Dishwashers used to be noisy. Very noisy. I remember the one that came with our first home. It was turned on only at night because it took too much effort to hold any type of conversation in the kitchen and adjacent areas while the woodgrain and chrome beast gurgled and whirred endlessly. The front panel design had many knobs and many different trademarked wash cycles, most of which were clearly overselling themselves. The ‘whisper quiet’ cycle was aspirational at best.
So product designers in the dishwasher industry continued their quest for quiet. Our next dishwasher was without a hint of woodgrain. In fact, it was without much of anything at all. It was a sleek front panel of stainless steel with a barely visible LED light at the bottom that would glow red when in use. A small control panel was in the upper left. Any dishes that arrived late to the party could be included, but we knew from the red light and slightly audible hum that we would be wise to open the door with a bit of caution.
A few years later we remodeled our office. We selected appliances. The dishwasher has continued on its path to super sleekness. The front is an understated expanse of stainless steel. A horizontal bar is the handle. Otherwise no knobs, no little lights. The control panel is simple and hidden on the top edge of the door. It has become so minimalist that once tucked happily underneath a counter, you hardly know it’s there. And when you gently touch the wash button, you hear nothing. Absolutely nothing.
End of the workday. I stroll into our kitchen with a coffee cup or two that are ready for the wash cycle. I approach the dishwasher. I listen. Not even the slightest whisper of sound. No indicator light. I hear nothing. I see nothing. I open the door and am greeted with the raucous sound of clattering dishes and a huge spray of soapy water before I can get the door closed.
Now, taped to the front of our sleek, almost zero decibel dishwasher is a handwritten sign that warns, ‘Dishwasher is Running.’ So much for high design making our lives easier.