Category Archives: Design and Innovation

Smart speaker ownership doubles


Smart speaker ownership among Britons has doubled since last autumn, with one in ten Britons now owning a smart speaker device

According to new research by YouGov, while just one in twenty (5%) Brits owned one of the smart speaker devices in Q3 2017,  in Q1 2018 ownership has doubled to one in ten (10%).

The Smart Speaker study shows that while Amazon remains the main player in the industry its market share is shrinking as new entrants come into the sector. Currently, Amazon smart speakers (which use the ‘Alexa’ digital interface), such as the Echo, make up three quarters (75%) of the market, but this is down from 88%. Close to one in ten (9%) smart speaker owners now have a Google Home Mini, 7% have a Google Home (full size), while 2% have an Apple Home Pod and 1% own a Sonos One.

YouGov’s report also analysed how smart speaker owners are using their devices. Seven in ten (71%) say that they use their smart speaker for playing music, nearing six in ten (58%) use it to answer general questions, while just under half use it to set alarms and reminders (49%), or access news or weather forecasts (47%). Notably, over a third (34%) say they interact with other smart devices using their speaker, while nearly a quarter (26%) said they bought their smart speaker specifically because it can integrate with other devices.

However, the study finds that there is not an overwhelming demand from the public for smart speaker, with just 5% of the UK population being in the market for one. Although, among those who are looking to buy a device, four in ten (41%) expect to get it within the next six months.

The research shows that older people are more likely to have a smart speaker. A third of owners (33%) are aged 55 and over, while 23% are in the 45-54 age group. Only 10% are aged 18-24.

While Amazon has lost smart speaker market share in the past six months, ownership of its devices continues to grow and it remains the dominant player in the industry. However, because demand among the public for a smart speaker is only modest, the brands that stand to gain most are likely to be ones who can either bundle ownership up with other services or can demonstrate how useful devices can be when it comes to accessing information, goods and services. From both standpoints, Amazon is well placed.

As more people adopt connected domestic devices, the usefulness of a connected speaker – which integrates with other area of a connected home – will become greater. While we are not yet at a critical mass for ownership, when we are, brands will have a great opportunity to market their products more effectively.

Source:  YouGov

What will the UK’s homes look like in 5, 10 and 20 years’ time?


With the government pledging to build 300,000 new homes a year AXA Insurance has asked the public what they think homes will look like in 5, 10 and 20 years’ time.

Key Findings

  • Homes are becoming increasingly multi-purpose, with a quarter of people now viewing them as places of work as well as leisure;
  • Technology will ramp up in 5 years’ time, with 26 per cent believing all homes will include smart technology;
  • Sustainability is the name of the game in 10 years’ time, as 20 per cent expect houses to have access to driver-less vehicles and be made of sustainable materials

Homes of Today – A mishmash of work and leisure

Twenty years ago most people thought of their homes as a place they go at the end of the day to unwind and catch up with their families, however today a quarter of people use them as places of work as well as leisure. Thirty-six per cent of people feel that there are more people working from home today compared to ten years ago, while 64 per cent think that even more people will be working from home in the future.

However, even though there are now more people working from home than ever before, only a few of us have dedicated spaces to do this work in. Only a third (29 per cent) of people work in a dedicated office at home, while another third (32 per cent) work in their living rooms and 15 per cent in their bedrooms. Most people work on their laptops (69 per cent), while less than half have a dedicated desk, office chair or monitor!

Homes in 5 years’ time – Technology becomes more widespread

We often forget how quickly technology can become commonplace, however considering the fact that the iPhone came out less than 11 years ago, it’s not surprising that over a quarter (26 per cent) of respondents believe the UK’s homes will include technology such as Hive and Alexa in the next five years.

What’s more, 27 per cent believe there will be smart screens (e.g. TV screens you can use to call people etc.) throughout their homes in the next 10 years, while 25 per cent think people will have the ability to charge electric cars at home instead of having to go to charging points.

Homes in 10 years’ time – The Sustainability Era

Conversations surrounding sustainability are becoming increasingly prevalent as the world envisions the type of environment they want to live in in the future. Concerns over sustainability appear in respondents’ hopes for homes in 10 years’ time, with almost 20 per cent thinking they will be made mostly of sustainable materials (e.g. solar panels, flood resistant technology etc.) and will also be better equipped to withstand environmental factors such as storms, rain and wind.

