Kitchens are now worth showing off
Brands are responding with stylish, practical and individual designs.
For the style-savvy, the look, feel and functionality of the kitchen is becoming increasingly important. No longer is the kitchen a space to be tucked out of sight; instead, this space is frequently being integrated into the rest of the home. There is a movement towards open-plan, interconnected living, dining and kitchen areas.
Not everyone likes or can have an open kitchen – but that doesn’t mean design is any less important in closed kitchens. No matter what type of kitchen you have, there is a general movement towards this becoming “an area where people like to spend more time,” says Richard Green, marketing director at Miele Hong Kong, a high-end German appliance company.
This desire to create a kitchen as stylish as the rest of the home has reverberated through the industry, leading to the birth of various new trends. Take a look at the shape of things to come.
At this year’s Eurocucina exhibition at Salone Internazionale del Mobile, kitchens steered away from the all-white, high-gloss look that has been popular in recent years.
Scavolini, an Italian company producing kitchen systems, presented kitchens in matte greys with accents in bright colours such as orange and yellow. It also presented Ki, a Zen-like kitchen designed by Japanese studio, Nendo, which combined raw wood with plant pots for a calming design that sees a return to nature.
Fellow Italian company Strato, which is known for its custom kitchen designs, also chose to use “real metal, real stone [and] real wood, hand-finished as the Italian tradition requires,” says Gianna Farina, co-founder of Strato. “For us, the latest innovation is the use of materials such as copper, titanium, bronze and ceramic Kerlite,” the latter a new ceramic stoneware that can be laid as thin as 3mm thick.
“Superthin countertops are a trend that is on the rise, as it sharpens the aesthetic beauty of a kitchen’s design,” says Teddy Lo, the chief operating officer at ViA, the Hong Kong distributor for Varenna Poliform, which is available at ViA – Varenna Poliform.
Cutting-edge materials are another hot topic in the world of kitchens. Nobilia presented laser-welded countertops at this year’s Milan Design Week, giving medium density fibre board, an engineered wood product surfaces a smooth finish that’s free from joints. Varenna Poliform has also launched a new material. “It consists of tempered glass and aluminium,” Lo says. “It minimises the use of wood, hence achieving a more eco-friendly means of production.”
Like our technology, and like so many other aspects of the home, the kitchen is set to take a more personal approach. According to Lo, we will see more of “the idea of the kitchen as a planned space that reflects the individuality of those who live there”.
At Varenna Poliform, the new Phoenix kitchen system offers consumers a wide choice when it comes to materials, finishes and colours, as does the Alea collection.
At Strato, customisation isn’t just about what’s on show; it’s also about what’s inside. For drawers and cabinetry, the brand is using “new accessories made on request and according to the individual’s use,” Farina says.
The movement towards user-friendly kitchen design is coming through in appliances as well as cabinetry. Samsung, LG, Miele, De Dietrich and Gaggenau produce appliances with high-resolution, touchscreen interfaces, enabling users to programme their preferences on everything from cooktops to steamer ovens.
Making this space user-friendly means keeping things simple. “A lot of what we’re hearing about the future of home appliances is the reduction of complexity,” Green says. “What we’re looking at now is the design of products with functionalities that present themselves only when needed.”
No one wants a cluttered kitchen; and this is the case as we place greater emphasis on the look and feel of this space.
Strato addressed the issue at this year’s Milan Design Week with its new Semplice kitchen. “The working surface is hidden by a sliding table, so that when closed it looks like a furniture sculpture, and when open, you can cook and use the kitchen in the best way,” Farina says.
As an original way of keeping countertops free from clutter, Scavolini’s Ki kitchen uses rounded “bowls” or “containers” placed on overhead shelves. This also helps lighten the overall look by minimising the use of heavy shelves above eye level.
At Varenna Poliform, recessed handles help to reduce visual clutter. “With no [visible] handles … it gives a pure and clear look to the kitchen,” Lo says.
The same approach is being applied to ovens, microwaves and coffee machines. “Our Brilliant White range makes kitchens seem more spacious and light – perfect for Hong Kong, where space is limited,” Green says.
Ultimately, it is about creating a cohesive space, and many appliance brands are responding to this with designs that fit harmoniously with their surroundings. “We want our product to merge effortlessly into their environment and not dominate it – this is why glass is so effective as it works alongside so many other materials,” says Green, explaining that, “we’re seeing a reduction in the use of metal and an increase in glass”.