Trend Changing of White Goods in Korean Domestic Market by ryy20822


									 Trend Changing of White Goods in Korean Domestic Market:
                         the Cases of Freezer, Air conditioner and Washing machine

              Wooram LEE*, Kwanghyun Gwak*, Jinsoo Ha*, Jaehoon Seo*, Soonjong LEE*,
                                Kunpyo LEE**, Sungzin CHAE***

    *Seoul National University, Faculty of Craft &Design San56-1 Shillim-dong Kwanak-gu 151-742 Korea,
 **Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, dept. of Industrial Design 373-1 Guseong-dong Yuseong-
                                 gu Daejeon 305-701 Korea,
      ***Yonsei University, dept. of Industrial Design 234 Maeji Hungup, Wonju Kangwon 220-710 Korea

       Abstract: It is said that mobile business and technology are assuming larger role in the design practice and research
       of major companies and general Korean society under the circumstance of rapid expansion in computer industry. In
       the other side, Korean electro-electric market of consumer durables in the area of white goods has witnessed notable
       changes in recent years. The team of three faculties and four graduates listed as the authors performed research for
       seven months on the issue of trend and its critical momentum on changes in those three items of consumer durables,
       so called white goods, such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and washing machines in domestic market. The result of
       study says they still play substantial role in shaping home life style and promoting the manufacturers’ sales volume.
           The proposed paper would list up the major findings on the research and some additional and detailed explanation
       on them. Beyond the fundamental requirements of white goods, people expect delightfulness, mind latitude, and
       specific taste for them. Few raise a question on a washing machine regarding its washing power. Pleasantness in using
       and appreciating its appearance is closer answer to consumers nowadays. The new form of family also results in the
       change of house labor distribution and the frame work of home interior spacing. The other factors of trend are the
       emergence of global market and the change of basic notion on the products.
       Key words: white goods, trend, refrigerator, air-conditioner, washing machine, Korean market

1.   Introduction
     Since 1960, Korean society has experienced radical change in various areas through drastic industrialization.
Reflected in the electro-electric market as well, it exhibits aspect of dynamic change contrast to relatively
conservative and slow-moving change in US and Europe. Under the present situation in which future uncertainty
is increasing through the recent digital and network revolution, systematic and close analysis on phenomenal
change in products design and its interrelation with the affecting external and environmental factor will be a
fundament to forecast more rational future.
     This study intends to elucidate the interrelation between products design and social transition by exhibiting
external and environmental factors that affect the phenomenal change in products design. For this purpose, we
analyzed the trend in products design through the transition history of white goods represented by refrigerator,
washing machine and air conditioner. We extracted external and environmental factors which influenced periodic
character and products in five areas such as politics and economy, society and culture, general technology, design
trend, residential environment to ultimately analyze the interrelation between the above-mentioned trend and
2.       The design trend of major manufacturers’ white goods
     We analyzed the design trend of each product by collecting advertising image of products manufactured since 1960 such
as refrigerator, washing machine and air conditioner and examining phenomenal products modeling factors.
2.1.      Freezer/ refrigerator
2.1.1.      Up-Right/top freezer
ㆍrectilinear boxy (1960~1980): Typical figure with linear box and edge shape in black plastic stripe(tape) molding.
ㆍsimplified straight line (1981~1990): As radiator was concealed and back side became neat and tidy (‘clear
back’) and plastic molding was developed, the edge style became neat and slim with disappearance of the
conventional plastic strip corner covering. In the late 1980s’, products with linear form and partially round edge
came into the market.
ㆍnew look in door handles (1980~1988): Entering 1980s’, decoration began to be applied to knob and asymmetric
form appeared. When design was highlighted in the middle of 1980s’, triangular knob appeared to show the
fashion trend.
ㆍsegmentation and varieties for visual image (1990~1995): The concept of interior design was emphasized and
trial was made to realize differentiation through various image. In early 1990s’, design of interior furniture
emphasizing linear image appeared and products with curve to which Korean style was applied entered the stage
later. The shape was more modern and moderate than 1980s’.
ㆍhandles in door for flush face (1988~1995): Since the late 1980s’, products in simple shape with hidden knob
entered the stage. Shape without additional decoration prevailed.
ㆍcurve-rectilinear shape for harmonious form (1995~): As curve similar to that of automobile with harmonized
curve and straight line was adopted, professional or mechanical high-tech products entered the stage. Shape with
overall linear image and proper curve at the edge and cross-section of door was adopted.
ㆍdetailed finishing touch on oversized body (1996~): As Side by Side models spread, detailed decorative factor
was highlighted to produce image of higher grade, thereby realizing differentiation. Chrome and partial wood
grain was applied to emphasize detailed decoration. The shape of knob was highlighted with IC panel in
unconventional shape to express the character subtle line of products.
                      1975/ Daehan           1985/ Daewoo           1987/ Daewoo         1993/ Gold Star(LG)
                      Linear box type        Fashion of knob        Brief linear type   Image diversification

