Today’s residential kitchen has little in common with its predecessors of a century past. But for the most part, it’s not markedly different from 50 years ago. Appliances are undoubtedly sleeker and function far better, as do materials, and colour palettes are more expansive. Yet ultimately, this keyspace remains the hard-working heart of the home.

So for the kitchen of the future what are the indications?

The imagination can run wild. Envisage kitchens that are completely voice-operated, where cooking a meal takes merely the press of a button to activate a programme. However, popular opinion among designers and architects would suggest that the kitchens of tomorrow won’t be that much different to those now current.

With the exception of more innovative appliances, the basic elements that constitute the modern kitchen will remain; slick cabinetry, well planned drawers, pull-out garbage and recycling bins, pantry storage and impermeable countertops. At the top of the list for homeowners are materials and features that provide basic function and timeless style. And while climate, available space and cultural differences influence how an individual project might look, that golden thread of familiarity still runs through kitchen design.

Klyne Maharaj of The Kitchen Studio / Poggenpohl says: ‘Every aspect of the kitchen – from doors to worktops and appliances – is constantly being improved upon. The kitchen of the future will likely feature a combination of increasingly durable but beautiful synthetic materials, natural finishes like wood which never go out of style, thin yet tough work surfaces, and ‘smart’ appliances. In fact, in 2019, we’re not too far off this vision.’

‘Primarily, it will be a dynamic space,’ says Philip Richards of designer / manufacturer blu_line, ‘The functionality of the kitchen will extend beyond food prep and adapt and change according to the surrounding environments and the demands made by modern users. As a hub, the kitchen serves as an architectural anchor to the rest of the home and the future kitchen’s functions will be driven increasingly by technology. This said, I believe the future kitchen will be more bold with texture, authentic finishes and touch materials; so that the introduction of more technology will not make the space feel colder, but rather enable it to adapt more seamlessly to its requirements and surroundings. Materials will serve relational interaction through touch, sight and smell. The technology will be concealed and only appear as needed, enabling the concept of the kitchen as furniture to continue developing.’

Mathilda Venter from Valcucine Cape Town expands: ‘Conscious consumption is taking a pivotal role in consumerism and consumers are gravitating towards products that align with their values and support sustainability through their production methods and end products. Design and décor trends are also favouring products that are sustainable and show innovation regarding the protection of the environment.

‘The Riciclantica collection focuses on the reduction of materials used. This ethos has resulted in extreme door dematerialisation and the lightest door in the world that fits into an aluminium structure that is water, steam and heat-resistant. Due to this remarkable reduction of materials used, combined with eco-tech finishes, this kitchen is sustainable, recyclable and innovative. It was conceptualised for those who pay a great deal of attention to their well-being while living in harmony with nature.’

As far as eye appeal, what’s popular in design and décor trends?

‘Because there is no longer a clear distinction between the living area and kitchen, this has promoted sophistication in the overall design. A prerequisite here is for the kitchen to remain functional while being partially concealed when not in use. As such it needs to be appealing enough to form part of the overall home and coordinate with its look. This trend is now challenging designers and manufacturers on multiple levels to increase the sophistication of this area with new standards in finishes that can be customised to meet the user’s personal style,’ so says Dorothee Bonse of Eurocasa.

Daniel Slavin of local designer / manufacturer Slavin adds: ‘We foresee a highly personalised kitchen using lots of natural materials, such as wood, glass and metal, that is extremely functional as well as aesthetically exciting. Planning-wise, the open-plan concept adds energy to any home space while incorporating the necessary workings of the kitchen into the living area, making it the collective meeting point of the family. However, this can lead to untidiness, so it’s worth investing in clever ways to conceal any slightly messy prep / cleaning areas.

‘A neutral colour palette will always remain a staple but more and more people are looking to inject personality into the kitchen space. Natural materials and finishes remain exceptionally popular and we’re experiencing a revival in old finishes that have been re-invented and are being used in new and exciting ways. Back-painted glass appliances, raw wooden surfaces, concrete, stone, brass and copper are but a few of the key trend pieces of the future.’

Neolith is a specialist supplier for today’s kitchen surfaces. Says their Mar Esteve Cortes: ‘We believe in looking to the past to see the future. Nostalgia is nothing new, but across the industry, we’re noticing a revival in design classics. Terrazzo immediately springs to mind; as a playful and colourful stone once so popular as a flooring material, it’s finding a new lease of life as designers rediscover this style icon.

‘And it’s not the only traditional material that will make a comeback in the near future. The organic look and feel of unpolished wood has timeless appeal and, with the steadily increasing desire for Scandinavian chic over the last few years, it’s become highly sought after. In contemporary kitchens, this can be combined with contrasting materials such as concrete and / or metal effects, – to evoke a captivating juxtaposition of the natural and industrial.’

So, in 2019, perhaps overall residential interior signatures for living spaces can to some extent fall under the widening influence of kitchen design. As the most used interior in the modern home by all family members – over a variety of functions from food preparation to schoolwork – the kitchen creates a unique opportunity as a decorative hub. Vibrancy, ease of function and maintenance are ideally combined with eye appeal in best-case scenarios.

Megan Noel of Caesarstone: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we are seeing people embracing their personal style and needs to create kitchens that are both functional and beautiful. So the kitchen of the future is personalised. If the space is available then a multifunctional central island is the solution; however, in more compact spaces it may be necessary to design cleverly with customised compartments for storage and fully-integrated appliances.’

South African interior architecture is leaning towards homes that are definitively designed around the kitchen. It’s a floorplan that opts to position it at the centre of open, inter-leading reception spaces; which allow flexibility while adapting to an ever-changing lifestyle. Think of the entire kitchen as a large island situated in the centre of the living / dining area, with form following function. It’s an activity core around which living essentials flow.

