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Home appliances getting darker

Black, colored appliances in vogue as customers get style-conscious


Kim Hye-in, a soon-to-be bride, still faces a myriad of decisions as she prepares for her upcoming wedding, but she is quite firm on one point: no white or pastel appliances.

“That’s why I chose black as my color scheme for the appliances I will be buying for our place,” said Kim, who was browsing Hi-Mart, a local electronics retailer. 
Daewoo Electronics’ Klasse Combination refrigerator (Daewoo Electronics)
Daewoo Electronics’ Klasse Combination refrigerator (Daewoo Electronics)

Like most other brides-to-be, Kim was looking for the right gadgets and appliances to fill her apartment.

Kim said that before she saw the black products, she had not even imagined buying appliances that were not white or ivory.

“But then I saw them in black, and I was completely bowled over because they seemed so chic and stylish,” Kim said.

Black has undoubtedly always been the shade most frequently associated with style and sophistication, but it had not exactly been a popular choice for home appliances.

That is, up until recently.

“In the past, we designed mostly white or pastel-colored appliances because they were more popular with women who preferred feminine and innocent color schemes,” said Park Ho-rin, manager of product sales planning at Daewoo Electronics.

But this trend has been rapidly changing with the younger generation over the past few years Park said, especially as an increasing number of Koreans are choosing to stay single.

“Our studies have found that the younger and hipper generation, many of whom prefer to stay single, consider home appliances being a part of the interior decoration, and thus are looking for savvier and more sophisticated designs,” Park noted.

He expected more and more black appliances to dominate the home appliances market, which will reportedly rise to almost 5 million units this year.

Conscious of the changing trend, Daewoo now features ink-black refrigerators and even kimchi fridges in black after discovering that consumers were growing tired of white appliances and looking for a little variety.

“What is surprising is that the black products really are selling well,” said Lee Teuk-gwon, a salesperson at a Hi-Mart branch in southern Seoul, who noted a significant increase since late last year.

Daewoo said sales of its black-colored side-by-side refrigerators ― rolled out in September last year ― have doubled.

Buoyed by the success, the firm rolled out its Klasse combination refrigerator in January this year, the first in Korea with black glass doors. This product has sold more than 10 million units as of this month.

Daewoo’s ovens, featured in both ebony and white, also showed that the darker ovens accounted for 80 percent of the sales.

Samsung Electronics has its own black refrigerator out in the market ― the jewel-studded Massimo Zucchi model.

The black craze has now seemed to move onto smaller appliances, such as rice cookers and water purifiers.

Cuckoo Homesys, the nation’s top manufacturer of rice cookers, has been rolling out black cookers, along with Lihom, another maker of kitchen appliances, which sells cookers with black lids.

Lihom also manufactures humidifiers in black.

By Kim Ji-hyun (jemmie@heraldcorp.com)
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