Meanwhile, one in five believe homes will have access to driverless cars in the next 10 years – just 5 years after having the ability to charge electric cars at home. There is a good reason why sustainability is so important in the future: a quarter of people (24 per cent) think the UK’s electricity network as it currently stands would struggle to keep up with demand in 10 years’ time.

Homes in 20 years’ time and beyond

Along with determining what homes will look like in 5, 10 and 20 years’ time, there were some general observations from respondents regarding on-going trends that we are seeing today and expect to carry on in the future. At the moment, only 20 per cent of people think homes have the ability to change rooms depending on their purpose (work, leisure, relaxing etc.), however 43 per cent think they will have this ability within the next 20 years.

Throughout the decades AXA has seen a number of changes in the way people live their lives and the homes they reside in. Today more than ever, people are starting to use their homes for multiple purposes and are relying more heavily on new technology, and this is set to continue. In the next five, ten and twenty years we expect homes to change once again, but into what is a conversation we all need to have.” Gareth Howell, Managing Director, AXA Insurance

Other predictions include:

  • Nineteen per cent of people think UK homes already have more people living in them; this increases to 38 per cent within 20 years’ time.
  • Twenty-three per cent of people think UK homes already house multi-generational families; this increases to 35 per cent within 20 years’ time.
  • Twenty-five per cent of people think UK homes are already smaller in size in general; this increases to 31 per cent within 20 years’ time. A quarter of people also think homes will never become larger in size again.


Source:  AXA insurance


Top 10 Innovations for the Bathroom of the Future


A recent survey has revealed that 68% of people believe their bathroom is outdated.

DigitalBridge, a room visualisation tool for home decor and kitchen/bedroom/bathroom retailers, questioned 1,100 consumers to find out which innovations they’d most like to see in the ‘bathroom of the future’.

They found that one in five (46%) thought the most exciting innovations will be in the bathroom.  A further 28% said that the kitchen is most ripe for innovation and just 9% believe that the living room will see most technological change in future.

Half of people also claimed that they would be more likely to shop with a brand that offered them access to technologies such as augmented reality (AR) or artificial intelligence (AI).  This figure rises to 59% among 25–34 year olds.

Despite this, when questioned on their current bathroom tech, 68% of people said they believe their bathroom is outdated — with 42% of these even stating that it is very outdated. Just 14% thought their space was of a modern standard and only 6% believed it to be very modern.

When asked which innovations they would most like to see in the bathroom in the next 10 years, this was the top 10 list:-

  1. A face recognition system which automatically adjusts water temperature and pressure to your personalised settings
  2. A hovering drone mirror which allows you to style the back of your hair with ease
  3. An in-shower voice recognition that allows you to add shampoo, toothpaste and other essentials to your shopping list when they are running low
  4. An augmented reality simulator that shows how a hairstyle could look on your head and provides step-by-step instructions on how to achieve it
  5. A pep-talking mirror that gives you advice on your outfits based on a link to your personal calendar
  6. Three taps — one for hot, cold and ‘just right’
  7. A dressing machine that chooses your outfit and dresses you
  8. A full body air-dryer
  9. A height-adjustable sink, toilet and mirror that moves up and down depending on who is using them
  10. An ambient display which allows you to make a cup of coffee and answer the doorbell from the shower


Source:  Digitalbridge



Kitchen Purchase Behaviour, Consumer Insight Report 2016

This consumer insight report looks at the motivating factors behind the decision to purchase a new kitchen, investigating multi-family households, the ageing demographic, flexible working conditions, the space available, even the TV programmes we watch, to understand how these influence the way in which we use our kitchen space.

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Kitchen Category Insight Partners only

This research takes a step back and starts from before the actual purchase process in order to explore the way UK homeowners use their kitchens; how they cook, shop for groceries, socialise and relax. It investigates how family circumstances and household demographics, multi-functional space issues and emerging smart technologies can impact on how kitchens are planned and which products are purchased.

The results of this research have enabled us to produce 6 different kitchen consumer profiles, which will aid manufacturers and retailers of kitchen products in identifying their target market and creating a structured approach to product development and marketing communications.

The report gives a fascinating insight into people’s diverse requirements for their individual kitchens and highlight a number of opportunities for innovation and growth for kitchen product brands.


