If I walk from one corner of my apartment to the other – a task that, in NYC, should only take about 5 steps total – I’m struck by the way furniture can define a space. I know which part of my tiny room is to be the “work” section – there’s a desk, a chair, a computer. It’s obvious the part of my room that comprise the entertainment section – there’s a TV and a stereo. Each of these elements is highly designed (even if it’s design from a decade ago). The elements that weren’t immediately customizable through the manufacturer (such as the color cover on my old PC) have been customized by either me or the slightly more talented - incorporating fun bumper stickers or etchings (such as the awesome engravings being done on Zune players). My tiny little room is filled with personality and spunk, making seemingly banal objects like a desk, appear awesome and inviting.
And then you walk into the kitchen. At least here, in New York, the kitchen is the bastion of New York City funkiness, and I don’t mean that in a kitschy way. The cabinets don’t stay shut, there are gaping holes between the oven and the fridge large enough to attract piles of dirt but not wide enough to actually clean. And the fridge is usually a monstrosity – a relic from 1945, when the so-called pre-war building was built. Even if you own your home, it’s hard to stay contemporary with such a massive piece of equipment. It requires a major financial layout and usually a malfunctioning fridge.
Perhaps this is why it’s so much easier to make the bedroom or living room look more personable. At least in these rooms we can buy furniture that is moveable, malleable, conformable. We also tend to have more options. If we don’t like the staid look of a PC, we can buy a Mac. If we don’t like those boring bookcases from cheap, flat-pack stores, we can get a fun looking one from…oh, I don’t know…Brastilo. But in the kitchen? You’re forced to decide between another banal white fridge or a sort of high-tech silver number that looks like it belongs on Star Trek. Okay, so maybe if you’re a hipster living in Brooklyn you’d buy a Smeg. But let’s be real – that avocado color went out of style 40 years ago for a reason!
The solution? Customize your own fridge. That’s right folks. Brazilian fridge manufacturer Brastemp is allowing you to create your very own fridge using different color combinations with all sorts of doo-dads like water filtration systems and fruit trays. The new line is called “You” and was featured on the Josh Spear blog last month. Unfortunately the site is in Portuguese, but it’s still lots of fun to play with the “over 19,000 possible combinations.” You can even choose which way the door should open and how to organize the inside shelves. As customization grows throughout various consumer products, we can expect to see similar items at Home Depot in no time. With something like a fridge, however, we have to remind ourselves that we’ll have to stare at this thing for a long time. And it’s a bit more expensive than those Nike Free sneakers we bought that one time in Magenta and never wore again. Or that Zune player we got with an engraving that now reads, “Dara loves Menudo”. So even though magenta is the color of the season, it may not translate onto a fridge 20 years from now.
But still, Brastemp has me salivating for my own place for which I can purchase a well-designed fridge to match my new MacBook and fancy LCD television (and that darned Zune player I can’t seem to unengrave). I can see my dream fridge dancing before my eyes; turquoise on top, black on bottom, hinged on the left with a water-filter on the front door - a tool I’ve dreamed of owning since I was a little girl staring in envy at my best friend’s fancy new refrigerator. I love that one day I’ll be able to fully customize everything in my home, making it truly reflect my tastes, aesthetics, and sense of kitsch, and that with the same products, we can all have very different looking homes.