                      1989/ Daewoo           1994/ Daewoo           1996/ Daewoo

                      Linear box type        Fashion of knob       Brief linear type
2.1.2.    Side by Side model types
ㆍbasic form (1988~): Since being spread in the late 1980s’, there was no remarkable change in the simple and
linear basic shape. Entering the late 1990s’, products with partially curved knob appeared.
ㆍbuilt-In (2000~): With the emergence of high price brand of domestic manufacturers in the late 1990s’, built-in
products entered the stage with the concept of systematic household electric appliances. Refrigerator, dishwasher,
washing machine, etc. were integrated to kitchen furniture. In accordance with the architectural design, linear and
plane front prevailed with highlight.
                   1989/             2000/ Samsung
                Basic type              Built-In

2.1.3.    Kimchi freezer
ㆍcurve-rectilinear shape for harmonious form (1995~1999): In this period, Kimchi freezer, our own model,
began to spread, showing proper harmony of curve and straight line similar to that of refrigerator in the same
ㆍrectilinear form (1999~): Keeping pace with the kitchen systemization, linear form prevailed to meet built-in
type. With gold strip or metallic plate on face, the slight decoration of drawer type was highlighted.
                   1995/Winia               2001/Winia

                Harmony of curve           Linear design
               and straight line

2.2.     Washing machine
2.2.1.    top loader
ㆍrectilinear boxy twin container for washing and spinning 1973-1986) : In the early 1970s’, the washing
machine was in the angular shape of rectangular parallelepiped combined in simple plate, being composed of
washing tank with relatively large space and dehydrating tank with small space. As these tanks were separated, the
shape of washing machine was asymmetric.
ㆍcurvilinear round type of two-in-one (1980-1998) : In this period, washing tank and dehydrating tank were
combined to make a single tank type with top loader.
ㆍrectilinear style (1984-1997): Though the first washing machine with single tank that appeared in 1980s’ was in
the shape of curved rectangular parallelepiped, the shape of linear rectangular parallelepiped revived in the model
of 1984. Steadily maintaining its shape, the washing machine with single tank in the shape of linear rectangular
parallelepiped continued to prevail until the late 1990s’.
ㆍcurve-rectilinear balanced (1993- ): In 1993, the washing machine with single tank in the shape of rectangular
parallelepiped of harmonized curve and straight line entered the stage as an eclectic alternative of washing
machine with single tank of curved rectangular parallelepiped and washing machine with double tank of linear
rectangular parallelepiped. Entering 2000, this trend led to the high grade of shape, resulting in differentiation to
positively get out of the shape of rectangular parallelepiped in pursuance of the harmony of straight line and curve.
ㆍ washing machine with single tank, edge type (1998-2000): In the late 1990s’, differentiation was positively
propelled as environment to overcome the limitation in manufacture was provided and consumers’ preference was
diversified. Such movement to differentiation produced characteristic model by artificially highlighting angle at
the rounded upper part through adoption of outer line in edge type which was preferred in domestic automobile
market. Models with this character were steadily manufactured until the early 2000.
ㆍ washing machine with single tank and large transparent opening and closing hole (1998- ) : Entering 1998,
model of round transparent window with upper opening and closing round hole was developed to make
differentiation in shape and improve convenience in use.
                      1972/ Gold            1990/ Gold          1990/ DY Magic         1995/ Samsung
                     Star(LG)              Star(LG)
                   Double tank with       Single tank with      Single tank with         Single with
                 linear rectangular   curved rectangular      linear rectangular   harmonized curve and
                  parallelepiped        parallelepiped         parallelepiped          straight line

                        1998/ LG          1998/ Samsung
                        Edge type        Single tank with a
                      Single tank       large transparent
                                      opening and closing

