Housewares Design Awards

Bronze Medal Recipient

2008 Best in Category: Cooking Electrics

Zojirushi America Corp.

RIZO Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer

Toshiyuki Kita is a freelance designer from Hyogo, Japan. He designs a wide variety of products, including furniture, watches, LCD televisions and cutlery, among other things.

When Zojirushi hired him to design the Rizo rice cooker, he came up with the notion of developing an appliance that, in terms of appearance and functionality, would resemble something from the future. This idea was coupled with thought that, since it was a rice cooker, why not include in the design something inspired by rice?

There are three rice cookers in the line— one in polished stainless steel, one in yellow and one in white.

The futuristic element of the Rizo can be seen in its ability to automatically cook risotto or sushi. Also, the three-legged appearance was inspired by a robot.

While the stainless steel finish follows the traditional trend in small appliances, Kita noted that, “the yellow color was inspired by the color of saffran risotto; the white color is the image of white rice.”

As a designer of international products, Kita noted that American and Japanese small appliance design trends are growing increasingly similar.

“Due to the fact that the cooking culture is becoming gradually more international, kitchens around the world are [looking more alike],” Kita said.

One major difference between the America and Japanese small appliance markets has to do with the size of the products, Kita noted. American products typically are much larger than their Asian counterparts. Kita believes Asian products also will become larger.

Design is becoming more important for consumers because of the increasing importance of the kitchen/dining area in the home, Kita said.

This area is “not just a place to cook and eat. The interior of the house, along with the act of eating, are the center of one’s lifestyle.”

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