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