2.2.2.   Front loader
ㆍWashing machine with single tank in the shape of linear rectangular parallelepiped (1989- ) : The shape of
linear rectangular parallelepiped of washing machine with front loader was the basic and most durable shape for
built-in kitchen furniture. However, in most homes, washing machine is usually placed at balcony or bathroom,
the conventional space for the laundry, instead of kitchen. The main reason is insufficient space in the kitchen and
noise during washing clothes.
ㆍWashing machine with single tank in the shape of rectangular parallelepiped equipped with curved control
panel (1994- ): For washing machine of the front loader type mainly in the shape of linear rectangular
parallelepiped, differentiation has been made in the front control panel instead of body which is impossible to
modify due to the built-in trend. This tendency is developing with the shape of linear rectangular parallelepiped.
                   1989/               2002/ LG
             Single tank with       Single tank with
           linear rectangular   curved control panel

2.3.     Air conditioner
2.3.1.    General style
ㆍlinear box (197?~1987) :         The shape is very thick and apparently heavy in the square proportion of
approximately 6:4. Grill is in mechanical figure and positioned at the bottom of air conditioner or at right vertical
side. As there was no model designed for home use only, the surface was finished in the shape of leaf, imitating
the image of furniture. Moreover, control layout was in the shape of TV.
ㆍmixture of round and angular images (1988~1993): Light shape in the horizontal proportion of approximately
4:1 with slim figure. The shape was divided into main shape and auxiliary shape of stand type in the proportion of
1:4. Generally, large air conditioner was in the shape for stores instead of homes. Many parts such as grill were
exposed for ostentation.
ㆍround and organized linear shape (1994~1996) : In this period, large air conditioner for living room (stand
type) was settled as main item due to the continuous trend to increase size. Due to the influence of rational
consumption, ostentatiously large design disappeared and artificial intelligence was introduced to satisfy every
detailed need of consumers, showing LCD panel and hiding unnecessary parts.
ㆍdifferentiation and diversification / application of various curve and slant (1997~2000) : Positive curve was
added to modeling factor, thereby getting out of basic type and developing skill. The function to open and close
was added to parts of products so as to lessen visual burden by hiding some part. LCD display window, air
inhaling part and grill were positively utilized for design factors.
ㆍzen-style & minimalism factor integration (2001~) : As large and deluxe apartment house or
residential/commercial combined apartment house appeared, household electric appliances was systemized and
adjusted to built-in type, air conditioner was systemized and adjusted to interior, and wooden floor, built-in
furniture and kitchen furniture began to be made of wood, raising the fashion of wooden pattern. Through
minimization of modeling factor, concealment of unnecessary parts by opening and closing and introduction of air
conditioner in new genre, manufacturers are striving for expression of positive concept of interior and emphasis of
high-tech image.
               1985/ Gold Star(LG)         1994/ Samsung             1998/ Samsung                 2002/ LG
                   Linear box            Round and brief line       Differentiation and             Zenstyle

2.3.2.      Construction
ㆍwindow type, integrated outdoor equipment (1970's~1987): The technology of air conditioner was introduced
from abroad to create own production line. Owing to lack of technology on normal sound and noise, window type
with integrated outdoor equipment was mainly used.
ㆍseparation type, separation type (1988~): Due to technological development and noise problem, separation
type spread to homes. Eventually, this type was widely settled as main model.
ㆍ Built-in, installed at the ceiling to be concealed (2001~) : Owing to problem in utilizing space and prevalence of
air conditioner (i.e., no longer considered as a symbol of wealth), air conditioner is installed not to occupy space, which
is very common in officetel or commercial area (clothes store).
ㆍframe type, slimming trend of air conditioner installed on the wall (frame type) (2001~) : Owing to problem in
utilizing space and prevalence of air conditioner (i.e., no longer considered as a symbol of wealth), air conditioner is
being differentiated for extreme high grade. Design influence on audio system of B&O and zen style, prevalence of
deluxe apartment house and appearance of PDP TV raise the necessity for design that harmonizes with the
peripheral household electric appliances.
                    1986/ Gold Star      1986/ Gold Star          2001/ samsung               2002/ LG
                     Window type          Separation type          Built-in type             Frame type

