At Küchenmeile A30, the industry’s premier business event in Germany, furniture fittings specialist GRASS took observers on a guided tour through the displays of leading kitchen manufacturers, and provided them a sneak peek into trends of the future.
The kitchen industry has been undergoing radical change for many years. The heart and central meeting point of the home has opened itself up to other rooms. It is becoming – as other living areas of the home before – a reflection of the personality of its owner. This is often described as individualisation and has many faces; it starts with colour but also includes structure and material, as well as functionality.
Christoph Fughe, CEO of Störmer Küchen, observes, “The interior organisation of contemporary kitchens has become increasingly important. This means that kitchens don’t ‘stop at the front’. On the contrary, pull-outs, storage space and functionality are just as important in today’s kitchens as an appealing visual design and top quality workmanship.”
“The latest trend is modular kitchens that can adapt to various functions and living areas,” comments Heidrun Brinkmeyer, managing partner-marketing & sales at Ballerina Küchen. Brinkmeyer adds, “From our point of view, customisation of furniture interiors is constantly gaining in importance, as consumers want to use the storage space in interiors as effectively as possible, especially in small kitchens.”
As for Sachsen Küchen, variety of collection is its hallmark. “The trend is what appeals!” says its CEO Elko Beeg. “In addition to innovative materials and surfaces, the trend towards holistic living concepts will continue.”
Variety is also one of the standards in kitchen with regard to surface design. For Andreas Wagner, CEO at Rotpunkt Küchen, the functional improvement of materials is one of the trends. “We see considerable potential in the development of new materials and technical surfaces such as ‘indestructible’ coatings or lotus-type nano-materials.”
For Häcker Küchen the trend is towards the combination of various materials, colours and textures. “We are showing striking surface structures in the wooden front range, and in the premium range new materials such as stone veneer and real concrete surfaces,” explains Markus Sander, CEO-sales/marketing/controlling at Hacker Küchen. As its masterpiece the company exhibited the SlightLift, a new system that is a combination of a top cabinet and shelf. It is also focusing on another topic that is important for all furniture manufacturers – sustainability.
“With PU Remission Häcker Küchen has now switched to using wood products with low formaldehyde content. In making this decision we are demonstrating that our products comply with the high US standards for formaldehyde emissions and as a result we are considerably below the European guidelines. With PU Remission Häcker is setting a new standard that is exceptional in the kitchen furniture industry,” shares Sander.
Besides sustainability and individuality, yet another trend that the sector is currently experiencing is that of ‘smart home’ movement. “Digitalisation of kitchens will evolve further over the next few years. This includes intelligent devices that are networked both with one another as well as with other systems in the house,” says Christoph Fughe from Störmer Küchen.
Keeping this aspect in mind the LEICHT exhibit centered on a room concept. “At the Küchenmeile A30 we presented an architecturally formative ‘room in room’ concept and with this masterpiece we showed the competence of LEICHT that extends beyond the kitchen itself, to include the entire interior fittings,” informs Stefan Waldenmaier, director of LEICHT Küchen AG.
What’ll be Important in the Future?
Harald Klüh, global brand manager at GRASS, explains what kitchens of the future will look like…
Openness: It used to be normal to conceal the contents of furniture behind doors and drawer fronts. Kitchens were dominated by a strictly monolithic design; handles were even done away with to ensure that the clear geometry of the rectangular furniture units is not spoilt. The time for such design thoughts is over. It was apparent at the Küchenmeile that openness is experiencing a renaissance. ‘Stowing away’ has been replaced by a kind of ‘showcasing’; the furniture interior opens up to the viewer. One can regard this trend as a new, open minimalism that literally lets the kitchens breathe freely.
Classic top and base cabinets are being replaced by open shelving or are at least being broken up. Glass cabinets reminiscent of grandma’s days are returning to the homes of today in an updated, purist version. In both kitchen blocks and full-height installations, the continuity of large front surfaces is being disrupted to create open, easily accessible presentation areas. Even the good old shelf drawers are back. As a result, the stored goods are being upgraded to become an integral design element of the kitchen.
Modern kitchens are room concepts: Walls are being regarded as part of the furniture and designed to match the furniture. The room and furniture therefore complement one another perfectly – and merge into one. Kitchens only really come into their own in the context of the ambient room. Emotionalisation is the buzzword. As in other design-oriented industries, many of the large and small manufacturers have now stopped selling products and have become sources of inspiration. Famous brands and those with the same ambition are emphasising emotional presentation.
The kitchens on show now include the surroundings in the design; rooms adapt, ceilings, floor and walls either harmonise or contrast with one another. Everything flows together. Materials, colours, surfaces, accessories seldom have been as varied as they are today.
Individualisation ‘Made in Germany: Offering individual furniture does not mean being able to supply 3,000 different shades, but creating concepts that make it possible to be able to customise the character of a kitchen to suit individual tastes by means of minor interventions. Basically it is very similar to the classic platform strategy. Along the lines of “If you change a single parameter you change everything,” contemporary kitchens are becoming modular systems with components that resemble the ingredients of a menu. Highlights are often enough to create the right effect. You change the wall graphic, the material of the worktop or use a striking drawer front – and the result is unique. This trend could be called partial individualisation.
New trend colours are metallic: After visiting this year’s Küchenmeile you don’t have to be a fortune teller to predict that more metallic surfaces are sure to feature in showrooms in the future. All exhibitors without exception used steel, stainless steel, brass, copper and/or aluminium. These were mainly matte with a slightly roughened, sometimes irregular, natural-looking patina. Not only furniture, but also accessories and show stands reflected this trend. This means that the next few years will be matte metallic. The past decade was hallmarked by ‘lighter, thinner, smoother’, a maxim which now seems to be developing into a ‘more solid, heavier, rougher’ vision. Weight and mass convey a sense of stability and become a sign of quality. It is therefore no wonder that metals are on the threshold of a experiencing a heyday.
A unique material mixture: Without doubt one of the new design trends that became apparent was that one single kitchen can combine matte and gloss and in particular different materials, and that monochrome fronts with large patterns can be mixed with graphic elements. To be precise, the new design rule is that there is none. Classic materials such as wood, glass, stainless steel and aluminium have been faithful companions in the kitchen for years. However, as part of the new design freedom, completely different materials and patterns have now been added. For example, ceramics are growing in popularity, supplemented with stone, mineral or textile elements. Surprisingly, different metals play a leading role.