Key Findings

  • Spending is back on the agenda with homeowners showing a willingness to invest in a new kitchen because they are not prepared to wait any longer for a new one
  • Luxury goes mainstream as what were previously considered high-ticket appliances rise steeply in popularity
  • Kitchens are not as social as we would like with homeowners complaining that their new kitchens don’t provide enough space to entertain.
  • Lack of space continues to be the main issue with new kitchens and although there many be opportunities to add an extension or create an open plan space, making the best use of storage and work surfaces is more important for many new kitchens
  • Although the smart kitchen is a trend that has grown significantly over the past 3 years, many homeowners are still failing to understand how the technology will work in their own homes.

kitchen consumer trends

The 2018 edition of this report will be published in August 2018

Also published in August 2018 – Kitchen Behaviours and Product Usage 2018

If you are a Kitchen Category Insight Partner, these reports will automatically be added to your account

RIBA House of the Year 2017

Riba House of the Year

This year’s RIBA House of the Year is a ‘brave new prototype for multi-generational living‘. 

Caring Wood is a re-imagined traditional English country house, designed by British architects James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell.  The house is divided into four interconnected blocks built from traditional materials which echo the neighbouring oast houses, and provides accommodation for four family units;  the owners and their daughters along with their husbands and children.

Caring Wood RIBA house of the year 2017

This ambitious house explores new architectural methods, materials and crafts and allows us to question the future of housing and the concept of multi-generational living,” said RIBA president Ben Derbyshire.  “I’ve no doubt many of the ideas displayed at Caring Wood will influence UK housing for many years to come.”

Caring Wood RIBA House of the Year 2017

According to RIBA House of the Year 2017 jury chair, Deborah Saunt Beyond the impression of sublime craftsmanship and spatial grandeur this house offers, Caring Wood leads us to fundamentally question how we might live together in the future.

“At a time when we are increasingly atomised, individually preoccupied and lost in personalised digital worlds, designing homes where families come together – in their many permutations – is an increasingly important aim. Whilst this might seem to be a particular brief for one extended family, it is one taking huge risks in asking how we collectively might live inter-generationally as social structures evolve.

“Here we find a family enjoying each other’s time and company, but also enabling timeless layers of support to emerge between generations. Grandparents and grandchildren exchanging experiences and enlivening each other’s sense of self, parents finding a place to catch up alone as children play. Siblings together with cousins, building the foundation for mutual support for years to come, the network that builds a strong society of mutual respect.

“This is a brave project offering a new prototype. In deploying homes that cater for extended families across urban, suburban and rural sites, this may offer solutions not only to the country’s housing crisis – where families might live together longer- but also by providing care solutions for young and old alike, freeing people from punishing costs throughout their lifetimes.

“This intimate house delights in the way it beautifully manipulates space and avoids grandiosity. Unobtrusive within its landscape, it builds on the pattern of settlement centuries old. This is a house for all ages.”

Source:  RIBA 


Joseph Joseph’s new bathroom accessories range

Twin brothers, Richard and Antony Joseph, founders of the eponymous Joseph Joseph kitchen brand, have turned their sights on the bathroom accessories market.



They started studying bathroom accessories about two years ago and saw that a lot of the products hadn’t changed for years, they were just iterations of the same ideas.  Instead of looking at how to solve the problems homeowners face in their typically small and cramped bathrooms, the accessories concentrated purely on style and finish.

Their new range focuses on products that are both space-saving and organisational, as well as hygienic and easy to clean.



The result is an easy to dismantle toothbrush caddy, with sections for both manual and electric toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss, as well as a non-slip base and ventilation holes,  a soap dish that allows water and soap suds to drain out of sight, a slim-line soap pump with a large capacity and non-drip nozzle, and a waste separation bin to help with recycling.



However, the hero-product of the range has to be the Flex toilet brush, a revolutionary design made of hydrophobic polymer for less dripping between cleaning and storing, with a flexible D-shaped head which can reach all areas of the bowl with its anti-clog bristles.





Six Design Trends Spotted at Sleep 2017

Sleep, Europe’s hospitality design and development event, is the place to be if you have a passion for creating innovative hotels, restaurants and bars – or if you want to spot the trends and new collections that will be crossing over into domestic interiors.

The 2017 show was no exception, and Trend Monitor joined the record number of visitors at The Business Design Centre in London in November to get an insight into the key looks of 2018.

Design Trend #1. Tactile times

Taps have tended to be smooth for the simple reason that we need to keep them clean. But, if you read our report from ISH 2017 , you’ll already know that smooth is giving way to decorative patterns, creating tactile brassware that has the power to elevate even the plainest of bathrooms.