3.       Synthesis on the White Goods Design trend
3.1.      Summary of the aspect of transition in white goods
The aspect is somewhat circulative, i.e., characters repeat the process of appearance and disappearance.
For instance, line changes from straight line to curve and returns to straight line. Likewise, color changes from
simple achromatic color to various chromatic colors and later, to natural color in low saturation. However,
technology develops accumulatively. Continuous improvement in energy efficiency and hermetic ability to store
cold air, provision of various additional functions and so on signify that the former features are not discarded, but
enhanced and reinforced to make the products more convenient.
[shape] basic shape (based on technology and function) > emphasis on decoration (knob and control panel, beautification
of opening and closing hole) >diversification of shape(applying various images)> recurrence to basic shape (emphasis on
[color] adoption of typical colors (white and black molding) >emphasizing colors, attaching importance to colors
(discarding white tone /various colors in pastel tone)
attaching importance to saturation (high glossy, achromatic color) > attaching importance to color scheme /quality of the
material (elevation of colors and quality of the material)
[main function] attaching importance to basic technology, function /period of product standardization > period of product
improving basic technology, function > period of function subdivision
[additional function1] function to save resources and maintenance cost > function to save resources with the concept
of preservation of environment
[additional function 2] automation- better operability through automation > transition to digital and network
[additional function 3] adoption of technology oriented to sanitation and health
[additional function 4] appearance of products in high grade
[additional function 5] improved usability through auxiliary function – subdivided function for convenience
[additional function 6] Appearance of built-in products in accordance with systemization

3.2.     Summary of design trend in each year and decade
3.2.1.    Functional attention before 1980
imitating the image of peripheral environment and products made by advanced technology: At the stage of
introducing new products, there was trend to attach importance to function and adopt the peripheral image or imitate the
style of products made by advanced technology.
attaching importance to basic function and technology: As initial products were newly introduced to market in this
period, emphasis was mainly put on the basic function and technology rather than design for appearance.
3.2.2.    Design consciousness in mid 1980s’
period when design was introduced: In this period, internationalization and market opening policy was progressed
with economic growth while Western life style was introduced. Based on the initiation of color broadcast and
development of democracy, there was prominent movement to diversify the products design.
Improving convenience: Due to the development of technologies such as semi-conductor, digital and so forth, products
automation was actively introduced in this period.
3.2.3.    full scale design works in 1988~1995
period when design was developed and matured: In this period, enterprises severely competed to pursue individuality
and satisfy various consumers’ needs. High sense design and various functions were positively reflected to products in
order to satisfy such consumers’ sensible and functional needs.
attaching importance to health and environment: In this period, more attention was paid to the matter of health and
environment in the products function owing to increasing social demand for them.
3.2.4.    design as a leading edge in the market in the period of 1995~2002
differentiation of design concept: In this period, manufacturers tried to make consumers recognize the symbolic value
of products by changing their perception on the products through symbolizing them with which consumers were familiar.
Therefore, the products in this period showed character of design factors with sensible and symbolic code rather than
functional efficiency.
subdivision and systemization: As actual users were expanding from housewives to all family members and unmarried
persons, products satisfying effective household affairs and specialized functions began to create new market.

4.     integrating transition in white goods and interrelationship of social environment
4.1.    1961-1970 : period of economic growth > period of receiving foreign culture > Western residential
        style > basic shape, typical color
Foreign culture was received in the period of economic development – i.e., introduction of household electric
appliances. As seen in the residential style, foreign culture was received in thoughtless form and type. The basic
feature of products were borrowed from foreign (US, Japan) manufacturers and products oriented to function on
the basis of basic technology entered the stage.

4.2.    1970-1980 : period of economic growth > modern design in functionalism > residential style in
        modernism > basic shape, typical color
Even though the image of newly industrialized country was established, its side effect resulted in resistant culture
against dictatorial regime. However, there was little recognition on the cultural variety due to the periodic
situation represented by underdeveloped economy and severe oppression by dictatorial regime. Such trend
maintained the functional propensity in the residential life and products while basic shape and typical preference
for white still dominated.

