GE Artistry Series

GE goes a little retro to reach Millennials. I haven’t seen GENERAL ELECTRIC used on products in decades.

Interview with 27-year-old GE industrial designer Tomas DeLuna:

Estimated retail price of the GE Artistry 5 appliance product suite is $2,416.

Bunch of crap (and this is from someone who used to work at GE).

I can’t speak for every millenial, but personally, having to rent cheap apartments where the appliances are truly retro, I wouldn’t want anything that reminds me of that when I can afford to buy appliances myself.

I do like the handles on the fridge though.

Not having interacted with them, I can’t speak for the quality.

I think the designs are well done. Most appliances in this entry price point are pretty banal. Looks like they spent the BOM money on nice touch points and left off the tack digital interfaces that dominate most of the midrange products. Once you get up into the high end everything goes simple and analog again anyway (Wolf, Viking…). From these images I’d say job well done.

I think…VW beetle is one of the best example of retro design…if you are adding the values with a modern approach,

Old GE products… have more visibility & reliability?
Is this the reason it is called artistry series not designer series?
Retro look, hmm…It will be testing of a strategic design.

Another example… a little bit differently positioned.
The brand has the tag line " Fashion Unchanged" and is drawing power from its legacy dating back to 1945. The brand uses funky colors and evokes as a sense of youthfulness that fits a fashion brand.

Is it suggesting a trend “I am back”? (may not be the main trend)
The company that has the rich history of products might get benefits if it sells (?)

I can’t help but feel like this is a cop-out American companies seem to take in lieu of actual innovation…

Is throwing some Futura on their branding and slapping an analog clock on the stove supposed to make us forget the decades of flimsy planned obsolescence that can be found in their consumer goods? GE is a company that consistently outputs genuine research and breakthroughs, and I’d personally rather see an appliance line that reflects this.

For sure would have to see these in person, but from the few pics available, I like the direction. Low end appliances usually suffer from over design, and here they’ve gone the higher end route to simplification.

I don’t really see these as retro. The styling is pretty boxy, and much more modern than most. No tacked on fake art deco speed strips or plastic chrome that I can see (aside from maybe the knobs). A bit euro even with the very clean lines. The clock may be a bit retro, but I’d prefer it to a default green LCD.

Really, this is a great improvement over something like this-

Overall a step in the right direction.


Agreed. Not every product needs to be burdened with feature innovation. Sometimes you just want an oven to be a reliable oven and fit in with your home while being that. There is a lack of that approach in the marketplace and GE identified that opportunity and executed against it. This is the nature of strategic design. Not everything is a rocketship.

I don’t see product improvement as a burden. And lack of “futuristic” features does not necessarily result in reliability. On the contrary, the low price point seems to suggest the same flimsy mechanisms and materials we’ve grown to know in typical low-end consumer products.

I’m not talking about Bluetooth-enabled refrigerators but rather the occasional genuine improvements put out by these companies. For “simplified/sophisticated” styling see Smeg, for functional improvements see LG, and for tech innovations see GE’s own higher end lines.

Definitely strategically savvy to position a stripped-down suite of appliances as “artistry” but it’s certainly not novel, and it’s more marketing than design, and this is why it disinterests me.

At the very least, can we please finally give Donald Norman some inner peace on the stove knob layout? :laughing:

A good first step. Now they need 10 colors like laundry machines. Neo-Avocado anyone? =)

I agree GE is a retro brand, and they may be trying to play to their strength, but a frig is no VW Beetle!
I don’t buy the “designed by a Millennial for Millennials” - that’s just marketing, but the housing market must be coming back though for this industry to launch anything new.

I can’t speak for every millenial, but personally, having to rent cheap apartments where the appliances are truly retro, I wouldn’t want anything that reminds me of that when I can afford to buy appliances myself.

We bought our first house in 1981. It was built in 1952 and came equipped with an old O’Keefe-Merrit range. It had a 24/7 pilot light to ignite the burners when you wanted to use one. If it blew out it automatically shut off the gas, and you then had to lift the top cover and relight it. When you wanted to use the oven, there was a hole at the bottom of the over door opening and you applied a match to it; worked every time. Our didn’t even have a window to look inside.

When you were done with cooking the front cover folded out over the burners and you had an extra horizontal surface; something in short supply in those days of 1,000 sq. ft., 3-bedroom homes.

Having lived with “modern” GE Monogram series appliances for fifteen years I think the old Okeefe-Merrit might have had a slight upper hand. The oven was smaller but it didn’t have a balky piezoelectric ignitor that clicked incessantly for the last five years of it’s life. In the end I bought one of those butane fire starters. The O-M didn’t have a digital anything on it. How many digital clocks are in your household (excluding the one in your iPhone)? A halogen interior light would have been nice.

I wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that this is the very range that Mirk had in his flat; they were built like a battle tank.

So if you want to give us something “retro” think simplicity … utter simplicity. No electronic controls, no electronic ignitors, no clock of any sort, make it any color you like. But forget stainless … stainless it isn’t. Make it easy to clean with generous radii in the corners. All I want it for is to cook food, it’s not an entertainment center. If it’s lasted sixty years already, without any electronics to crap out it’s probably a safe bet it will last another sixty years.

