In an era when appliance features—and the buttons that control them—seem to be endlessly multiplying, GE has just revealed a new concept washer/dryer pair that goes in a very different direction.
The company's new BOXiE concept is all sleek minimalism. The front is almost completely bare, save for a lone control dial with a very limited number of choices. The only element breaking up the clean white design is an array of blue and orange LEDs that pulse gently around the rims of the doors.
It's an almost impossibly compact design that leaves you wondering where GE is planning on putting all of the motors and gizmos that will be required to make these devices actually work. Company reps were quick to assure us that this was just a prototype design and that development will continue over the coming year.
BOXiE’s stark minimalism isn’t just a nod to Apple’s aesthetic philosophy, though—form is actually following function. The LEDs serve as notification lights, letting you know at a glance where your machine is in the wash or drying cycle. The single dial offers the basic options everyone needs, while more complex functions are available via a connected iOS or Android app.
The duo seems to be aimed squarely at millennials, a group rapidly approaching home ownership and childrearing. These are machines meant to serve as both a design statement and functional appliances—ones you’ll leave out in the open, where people can see them, rather than hiding them away in a closet or in the basement.
BOXiE isn’t ready for primetime just yet, and the concept may see some significant changes by the time it makes it to market (if that happens at all). The message from GE is clear, though: The company understands that millennials aren’t interested in their parents' appliances, and it's doing its best to accommodate their desires.