Geometric patterns have a timeless appeal, so it’s not surprising that we’re now seeing them in the bathroom. Leading the way at Sleep was interior designer Jo Love, who’s collaborated with British brassware manufacturer Vado to create the Omika collection of taps, showers and accessories. These flirt with texture to great effect – think strong clean lines, a slim minimalist silhouette and a delicate geometric pattern.

Omika collection by Jo Love - Vado
The Omika collection by Jo Love for Vado

Texture has also captured the imagination of Italian manufacturers. Stella 1882 has incorporated guilloche, a decorative engraving technique based on intricate patterns, into the surface of its taps. There’s a choice of 12 patterns, available in any Stella finish.

Stella 1882
Stella 1882

The guilloche finish by Stella 1882 is hand-engraved by craftsmen at its workshop in Milan.

Design Trend #2. Broad appeal

It was good to see luxury French bathroom brand THG Paris step outside its comfort zone with Collection Bain, its first sanitaryware collection since the brand was established in 1956.

THG’s small stand at Sleep could only accommodate a freestanding bath, but the full collection includes different styles of bath and a series of basins and shower trays, all created to complement its handcrafted tap fittings. THG’s material of choice is MineralStone, a composite material containing natural mineral fillers and reinforced resins that create strong, easy-to-clean pieces.

Selecting a look for your bathroom has become a question of taste now that so many sanitaryware producers have set up customised production departments. THG is among them, offering its Collection Bain as made-to measure to individuals as well as hotel chains.

Collection Bain by THG Paris
Collection Bain by THG Paris

Collection Bain is the debut sanitaryware collection by bathroom fittings specialist THG Paris.

Brassware manufacturer Grohe is also looking to broaden its appeal with the launch of Bau, its first-ever ceramics range. Developed following research that found customers struggle to match a washbasin with a mixer, Bau is designed to address the problem head-on by complementing Grohe’s Bau mixer collection.

Bau Sanitaryware Collection by Groh
Bau Sanitaryware Collection by Grohe

Grohe has dipped its toe into the ceramics market with Bau, its first sanitaryware collection.

Design Trend #3. The thinner the better

‘The thinner the better’ seems to be the mantra of modern sanitaryware – as seen in the use of cutting-edge materials that allow manufacturers to reduce rim width on basins and baths without compromising strength.

Previously, fine edges wouldn’t have survived the firing process, but materials such as Cerafine, seen in VitrA’s Outline collection of ultra-fine countertop basins, mean that manufacturers can now create slim, elegant shapes with defined edges.

The advantage of these slim rims is more than sleek good looks. It means that the modern basin can hold more water than its bulky predecessor, making it a practical addition to the bathroom.

Manufacturers continue to stress the relationship between their products and the primary function of the bathroom: hygiene. For example, VitrA basins are coated with VitrA Clean surface finish to keep them easy to clean with just a mild detergent and a damp cloth.

VitrA's Outline collection
VitrA’s Outline collection

These ultra-fine countertop basins from VitrA’s Outline collection are manufactured from Cerafine, a new material that’s both strong and elegant.

VitrA isn’t the only manufacturer looking to slim down. Since the launch of SaphirKeramik in 2013, Swiss manufacturer Laufen has worked with numerous designers on products for a variety of collections.

For those not in the know, SaphirKeramik is a hard and rigid ceramic material that can be sued to create super-thin but extremely robust ceramic walls. These can be as narrow as 2mm (traditional ceramic measures between 7 to 8mm).

Laufen’s third and latest collaboration is with Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, who has used SaphirKeramik to create her Sonar range (launched at ISH 2017). Although Sonar was not on display at Sleep, SaphirKeramik was well represented by existing products from Konstantin Grcic’s Val collection.

Val by Konstantin Grcic for Laufen
Val Collection by Konstantin Grcic for Laufen

The internationally acclaimed German designer Konstantin Grcic worked with Laufen’s SaphirKeramik to produce Val.

Design Trend #4. Get smarter

You know when a trend has truly arrived when the world’s biggest sanitaryware brands sit up and take notice. Cue Japanese-style washlets, which have spent years lurking on the periphery of the UK bathroom, possibly because their spacecraft-style looks tend to intimidate the conservative-minded British consumer.

Realising the key to success was to redesign the washlet to look like a regular WC, Laufen set about developing Cleanet Riva, defined by a streamlined aesthetic but packed full of high-end engineering.

