All kitchen appliances have a critical role to play, but entertaining often centers around the food, making appliances used for preparation of the meal critical to the design and flow of the space. The way a homeowner wants to entertain will change the demands for these cooking apparatus, and the ability to personalize the cooking experience is more important than ever.
“In observing consumers and how they interact with their kitchen appliances, Bosch has noticed a growing desire for simplicity in the kitchen,” says Anja Prescher, director of brand marketing for Bosch at BSH Appliances in Irvine, CA. “As one of the most utilized spaces in the home, it’s natural for homeowners to seek kitchen appliances that truly simplify their cooking experience with the latest technology.”
Simplicity doesn’t mean consumers don’t desire the ability to do exactly what they want in the kitchen, however. Cooking appliances must be flexible enough to allow for any type of get together. “Today’s consumer really wants it all, with a multi-functional kitchen that includes state-of-the-art ovens, top-of-the-line refrigeration, sleek cooktops, microwaves and more in a fully functioning ecosystem,” says David Nichols, v.p. of products at Dacor, based in City of Industry, CA. “They want to be able to host anything from intimate dinner parties to large gatherings for friends and family, and different needs require different responses.”
Function isn’t all that matters. Aesthetics are as important as ever when incorporating cooking appliances into the design. “Consumers want their kitchens to be beautifully and tastefully designed, with appliances that complement and bring new functionality to modern cooking,” says Tom Halford, v.p., premium and builder brands, home appliance at Samsung Electronics America in Ridgefield Park, NJ.
Other key trends for cooking appliances include products that offer top performance along with their flexibility, higher interest in induction and steam cooking, and a desire for connected appliances. That’s according to manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.
First and foremost, manufacturers say, people want what they want. Designers need to know both the aesthetic taste and preferred cooking style of their clients to create the ideal setup, which can vary greatly.
The choice between using a cooking appliance as a focal point and wanting it to blend seamlessly into the rest of the room is highly personal, manufacturers say. “People are focused on putting designer touches throughout every living space in the home, which includes taking daring approaches in the kitchen, as well. The right cooking appliance can elevate the look of any kitchen space, and bold color schemes are bringing many kitchens to life. With options such as open kitchens and the increasing popularity of outdoor kitchens, there are more opportunities for infusing any cooking area with a highly customized design,” says Nichols.
“Some people may prefer the large, professional look of one of our Wolf ranges, while others may prefer the sleek look of induction or integrated look of our contemporary gas cooktop, which sits flush with countertops. The beauty of kitchen design right now is that it is focused on functionality. The design options and combinations are endless and meant to fulfill a variety of aesthetics, cooking styles and kitchen layouts,” says Jack Palazzolo, v.p. of marketing for Sub-Zero Group, Inc., based in Madison, WI.
Melissa Haber, director of sales and marketing for EuroChef USA in Edgewood, NY, says that while appliances shouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb, they are leading the design aesthetic. Appliances provide a focal point and make a visual statement, she says. “Very few other elements can make a culinary and visual statement at the same time as a range and ventilation hood. Cooking appliance style continues to lead kitchen design,” she states.
Taryn Brucia, director of PR for LG Electronics USA, Inc. in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, says that while American consumers have historically tried to have appliances blend into the kitchen, a shift is occurring. “Today’s premium line of appliances deliver cutting-edge innovations along with sleek, stunning design elements that consumers want to show off. They make a statement while also making life easier in the kitchen. We hear time and time again that people are designing their kitchen around their appliances, rather than considering them an afterthought,” she notes.
Prescher, on the other hand, hears a desire from both consumers and kitchen designers for appliances that create a peaceful, integrated aesthetic. “As such, our built-in appliances offer the ability to seamlessly blend into a space, while finish options such as custom panels further add to the integrated kitchen look, creating a sense of harmony in the kitchen,” she notes.
When it comes to function, Haber says consumers want to make the range their own. EuroChef offers customized features that are not permanent, allowing the consumer to change their cooking options, like adding a griddle which can later be removed and replaced with another choice.
Beatriz Sandoval, director of brand marketing for Thermador at BSH Appliances agrees that customization in the kitchen is a driving force in functional trends. “For the Thermador consumer, every meal is a conversation starter, and they desire personalization options that empower them to create their own culinary and entertaining story in the kitchen and throughout the home,” she says. Thermador’s 60″ Pro Grand Range collection allows for personalizing the surface and oven configuration to meet the needs of the individual cook.
HIGH PERFORMING, FLEXIBLE UNITS
With the demand for appliances that can do whatever the homeowner wants comes a desire for products that efficiently perform multiple tasks, reducing the number of individual appliances necessary in a space.
