Is Stainless Steel on the way out?
Whirlpool and GE have recently launched new appliance colors in an effort to unseat stainless steel as America's favorite appliance finish. Even Wolf has begun production of its ovens in black in order to provide an alternative to stainless steel. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a feature article, Is this the end of a 25 year run for stainless steel?
In the article, author Ellen Byron writes, “It is a pivotal moment in kitchen design: While stainless steel is still the dominant look, there are clear signals it has outworn its welcome, even with no clear successor in place.” It isn't every day that the big names such as GE and Whirlpool launch new colors. It's a serious effort to at least put a dent in the hegemony of stainless steel. Launching new finishes is a costly proposition. Especially considering that unlike washer/dryer colors, kitchen appliances must be matched across a wide variety of platforms, eg. refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges, ovens, cooktops, and even vent hoods.
Whirlpool has launched its new “Ice Collection” of appliances a glossy black finish with stainless trim and a similar glossy white finish. “White is the new stainless” Whirlpool claims in their press release.
However, there is hardly unanimity among competitors. Wolf claims, “Black is the new stainless steel” in announcing its new line of black wall ovens.
Not to be outdone, GE has introduced a new line of appliances in a color they call “slate”, a grey alternative to stainless steel.
Who's right? Who will be the winner, and who will be the losers? One thing is for sure, nobody is betting the farm on these new finishes, and no appliance manufacturer is dropping stainless models in favor of the new colors. Viking Range Corporation makes its appliances available in 23 colors in addition to Stainless Steel. Yet, Brent Bailey, design director at Viking make this interesting comment. “I'd say 80% of our sales are still stainless steel. I could add another 100 colors and the percentage wouldn't change much.”
In looking at the new offerings, it's with noting that the Ice Collection is only in the Whirlpool brand, not in Whirlpool's premium KitchenAid and Jenn-Air brands. Similarly, GE is not rolling slate out in its luxury Monogram brand, and the initial GE model selection includes no built-in ovens or cooktops. It's entirely possible that the new GE and Whirlpool colors are meant to appeal to more entry level or step up buyers who are looking for a more cost effective replacement for stainless steel. Certainly, without the added cost of stainless steel customers should be able to get more appliance features for their investment.
Either way, consumers will have new choices. To help them make the best decisions, Universal Appliance and Kitchen Center has the most complete selection and the most expert sales associates in Southern California. Call or visit them today for help with the appliance colors and finishes that work best for you: