Category Archives: Design

The Return of the Kitchen Handle


At the start of 2018 interiors magazines hailed the ‘maximalist’ trend as the big design story of the year – but where does this leave minimalism in the kitchen?

Minimalism helped drive the soaring popularity of kitchen products from German and Italian manufacturers that pioneered the handleless trend. The pared-back aesthetic has dominated kitchen design for years – handleless designs with pocket doors and concealed larders have been about keeping the kitchen space as sparse as possible.

So the question is this: does maximalism spell the end for the handleless kitchen?

Massimo Minale, founder and director of hardware producer Buster + Punch, believes there has been a turnaround in favour of kitchen handles and that this has actually been on the cards for about five years, around the same time that people became hooked on more utilitarian and Shaker-style kitchens.

“Overnight, kitchens went from hiding everything away to putting it all on show, and this is the main reason that the kitchen handle has made a huge comeback,” Minale says.


Buster + Punch T-Bar in Smoked Bronze


Buster + Punch T-Bar in Steel


Buster + Punch Furniture Knobs in, from left to right, Steel, Brass and Smoked Bronze


Minale believes the other reason is quite simply mechanics.

Handles are a lot more practical and satisfying to use, as opposed to hidden mechanisms that continually break down,” he says.

Our Furniture Knobs and T-bars, both with plates, are proving most popular for the simple fact that they are both unique and extremely flexible in the way you can use them throughout your kitchen.”

The company, which also produces lighting, furniture and home accessories, has seen steady growth year-on-year.

PWS is another company that is looking forward to the return of the kitchen handle.

The recent trend for handleless kitchens and the clean, streamlined aesthetic has seen handles fall out of popularity in recent years, but the need for added interest and embellishment has seen them come back on the agenda,” says Graeme Smith, head of design at PWS-owned 1909 Kitchens.

The company launched four new kitchens in July, none of which are handleless, and the door that might lend itself most to a handleless option – the Slab door – actually places a knurled knob handle front and centre of the design.

1909 Slab Kitchen door in Dry Rose with Knurled Matt Black Knob

Feature handles in both the traditional and contemporary arena are popular with consumers,” explains Smith. “Heritage finishes such as chrome, antique brass and bright nickel work perfectly in classic schemes, with matt black and antique brass adding an industrial vibe to a contemporary scheme.”

The company also has a dedicated handles section on its website.

1909 Slab Kitchen in Dry Rose and Graphite with Knurled Matt Black Knob


Smith believes that the power of the kitchen handle should not be underestimated.

“Handles can make or break a kitchen design,” he says. “The position of the handle can also make a big difference to the look of the kitchen, whether it be in line as part of the Shaker style or centred to give a more heritage feel.”

However, he feels that to say this is the end of the minimalist kitchen door may be overstating it, and that the “extra practicality” of the handle can work in conjunction with a pared-back look. “I think they can work hand in hand,” he says.

“By using discreet styles such as trim handles, you can keep the minimalist appearance, while adding a design edge to the kitchen.”



Surface Design Trends 2018/2019


At 100% Design this year, we were lucky enough to hear Jules Archard of Domus presenting the emerging trends in surface design for 2018/2019.

Jules heads up Domus’ three London showrooms. With a background in Art and Design he has a particular interest in materials and surfaces, a specialism of the Domus showrooms, which showcase the very latest in tile trends and product innovations.

These are the surface design trends highlighted by Jules:-

Surface Design Trend #1. Colour Blocking

For maximum impact, colour blocking in interior design is achieved through contrasting colours. When designing with tiles, this approach can be used to great effect to control the look and feel of architectural features and zones. For example, warmer blocks of colour will appear closer whereas cooler blocks of colour will create the appearance of a shape or a space receding.


Hermes Installation (Domus)


New Terracotta (Dormus)


Surface Design Trend #2. Chromatic Colour

Chromatic Colour is a move on from Colour Blocking and is a colour scheme in which one particular tone or hue dominates. With the bold application of colour on the rise, using a variety of shades within the same colour family offers a calmer way of using strong colours without clashing.