At the heart of Cleanet Riva is the shower function, which is operated using the button located on the side of the WC bowl or via a touchscreen remote control. This also provides additional settings and personal preferences, including a choice of various spray modes, based on pressure, temperature and timing.

Laufen’s Cleanet Riva
Laufen’s Cleanet Riva

Laufen’s Cleanet Riva boasts various spray modes that can be personalised by pressure, temperature and timing.

Design Trend #5. Ageless design

Our post-ISH report touched on the growing influence of multi-generational households on bathroom design, and how manufacturers are now creating products that are accessible to all the family.

Hansgrohe’s understated Unica Comfort shower bar is just one example. Doubling as a sturdy grab handle for those less steady on their feet, it can support up to 200kg in weight. The hand shower can be easily positioned at the desired height using just one hand, and an additional hand shower holder at the lower end of the bar is ideal for children, wheelchair users and those who like to shower sitting down. A detachable shower caddy provides the finishing flourish, creating essential space for toiletries.

Unica Comfort by Hansgrohe
Unica Comfort by Hansgrohe

A shower bar or a convenient grab handle with integrated shower caddy for toiletries, the Unica Comfort by Hansgrohe is ideal for multigenerational households.


Design Trend #6. Pretty and practical

You can’t fail to have noticed the wide range of brassware colour options now available, including bronze, brass, rose and brushed gold, copper and matt black. These aren’t exclusive to brassware either, with designers keen for other elements of the bathroom to match up in the style stakes.

VitrA has collaborated with product designer Sebastian Conran to create a new bathroom accessory collection aimed at both domestic and luxury hotel markets. The Eternity collection comprises 31 products that combine luxury with practicality, including a toothbrush holder that incorporates a removable strainer so that toothbrushes don’t languish in stale water, and robe hooks designed not to leave pinch marks in collars and necks. Within the range there are three finish options: white with chrome, black with chrome and black with gold. All have hardwearing teak wood accents.

Eternity by Sebastian Conran for VitrA
Eternity by Sebastian Conran for VitrA

VitrA has teamed up with product designer Sebastian Conran to create Eternity, a new bathroom accessory collection for domestic and hotel bathrooms.

Design Trends spotted at 100% Design 2017

100% Design 2017

100% Design is the showcase for leading contemporary design and is the largest and longest running design trade event for industry professionals in the UK

First staged in 1995, the show is now in its 23rd year and is widely considered to be the cornerstone event of the London Design Festival, as well as one of the most significant events on the global trade calendar

The show,  held between 20-23 September at Olympia London, featured over 400 exhibitors, from internationally recognised brands through to younger design studios and new design talent emerging on the market.

Trend-Monitor was there too, checking out the strongest design trends …

Design Trend #1. Indoor and Outdoor Brights

In a refreshing move away from whites and neutrals, 100% design was crammed with vibrant colour, pattern and texture.  Interiors, outdoor living, bathroom and kitchens were all showing their colourful sides at the show

Wilful Ink 'Gallinule' wallpaper
Wilful Ink ‘Gallinule’ wallpaper

The 2018 Sunbrella outdoor upholstery collection
The 2018 Sunbrella outdoor upholstery collection

More information at

Although Smeg launched their sleek new premium range of kitchen appliances at this year’s show, it is still their iconic retro range in eye-catching colours that draws the most attention.

The Multicoloured Smeg range


Design Trend #2. Modular Goes Home

Modular furniture has been fundamental to offices and work-spaces for many years, but we are now seeing the trend for modular applications growing in popularity in the home environment.  Driven by today’s transient lifestyles and the growth of the high-end rental market, there is a demand for functional, stylish furniture pieces that are also flexible in terms of assembly and arranging.

Leaf Seat from Design by Nico
Leaf Seat from Design by Nico

The Modulo cabinets by Ercol are available individually, or can be stacked up to three high, in any combination of the customer’s choosing.

Modulo by Dylan Freeth for Ercol
Modulo by Dylan Freeth for Ercol


Design Trend #3. Metallic finishes go commercial

Stainless steel and chrome has continued to dominate the commercial environment long after metals have warmed up in the more design-led interiors and homes.  Simple Human has changed this and launched their commercial bins in a range of warmer finishes such as rose-gold.

Simple Human commercial bin in rose gold
Simple Human commercial bin in rose gold


Design Trend #4. Tubular Steel

The use of folding tubular steel for furniture started in the 1920s and 1930s with the Bauhaus movement and their innovative use of steel tubing.  At 100% Design this trend was clearly enjoying a revival with the simple clean lines of tubular steel featuring in furniture and storage.

