Cover image: Siemens Home Appliances

Several decades ago the kitchen was usually hidden away at the rear of the house, certainly it was the case in my North of England family home. This was a compact space always kept warm, where meals were prepared and most often eaten and subsequently where utensils, crockery and cutlery were washed. Fast-forward to 2017 and the kitchen has realised a far different role.

Today it’s the focal point, a singular space that brings family members together after a day’s study or work, and / or at the start of new one. It’s also the central hub for food preparation and where casual dining often takes place with friends and guests.

As a very vital interior within the modern home, today’s kitchens are sometimes exhibited and regaled – and usually located at the very core of the floor plan, whether it be apartment, townhouse or mansion.

‘What we’re seeing today with kitchen design at the very high end is not slavishly following trends, but rather a perspective, which brings the best elements to play with a holistic view of the project in mind,’ says Ramón Casadó of bulthaup | living kitchens.

Happily, kitchens have changed hugely for the better and so for those with older properties, planning a kitchen remodel is a major improvement project. Technological advances and changing social dynamics have contributed markedly to the evolution of the modern kitchen, and in 2017 there is a well-defined focus on open concept homes that revolve around the kitchen as the focus of family activity and food creation. This being the case, clean and simple profiles, easily maintained materials and surfaces and natural light where possible, are benchmark elements – essential aspects that contribute to the overall look and function of the kitchen space.

Lisa Killian of local kitchen designer manufacturer Slavin & Co summarises: ‘The look and feel is becoming quite exciting with individuality taking over more of the design influence. A contemporary or industrial kitchen, with a spin on classic chic, is a trend that’s coming through quite strongly and it could be around for a while. Simple, classic design has longevity as it can be dressed up or down, but keeping it visually clean – in terms of form and line detail – is a vital focus. Contemporary kitchens with a play on stone or timber top combinations evoke a lived-in feeling and they can be altered visually by simply changing the display and décor. Different textures, materials and design elements, and introducing a touch of industrial detail or a different finish on handles, adds that bit of zing. It’s all about individual expression and being bold about it. The kitchen is the connecting space within the home so it should be an extension of the users’ personality.’

So for 2017 / ‘18 what are the most recent innovations and which trending design options will stand the test of time?

‘A continually developing direction is that of accent textures in the kitchen. I believe that the modern look is dominant and will continue to be as living spaces become more uncluttered and streamlined, yet at the same time need a sense of character and emotion,’ so says Philip Richards of local design / manufacturing studio blu_line. ‘We are focused on continuing to develop and offer new authentic materials that can even become the main texture, to ensure that each kitchen is bespoke and timeless. Metals are a welcome accent as they can add both warmth and texture to a modern scheme, as can wood in its various forms, but the timber used must be practical. This is still a working space and the materials selected need to be able to withstand the daily use of a modern family.’

Andrew Hamilton Barr of UK-designed kitchen importers Espresso Design says: ‘The factory / industrial chic look remains strong as is the trend towards more eco-friendly materials, including reclaimed wood and recycled metals for doors and units. Such materials are increasingly popular with clients who appreciate the way warmer textures and tones can help to soften strong lines in contemporary kitchen design. Factory from Aster is a beautifully designed industrial-chic range, which makes use of reclaimed materials in strong, industrial colours and textures.

Ann-Donne Strydom of local kitchen manufacturer Curves & Bevels agrees and has taken advantage of what she sees as an exciting trend: ‘Linear shapes are softened by an organic flow with curves cleverly incorporated. Coupled with this aesthetic is an authenticity, utilising a combination of materials seemingly straight from nature.

‘Further, a monochrome colour palette with an emphasis on texture has replaced the use of ‘popping colours’ as a focal point. This trend is not likely to change in the next year as designers find more innovative ways to showcase this expanding design concept. It’s also a great opportunity to explore different textures – as we’ve seen with accents of copper and brass – glass, knotted woods and especially patterned stone daringly juxtaposed. Lastly, atmospheric lighting and open plan living continue to be the popular choice among gregarious families.’

The Palette

This year both black and white have proved to be on trend colours for kitchen design in the US; this likely because they are essentially timeless. A black or white palette works with virtually any accent colour, so if this acceptable option is chosen it means that there is only one major spend. Indeed, black appliances with a matt or satin finish are gaining in popularity and cabinets in both black and white are following suit – and can look very appealing when used together. Notwithstanding this, white, ivory and pale grey tones still constitute the shell colour in the majority of kitchens.

‘We are seeing more of a modern Scandinavian look with handleless kitchen fronts being the preference. White is being replaced by greys and blacks, natural finishes are being reintroduced and shiny copper and rose gold finishes are retreating,’ says Paul Raymer of Inside Living. He adds: ‘Cabinetry is becoming more specific with the end product being highly functional with appliances fully integrated into the kitchen (fridge-freezers / dishwashers / washing machines and extractors).’

