24. May 2017
Viking appliances have long been known as the must-have accessory for serious foodies. They mix softer elements of home design with a high level of performance that rivals restaurant kitchens.
Recently, Viking launched its Virtuoso line of products, drawing inspiration from sleeker, modern designs. Making this new line required the company to solve technical challenges while learning a new design language. Viking, however, has a long history of doing just that.
We talked to Thomas Lucic, lead designer at Viking and Tim Tyler, director of marketing, about how the Virtuoso line came to be, top trends in appliance design, and what tomorrow’s kitchens might look like.
This is Viking’s first shot at incorporating contemporary design principles. What was that like?
You can’t just take the handles off a current Viking oven and call it contemporary. We had to dig into the details of contemporary design, because there is no margin for error in this market. You have to adhere to the contemporary design principles and stick to them.
Contemporary design can be very unassuming. However, simple designs are often the most complex because of the level of detail it takes to create that simplicity, and you have to think about how manufacturing will fabricate and build it. It’s a fun challenge to solve these design problems — to create something that adheres to the brand identity of Viking and also fits in the contemporary market.
What does the jump into modern cooktops mean for Viking?
We’re seeing a big shift toward contemporary design, and we decided to throw our hat in the ring. Induction cooktops pair well with the contemporary look, which has existed in Europe for years, but is booming in coastal and urban communities like southern Florida, Manhattan, and the West Coast. Urbanites and millennials are big fans of this style.
What are bigger trends in kitchen design overall?
People are looking for appliances that have multiple uses. Oven and microwave combos, for example. Another is our steam oven, which has been popular, and soon we’ll have the Viking Professional TurboChef Speedcook oven that cooks up to 15 times faster than any other oven on the market.
People are looking for ways to build kitchens that they can easily cook in for large groups. They want to entertain, but more importantly they want the kitchen to be a place where people come together. That’s why that commercial kitchen capacity is so important. Because it’s a way of being social and staying connected.
How did you arrive at the design for your new Virtuoso cooktops?
The idea behind using Magic Black for the cooktop was to give it a different look and design that stands out from other black glass-ceramic cooktops. There’s a subtle shift from the gloss of the glass to the matte graphics on the cooktop, and Magic Black helped us achieve that.
One of the questions we’ve faced was how to distinguish our induction and electric products. We had thought of using SCHOTT’s Cleartrans, but after thinking it over, we just realized that black was too popular. The gloss to matte transition that Magic Black gives us works well.
You mentioned earlier that induction cooktops have a bit more traction in Europe. What do you think is going on in the U.S. market?
I think it’s an education process. It’s hard to have an induction cooking experience at an appliance dealer. Once you cook on induction, you really understand what it is and why it’s desirable, but until you have that experience, it’s hard to understand the technology.
What’s the future of glass in the kitchen?
For Viking specifically, glass leaves room for us to distinguish ourselves. I’m a big believer in brand identity, and we’ve incorporated the Viking blue into our cooktops with LED lights. Whether it’s a control panel, an indicator light, or something else, SCHOTT glass-ceramic gives us the clarity of light and crispness of control to make LCD readouts pop.
We’re definitely going to see more glass, especially as appliances integrate with electronics. Now you can preheat your oven from your smartphone, and with that connectivity, you need displays, and with displays you need glass. That will be pushed from the design side—more glass, bigger windows, more glass-ceramic cooktops, how to minimize the stainless steel frame on appliances and show more glass. It just gives a cleaner more contemporary look. From a cooktop perspective, black is going to continue to dominate. It integrates with just about every design element.