Consumers today. What a tough life. Numerous styles and colors of appliances, not to mention the configurations and features. Then there are refrigerators–a metal box insulated to keep cold air in and rodents out. Yet, they lack the flair captured in the 50’s, back when cars had massive tail fins and toys could be cool, dangerous and not set off a political frenzy.
Ahh, the good ol’ days.
The refrigerators manufactured in the 50’s were considered ‘modern’ but had a futuristic look (like those found in the Fallout games). What’s more, they could be painted just about any color conceivable.
Big Chill founder Orion Creamer drew upon those 50’s styles when designing a retro fridge for his aunt and uncle’s new beach house back in 2001.
My aunt wanted a vintage refrigerator but my uncle didn’t want the hassle of a mid-century appliance. His concern: old fridges were small, inefficient and had to be defrosted regularly. I was studying Product Design in college when they approached me with the concept. As a retro enthusiast myself, it was a great fit.
He has since refined the design, essentially melding a classic look with modern technology. What’s interesting is how the fridge’s shell and aesthetics are manufactured almost identically to the way they were in the 50’s.
Orion began his Retro Fridge design by sketching out what he wanted in terms of a 50’s look, drawing inspiration from vehicle styles and colors that were popular during the time period, albeit, minus the tail fins. He then made several prototypes using foam in an effort to flesh-out the fridge’s proportions and looks.
Once he was satisfied with the final design, he then set about production of the first Big Chill retro fridge, which was initially an 18-month process from beginning to completion as each piece was manufactured using the metal stamping process and then powder-coated for scratch resistance. Chrome trim is then added and pivoting handle hardware is installed to bring about an authentic look.
At Big Chill we use a metal stamping process just like they did in the 1950’s. It’s a time-intensive, expensive process but we refused to cut corners and build our products from plastic or fiberglass.
To incorporate modern technology such as automatic defrosting and temperature control, Big Chill incorporated a Whirlpool model ET1FTEXSQ interior, which provides 21-cubic feet of storage. This is where some may find fault, as the (original) Retro Fridge retails for $3,295. Outside of being an $800 fridge wrapped in $2,500 of pressed metal in the color of your choice, it’s a beautiful appliance and a beautiful reminder of yesteryear and a style that is sure to be the center of attention in any kitchen.
Since they shipped their first fridge in 2004, they’ve moved on to develop an entire line of kitchen appliances including stoves and dishwashers. Even if they’re out of your price range, the Big Chill gallery is a wonderfully inspiring place to find ideas or see how good these fridges really look.