In such open-plan areas, an overhead hood / extractor centrally placed to remove steam and cooking odours could be a prerequisite.

Selma Zaifoglu of Linear Concepts agrees: ‘Open-plan kitchens tend to bring everyone together, which leads to more sociable living spaces, this is a positive. But such areas must have both a functional and durable extractor to prevent any cooking odours permeating the rest of the space. Minimalist kitchens are becoming increasingly more popular and in future, this look will likely become the benchmark. It can be accentuated by adding shopfitting elements such as metals, lots of glass and LED lights. The interior architectural approach is important when creating a kitchen in this style.’

So, with the kitchen becoming an extension of the living area the island transcends into a multifunctional design element, ideally used both for cooking and as a counter, with the work surface extending on one side at least to allow for bar-style seating.

Italian import Officine Gullo is absolutely in favour of open-plan kitchens. ‘A linear kitchen, without corners but completed with one or more kitchen islands, allows a better use of the space, both from a walkable point of view, increasing the floor area, and from a storage angle,’ says their Paolo Valente. ‘For example, the islands offer the possibility of using even the sides as containment compartments. Another advantage is relative cost, a corner kitchen requires a more complex tailor-made project which, compared to an open-plan kitchen and is, therefore, more costly.’

Other factors apply to the morphing of previously enclosed kitchen ‘rooms’ into open spaces. With the kitchen island becoming the focal point of the living room, as a consequence, it requires special attention insofar as both looks and functionality. Key appliances are part of this picture with smart solutions that can coordinate them perfectly. An example is integrated sinks, built-in and of the same material as the countertop, to form a smooth, contemporary design handwriting.

Marita Boyers of Valcucine Johannesburg for Casarredo: ‘The future is now. Perfectly integrating kitchen units with ergonomics increases their performance, so that using them becomes a superlative experience. Such as soft and effortless opening and closing mechanisms, plus height, weight and depth planned around the specific requirements of the user. This improves visibility and simplifies every movement, from access to wall units to grasping doors. Proportions and functionalities are designed to maximise simplicity.

‘The open-plan kitchen has become a public function in a private space; it’s the heart of the home, the social engine. However, exposed mess while cooking and entertaining in an open kitchen presents problems. Logica Celata, designed by Gabriele Centazzo, offers a novel take on space exploitation that reinvents ergonomics and plans new, exciting ways of using an open-plan kitchen. Thanks to an advanced, counterweight balancing mechanism, the door glides gently upwards to reveal the whole work area: a large, fully-customisable space. Various interior options are available i.e. kitchen bar, food preparation area and storage. Each of these is provided with accessories and functions designed to meet its specific needs. In these configurations, everything is ready to be used as efficiently as possible and hidden just as fast, concealing any mess.’

High-tech Havens – latest kitchen R&D

Liam Gawne from Miele SA on future kitchen tech: ‘The biggest impact will involve the onset of revolutionary smart technology. This will ensure the best possible energy and water-efficiency and will take the guesswork out of cooking to make tasks simple and easy. And there will be streamlined, design aesthetics and functionality, easy operation, and time-saving efficiencies.

‘However, it’s important to make a distinction between smart technology that will make life easier and more efficient, and a marketing gimmick. Miele technology must add significant value and convenience, which won’t be outdated or unsupported over the full 20-year-lifespan of the appliances. For new products and services, the focus must be on customer benefits and simple application has to be the ultimate goal. The software on all new Miele devices can be completely updated via Remote Service so that new functions can be added over the entire service life and proven programmes can be further optimised.’

Technology is equally vital in terms of water supply and control, plus aesthetic appeal. Michelle Lowe of Lixil Africa has info: ‘The kitchen of the future is about products that are able to make life easier and more convenient, the Grohe Blue is an example: This system allows the user to draw filtered, chilled and sparkling water directly from the kitchen tap; refreshment is always within reach and plastic bottles are a thing of the past.

‘The open-plan kitchen format puts a perfect spotlight on the kitchen tap. Try something exciting and introduce colour with the new GROHE SPA collection in the Essence Range: Warm Sunset, Cool Sunrise, Hard Graphite or Nickel. Bon appétit!’

Undoubtedly, upwardly mobile homeowners are far more tech-focused than previous generations. They’ve upped their culinary expectations to include precise prep and flexible cooking experiences, alongside a well defined appreciation for leading-edge design.

What is the latest R&D in the sector of countertops and tiled surface trends?

There are very strong opinions when it comes to countertops. And for good reason. A quality surface not only looks good but is better to work on and easier to clean. Granite and marble have fulfilled a role for decades as popular kitchen counter choices, but it’s the rise of porcelain and quartz stone tops that might offer a clue as to how kitchens of the future
could look.

Oren Sachs of WOMAG comments: ‘Quartz-based and porcelain surfaces are a well established trend that inspires timeless appeal. With materials that mimic the movement and look of natural stone, the Nova Calacatta Phoenix Stone provides a clean-lined design for modern and cohesive countertops, flooring
or backsplashes.

‘Dark and moody countertops can add plenty of drama to a kitchen storyboard, making a bold yet deeply sophisticated statement. Fast becoming one of the hottest new kitchen trends, brushed Volcanic Grey granite offers a smooth and silky look with a slightly textured feel that evokes an emotionally contemplative space to cook. Striking yet elegant, a boldly patterned surface is both vibrant and fresh. The Galaxy Sky and White River granite slabs can lift a dark or small area and open up the space.’

For the full article see Habitat #273 September / October 2019

cover image: @home


Newsletter Sign Up