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Celebrating 20 years of innovation

Fisher & Paykel's dishwasher in a drawer has just turned 20. Find out how it's revolutionised the dishwashing industry and where to from here.


Humble beginnings

Over a million people worldwide have a Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer™ dishwasher humming away companionably in their kitchen.

It’s hard to overstate the impact this appliance had when it was launched back in 1996, featuring on the phenomenally popular Oprah Winfrey Show and earning itself a Time Magazine spread.

That’s an impressive journey for a product dreamed up in the back blocks of Mosgiel, New Zealand, where one day a few Fisher & Paykel engineers were standing in a kitchen and talking about the dishwasher door and wondered if the dishwasher could actually fit in a kitchen drawer.

Drawers, they reasoned, were practical and easy to use. So why not put a dishwasher in a drawer? So, they built a mock-up which looked like a filing cabinet but - actually the idea came from a conversation in a kitchen.

The answer would have stopped many in their tracks. Every element of a traditional dishwasher – from the motor to the electronics board to the plumbing system – had to be redesigned. Undaunted, they got to work, and the world’s first dishwasher in a drawer was created.


The DishDrawer™ dishwasher difference – Drawers do it better!

This unique dishwasher’s appeal was clear. It was easier to use and more flexible – catering for large households to the most compact apartments – than any other product on the market. It also suits kosher households, where two single DishDrawer™ dishwashers can be installed independently to allow for wash loads to be kept separate. Fisher & Paykel stunned international competitors who were left scrabbling to catch up.

They haven’t yet. Two decades down the track, this innovative appliance is in its prime; its original benefits honed and new features added. Over 1.8 million DishDrawer™ dishwashers have been manufactured and sold in more than 20 countries worldwide and tested 1 million + times since debut.

The latest models are quieter and more energy and water-efficient than ever. They’re more durable, thanks to Fisher & Paykel’s rigorous testing for 20 years’ continuous use.

DishDrawer™ Dishwasher: The story so far

1986: The insight that started it all

Fisher & Paykel’s intrepid engineering team, inspired by the transition to easy access drawers over clunky cupboard doors, have a breakthrough moment – why not create a dishwasher in a drawer? The fact that every component has to be redesigned does not curb their enthusiasm. 

1987: From plan to prototype

The Fisher & Paykel team takes a practical approach – it experiments in real-life kitchens to see if it’s possible to fit a dishwasher in a kitchen drawer. Encouraged by its investigations, it builds a mock-up, which is designed to make the dishwasher an extension of kitchen storage systems – a drawer that keeps your dishes clean. 

1990-1995: Top-secret testing

The DishDrawer™ dishwasher prototype is presented to the Fisher & Paykel board for final approval. It is then tested in the homes of Fisher & Paykel staff, under conditions of some secrecy. Dinner guests who offer to help clear the table and pack the dishwasher are encouraged to stay seated. Fisher & Paykel knows it has created a game-changing product – it isn’t keen to give its global competitors a heads-up. 

1996: A kitchen star is born

This innovative new appliance makes a headline-grabbing debut at the largest European industry show, Domotechnica, in Germany. 

1997: Oprah’s tick of approval

The DishDrawer™ dishwasher is released into New Zealand and Australia, winning several design awards. The very first customer is Mrs Dawn Brockwell from Mosgiel (South Island, NZ) who orders a complete set of Fisher & Paykel appliances for her new kitchen and specially requests a DishDrawer™ dishwasher after seeing it on TV. Dawn is prepared to wait for as long as it takes to get one, even if that means several months with an unfinished kitchen. This is Dawn’s first dishwasher and she wants the best. This new model features on The Oprah Winfrey Show and in Time Magazine. 

1998-1999: US launch … and a whole lot of silverware

Fisher and Paykel’s latest appliance is introduced to the North American market. In its home markets of New Zealand and Australia, it wins – a variety of awards. And that’s just the start. Globally, the DishDrawer™ dishwasher wins hearts and minds:

  • A Gold Award from the Industrial Designers’ Society of America and first overall and first in Major Appliances in American Appliance Manufacturers’ Magazine ‘Excellence in Design’ Award.
  • Best New Dishwasher and third place Overall Winner in the Kitchen & Bath Business Product Innovator Award.
  • Home Magazine USA American Building Products Award.
  • Today’s Homeowner USA Best New Product.
  • Best New Product at the Kitchen & Bathroom Industry Show (KBIS) USA.
  • Excellence in Design at the Appliance Manufacturer Annual Design Competition USA.
  • Best of What’s New Award – Popular Science Magazine USA.
  • Mingay’s Annual Achievement Award Most Innovative Product – Australia.
  • Business Week Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) USA Gold Award for Consumer Products.
  • ADEX Award USA.

2007: 10th anniversary – the gifts are on us

The DishDrawer™ dishwasher celebrates its 10-year anniversary with over 1 million models sold worldwide. The millionth model is gifted to the first customer – Dawn Brockwell. Dawn gives her original model – in perfect working order – to her daughter. The 1,000,001st model is donated to Otago Community Hospice. 

2008 - 2012: Continuous innovation

A number of versions of this dishwasher are released to suit various markets around the world, with a focus on quality improvement. 

2012: Arrives in China

Demand for dishwashers grows in Asia’s new economic superpower, China. Fisher & Paykel’s DishDrawer™ Dishwasher, with its energy-saving and ergonomic features, aims to establish a new benchmark in the market. 

2016: A very happy 20th birthday

Two decades after its debut, over 1.25 million DishDrawer™ dishwashers have rolled off Fisher & Paykel’s production lines and are sold in over 20 countries. The awards keep coming. In 2016 it has won:

  • Architizer A+ Awards Appliance category ‘Popular Choice’ Award; it was also a finalist in the overall Appliance category.
  • Shape Magazine and Beautiful Kitchen + Bath’s 30 Most Innovative products for 2016.

A domestic revolution

In developing the DishDrawer™ dishwasher, Fisher & Paykel did more than redesign an appliance; it redefined the way people saw dishwashing. Running the dishwasher was once an ‘event’ – something that happened only when you had enough dishes to fill it. This meant the cupboards were bare and dirty dishes piled up on the bench while everybody waited for the dishwasher to do its job.

The Fisher & Paykel design team envisaged an appliance that was more in tune with human needs and modern lives; one that made better use of space, gave easier access, allowed for true half loads (no more piles of dirty dishes on the bench) and used less water and detergent. That’s long-hand for a revolution in the kitchen.

Head of Industrial Design Mike Jensen sums it up nicely: “Fundamentally, they [dishwashers in general] were awful – we decided to design a good one.”

In the years since its debut, this dishwasher has cemented its reputation as a design classic, scooped top international industry and consumer choice awards, and continued to build global market share. That’s worth a birthday toast or three.