29 March 2008

Fisher Paykel preview

It took me two days to get through the million square feet of KBIS last year at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Two days of new products at a trade show is exhausting let me tell you. Toward the end of my second day I came across the very large tradeshow booth of the New Zealand-based appliance manufacturer Fisher Paykel.

Referring to a major manufacturer's KBIS display as a booth only illustrates how limited our language can be some times. The big players and companies who want to be perceived as big players invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their displays at theses events. Kohler, Wolf/ Sub-Zero, DalTile, etc. build displays larger than most homes. Then they staff them with HGTV show hosts and everyone marvels at the sheer excess of the whole production. For an event that closed to the public, it is a monumental event every year.

Anyhow, I'd always known Fisher Paykel for its drawer dishwasher and thought that it was the only thing they made. That was until I came across the 10,000 square feet of Fisher Paykel's full court press into the American appliance market. To call these guys innovative is an understatement. These guys are out to start a revolution.

The first of these photos shows their Luna gas cook top which they debuted last year. I see and deal with appliances every day and it takes a lot to impress me. The Luna about threw me over the edge. It is a glass cook top for starters and when it's not turned on it looks for all the world like any other glass cook top. However, when it's turned on the burner and posts that serve as the rack rise up from the glass surface. It's like magic. A lit gas burner rising up from a black glass surface stopped me in my tracks. Damn the expense, that thing is COOL! If you expand the photo to the left, you can see both lit and unlit burners on that cook top. Notice that not only to the burners rise up from the surface, so does the control knob. Astounding!

They haven't stopped at gas cook tops either. They are now making a French door refrigerator. But then again, so is just about everyone in the refrigerator business now. As expected, the Fisher Paykel version ratchets up the competition a couple of notches. Notice that the in-door ice dispenser is on one of the refrigerator doors but the ice maker itself would have to be in the freezer in order to work efficiently. So they've found a way to transport the ice up about 18 inches to the dispenser. Wow. The mechanics of the ice maker are actually housed in the space between the refrigeration compartment and the freezer compartment. The result is zero loss of cubic feet inside of either space. In a counter-depth refrigerator ever cubic inch counts.

Most French door models that have an on board ice maker dispense the ice into a tray inside of the freezer, thus taking up room better utilized by cartons of peas and pints of Haagen Dazs. At a retail price of around $2500, the rest of the industry will be watching this one.

Fisher Paykel is now making pro ranges for the American market as well. When it comes to professional, dual-fuel ranges, my heart will always belong to Wolf. A Wolf is a feat of engineering and it is a purchase you make once. Nothing works like one, nothing lasts as long and no other pro range on the market has the same value as a Wolf. At least not in its price point. That price point is pretty steep though. A 48-inch dual-fuel Wolf will set you back $10,000. Like I said, it's a purchase you'll make once.

But a Wolf looks like a Wolf. A big dual fuel range won't always go well in designs that call for something a little more modern-looking. Not so in the hands of Fisher Paykel. Their 48" pro range has the innovations I'd expect from them and they're at half the price of a Wolf. Still, $5000 is a lot of money to spend on a range but the next time I'm trying to put together a big-budget contemporary kitchen, you can bet that I'm specifying this beauty from Fisher Paykel.


  1. I'm confused ... the F&P website's specs for that fridge indicate an internal icemaker and only water through the door.

  2. So it does. I guess that's what I get for writing entries based on manufacturers' press releases. So this means that the idea of an ice dispenser in a refrigerator door remains a Sub Zero exclusive then. Good catch.


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