Vzor RM56 in wood
Vzor RM56 in wood

Olly bar stool by Junction Fifteen
Olly bar stool by Junction Fifteen

Anywhere Shelving by Korridor Design
Anywhere Shelving by Korridor Design


Design Trend #5. The Gin Revolution

Carried by a wave of craft distilleries and boutique bars, gin is fast becoming the nation’s most fashionable spirit, available in every conceivable flavour from citrus to seaweed to tea.  It’s not surprising therefore that the gin revolution is now hitting the homes and interiors.

(Ok, we admit it’s probably more of a fad than a true trend, but we spotted this fabulous gin trolley and wanted an excuse to feature it)

The Gin Trolley by Quench Home Bars
The Gin Trolley by Quench Home Bars




Four Smart Home Trends Spotted at IFA 2017


IFA, the international trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, is well known for showcasing the latest innovations. This year’s show, held in Berlin from 1 – 6 September 2017, attracted 2,000 exhibitors and 253,000 visitors – and Trend Monitor was there to check out the latest smart home trends.

#1 Look whos talking

Only time will tell whether consumers really want to ‘talk’ to their appliances. All the same, Candy is getting a head start on the competition with Bianca, a washing machine that you can communicate with by talking to Candy’s simply-Fi app.

For example, you can ask Bianca to start a cycle or request help choosing the right washing settings. Bianca will also dispense tips and tell you if it needs maintenance.

Candy Bianca Washing Machine
Candy ‘Bianca’ Washing Machine

Samsung has also joined the voice-activated appliance war. Its Family Hub fridge, already on the market, has been upgraded with Samsung Connect, a cloud-based voice function that you can use to interact with it: ask for time and weather updates, search the internet, read news articles, play music and radio and add items to a shopping list.

Samsung Family Hub Fridge
Samsung Family Hub Fridge

Not to be outdone, Bosch presented Roxxter, the first robotic vacuum cleaner that can be controlled via Amazon’s Alexa. Just say, ‘Alexa, tell the Home Connect robot to clean the kitchen’ and your helper will be on its way.

Roxxter comes with RoomSelect, which lets you schedule cleaning for individual rooms. Plus, there’s an integrated streaming camera so you can keep an eye on your home via the app when you’re not there.

Bosch Roxxter vacuum cleaner
Bosch Roxxter vacuum cleaner

It’s not just appliance manufacturers that are taking a punt on voice control: Sony has launched the LF-S50G wireless speaker powered by Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant that can engage in two-way conversations. Want to know what the traffic will be like on your route to work, set a wake-up alarm or retrieve the flight booking details for your next trip? Then bring the speaker to life by saying, “OK Google”.

The LG-S50G doesn’t work alone. Google Assistant can also voice control other smart devices from compatible platforms, including Chromecast built-in, Nest, Philips Hue and IFTTT, so you can adjust many aspects of your home environment with voice commands.

Sony LF-S50G Wireless Speaker powered by Google Assistant
Sony LF-S50G Wireless Speaker powered by Google Assistant

Elsewhere, Panasonic has partnered with Google to produce the first hi-fi speakers with Google Assistant built in. The idea is that you can treat the SC-GA10 like your virtual personal assistant: for example, you can request a favourite music track or ask questions.


Panasonic SC-GA10 with Google Assistant
Panasonic SC-GA10 with Google Assistant


#2 Winning the war on waste

If all this sounds – dare we say it  – gimmicky, then perhaps you’ll find the Smarter FridgeCam more useful. The first wireless camera to fit inside any fridge, the FridgeCam allows you to see the content from anywhere via the Smarter app. You can also track expiry dates and get recipe suggestions based on the food in your fridge.

The question is, why? Well, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year. While a fridge camera isn’t the only solution, it may go some way to improving the situation.

Smarter FridgeCam
Smarter FridgeCam


#3. As safe as houses

Home security systems are hot right now. Armed with just a smartphone and an app, you can control door locks, monitor and control cameras and double-check door and window sensors wherever you are.

Solutions on show at IFA included the Fibaro Intercom, which allows for video calls between a smartphone and whoever is ringing the doorbell. A Full HD camera with a 180-degree recording angle provides a wide field of view, while IR (infrared) LEDs are automatically activated at night.


