It’s accepted that the 2018 kitchen represents the core of the home and to some extent will influence interior style, layout – depending on space – and overall ambiance. Especially in contemporary examples, where an open plan format merges kitchen / dining / living areas; the signature of the entire interior may fall under the ambit of the kitchen design. Increasingly, the form, function, colour, texture and material selection within the kitchen zone can contribute to an overall look and feel.

‘In 2018 we are going to see a greater application of natural finishes in contemporary kitchen design,’ so says Dane Maharaj of Kitchen Studio / Poggenpohl. ‘As natural resources become more scarce, we will note an increase in demand for natural, ‘wild’ and engineered veneers and hardwoods, which will be used in combination with the synthetic finishes that have risen to prominence in the last few years (high gloss acrylics, textured boards etc.).

‘There will be a push toward using natural materials in new and interesting ways that complement modern kitchen design. We shall see stains and washes being used on these natural finishes to engender a more contemporary aesthetic, which may hark back to the Scandinavian furniture design movement of the 1950s.’

Ramón Casado of bulthaup | living kitchens offers his informed opinion on colours, finishes and key materials for the 2018 kitchen: ‘In two contrasting directions, the trends for wooden units converge on the importance of tactile sensations in the kitchen / living area.

‘bulthaup structured wood provides unique textures and sensations. For example, structured oak has the feel of a more raw material and can bring a very organic look to an otherwise sleek kitchen. Its rough-sawn front, reinterprets the typical, strikingly sleek grain and brings out the wood’s natural character. This new front, with the coarse structure of the original saw cut, is also coated with an exclusive natural wood lacquer, which not only offers the wood maximum protection, but is also virtually invisible. This product can deliver an exciting accent to very modern minimalist kitchen design. Structured wood can be coloured or left in a natural shade and is available with vertical or horizontal grain patterns.’

‘I believe that the modern kitchen space will be characterised by a greater focus via specific factors,’ adds Philip Richards of local designer / manufacturer blu_line. ‘Firstly, functionality has to continue to develop within this space as the demands being made on the modern kitchen are increasing. So the overall layout, flow and internal organisation need to be considered to ensure that a relational environment is created. Secondly, customisation will continue to influence this space for clients who require clean lines, plus a personal and authentic signature. The third element evolves from this in that the details will matter more. This ensures that every element of the kitchen is thought through, with attention given to the internal cabinetry as well as the overall look and feel in terms of design and materials used.

In the USA, season 2018’s storyboard is expected to include natural neutral timbers – oak and beech – matched to colours such as petrol-green and charcoal grey (with black accents), and sage as an upcoming shade. Add to this a flat orange or yellow perhaps as a key accent, plus vibrant, bolder tones such as deep-blue coupled to dark – intense tonalities in cabinetry.

Erin Braithwaite of Fabri Portuguese imported kitchens says: ‘In terms of colours, we’ve noted an increase in bolder choices such as a dramatic anthracite or warm grey, both of which achieve the feeling that the kitchen is truly the heart of the home. Of course white remains a popular choice for a classically clean look and, with the correct balance between dignified matt and chic high gloss finishes, it can be elevated to something special. I believe that finishes that are in demand are those that offer contrast and allow for a sleek aesthetic that still presents a homely edge. For example, chic high gloss lacquered doors with warm timber accents.’

Indeed, the slight shift away from white is moving toward grey. Grey shares many of the properties that white enjoys but, as a slightly more subdued tone, it’s not as reflective. And while lighter shades of grey might not brighten up kitchen surfaces in the same way that white cabinets can, they may come close. A plus factor is that, as a naturally neutral tone, grey succeeds in complementing both warm and cool accent colours.

Rakhee Koovarjee of Franke SA summarises: ‘A notable trend for 2018 will be more colour – or splashes of colour – being incorporated into kitchen design, from navy blue and emerald green to warmer shades of plum and orange. These intense shades create a luxurious character and are definitely the way forward. And this year will see sinks in a variety of colours and materials; granite composite sinks in hues of black and grey. Add two-tone kitchen units with no upper cabinetry, with brass and mixed metal fittings. Shaker style cabinets will remain a trend – transitional design – and quartz, terrazzo, concrete and stone will feature strongly.’

Across the Board

Says Daniel Slavin of local designer / manufacturer Slavin & Co: ‘What we envisage for 2018 is expression, driven by the use of bold colours. The kitchen forms an important neutral backdrop to this, allowing people to alternate colours as their need for expression changes. Bold wall colours, textures and materials, with the incorporation of brass, coppers and timbers as examples; these add warmth to the space, yet still benefit an overall modern signature.’