Hell, if you refurburish it right I’d buy a old one today.



in my eyes GE cashes in on those positve connotations and experiences the really old appliances hold
for a certain (hippster) set of customers. They look like a trusty piece of kit.

But I’d bet those Artistry series items won’t hold up for 60 years. They will have the same little internal
switches that burn out in the 4th or 5th year.

This feels a little like Mercedes bringing back the original G-Wagon, but built in Taiwan out of cardboard.

What puzzles me though is, that they decided to use a look that has re-established itself within the high end
niche of the market for their most basic (cheapest?) line. Someone give me a clue on the customer identification
behind that.


I kinda like these.

I’ve no idea of GE’s product range, price ranges etc and how these products may fit into that but from the video and previous comments I’m guessing these are lower price point items?

Personally, I’d rather see a considered analogue clock over a sourced and glued-in digital item and I like the “mid-century” aesthetic going on here.

Okay, normally I am just an occasional reader on this boards, but this thread made me chime in. Not so much because of the discussed product itself. Retro-crap like this just gets released from time to time. It is more the (partly) positive reaction of my fellow designers here that leaves me a bit puzzled.
Designers are struggling in a lot of different industries. They are underpaid and overlooked in the development process of new products. And why is that so? Basically because of the perception non-designers have on what designers actually do. They think designers are just stylists to make a product “beautiful” or “stylish” (horrible word). They think designers just tweak the outer appearance a little bit to drive sales. But the worst part about that is, that designers are slowly adjusting to that perception. They start to just be styling-DJs. Resampling old and existing elements into a superficial cover for crappy stuff. Instead they should rather be people who CREATE completely new visual styles that reflect our culture here and now.

Products like this are just pure semantic lies. They just drive sales by pretending something they are not and evoking nostalgic feelings to make clueless customers spend money. They make them pay for stuff that will litter this planet with its limited resources in a few years. That is the most unethical way to sell your stuff that I can think of. Even those cheap Chinese stoves are better than that because at least they are upfront about what they are. “Good design is honest”… I think sometimes Dieter Rams ten principles are a bit dogmatic, but I do agree with him on this one 100%. Whatever product claims to be “well designed” has to be AT LEAST honest. Everything else is debatable.
This GE-Stuff is just a pure embodiment of everything that is wrong in the design world right now. Yes, this stuff MIGHT drive sales. But that shouldn’t be our main concern. There are already enough people thinking about how to trick customers how to spend their money on stuff they don’t need. At least the designers should stop applauding the newest marketing lies and actually should start designing (not styling) good, useful products. And obviously there are tons of designers who are not okay with the way GE and a lot of other companies are handling design. But right now the alternative to that seems to be designing a silly iPad case for kickstarter or tinkering boring DIY furniture in their garages. But none of this stuff is bringing us anywhere. We need more designers that actually like to THINK in their jobs and have a certain attitude towards design and less designers who just want to sketch pretty pictures and renderings.
It is really sad that brAun is still the gold standard when it comes to kitchen appliances because that stuff is already a few decades old. That shows how little design has developed as a serious discipline since then. And selling a retro styled stove is just full throttle in reverse gear and it always makes me sick to my stomach to see such things.

PS: For example: I fully agree that an analog clock is much more charming than the cheap 7 segment display. But does this really result in retro styling? It should certainly not and this is actually the point where the job of a designer starts by asking the question: How can I incorporate an analog clock into a modern forward thinking design in a low-end product? Of course that is a difficult task, but that should be our job.

PPS: I am sorry that my first post is such a rant, I hope I can contribute to more enjoyable topics in the future :wink:

I feel your pain.

On a second note: “you are over-analyzing”.

Try to detach yourself from all that moral weight. At least a little
Or become the next Snowden…(or Zippy for that matter)


I’ll come back to this thread another time, you’ve raised some interesting points which will no doubt lead to some interesting discussion.

However, it’s Friday pm, the UK is in a heat wave, and I’m off for a few cold beers with some friends!

Have a great weekend everyone!

this is definitly lower end than the rest of the main GE brand.
It’s not bottom of the barrel low, chrome plating on the knobs costs somthing, so it’s not the really cheap stuff that ends up in apartment blocks by the truckload.

Whether it’s a cheap design trick to sell more stuff to naive consumers, I’ll leave that for the philosophers or time to decide.

All in all, I do agree with much of your rant. Nice job. But since it is so long, I will just focus on this bit.

First, what you claim to be what is wrong in the design world right now, has always been and always will be what’s wrong with the design world - bad design is bad design. GE certainly didn’t invent it and they will be not the last to put it out there.

I’d go as far as to say that this isn’t necessarily bad design. It appeals to a certain market segment. And that market segment doesn’t give a single rat’s crap if it is honest or not. I could even take it further by claiming your attitude about what is “good & bad” design is the pure embodiment of everything that is wrong in the design world right now. While I might not agree with that segment’s idea of “good” design, I will not deny them their convictions, they are just as legitimate as mine or yours.

If GE makes a buck or two off of them, I won’t get upset. And I don’t think there is any conspiracy to brainwash and dupe consumers when there are hundreds of choices for them to make.

Nice first contribution Mrog. Welcome.