TREND-MONITOR went kitchen trend-spotting at Living Kitchen, which was held in Cologne between 16 and 20 January 2017
With more than 200 exhibitors from around 20 countries, LivingKitchen is the benchmark for the global kitchen industry and the international trade fair for kitchen furniture, kitchen appliances and accessories.
Our top six kitchen trends show that technology and personalisation lie behind many of the looks seen at this biennial kitchen exhibition.
Kitchen Trend #1: Style and Function – Equal Partners
Extractors have come a long way in a short time. First they were purely functional, and in line with the general belief that this negates style, they were unattractive. Then a handful of manufacturers realised that even the hardest-working kitchen elements could make a style statement. The creative juices began flowing and decorative extractors were born.
The issue with a decorative extractor, however, is that not everyone wants the star attraction of their kitchen to be an appliance. This presented manufacturers with another problem. How can an extractor be attractive without being the centre of attention? Integrating the extractor into the hob top is one way to solve this, as demonstrated by Siemens’ inductionAir System, which merges hob and ventilation into one appliance.
Extractors haven’t just advanced aesthetically, they’ve also developed new functionality. The latest models are whisper quiet and super powerful, and some even communicate with the hob to select the fan setting needed. Miele has upped the ante with its Black Wing Music extractor, which plays music via a Bluetooth connection, invisible integrated loudspeakers and an amplifier.
Kitchen Trend #2: Adapting to multi-generational living
There was a time when children grew up and moved out. However, sky-high property prices mean that plenty of adult children now share living space with their parents. Throw elderly relatives into the mix and suddenly there are three, and sometimes four, generations under the same roof.
The secret to harmonious living is a home that works for all its inhabitants. In the kitchen, that means appliances that are easy for everyone to use. Look at AEG’s ComfortLift dishwasher for an example: it features a lower-rack lifting mechanism that gently slides the lower basket up, reducing the need for bending when loading or unloading dishes.
There was similar thinking at Austrian manufacturer Lohberger. Its T1 kitchen island is height-adjustable to offer the optimal working height to every user and every style of cooking.
Kitchen Trend #3: Innovative Materials
Nothing affects the look and performance of kitchens more than the materials they’re made of, so it’s no surprise that this is where companies are investing in research.
The Eternal Silestone collection is one of the results. It’s the first surface to be manufactured with N-Boost technology, which modifies the material at a molecular level to repel liquids.
Meanwhile, Italian manufacturer Florim presented Florim Stone, large-format slabs (around 160x320cm) that blend the beauty of natural stone with the high performance qualities of porcelain. Easily cut to size and produced in several finishes and three different thicknesses (6, 12 and 20mm), the slabs are easy to clean and resistant to stains and scratches, thus opening up a world of design possibilities for architects.
Kitchen Trend #4: Blended Spaces
Ever since the kitchen started to share its space with living and dining rooms (or was it the other way round?), manufacturers have been trying to break down the visual boundaries between the two spaces.
Some kitchen companies have done this by enriching their portfolio with furniture for the living area. Others have majored on sliding or pocket doors to hide away kitchen elements so the space can be used for socialising and relaxation.
Another tactic is to bring the two spaces closer together, borrowing details from the living room to soften the aesthetic of the harder elements of the kitchen. Cue Dutch manufacturer Wave, which has launched leather-covered versions of several of its extractors.
Meanwhile, Studio Makio Hasuike was inspired by the characteristics of living room furniture for its Sipario kitchen for Aran Cucine. The island, for example, perches on sled-style legs that bring a sense of lightness to the design.
Spanish furniture manufacturer Discalsa has brought kitchen functions to dining furniture. It’s topped one of its dining tables with TPB Tech, a porcelain-ceramic surface that can withstand temperatures up to 180 degrees. The table also has induction burners beneath its surface so it can instantly transform into a cooker top.
Kitchen Trend #5: Bright and Beautiful Colour
A conversation about colour in the kitchen once centred around soft, neutral shades, but today’s manufacturers are a shade braver.
Proving it’s no shrinking violet, next125 revealed its NX500 kitchen in a dramatic saffron yellow. Elsewhere, Leicht announced it has been granted the exclusive right to carry 15 colours from the Les Couleurs collection by architect Le Corbusier. Favourites include a cool sky blue and a luminous red.
Sometimes it’s less about colour blocking and more about small splashes – as seen in product and interior designer Gesa Hansen’s colour palette for Villeroy & Boch’s Timeline and Subway sinks. Four colours, inspired by the seasons, are available: emerald green for spring, sunrise yellow for summer, coral red for autumn and midnight blue for winter.
We like Nobilia’s expanded Color Concept range because it allows you to go for broke or play it safe. Alongside shelves and worktop edges, the product range now includes upright panels, wall shelves and wall units, all available in a choice of colours. The result is creative freedom: you can mix and match small touches of colour or large-scale applications.
Kitchen Trend #6: Flexible Storage
We expect kitchen elements to have set functions: wall cabinets can only be wall cabinets, base cabinets can only be base cabinets – you get the idea. The modular kitchen turns this on its head. Comprising a handful of versatile elements that can be used to create a wide range of configurations, modular kitchens mean you can create storage that matches your space and your lifestyle.
SmartCube from Nobilia is an excellent case in point. Essentially a shelving system, SmartCube can be used as wall or base units, within a kitchen run or integrated into the island unit. In fact, it’s not tied to the kitchen – you could also use it to hold books or display pictures frames in the living room, for example.
Seen here in anodised black and stainless steel, the shelves come in 25 different colours.