Technicolour (Domus)


Piano, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Mutina (Domus)


Surface Design Trend #3. XL Porcelain Slab Design

Whereas previously XL porcelain slabs were reserved for replicating raw materials such as stone and marble, there is currently a trend for a more experimental approach to XL porcelain using colour, pattern and design-led markings and patterns. Technological advances enable ever more sophisticated finishes on slim porcelain and simultaneously the market is embracing more experimental, personalised surface finishes.

Cover, Patricia Urquiola for Mutina (Domus)


Matrice, Barbara Brondi and Marco Rainò for Cedit (Domus)


Surface Design Trend #4. Curves

Rounded shapes and curved lines offer a refreshing update from the geometric angular patterns that have dominated over the past few years. Whether taking the form of surface pattern, shaped tiles, or 3D effects such as fluting, these tiles all create a softer aesthetic.

Weave, Note Design Studio for Kaza (Domus)


Wig Wag (Domus)


Geometrica (Domus)


Surface Design Trend #5. Natural Aesthetic

The Natural Aesthetic trend embraces the imperfect look and feel of raw finishes and all things handmade. The focus is on creating relaxed surroundings inspired by nature and organic forms, as an antidote to the fast pace of modern life where we’re often surrounded by slick and shiny materials

New Terracotta (Domus)


Storie (Domus)


Hops (Domus)


Surface Design Trend #6. Customisation

As designers in the age of information we’re savvier and more demanding than ever, and the industry’s response is customisation. Tiles are inherently customisable because you can combine and arrange them to create different looks, even within individual ranges. For those who want even more flexibility, ‘Modello’ is a customisable concept range which allows designers to select any porcelain tile from Domus and specify for them to be cut into a series of pre-designed Modello shapes and patterns.

Modello (Domus)


Modello (Domus)


Surface Design Trend #7. Mix Not Match

This trend is all about making bold statements by mixing materials, colours and shapes in an imaginative, unexpected way. It is a rejection of safe, conservative interior design which can be more difficult to pull off than matching everything in a uniform way, but done carefully mixing and matching will create joyous, uplifting interiors

Puzzle, Design by Barber & Osgerby for Mutina (Domus)


Puzzle, Design by Barber & Osgerby for Mutina. Owl Design & DeVOL (Domus)


“It’s a really exciting time for interiors with a new-found confidence in colourful statements, bold combinations and curvaceous shapes. The rise of these personalised and joyous schemes is everywhere to be seen, from commercial spaces to restaurant and hotel design, and it’s filtering down into homes and residential spaces too. Now is the time to mix things up and adopt a more eclectic approach to interiors and tile design.” Jess Piddock, Domus’ Senior Designer

About Domus

Domus has served the architectural and design community for over 50 years, providing the most innovative and extensive collections of ceramic, porcelain and stone for residential and commercial projects. In 2014 Domus launched its Engineered Flooring division to meet the growing demand for wood, laminates and vinyl flooring.

Further information at


About 100% Design

100% Design is the commercial cornerstone event of The London Design Festival. Held at the Olympia exhibition centre between 19th and 22nd September 2018, this trade event is a vast showcase for more than 400 architects, product designers and interiors specialists. Dividing the exhibition centre into areas for the workplace, interiors, emerging brands and for those working in the construction and architectural industries, the fair hosts product launches for decorative lighting, furniture and fittings as well as providing a platform for newcomers.

Further information at


Bathroom Trends Spotted at Salone del Mobile 2018


The International Bathroom Exhibition at Salone del Mobile in Milan is where tomorrow’s bathroom ideas and concepts are conceived. This year’s edition saw 243 exhibitors set up stands in an area of 20,600 square metres, showcasing a huge array of products geared to rest and relaxation.

In it’s seventh year as a standalone exhibition, the innovative focus was on sustainability. Cutting edge products for modern bathrooms reflected today’s strong demand for efficiency and energy saving, with the accent on water efficiency, indoor pollution prevention and personal health.