Rose Schutzer-Weissmann who imports Officine Gullo from Italy, is even more definitive: ‘We see 2018 as the year that the soulless, frigid, cookie cutter kitchen – composed of light gloss surfaces and minimal details – finally dies a deserved death. Bold colours, open shelving, signature pieces and appliances are set to make a welcomed return to the heart of the home. With a growing realisation that the robots are coming, the super-machined vacuity of the past decade will give way to the handmade, with a greater value placed on craftsmanship, legacy and artisanal skill.’

What are other key materials likely to be used in 2018?

Elizabete Nelson of BSH Home Appliances / Gaggenau: ‘We foresee that industrial and rustic design will remain in 2018, with a few vintage and classic touches of course. It’s for this reason that we will continue to see a rise in kitchen design and architecture incorporating illuminated glass shelving and cabinets, with aluminium, copper and stainless steel finishes alongside countertops made from wood, granite, marble and metal.’

Chantel Kruger from Inside Living adds: ‘A current look is firmly focused on neutral colours with a variety of materials, among which are satin-lacquered cabinets in combo with a honed worktop. Any type of stone can be honed, although trends are leaning towards granites and marbles, and adding certain elements with a natural / classic look; metals include copper and rose gold, still there from 2017; however, matt powder-coated metals are showing recent popularity.’

Andrew Hamilton Barr of Espresso Design offers his opinion: ‘New technology has allowed natural stone and marble to emerge as exciting choices for door fronts as well as their traditional use for worktops. In 2018 we are likely to see a combination of metals, reclaimed woods, metallic and structured lacquers and the new Fenix laminate, which delivers a high-end finish. It’s a nano-tech matt material that has low-reflectivity, is anti-fingerprint and soft to the touch – it’s proving hugely popular.’

The ‘transitional kitchen’ ticks certain such bi-partisan boxes for South African kitchen design. It provides urban rusticity and remains an ongoing direction worth exploring because it offers a variety of textural and material combinations that might include dynamic mixes of vintage, classic and contemporary design elements. So this combination enables a freedom of expression that incorporates signatures from both traditional and modern design; and it has picked up momentum globally. It might present as a partially rustic kitchen in a trendy city apartment, or an urban design with natural and comfortable features.’

Mar Esteve Cortes of Neolith® by TheSize comments on the new surfaces: ‘This year we’ll see a nostalgia-fuelled revival of surface design classics, harking back to the bold and adventurous attitudes of ’50’s and ’60’s commercial architecture, particularly Terrazzo.

‘Capturing the true-to-nature look and effect will also characterise the surfaces we see. For example, Pantone®’s spring 2018 classic colour palette includes Warm Sand, an attractive and versatile neutral shade. So we expect to see sandstone-style slabs used throughout this year for flooring to impart understated rusticity.

Nicole Russell of Italtile adds info on tile trends for 2018: ‘Tinted glass for use in kitchens is on the increase. Beige and neutral colours of glossy neutral-toned subway tiles remain in evidence and there’s added interest for tiles that look handmade and rustic in various colours. There’s also new courage in the kitchen space, seen in patterned and décor tiles; gone are the days of plain and boring.

‘For 2018 the wood-look is still very much on trend; with modern inkjet technology, the replication of genuine wood – without the natural wood maintenance – is very much appreciated. There’s a wide array of colours and finishes – from the country look to slick, modern, light wood floors – through to an industrial finish. And stone tile replicas remain popular.’

Liam Gawne of leading appliance manufacturer Miele offers an overview of trend research: ‘Increasingly, homeowners are looking for kitchen cabinetry that offers interest and personality. Using colour is an effective way of achieving this. Even though neutral tones such as whites, off-whites, greys, and beiges remain most popular, splashes of colour are being included for perimeter cabinets. And there are clean aesthetics seen in cabinetry construction – free from ornate designs or detailing – and which feature smooth-edge profiling.

Shortly after artists and bohemians began refurbishing and renovating warehouses and factories in the 1970s and ‘80s, industrial design was rapidly acclaimed by the wider design world. The appeal of wide open floor plans, high ceilings and tall windows was easy to understand, but it was more than that. These industrial areas captured the bare essence of the materials used in their construction. What were formerly working spaces had little use for decorative confectionary; the frilly, soft design elements that were commonly found in purely residential spaces.

This unapologetic use of brick, concrete, glass, steel and exposed plumbing provided a refreshing change. And it also offered the perfect counterpoint to either traditional or modern furniture that found that such juxtaposition enhanced its individual design. It works for kitchen / dining spaces in particular, so – as with other interiors throughout the home – elements of both traditional and industrial design may enter the kitchen space in 2018. It’s a coming together of the best of both worlds; a back-to-the-future moment.

For the full article see Habitat #264 March / April 2018

cover image: Slavin & Co.


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