Selma Zaifoglu of Linear Concepts elaborates: ‘There is a combining of complementary surfaces such as high gloss, satin matt and natural wood as an alternative to using only one finish; and the juxtaposition of oxidised copper with marble accents, for instance as splash-backs. Cabinet doors employ the use of push-open and grip openings, proving that functionality and practicality are vital in 2017 kitchen design. Tall cabinetry may have pantry pullouts that maximise storage through the use of inserts in base units, which can be used for cutlery, utensils, spices etc. Such storage within the cabinetry makes the kitchen as a whole more efficient because space is valuable.’

What of 2017 colours, tones and textures?

‘Warm and earthy colours with warmer hues in copper, gold and wood are replacing the cleaner palette; terracotta, peach, pink and a full black kitchen are recent examples. Cabinets with smoked glass doors and open shelf racks in wood or lacquer show off crockery,’ so says Inês Sabino of Fabri – imported Portuguese kitchens. She adds that cabinetry design reveals a seamless, streamlined aesthetic.

Ramón Casadó: ‘At bulthaup | living kitchens in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, we’re seeing extraordinary interest in having the interiors of cabinets, pocket doors and drawers being in veneer and solid wood, which provides a refined feel and a higher level of finish. Not only does this add warmth to the overall look but it means that the interiors are integrated into the design signature; whether cabinet doors are open or closed the same high level of finish is always present.

‘Structured woods can provide unique textures and sensations. For example, structured oak is a raw material that can bring a very organic look to an otherwise sleek kitchen. This new front, with the coarse structure of the original saw cut, is also coated with the natural wood lacquer. Structured wood can be coloured or left natural and is available with vertical or horizontal grain patterns.’

As to the overall look and feel for 2017 kitchen design, Mathilda Venter of Valcucine says: ‘Lines are minimalist and refined, volumes are pure, materials are innovative and spaces light. The design of pure volumes that consist of dedicated storage for specific functions creates order in the kitchen and clears the worktops from clutter. Every item has its place, for example including special units with equipped back sections where everyday items are stored and can be easily accessed, plus be hidden when not in use. Technology in the kitchen is more and more evident to simplify movements as well as offering easy accessibility with a wave of the hand; mood lighting changes colour; and hobs are hidden; worktops are equipped with chargers – well-being and functionality are paramount throughout. Recyclable doors on an aluminium frame are light to operate and offer the freedom to design large volumes on wall arrangements, which can be opened with a flick of the fingers. Tower units with receding doors can be customised to store small appliances, utensils and pullout stainless steel worktops for extra preparation; meanwhile, internal lighting allows additional visibility.’

Cuisine Tech

Tech is no longer the future – or an afterthought – in the kitchen. WiFi enabled ovens are now easily controlled from a smartphone, as are refrigerators equipped with cameras accessible from a digital app; this so the user can check the contents and decide what might need sourcing on the way home.

So which are the most important current trends in the kitchen and appliance sector and what are the ongoing consequences of their manufacture?

Elizabete Nelson of Gaggenau says: ‘Ongoing urbanisation, leading to a steadily growing number of single households globally, plays a major role in how society has transformed in recent years. Paired with this, especially in bigger cities, consciousness about food is rising. Buying food, preparing food or even growing food becomes more and more of an experience. This evolution is expected to continue and reveal its effect in the kitchen sector too. With an increasing demand for smaller and yet functional units, the concept of ‘luxury in a nutshell’ turns out to be more decisive than ever. This means that flexibility and modularity, plus functionality, are the key factors when it comes to kitchen and appliance design.

‘Control is vital for today’s home cooks,’ says Lisa Greenwood of Siemens who lists gas hobs and stepflame appliances with nine adjustable reliable power levels as being key. She adds: ‘There is no need to check the height of the flame, it guarantees perfect cooking results on each and every occasion; possible through innovative and patented valve technology that regulates the gas output precisely and noticeably from level 1 to 9.’

Liam Gawne of Miele says that, whether preparing gourmet dinners, or casual snacks for friends and family, three factors will define 2017 / ‘18 kitchens: colour, customisation and convenience. ‘Appliances are first and foremost a practical element that makes kitchen life easier, but today they are also becoming key design features. Increasingly, homeowners are looking for appliances that not only boast streamlined, design-conscious aesthetics and solid functionality, but that also offer cutting-edge technology that will help produce only the best end results in the simplest and most time-efficient manner possible.

Changing Spaces

Today, smaller appliances are a priority for an increasing number of homeowners. Previously, there was a tendency to clutter countertops with gadgets, or store them in a cabinet and have to pull them out to use. Now, kitchen designers routinely include storage space where small appliances can be concealed but easily accessed and employed. Further, contemporary kitchens in 2017 may have a variety of smart devices, which might demand an area devoted to USB ports and chargers.

This is confirmed by a spokesperson from Grundig Global premium home appliances: ‘We love the singular kitchen block, it’s a continuing theme in premium kitchen design. Essentially, it’s a kitchen island stretching horizontally from one end of the kitchen space to the other with everything required found in this exacting area. All appliances are built in and camouflaged by cabinetry to create smooth surfaces untainted by seams. They might be clad in innovative materials like volcanic stone and plywood with high gloss worktops that surround the glass of an induction hob to reflect feature lighting. This concept is likely the ultimate in kitchen design minimalism.’

For the full article see Habitat #261 September / October 2017


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