Here are the top eight bathroom trends we spotted.


Bathroom Trend #1: More is more

Is less still more? The notion that good design is rooted in simplicity has been widely accepted since the 2000s. However, it’s all change now, because maximalism is powering into the bathroom with vivacious colours, graphic patterns and unapologetically luxurious pieces.

For her second collaboration with Bisazza, India Mahdavi has turned the traditional clinical white bathroom on its head with sanitaryware in three exuberant colours: pistachio, blueberry and strawberry (shown). To complement the bathroom collection, Bisazza and Mahdavi also plan to launch Pinstripe, a new mosaic pattern that takes its design cue from its namesake.

This overtly pop aesthetic – a recurring trait in Mahdavi’s projects – was also adopted by Glass Design for its radical Ettore Sottsass basin. It’s a fitting tribute to the man who inspired it.

The Mahdavi collection in strawberry by India Mahdavi for Bisazza is rewriting the rules.


Glass Design’s new Ettore Sottsass basin is fashioned from glass and features a bold pattern befitting of its inspiration.


Bathroom Trend #2: Unexpected forms

Most bathroom designs are content to play follow my leader, but a few step up to challenge design stereotypes. The reward for bravery is attention – sometimes positive, sometimes negative. But, as Oscar Wilde said, ‘The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.’

As we jostled to see the debut of Paolo Ulian’s Intreccio marble washbasin for Antoniolupi, the reaction around us was mixed. For our part, we fell in love at first sight, not least because in the course of investigating the relationship between an ancient material and new processing techniques, Ulian has successfully forged a fresh approach to basin design.

It was a similar story on the Oasis stand, where the launch of its Plissé freestanding basin caused quite a stir. Crafted from opaque white ceramic, Plissé takes a fashionable approach to interiors with its cinched-in waist to better accentuate its pleating. It’s not one for the minimalists, but haven’t they had their say already?

The shape of the Intreccio basin by Antoniolupi recalls that of a wicker basket. Designed by Paolo Ulian, it’s seen here in marble.


Fashioned from white ceramic, Plissé from Oasis features a pleated ‘body’ that’s cinched in at the waist with a gold or chrome metal ring.


Bathroom Trend #3 Going green

Nowadays, the influence of nature on design is less of a trend and more of a given. That said, the connection appears more pronounced now than previous years. Take green, the colour most synonymous with nature and the great outdoors. In 2017, greens were all light, bright and leafy. Since then, the colour has taken a darker turn, adopting a more masculine feel.

Bette’s BetteLux Shape bath is an excellent case in point, shown in a new Forest finish that changes shade depending on how the light falls. This gives the glazed titanium steel from which the bathroom specialist manufactures its designs an optical depth that makes it look almost alive.

A dark green bath isn’t for the faint-hearted. In light of this, Ritmonio has gone green (but on a much smaller scale), casting its Haptic showerhead in eight colours, including Amazzonia.

Forest lends a nature-inspired look to the BetteLux Shape bath from Bette.


Made of concrete, the Haptic showerhead from Ritmonio is featured in Amazzonia, one of eight colours from its ‘World’s colours’ collection.


Bathroom Trend #4: Ode to orange

What are your thoughts on burnt orange? Too bold? A bit brassy? If you’re cautious about colour, you might be tempted to give it a miss. However, used sparingly, a pop of burnt orange injects warmth into a restrained aesthetic.

Consider, for example, Kartell by Laufen’s accessory collection, now available in an expanded colour palette including burnt orange. Paired with white sanitaryware, it adds a palpable joie de vivre to a space without overpowering it.

For a more muted take on orange, look to matt finishes that absorb light rather than reflect it. The result is understated elegance. Once again, Ritmonio has nailed it with its new range of colours. Shown below is Sahara.

Kartell by Laufen has boosted its accessories range with burnt orange.


The Haptic tap by Ritminio features a concrete handle in Sahara, one of eight colours from its ‘World’s colours’ collection.


