The Big Chill Story
Big Chill started as a family favor. Thom Vernon wanted a fridge for a vintage beach house he was dreaming of. Something with a 50s, era-inspired look but with modern performance. A fridge that wouldn’t need routine ice removal like old-school refrigerators typically do. Something, Vernon said, that wouldn’t seem out of place “with our kid’s artwork and school photos always proudly displayed” on the front. He approached his nephew, Orion Creamer, recently graduated from a Denver, Colo. product design school. Orion agreed to help.
The Original Size Retro
Orion Creamer always loved retro design. He antiqued with his family as a child. When he was older, he scoured junkyards and vintage shops for period piece refrigerators, removed the doors, and affixed them to his wall as art installations. His passion for old-school style and knowledge of product design made him the ideal creator or one-of-a-kind kitchen equipment blending form and function.
Orion and his uncle discussed ideas over morning coffee and built the early prototype on the front porch of Thom’s Boulder, Colo., home. They used a stamped metal body, stainless steel trim, and a pivoting handle to evoke a vintage vibe. In 2003, Orion made his first sale when a passerby noticed the Big Chill perched at the front of Thom’s house. He proclaimed it the coolest thing he’d ever seen. He went home, brought back his checkbook and bought the fridge right then and there.
Orion and Thom decided to bring the Retro fridge to the public. It was a big risk basing a business on such a uniquely styled product, and they didn’t stop with just a singular design. Orion curated a palette of vintage-inspired colors for the fridge, an innovative idea in an industry landscape dominated by neutral tones and a trend at the time to hide appliances behind cabinetry-like doors. He took memorable colors inspired by cars and kitchens of the 50s, brightened them for an even bolder take, and made them part of the Original Size Retro’s style.
Orion designed the Big Chill fridge to make a statement. And he thought others would want to make a statement, too. He was right. The Big Chill was an instant hit. But color and style weren’t Big Chill’s only big decision. Orion wanted to keep much of the production close to home. The Big Chill Original is still assembled in Boulder, Colo. It’s a business decision that just felt right, Orion said.
Happy Kitchen, Happy Home!
If Orion had one goal with his designs, it was to make bring cheer to the heart of the home. Big Chill’s Retro Line made kitchens memorable. Made guests feel welcome. He wanted to bring that same experience to people interested in other era-inspired designs. Thus the Classic and Pro Line were born and Big Chill’s product selection expanded. Big Chill’s Pro Line brought sleek, contemporary detail to the Big Chill family and included colors both bold and subtle. The Classic Line, launched in 2015, was inspired by the industrial-chic movement and is rendered in rich detail, velvety colors and distinct finishes for sophisticated warmth.
Big Chill continues to be an industry leader in design and color today, with innovative products in a range of styles and sizes coming to market regularly. Orion still believes in craftsmanship and quality. In addition to Big Chill’s Boulder-based space, Big Chill ranges and hoods are now assembled in Reading, Pennsylvania.