Kitchen trends: Simplicity and timelessness


There are kitchens and then there are temples to cooking. The latter sometimes take up the same amount of space as a one or two-bedroom apartment.

In that amount of space luxury kitchens can offer everything that makes cooking nice: a kitchen island, compartments for keeping food warm, one or two ovens, an enormous refrigerator, an induction stove and all kinds of storage space behind softly gliding drawers and cabinets that open with just a light tap.

As luxury kitchens can cost quite a lot of money, they should be timeless. Kitchen makers are going for simple elegance.

There is a reason kitchens are not supposed to look like kitchens any more: Cooking has become a popular pastime and the kitchen now belongs to the part of the house reserved for living. These days cooking is meant to be a group experience.

“There is hardly a kitchen in which you can’t see the cook at work,” said Ursula Geismann of the furniture industry association of Germany in Bad Honnef. “Most kitchens have a counter at which you can sit and the kitchen and dining room are no longer separated by a wall.”

Guests are automatically drawn into the kitchen to help prepare the meal. “When they come, they might be asked to wash the lettuce for the salad,” said Geismann.

The organisers of the recently held Cologne annual international furniture trade show also see kitchen living space as a current focus. The new kitchen style is regal with a distinctive design.

One example is the Waldstetten, Germany-based company Leicht, which has said goodbye to the conventional kitchen looks for floor cabinets, wall cabinets and niches.

The idea is called Concept 40 and it involves closed cover panels with rectangular-shaped grates that are used to hide storage space and things like the stove ventilator.

“We wanted to get away from the kitchen’s visual appearance and put the focus more on living,” said Ulrike Kolb of Leicht.

Other makers use clear lines and surfaces to go toward the same effect. Eggersmann of Hiddenhausen, Germany, for example, creates cabinet fronts that are cubical and minimalist. Lacquered surfaces look elegant, however, every time it’s touched a fingerprint is left behind.

“The trend is simplicity and timelessness,” said Herbert Rueckert of the maker allmilmo in Zeil am Main. Its Design Art line hides all appliances behind white cabinet doors. A kitchen island with a granite top offers workspace.

The top-of-the-line kitchen by Poggenpohl includes a kitchen island featuring an aluminium frame that creates storage space and allows light through. The cabinet door choices include dark oak and so-called driftwood, which “looks like dried wood”, said Manfred Amrhein of Poggenpohl in Herford.

With all their elegance, these kitchens also must be practical, thus the makers have built in clever features. A light tap with the hand or knee and the doors and drawers glide open.

The newest development is electric drawers that close with a light shove almost as if a ghost were inside.

“That’s practical when the hands are not clean, for example,” said Geismann. The disadvantage is these systems are prone to accidents and require electricity, she added.

Team 17 of Austria is attempting to combine ergonomics with optical excellence. Its k7 design includes a kitchen island with a surface that can be raised and lowered from 74 cm to 114 cm depending on the height of the cook. This should prevent back pain and integrate the notion of living even more strongly into the kitchen.