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Bodum moves into electronics, brings plastics

By: Rhoda Miel

March 19, 2013

CHICAGO — Luzern, Switzerland's Bodum Design Group AG was known for years in North America as the brand with a French press coffee system. Now it's out to make a whole new name for itself as a maker of electronic kitchen items, and is using plastics in part to differentiate itself from its competitors.

"We're moving heavily into electronics," said Lauren Rich, public relations and communications manager for Bodum USA Inc. of New York, in an interview at the International Home + Housewares Show, held March 2-5 in Chicago. "We want to be a one-stop kitchen [equipment] company."

Bodum has gradually been edging into kitchen electronics and for 2013 officially marked its shift by moving to IHHS's Lakeshore Hall at McCormick Place, home to the "wired" companies, including some of the mainstay rival firms it is taking on with new products.

It is looking to stand apart from those companies, though, by using its existing design cues of bright colors. So its mixers, coffee makers, blenders and other products are encased in plastic materials, rather than the more standard stainless steel used for high-end appliances.

Plastics, including thermoplastic elastomers, are used to provide a series of raised dots on mixing bowls — matching the design elements on stand and hand mixers, while also making the surface less likely to skid during use.

"Form will always follow function," Rich said.

The company's use of plastics to house the electronic equipment and for functional parts stands out clearly in Bodum's stand mixer.

In addition to the plastic body, Bodum uses Eastman Chemical Co.'s Tritan copolyester for key parts, rather than stainless steel. The mixer's meat-grinding attachment, its slicer and shredder all use the plastic's clarity as a selling point, Rich said.

"Some people want to be able to see the grind of the meat," Rich said, "and after, you know for certain that every nook and cranny is cleaned out. You can't see that with stainless steel."