Bathroom Trend #5: The beauty of black

Orange is not yet the new black when it comes to bathrooms. In fact, black is still around in all its sleek and stylish glory. Pair it with metals to add a touch of glamour to your bathroom; offset it with white to work the classic monochrome look; contrast it with a bright colour to make your scheme pop.

A few of our favourite black designs from Salone del Bagno include:

The metal insert is not only a beautiful design feature of the Tao washbasin by Kreoo, but it also simplifies production. The sectioning of the washbasin allows Tao to be carved from multiple small blocks of marble, reducing the waste of material.


All elements of Devon & Devon’s Black Diamond collection are made of turned brass and black ceramic, and are distinguished by elegant diamond-edged black glass jewel ends. Available finishes in addition to chrome include light gold, polished bronze and nickel.


Bette dabbled in the dark side and showed BetteLux Shape in its new Midnight finish.

Bathroom Trend #6: A question of personal taste

There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to decorating a bathroom in 2018. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you pick pieces that speak to you.

Perfectly timed to chime with this spirit of personalisation is MyEdition from AXOR, a new collection of taps created in collaboration with Stuttgart-based design studio Phoenix that’s designed for those who want to be different. The taps can be customised in a choice of materials including the usual suspects – metal and marble – as well as a couple of more unexpected options, wood and leather.

For its 25th anniversary, AXOR presented AXOR MyEdition, a new dimension of individualisation developed by Phoenix Design.

Bathroom Trend #7: Rest and relaxation

Customisation isn’t the only way for individualism to manifest itself in the bathroom. It takes place behind the scenes too. Take digital showers, which cut out the need for temperamental manual controls to achieve the perfect water temperature. Instead, you can set temperature at the touch of a button.

Digital showers are just the beginning. Glass1989 presented new additions to its SpaRituals collection, including the Mawi bathtub, which boasts SkinSublime, which fills the water with oxygen-rich micro bubbles. These are said to improve cellular regeneration, stimulate collagen production and combat free radicals that cause skin ageing.

Meanwhile, Kos debuted its Quadrant Pool Relax by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba. A mini infinity pool suitable for indoors and outdoor use, its features include the Milk system, which releases tiny oxygen particles into the water, turning it from clear to milky white. Kos claims that the system helps tone muscles, stimulate skin hydration and restore tired bodies.

New additions to Glass1989’s SpaRituals collection included the Mawi bathtub.


Ludovica + Roberto Palomba designed the Quadrant Pool Relax for Kos. It’s suitable for both indoors and outdoors.


Bathroom Trend #8: Living bathroom

Trends seen at trade exhibitions don’t become mainstream overnight. Some bubble under the surface for years before becoming mainstream. Take the living bathroom, the idea that the bathroom is another living space and should be treated as such. This thinking has been the subject of many a trends discussion (and has subsequently filtered into luxury homes) but it’s still a new concept for the majority.

What helps the cause is when big brands pick up the mantle. Cue VitrA, which unveiled Plural, its new living bathroom concept, at the exhibition. Created in collaboration with American designer Terri Pecora, Plural introduces the bathroom as a social hub where people meet and reconnect with themselves, their close friends and family. To signify the sense of warmth and domesticity, Pecora has conceived organic-shaped design elements in neutral colours and wood finishes that can be used in multiple combinations to form a personalised intimate setting.

“At VitrA, we wanted to create a new methodology that responds to the recent evolution of the bathroom ritual,” explains Erdem Akan, design director at VitrA.”We focused on the time spent in the bathroom and our interaction within the space rather than the products.”

Plural by American designer Terri Pechora for VitrA comprises organic-shaped elements in neutral colours and wood finishes.



Kitchen Trends Spotted at Eurocucina 2018


Eurocucina is the international showcase for all that’s coming next in kitchens. A key element of Milan’s Salone del Mobile fair, this year’s edition hosted more than 100 kitchen companies. And among the large number of exhibitors, there were some distinct trends on view.