Fibaro Intercom
Fibaro Intercom

Smart locks are also enjoying a moment. Negating the need for a bunch of keys, a smart lock will lock and unlock a door when it receives instructions from an authorised smartphone.

And that’s not all. Models such as Nuki allow you to share access permissions and change them – ideal if yours is a rental property or if you care for relatives whose home you need to enter in emergencies.

The added bonus is that an elderly parent doesn’t even need a smartphone: he or she can keep using a key to lock and unlock the door from the outside and can turn the smart lock manually from the inside.

Nuki Smart Lock
Nuki Smart Lock


#4. Save energy

Just in time for the winter, tado° has launched Smart Climate Assistant, which adjusts the temperature of your home based on both environmental factors and your own needs.

Features include open-window detection, which automatically adjusts the heating if a window is opened, and weather detection, which turns the heating down when sunshine is predicted.

Geofencing is another feature. This ensures that the heating is automatically turned down when the last person leaves home and that it’s turned on again when the first person is returning. You can now manually adjust the geofencing radius when tado° switches to home mode. Plus, you’ll get a monthly energy savings report so you can see tado°’s impact.


Tado Smart Climate Assistant
Tado Smart Climate Assistant


Fitted on hot-water radiators, Netatmo Smart Valves allow you to control your heating on a room-by-room basis, whether you have individual or collective heating. The valves set a heating schedule for each room, and you can customise the temperature of each room via the app.

For example, you could heat the bathroom to 21°C in the morning and cool it while you’re out for the day, while keeping children’s rooms at 19°C from 5pm on weekdays when they come back from school.

Designed by French design studio Starck, the Smart Valves work with Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant.  Could Alexa support be next on the agenda? Watch this space.

Netatmo Smart Radiator Valves
Netatmo Smart Radiator Valves



Furniture trends spotted at Salone del Mobile 2017

Furniture trends from Salone del Mobile 2017

As must-do events for designers and trend-spotters go, Milan’s Salone del Mobile is top of the list. Now 56 years old, it continues to attract big names and huge crowds, welcoming 2,000 exhibitors to its 200,000m2 of exhibition space this year, along with 340,000 visitors from 165 countries.

Trend-Monitor was there too, and we scoured the stands to bring you the key trends from the 2017 show.


Furniture Trend #1: Design for Decadent Times

Pantone’s colour of the year for 2017 is Greenery, so we were surprised to see little evidence of it among the wares on display. There was plenty of green on offer though: Greenery’s zesty tones were eclipsed by a deeper, richer shade that serves as a luxurious antidote to the austere climate in which we find ourselves.

Mastering the opulent spirit was Lili Castilla’s asymmetrical Illusion sofa for Roche Bobois. It’s a sophisticated green velvet piece with an integrated smoked oak table – perfect for resting a glass of fizz.

Illusion sofa Roche Bobois
Asymmetrical Illusion sofa by Roche Bobois

Spanish artist-cum-designer Jaime Hayón adopted a similar shade of dark green for his Milà table for Magis, inspired by the façade of Gaudí’s modernist Casa Battlò in Barcelona. With its angular steel frame and die-cast detailing, Milà is a smart but versatile choice as it’s available with a choice of tops and in various sizes.

Mila table for Magis
Mila Table for Magis by Jaime Hayon

Furniture Trend #2: All that Glitters

At first glance, Salone del Mobile’s metallic offerings seemed rather dated. After all, the use of gold, brass, bronze and copper is nothing new. But a second look revealed that the new crop of designs dare to be different. For example, take German brand e15, which explored the interplay of solid wood and metal with Trunk II, a 4100mm-long European walnut table top that supports a sculptural base manufactured from solid polished brass.

Trunk II by e15
Trunk II by e15

Other manufacturers used metallic finishes to bring classic designs up to date. Piergiorgio Cazzaniga’s Sign chair for MDF Italia has adopted a new attitude to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Still made from 45 metres of steel wire in four different diameters to create its distinctive structure, Sign Filo is available in a glossy galvanic finish in black chrome, gold and pink gold.

Sign chair for MDF Italia
Sign chair for MDF Italia


Furniture Trend #3:  Pretty in Pink

The next trend on the agenda is one we predicted.  Pantone calls it Pale Dogwood, others call it Millennial Pink; either way, it was hard to miss at Salone del Mobile where this soft and friendly colour – somewhere between beige and blush – was as popular as we thought it would be.

A striking example was the Isla sofa for Spanish brand Sancal from Stockholm-based Note Design Studio.

