You know how exhilarating and exhausting Design & Construction Week can be? Now double the number of exhibit halls just for kitchen and bath products and you have Salone del Mobile.Milano’s EuroCucina and International Bathroom exhibitions!
There were 24 exhibit halls for all of the design products on display by more than 1,400 exhibitors from around the world; six are exclusively for kitchen and bath products. Add to that off-site events and jetlag! But what an extraordinary opportunity to see what’s hot and what’s next in our industry!
Here are some of the many kitchen and bath trends spotted around the Milan fairgrounds by more than 434,500 attendees.
Two of the dominant cabinetry trends contradicted each other: very open and very closed. “Hidden kitchens” are not new, but they are offering some interesting new features.
Many of the manufacturers were showing open backsplash storage systems designed for islands. Some were towers installed on top of the countertops. Others were suspended from the ceiling, sometimes surrounding an integrated vent hood over an island cooktop.
There were also some very clever concealed backsplash storage cabinet systems. These allow for holding and hiding necessary items convenient to the sink, and may (and probably should) become popular with designers and clients here when exported.
Another feature that was both eye-catching and simplifying is the one-touch long wall door. These look great, but would be difficult to open or close by a more petite person without an easy-opening mechanism.
Finishes and Countertops
Popular finishes also offered appealing contrasts. Matte black and obscure glass showed up pretty widely. (Ribbed glass was especially popular for tall hidden kitchen doors, and more frosted glass showed up on base cabinets and bathroom vanities.)
Metallics, including copper, brass and lead-look panels and detailing, were also on display, in panels, door and drawer fronts and detailing.
The typical door and drawer front on display featured integral beveled handles. Generally speaking, kitchen and bath cabinet hardware was scarce in Milan last month. One notable exception was a Scavolini kitchen designed by Carlo Cracco (the Italian Emeril Lagasse, you could say), who included easy-grip handles for fast-moving, professional hands.
Countertops were still strongly quartz and porcelain, with solid surfaces gaining appeal in other parts of the world like Africa and Asia, according to one cabinet brand.
Arts and Innovation
Some of the innovative elements around the show floor were artistic in nature. Bosch and Aran Cucine both showcased customizable fronts that let designers or homeowners be creative. The Bosch panels were vibrant colors available for select refrigerator models. The Aran panels could include whatever designs clients want to see on their easy-to-reface cabinet fronts. Valcucine is also offering customized art for cabinetry. It’ll be interesting to see whether these trends catch on in the U.S.
On the purely artistic side, SMEG decided to mass produce two of its Dolce & Gabbana designs showcased in hand-painted appliances at last year’s Architectural Digest Design Show. Those will now be available on hood, range and fridge suites.
There were some other interesting developments around the kitchen and bath halls. In addition to the chef-designed kitchen by Scavolini noted above, Ernestomeda showed off an odor-killing system for trash bin cabinetry, SMEG showcased its Flexi Duo third dishwasher rack, which can be reconfigured for small items, and its automatically opening door for energy-saver drying. Vola offered its customizable towel heating bars. You probably never thought you needed towel warmers to be customizable, but when you consider different towel sizes, user counts and finishes, you might find yourself specifying these more than you expected – at least for your luxurious master suites and pool baths!
In showcasing unique prototypes, Euro-Cucina is much like the Detroit Auto Show: Enter the concept kitchen! Porcelanosa showcased a backsplash system prototype with integrated LED lighting and modular accessory options. This could definitely have appeal for American and Canadian designers and clients.
Aran Cucine’s Oasi island was easily the most unique kitchen prototype. While its striking feature was the tree planted in its center, this all-in-one island included a trash compactor, recycling bins, dishwasher, undercounter fridge, sink, cooktop, extending tables, storage and a self-watering system for the tree.
This will probably not be a big seller in the U.S. if it’s developed, but the arborial inclusion did highlight the growing trend of plant life in kitchen spaces. (Scavolini’s chef kitchen also included plants in its modular wall accessory system.)
Trough sinks were a strong bathroom trend this year. So was “smart showering,” with illuminated showerheads having a very large presence. As seen in the kitchen, very open and very closed storage showed up in baths, too. It’s not clear how many North American homeowners will want open wall storage in their bathrooms, but it can be stylish for decorative elements or beautiful perfume and lotion bottles. On the closed front, pull-out wall bins to conceal less attractive elements like toilet brushes may find fans here. These holders certainly free up floor space and make good use of otherwise wasted wall surface.
Many of the products shown at Salone will never make their way across the Atlantic, but a surprising number of exhibitors do export to the U.S. and Canada, and some even have showrooms here. Focusing just on those companies in three action-packed days delivered trends we’ll surely be seeing here in the next year or two. Even if you can’t make it to Milan in 2020 for the next kitchen and bath exhibitions, you’re sure to see some of them at KBIS next year in Las Vegas (minus the jet lag, exquisite food or fabulous Italian fashion everywhere you turn).▪