Is It the End of Stainless Steel?

Does Whirlpool's new White Ice finish signal an end to stainless steel's reign?

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Whirlpool turned a few heads last week when they announced their new White Ice finish for their deluxe kitchen appliance collection. The white, mirrored-glass, silver-accented design is notable because for the first time in at least a decade, the exterior of a major-brand, top-end appliance line isn't strictly stainless steel.

There have been other hints that the industry is shifting away from a solely stainless design plan, like these colorful ranges. To be fair, they've mostly come from less-familiar European brands and niche manufacturers. (Though Whirlpool's own Amana line did introduce a floral refrigerator finish back in 2009. We're still waiting for it to revolutionize interior design tastes.)

But even with new finishes available, is stainless still king? It isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Almost all of the ovens that we've reviewed on OvenInfo.com are predominantly stainless. Almost all of the upcoming major-brand premium kitchen lines will still be stainless. Stainless is cheap to make, relatively easy to clean, and has become the standard for kitchen design—sensibilities don't change overnight.

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Whirlpool’s new White Ice finish has hints of Apple design sensibilities. Will it replace stainless steel as the king of the kitchen?

White Ice and other colorful finishes do seem to represent a shift in the way that we think about interior design: We're doing it to please ourselves and create comfortable living spaces right now, rather than designing to boost resale value. Younger homeowners in particular seem to prefer the extra choices.

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Stainless finishes still dominate current product lines—and most upcoming collections, too.

So what do you think? How long will stainless maintain its reign? Is color a passing fad? Does anybody really want an iOven to match their iPad? Aren't they just tools for cooking and cleaning anyway? What colors will our robot maids come in?

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