Isla sofa by Sancal
Isla sofa by Sancal

Equally eye-catching was Normann Copenhagen with Britt Bonnesen’s Pavilion, which is made from soft bamboo silk and features broad stripes in bold colour combinations such as blush and dark green.

Britt Bonnesen's Pavillion
Britt Bonnesen’s Pavilion

Fashion brand Diesel Living continued its successful collaboration with Moroso to create the Assembly sofa, which is available as a love seat or occasional chair. Pink has long shed its reputation for being girly, but just to make sure, the designers used prominent steel bolts as a counterpoint to the pink velvet.

The Assembly sofa by Moroso
The Assembly sofa by Moroso


Furniture Trend #4: Seek to Socialise

The latest sofas are designed for socialising rather than sitting in a straight line watching the box. This translates to sectional elements that can be moved to create a more convivial setup.

Top picks at Salone del Mobile included Maurizio Manzoni’s super-sized Octet sofa for Roche Bobois, and Piero Lissoni’s equally expansive Mosaïque sofa for de Padova.

Ocetet sofa for Roche Bobois
Octet sofa for Roche Bobois

Mosaique sofa for De Padova
Mosaique sofa for De Padova

Poltrona Frau used Salone del Mobile as an opportunity to update its iconic Chester sofa for more casual social settings. Chester Line maintains the elegance of its deep-buttoned, leather-clad predecessor but acknowledges contemporary ways of living. Thus, it’s broken down into a series of five elements that allow you create different configurations.

Chester Line by Poltrona Frau
Chester Line by Poltrona Frau

Similarly, Piero Lissoni responded to users’ wishes for convenience and sociability when designing his Avio sofa for Knoll. A large irregular end or corner element has been introduced that alters Avio’s pure line, suggesting a more relaxed atmosphere.

Avio sofa for Knoll
Avio sofa for Knoll


Furniture Trend #5: Getting Grounded

Those who prefer muted colours to bold ones will welcome the news that terracotta is back in the spotlight. Both warming and calming, terracotta is versatile and can be used for small and large pieces.

It proved popular with exhibitors at Salone del Mobile.  Arper, for example, embraced its terracotta side in its Arcos easy chair, which it describes as “a restrained interpretation of Art Deco’s geometric glamour.” The signature cast aluminium armrests that form twin curves also evoke the elegant archways of classical architecture.

Arcos easy chair by Arper
Arcos easy chair by Arper

Minotti also featured terracotta via a refresh of the sculptural base of Rodolfo Dordoni’s popular Van Dyck table. This is now available as an outdoor version and can be teamed with the Aston Cord outdoor chair, the painted metal frame of which is specially treated for exterior use, as are the padded waterproof cushions.

Rodolfo Dordoni's Van Dyke table for Minotti
Rodolfo Dordoni’s Van Dyke table for Minotti

Even fledgling brands are getting in on the terracotta act.  At SaloneSatellite – the emerging design section of Salone del Mobile – Jonathan Sabine and Jessica Nakanishi (the duo behind Canadian label MSDS Studio) used it as the base for their minimalist office furniture collection.

MSDS Studio
MSDS Studio

Furniture Trend #6: Earth-friendly Design

Design used to come at a price but times are changing: manufacturers are starting to use innovative materials to lower the environmental impact of furniture and furnishings. Leading the way at Salone del Mobile was Finnish furniture company Woodnotes, which launched its San Francisco carpet collection. The carpets are made from yarn that’s been spun from durable heavyweight paper and can be recycled or burned to produce energy.

San Francisco is also biodegradable: its white paper is produced without the use of chlorine gas, and the dyes used to colour the yarn contain no halogen-organic compounds or heavy metals.

San Francisco carpet collection by Woodnotes
San Francisco carpet collection by Woodnotes

Emerging in response to the urgent global issue of waste, Kvadrat has teamed up with British designer Max Lamb and start-up Really to upcycle end-of-life textiles into new materials for design and architecture. The first collection, Solid Textile Board, is an engineered board made from end-of-life cotton and wool textiles sourced from fashion, industry, households and Kvadrat cut offs.

Solid Texture Board benches by Max Lamb
Solid Texture Board benches by Max Lamb

Kvadrat CEO Anders Byriel explains: “We see Really as a first step on a circular journey that will help us fast track to a time when industrially manufactured products will be made – and remade – from old versions of themselves; to a time when, hopefully only years away, we look back at this as the moment when we realised we can’t afford to waste waste.