27-year-old inspires design of GE's new appliance set - WDRB 41 Louisville News

27-year-old inspires design of GE's new appliance set

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A 27-year-old designer in Louisville launched General Electric's latest creation.

The appliances appear sleek and affordable, and the designer says he had someone particular in mind when creating the product.  "It's been an 18-month journey from the initial sketch to here," says Jose Tomas Deluna.  He is seeing an idea go from his fingertips to hard reality.

GE unveiled its new Artistry series at Appliance Park.  It's a four-piece set including bottom-freezer refrigerator, dishwasher, and over-the-range microwave with an oven.

Lou Lenzi, the GE Director of Design, explains the set has, "Clean, very simple lines and curves, but then we highlight those simple forms with key touch points in stainless steel and pure metal so you end up with combination of traditional design cues with modern design elements."

GE wants to appeal to a new generation of young home buyers with affordability.  The 27-year old industrial designer crafted this with himself in mind.  "What I always thought," Deluna said, "is if I'm buying my first house and I don't have enough money to renovate all the kitchen, maybe I have enough to buy a nice set of appliances."

Lenzi, when asked whether this means more jobs, replied, "Yes, and if you look at my design team we've tripled in size in the last two and a half years."

But that's only about 25 workers.  In fact, WDRB has learned, no new manufacturing jobs are coming to Appliance Park from this launch.

That's perhaps because only the dishwasher will be made here -- the rest of the products are being built in Mexico and Asia.  Lenzi says, "It's really dictated by the price point we're trying to achieve."

That's where you're really going to see the difference.  A GE stove alone retails for nearly $3,000.  The entire Artistry set is going for $2400.

Price aside, shoppers such as Donna Schmitt say American-made really matters when she's making a purchase:  "We have a local business, so we want to try and help the local economy, and so it does have a bearing."

GE is still bouncing back from the recession.  After nearly shutting down, the company retooled and hired 3,000 employees.

Deluna hopes his idea creates a few more jobs down the road:  "Right now I would definitely buy this," he said.

The Artistry series is expected in stores this September.

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