Here’s a snapshot of these kitchen trends …


Kitchen Trend #1. Storage gets flexible

Manufacturers were taking a fresh approach to storage, making the best use of space, including turning the splashback – an otherwise underused area – into a flexible storage solution.

Rossana and Scavolini both combined open shelving, compartments and glass storage that ran the whole width of the prep and sink area, while Valcucine’s Genius Loci kitchen featured a dedicated area of illuminated storage that can be concealed when cooking’s finished.

This emphasis on flexibility shows how manufacturers recognise that the best cooking happens when people aren’t constrained by kitchen layout. Keeping some items on display and others hidden means we can tailor our kitchens to our own cooking preferences.

The HD23 kitchen from Rossana was shown with storage that made practical use of the splashback


Snaidero’s new Link kitchen features I-Wall, a functional storage system that sits between worktop and wall units.


Kitchen Trend #2. A new take on frosted glass

Open shelving has become a popular look, as it means we can put favourite pieces on display. However, when those pieces need almost daily cleaning, the look becomes less practical. The solution? Ribbed, embossed or patterned glass that keeps shelves feeling open but items dust free.

This look was everywhere at Eurocucina, including on the stands of TM Italia, Poliform and Ernestomeda. Designers have incorporated it into wall units to mid- and full-height units, and as everything from frosted to painted-on lines (Elam) and even backed with fabric (Cesar and Rossana).

Including lighting within the storage is another nod to practicality. Items can remain either in shadow or fully on view in a display that also brings mood lighting to the kitchen.


The Rua kitchen from TM Italia embraced industrial style, including ribbed glass doors reminiscent of those found in factories.


The bronze-look, aluminium framed ribbed glass doors in this larder unit are from Ernestomeda’s Inside System of storage units and walk-in cupboards.


Kitchen Trend #3. Dining room

Every island unit now seems to include space for a seating area, even if it’s just a small breakfast bar. But in Milan, kitchen designers had taken this to the other extreme by adding a full-size dining table. Some of these were level with the island but others were table height and designed to seat for an extended family gathering or dinner party.

Rather than having a separate formal dining table, why not keep the dining close to the action? Dada and Porcelanosa showcased two notable examples.


From the Emotions range of kitchens by Porcelanosa, this impressive solid wood table will comfortably sit 10 people.


Hi-Line6 from Dada contrasts a stainless steel island with a large wooden dining area that sits offset at the end of the worktop.


Kitchen Trend #4. The hidden kitchen

This one isn’t brand new for 2018 – but it’s worth mentioning because it was still very much a growing trend at this year’s show. In fact, the option to hide away the working areas of the kitchen isn’t just a good idea for small spaces but for all open-plan kitchens.

The Monolith kitchen from Comprex and Scavolini’s Box Life were two examples of the many that used full-height pocket doors. These completely conceal elements of the kitchen from the rest of the room and slide out of the way when the room’s in use. In a crossover with the frosted glass trend, Ernestomeda featured a kitchen partially hidden by full-height ribbed glass doors.


The Monolith kitchen from Comprox features tall units of eucalyptus veneer that conceal the appliances and storage behind pocket doors.


Designed for open-plan spaces, the Box Life kitchen from Scavolini keeps the kitchen concealed behind full-height bi-fold doors.


Kitchen Trend #5. Everything to hand

From Cesar and Ernestomeda came a new concept in keeping everything within easy reach. We’ve coined the term ‘hanging rail’ to describe it since that’s what it is – a structure that provides lighting over the hob and can be used to hang all your favourite utensils just where you need them. You could also see it as a pared-down version of a batterie de cuisine from a professional kitchen.

Some manufacturers have extended the trend by adding compartments and shelving to create open and suspended storage. For example, Dada’s VVD handleless kitchen featured a compact steel structure of shelving down the centre of the island to define the working area and provide handy storage but maintain a sense of openness.

