Co.Design

Astro, Designers Of The Xbox 360, Create Kitchen Appliances That Dock Together

Each appliance plugs into the next one, creating a complete, clutter-free system.

To me, there's something about a modern, high-end kitchen that seems unobtainable. It's not that I think I'll never be able to afford one (OK, it's a little bit of that) but rather the complete absence of stuff -- the long stretches of countertop, unmarred by mismatched appliances and tangled cords running from a single, crowded outlet. San Francisco-based Astro Studios -- which is best known for designing the original Xbox 360 and the Boxee Web-TV box -- offers a way to eliminate visual clutter while indulging our love of toast: a suite of appliances that plug into each other, not the wall.

The KitchenScape appliances are minimalist rectilinear objects (a coffeemaker, juicer, toaster, and tea kettle), but the real innovation comes into play when they're strung together. The coffeemaker, say, plugs into the wall in the traditional fashion, but then offers an outlet to the toaster, which in turn provides electrical power to the next, and so on. Everything is kept within easy reach and ready to go, so there's no jockeying for outlet space. What's more, each appliance is designed to save space and improve how the kitchen works as a whole. For example, the juicer has storage space for ingredients and an integrated cutting board for prep. Meanwhile, the coffeemaker's components are rearranged to provide easier access to supplies.

The idea is only a concept; Astro Studios is looking for a manufacturer. In the meantime, we'll be wondering: Why aren't built-in sockets and retractable cords standard on every kitchen device? KitchenAid and GE, take note.

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