4.3.    1981-1985 : period of high economic growth > quantitative expansion of pop culture > resistant
        counter-culture > post modern design in aesthetics > emphasis on decorative factor and color
As economic growth continued, resistance against foreign culture alleviated considerably. Though students
resisted against the military regime which followed dictatorial regime, pop culture spread in various social areas,
diversifying consumers’ need. Such diversification of consumers’ need was embodied in the emphasis on
decoration and ostentatious ornament.
4.4.   1985-1990 : period of high economic growth > development of precise mechanical technology >
       improved operation quality through automation
The fruit of economic growth was clearly exhibited in the durable consumer goods. White goods became
necessities of almost all families. At the same time, automation was positively applied to operation and
manipulation. Conscious effort was visibly made to highlight the peculiar modeling character of each product.

4.5.   1980-1990 : period of high economic growth > development of electronic technology > improved
       usability through subdivided functions to meet need for convenience
The transition from heavy chemical industry to electronic and electric industry and development of electronic
technology contributed to improve usability of products by being applied to subdivided function for products

4.6.   1985-1990 : period of economic opening > quantitative and qualitative increment of pop culture > full
       popularization of apartment house, finishing material of high gloss > diversification of shape,
       emphasis on saturation
Overseas travel was wholly permitted with economic growth. Experiencing the qualitative increment of pop
culture, consumers got appreciative eyes to evaluate products and began to recognize the design value.
Accordingly, they tended to prefer diversified shapes. Moreover, the popularization of apartment house and trend
to adopt finishing material of high gloss for interior affected the saturation of products outer appearance.

4.7.   1991-1995 : appearance of imported products of high priced market > transition to high grade and
       differentiation of products
In the period of economic opening, pop culture could be increased quantitatively and qualitatively as foreign
culture was positively accepted. Furthermore, foreign products spread in the market through increment of foreign
currency reserves and import liberalization. As psychological resistance against foreign products in high grade
nearly disappeared, import increased radically and the level of domestic products began to be elevated.

4.8.   1996-1999 : period of economic crisis > restructuring > bipolar consumption phenomenum >
       transition to high grade and subdivision
The economic crisis aggravated the distinction in wealth between the wealthy and the poor, resulting in bipolar
consumption and appearance of domestic products in high grade and commodities with ultra low price.
Accordingly, products were subdivided in the light of price and performance.
4.9.     1990-2002 : period of economic resuscitation > specialization and characterization of culture >
         increment of manias > subdivision of function
As economic foam disappeared and practical value was given priority, revolution in communication by Intenet has
realized the overall information-oriented society. As various cultures were characterized and specialized   more
deeply by such information-oriented trend, subdivided consumers’ demand became visible. Products were
specialized to meet such demand.

4.10.     2000-2002 : revolution in network and communication > interface design > improved usability
         through subdivided function > products based on network
The revolution in communication resulted from the development of network made interface design an issue to
apply it to white goods, thereby improving usability and creating new possibility in use with the development of
network products

5.      Conclusion
When white goods were introduced in the period of economic development, they appeared in the market, having
basic shape and function that imitated peripheral image. In 1980s’ when Korean economy grew, the concept of
design was introduced with the quantitative expansion of pop culture and technological development, which
resulted in diversified color or shape and convenient function. In 1990s’ when economy was stabilized and pop
culture was qualitatively expanded, consumers were individualized and diversified, resulting in development of
additional function related to sensible factor of design and health and environment, etc. Recently, manufacturers
try to change consumers’ recognition by differentiation of design concept and diversification and systemization of
functions instead of change in color or shape. In this study, we could observe that Korean white goods grew with
the rapid development of overall society such as politics, economy, culture, etc., being in collusion with it and
experienced change. Meanwhile, we could also observe that the peripheral environment caused other aspect of
change in the stage of such development.
Products are not so much an independent entity as outcome of social change that continues developing through
consecutive interrelation with peripheral environment. We could conclude that this study should be the basic
research on cause, process and result in products development by verifying the interrelation between products and
peripheral environment as above. And we expect that the result of this study could propose models which forecast
the future of products design that develops in the social change by verifying its outcome and widely analyzing
factors of change through subsequent and similar study.

1. Information and images of products are referred from commercial advertisements for white goods in monthly
magazine for women / Monthly Women’s Dong-A , The Dona-A Ilbo, Mar.,1968.03~Jul., 2002.
2. Samsung Electronics, Company’s Archive, 2002
3. Korean Social History Association, The contemporary history and social changes in Korea, Moonhak-kwa-Jisung-
Sa , 1997
4. WooHie PARK, YongHo BAE, The Development of Korean Technology and Industry, KyungMoon-Sa, 1996

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