With no storage underneath, the table-like Williamsburg island from Cesar needed alternative solutions on its worktop – hence the hanging rail.


The hanging rail in the K-Lab kitchen from Ernestomeda provides task lighting for the cooking and prep area of the island.


Kitchen Trend #6. Multi-functional extractors

Extractor hoods are subject to trends just as much as the rest of the kitchen. They tend to be either hidden away or decorative and meant to be seen, particularly when they’re sited above an island. But a third version was seen over and over again at Eurocucina – the large, multifunctional extractor that doubles as open storage.

Made from metal frames and glass to keep their looks light, these are also the perfect area for extra storage. Some were used for purely decorative items, but others held herbs and cooking utensils, creating another practical space. Nolte, Poliform, Ernestomeda and TM Italia all had examples of this trend.


Large, industrial-style island hoods with lighting and shelving were a feature of several Poliform kitchens.


The extractor in this TM Italia kitchen holds just a plant but could be used to keep pots and pans to hand.


Kitchen Trend #7. Real and faux metallics

Stainless steel has always been a popular material thanks to its hardwearing finish and professional look, and it was everywhere at the show – though in several guises. For example, Poliform fooled the eye with an ingenious worktop that looked and felt like embossed stainless steel, but was in fact porcelain. Warmer metallics in brass and bronze added glamour to the doors of Valcucine and TM Italia.

For the most beautiful and unexpected use of stainless steel, hats off to Xera. Its kitchens are made entirely from stainless steel, but this has been put through a process to bring out its natural nickel and chrome. The result is doors with copper and brass shades as well as more usual brushed silver tones.

Xera brings out the beauty of stainless steel in its hand-polished and moulded Lingotto island unit.


Valcucine’s Artematica kitchen is shown here in a new distressed brass finish that complements the Antalya grey stone used for the worktops.

Kitchen Trend #8. Drawers without fronts

This might sound like an unfinished kitchen, but drawers made from just of the drawer box created an interested storage solution on a few stands. The ‘no front’ drawers created a contrast between the natural wood and whatever doors were used in the rest of the kitchen.

Dada used this treatment to create a row of drawer trays along the non-working side of an island unit. Meanwhile, Schüller broke up the painted finish of an otherwise fairly traditional kitchen with this ‘unfinished’ drawer front.


Pull-out trays were not only a useful addition to the VVD design from Dada, they also broke up the grey stone of the island.


The Vienna kitchen from Schüller reinterpreted country style with the contrast between lava black paint and wooden tray drawers.


Design and Innovation in the Bathroom Market 2018


This report tracks design and innovation trends, both within the bathroom market and the wider environments. 

Our design and innovation team evaluates new innovations, designs and technology for bathrooms, looking beyond the latest colour and material fads to provide a clear picture for new product development teams.


This report will be published in December 2018

If you are a Bathroom category Insight Partner, this report will automatically be added to your account


Design and Innovation in the Kitchen Market 2018


This report tracks design and innovation trends, both within the kitchen market and the wider environments. 

Our design and innovation team evaluates new innovations, designs and technology for kitchens, looking beyond the latest colour and material fads to provide a clear picture for new product development teams.


This report will be published in December 2018

If you are a Kitchen category Insight Partner, this report will automatically be added to your account


Pantone Colour of the Year 2018


Pantone has announced 18-3838 Ultra Violet as their colour of the year for 2018.

In a provocative contrast to Greenery, their 2017 colour of the year, which was chosen for its fortifying attributes, encouraging us to take a step back to breathe, oxygenate and reinvigorate, Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking that points us towards the future.

According to Leatrice Eiseman Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute “We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination.  It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level.  From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.

Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.

Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection.


About the Pantone Color of the Year

 “The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.” – Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute.

As individuals around the world become more fascinated with color and realize its ability to convey deep messages and meanings, designers and brands should feel empowered to use color to inspire and influence. The Color of the Year is one moment in time that provides strategic direction for the world of trend and design, reflecting the Pantone Color Institute’s year-round work doing the same for designers and brands.