Merged living spaces is an important trend in the entire furnishings sector. The greatest advantage probably comes from combining the kitchen and living area. The exhibitors at LivingKitchen 2019 presented many new products designed to make kitchens more comfortable and inviting. The flowing transitions are created with space-forming elements, bookcases, wall units, shelves with built-in writing desks or display cabinets. The dining table is also playing an important role again and together with comfortable chairs represents the centrepiece of the new combined kitchen-living room.
The classic influences of the country kitchen remain recognisable, but in a reduced form: subtly profiled doors and contrasting handles in dark metal set the tone. New is the combination with glass or painted fronts – a subtle stylistic inconsistency that lends an air of freshness. The colour spectrum varies, because whatever pleases is allowed. The trend is grey and green – from stone grey to anthracite, from sage green to olive. However, the new country kitchen can also be in black.
Visitors to LivingKitchen could also discover new trends and innovations in all accessory areas. A quantum leap can be seen in this area, especially with extraction systems. Not only are extractor fans more stylish now and increasingly becoming part of the architecture, they are also being cleverly integrated into existing kitchen elements. This also provides the technical requirements for opening the kitchen to the living area.
Ergonomically favourable working environments are also an ongoing concern for kitchen and appliance manufacturers. The solutions include higher work elements, easy-to-open doors and fixtures that can be operated without touching, pullouts for wall cabinets and more space for cooking. Optimal zoning of the worktops makes cooking together with others more fun. Appliances are usually installed at eye level. In the Future Kitchen presented at Koelnmesse, Alfredo Häberli even proposed a vertical, transparent refrigerator that provides an excellent overview of the contents. In the vision of the extraordinary Swiss designer, appliances that are not used all the time, such as the oven, simply disappear under the ceiling by means of a cable.
As the kitchen is integrated into the living area more and more, it is important to maintain order and cleanliness. A tidy kitchen in a minimalist style is in line with many users’ desire for a kitchen that is always presentable. Kitchen furniture such as kitchen islands and dresser-like cupboards can act as room dividers and storage miracles. Understated, unpolished kitchen fronts without handles and elegant worktops create an inviting atmosphere. Blenders, toasters and power strips can be hidden from sight at the touch of a button, leaving a smooth, uncluttered surface.
The worktop is to a kitchen what the door handle is to the architecture of a house. Two factors are hugely important in holistic kitchen design: the overall visual impression and functionality. The kitchen worktop must be able to withstand heat, bacteria and lots of dirt. At the end of the day, the kitchen – that is the worktop – must be hygienically clean again. When it comes to worktops and decor, popular current trends include imitations of natural materials such as authentic-looking wood patterns and the concrete look. In addition, a number of suppliers add anti-bacterial materials to their surfaces. Kitchen worktops made of solid wood – from sustainable sources, of course – are also very popular. Artificial stones can be produced more uniformly and thinner, which gives worktops made from these materials a more elegant, high-quality appearance. While worktops outside of the norm, especially thick ones make of natural materials as well as particularly slim ones, are considered to be of high quality, the overall trend is for thin work areas.
Fixtures for the kitchen are equipped with very different functions than those for the bathroom. Functionality is the priority at the kitchen sink: water at the press of a button or with an arm movement – it’s vital that you can wash, rinse or fill the pan with water easily and automatically with just one hand. The current trend is for fixtures with a stainless steel look to match the minimalist, clean style.
Kitchen sinks are available in a huge range of materials: from stainless steel and granite to cast mineral and ceramic. Sinks have to be food-safe, hygienic, robust and easy to clean. They are the icing on the cake in any new kitchen. Fans of minimalist design also got their money’s worth at the Cologne trade fair: sinks made of stainless steel can be flush-mounted in the worktop to form a holistic look with the kitchen cabinets. The trend for customisation is also gaining ground in this area: with custom-manufactured worktops made of stainless steel, the sink and the worktop can be adapted to the respective space.
LivingKitchen 2019 featured demonstrations by manufacturers of kitchen appliances and accessories on the possibilities and advantages of innovative technology. From the smart, autonomous dishwasher controlled by means of a PowerDisk and programmable via app and touchscreens that can be integrated in standard kitchen dimensions to new air treatment concepts and plant furniture that ensures perfect growing conditions for herbs and lettuce. The digital support via cooking programmes with a recipe by means of new information systems during preparation also seems to be appreciated by many cooking enthusiasts.
One of the factors driving these trends is the increase in health awareness. The kitchen does not only play a key role in the home as a communication hub for interacting with family and friends but also as the starting point of a healthy lifestyle. The time spent there is significantly enhanced by the merging of the living area. To sum up LivingKitchen 2019: The kitchen is clearly a winner in the home.