Appliances: Icon Makes Waves
While omnipresent in homes throughout Europe, Electrolux, the Swedish brand responsible for the tank vacuum that was sold door-to-door to millions of American households following its introduction in 1924, has maintained a low profile on this side of the Atlantic in recent decades. However, AB Electrolux—now an appliance conglomerate that includes AEG in Germany, Frigidaire in the United States, Molteni in France, and Zanussi in Italy—recently introduced its Icon collection of premium kitchen appliances, which are styled in Europe but engineered and produced in the United States, specifically for American households.
Playing off this European-American collaboration, Electrolux launched the new line in June on the Queen Mary 2 as it sailed from Southampton to New York. In the ship’s Chef’s Galley restaurant, chef Laurent Gras of San Francisco’s Fifth Floor put the equipment through its paces, treating diners to cooking demonstrations and tastings. He was particularly impressed with the electric cooktop, claiming that he has never worked on one with so much control.
In addition to the 36-inch electric cooktop, the initial Icon rollout includes a 4.2-cubic-foot convection wall oven, a warming drawer, a 36-inch gas cooktop, a 22.6-cubic-foot counter-depth refrigerator/freezer, a dishwasher, and a series of range hoods. All have been designed and sized for American kitchens and feature satiny stainless-steel bodies.
Keith McLaughlin, president and CEO of Electrolux Home Products North America, says the company spent a year researching Americans’ kitchen habits before designing the appliances. “We talked to real people and spent time in their homes to see how they use appliances,” he says. “And what they want, above all, is performance.” But, he adds, they also want appliances that are tactile, functional, and beautiful.
Icon seems to address all of these criteria: Each appliance is equipped with broad, arched handles that are contoured to fit the hand comfortably; the warming drawer opens on ball-bearing glides at the touch of a finger; the gas and electric cooktops respond instantaneously to their controls; the dishwasher and range hoods operate silently; and the refrigerator, finished in a smudge-resistant stainless steel, freezes foods as quickly as a third faster than other freezers to better lock in color, flavor, and nutrients. The company backs each appliance with its Platinum Star Service program, which includes representatives calling periodically to make sure the appliances are operating smoothly.
Electrolux plans to enhance its lineup in the coming months with the addition of dual-fuel and all-gas ranges, drop-in cooktops with grills and griddles, a speed-cook oven, and a built-in refrigerator/freezer equipped with an espresso machine and an ice maker.
The Electrolux Group