishwashers have become invisible, at least compared to the one I remember growing up with. The janky dishwasher in my childhood home was noisy and featured its controls on its face, near the handle. But if you look at a high-end modern-day dishwasher like this Siemens model, it's so invisible that its product photography has to show it ajar, otherwise you wouldn't even know there's a dishwasher there:
The other benefit of photographing it ajar is that you can see that the controls are now hidden away, on the inside top edge of the door:
Siemens isn't alone in this approach, of course. Here's a model from competitor Bosch:
Bosch's models are reportedly so quiet that consumers wondered whether they were still running, a problem the engineers were presumably thrilled with. Bosch's designers, with no front-mounted display on which to indicate operating status, responded by adding the "Bosch InfoLight." This is simply a red dot discreetly projected onto the floor, letting you know that the thing is running:
Siemens did them one better with their "TimeLight," which not only lets you know the machine is on, but also how much time is left in the cycle:
So it looks like Professor Hannah was partially right about what consumers want, but he used the wrong object for his example.
Lastly I'll say, I hate toasters. They take up way too much space on the counter for something I'll eat once a day at most, and cleaning them out is a pain. What I want in a toaster of the future is that it's just a special dish that lives in the cabinet. Pull it out, drop two slices of bread on it, and it toasts them in the manner of a wireless charging pad, using some magical process that doesn't burn your fingers. When you're done, it disappears back into the cabinet. That, I'd happily pay $160 for.
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"What I want in a toaster of the future ... that lives in the cabinet. Pull it out, drop two slices of bread on it, and it toasts them "
Dishwashers don't start fires when you forget they are on. Close the door on a hidden toaster and walk away in the middle of a toasting cycle and it may be the last time. The cost of solving that "problem" (hiding toasters) would be far greater than the cost of just making them look like cool things people want to display.
If you have a gas stove, what you want is a camp-stove toaster; it sits on top of the burner and makes toast. Doesn't do both sides at once, but folds neatly for storage in your drawer. They'll even do four pieces at once. https://www.coghlans.com/products/camp-stove-toaster-504d
Good to see I'm not the only one who agrees that some people just want cool looking products instead of invisible stuff. This, much like the entire gospel of minimalism, is too often treated as absolute. As for me personally, there are some products that I prefer minimalist in function and invisible in appearance, and others that I want to stand out and look awesome, with all the bells and whistles I could want. And everyone will have different preferences on which products they prefer for these cases.
For safety reasons, not possible yet to enclose it per US building code. Or the encasing would have to be built like an oven, then who would want to pay the price of an oven for a dumb ass toaster?
I have that kind of Bosch dishwasher. Red dot or no, I'm frequently opening it mid-cycle. Good that it doesn't spray water everywhere.
More correctly - three brands (Siemens, Bosch and Constructa) from a single company.
Don't forget Gaggenau, Thermador, and about six other brands globally! Huge company, was my first ID job!
SMEG is one of those companies where I truly appreciate the design of their products. However, I am reluctant to ever purchase one just because "Smeg" isn't something I want to read every day, or ever, really.
somebody had toast for breakfast.