Haber notes, “Space is at a premium, and consumers want to stuff as many appliance features in one space as possible – so flexibility with accessories and customization are key. Multi-tasking appliances are also important.”
Tim Tyler, director of marketing for Viking Range LLC in Greenwood, MS, says, “People are outfitting their kitchens to allow them the flexibility to cook many different types of food at one time. This allows them to prepare food for large dinner parties or family gatherings with ease.” As a result, he is seeing people group appliances to meet those needs, such as a convection steam oven, warming drawer and single oven as a triple stack appliance set. Innovation is also important, like the new Viking warmer drawer that also functions as a slow cooker.
Expanded offerings for small spaces are on the rise, according to Palazzolo. “Homeowners are looking for appliances that can fit into compact kitchen footprints without sacrificing the performance features and results they expect,” he says. Sub-Zero/Wolf recently introduced a 24″ suite of cooking products to address this trend. “Performance features that assist consumers in the kitchen are still very popular,” Palazzolo adds, citing as an example the 10 one-touch cooking modes available on Wolf products.
Built-in appliances address the space issue as well. “The home market continues to evolve as remodeling and customization drive new trends in kitchen appliances, with built-in appliances becoming easier to install, providing homeowners with more cooking flexibility and efficiencies,” says Halford.
While stainless steel has long been the finish staple, there is movement toward other finish choices, and again, personal choice has a big impact.
“With the growing interest in completely customized design, it is important to offer a variety of appliance options that can complement any style,” says Sandoval.
Black stainless finishes are garnering a great deal of attention for their sleek look and fingerprint resistance. Brucia acknowledges requests for the firm’s new black stainless steel finish.
Dacor’s panel-ready appliances are also requested often, according to Nichols. “Colors are showing up more in kitchen appliances, as people are looking for ways to elevate and personalize their kitchen space,” he adds.
Color and finish drives personalization in the kitchen,” says Haber. “The range and ventilation hood continue to be design focal points in the kitchen, and personalization with trims and color are leading this trend. Consumers and designers are pushing the color envelope,” she notes. She adds that there is a transition in chosen colors, from black to more color pops and white.
INDUCTION AND STEAM
While manufacturers agree that appliances must be able to handle many cooking styles, two methods are consistently seeing growth. Induction cooking is on the rise as more and more Americans become familiar with the method, and, with an increased awareness of healthy cooking, steam cooking is also becoming more prominent.
“Steam offers more flavor, better texture and is a healthier style of cooking as food is prepared and flavored in its own natural juices rather than with additives such as oil or butter, also retaining more nutrients. Meanwhile, induction offers incredible innovation, performance and power,” Sandoval notes.
“There is more awareness now about induction in the U.S. market. The technology is really taking off,” states Haber. “Induction is not a new technology, but we can’t forget it’s new to many who are renovating now and are just learning about it. It’s more affordable and more mainstream,” she adds.
“Induction cooking is an example of a technology that is simplifying consumers’ lives in the kitchen,” says Prescher. “Induction is an extremely energy-efficient cooking method, as no heat is wasted because energy is supplied directly to the cooking vessel,” he states.
A number of reasons account for the growth of the steam segment. “Steam cooking is also a growing trend because it allows food to be cooked quickly and kept warm until it’s time to serve,” Nichols points out.
It’s impossible to escape the demand for constant connection throughout the home, and it stands to reason that this would carry over into appliances. Manufacturers are seeing a rise in the desire for connected cooking appliances that allow for some freedom from the kitchen.
“Connected appliances allow home cooks to be aware of what is happening inside the oven. This allows the home chef to have better results and more control, and enhances the overall cooking process,” says Tyler.
Halford believes a driving factor is the number of older millennials who are reaching their peak home-buying years. “These first-time home buyers have an interest in connected cooking appliances that offer the choice and convenience they’re accustomed to as well as beautiful design,” he notes.
And manufacturers believe that the incorporation of smart technology into cooking appliances will continue to gain traction as long as it adds real value to the product in practical ways.
“In order to create a single, holistic ecosystem of food preparation and storage, consumers want appliances that feature meaningful connectivity – technologically advanced options between various cooking appliances that complement one another and sync with the owner’s personal mobile devices,” Nichols maintains. “With so much attention being paid to cooking apps, it will be important for appliance manufacturers to take advantage of new functionality that enhances the cooking experience and doesn’t detract from it,” he adds.
“Beyond technologies like induction and steam cooking, the emergence of connectivity is a key advancement impacting cooking,” Prescher concludes. ▪
For additional cooking appliances, go to our Product Guide.