FirstBuild Micro-Kitchen

GE's new Micro-Kitchen packs in everything plus the kitchen sink (hands-on)

Andrew Gebhart

By the end of this year, GE's small-batch manufacturing site, FirstBuild, plans to meet its first challenge. The newly opened arm of GE Appliances and Local Motors on the University of Louisville campus hopes to foster innovation in a creative community of makers. FirstBuild provides resources and knowledge to ambitious inventors, both in person and online, allowing them to create prototypes of interesting products that might not otherwise have seen the light of day in a normal massive manufacturing environment. The first two challenges it hopes to tackle are micro kitchens and indoor grilling.

Now, GE has announced official plans to start manufacturing micro kitchens through FirstBuild by the fourth quarter of this year, and has announced availability only in the US. Aiming for an increasing number of millennials and baby boomers who have flocked to small urban-living environments, the design concept currently referred to as a "monoblock" will fit all of the functionality of a high-end kitchen into a single 6-foot-wide unit (about 1.8 meters), which can be customized to blend seamlessly with the cabinetry.

The current design for the FirstBuild Micro-Kitchen includes three columns that look like typical cabinets. The interior is anything but typical. On the right, a walnut cutting board covers a sink with a retractable faucet. Underneath is a high-end dishwasher. Move to the middle and you'll find compartments that serve as a freezer or a fridge, with the option to convert pieces back and forth as necessary. Finally, the left third houses premium cooking technology. The top has an induction heating element beneath an unbroken glass surface to allow cooking with any size and shape of pot. The middle pulls out an Advantium microwave. The bottom contains an oven with convection heating.

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