12. July 2016
We’ve borrowed a lot from Europe. The Beetle, the pencil skirt, and the bottle of bubbly we drink on New Year’s Eve (it can only be called champagne if it comes from France’s Champagne region) all began in Europe. These, and countless other products and ideas have made the journey to North America, and have carved out a niche in our pop culture.
Ideas about home design wash onto North American shores, as well. From the kitchen to the great room, we anticipate design choices that matured in Europe to cross the Atlantic and gain popularity in the United States. Kitchen designers embracing the sleek and stylish forms that began in Europe will be able to incorporate the powerful European trends that have been applauded for their functionality and form.
Luckily, these technologies are no longer an ocean away. Let’s take a look at them now.
The appetizer: Distinctive style
Though they have centuries of history to draw from, European designers typically have their eyes on the future. Today’s distinctive, forward-thinking styles trim the excess frills from every kitchen surface. Knobs disappear from drawers and cabinets in favor of simple grooves and indents, and touch displays are being integrated on fridges, cooktops, and appliances; the kitchen can now be controlled with just one finger.
These controls are built right into the cooktop, as well. They’re dead-fronted, meaning LEDs illuminate specific keys or symbols when turned on, and the controls disappear, back to black, when not in use. These cooktops are intuitive, easy to use, and have style to boot.
If you can believe it, induction cooktops have become more stylish, too. Free induction, which allows pots and pans to be placed anywhere on the cooktop, are growing in popularity both here and abroad. Some cooktops have rounded edges, while others have striking, brightly colored glass-ceramic. These cooktops really add a “wow” factor to a kitchen and retain that elegant look. Will we see a clear glass-ceramic cooktop that can be laid on displays or screens? It’s certainly possible, as the technology is already in production across the ocean.
Family design – matching appliances and a bold, solid color on every surface – is used to create a kitchen with a vibrant but uniform and stylish appeal. The grays, whites, and blacks are eternally in style, but accent colors can make an appliance a true differentiator in a kitchen’s design.
The main course: Highly functional and intuitive
Gas, electric, or induction? Why pick just one when you can have two?
Popular in Europe, dual-fuel stoves and ranges give chefs enhanced verstility, flexibility, and customization. Need a gas flame to roast something, but working on an induction cooktop? That’s not a problem now, as European-infleunced cooktops with both heating technologies have arrived, and bring powerful elements to North American kitchens.
Now that we’ve mentioned power, let’s talk controls. Home cooks in the Americas can achieve precision on the cooktop by using controls that aren’t “high” or “low,” but can be set to a specific temperature. Available cooktops now come equipped with small sensors that monitor temperatures, and can be affixed to pots and pans. No worries about burning that sauce – smarter controls can help you achieve a perfect simmer.
And while range hoods can complement the rest of the kitchen, sometimes they’re just in the way. No more. Emerging from European designs, down drafts — vents installed in the cooktop — suck down smoke and vapors and remove them from the kitchen with what seems like magic. North American chefs cooking on these stoves no longer need to worry about fogging up their glasses. Plus, designers can open up the kitchen to showcase what’s beyond eye level.
The dessert: Eco-friendly and easy to care for
In the kitchen, functionality and style don’t cut it: Europeans and Americans want more. The third pillar of kitchen design is energy efficiency – it’s what sweetens the design.
Energy-saving appliances and smarter technologies are cutting power consumption, saving on energy usage and carbon output. Cooktops of all types are being made sustainably and are manufactured in energy-efficient plants. Both here and in Europe, kitchen planners realize there’s no tradeoff between good design and sustainable technologies.
Together, all of these new technologies and sustainable methods are creating exciting new kitchen designs. These powerful but sometimes simple ideas elevate the look of a kitchen, while other technologies make cooking faster and easier for home cooks. Many of these form factors and designs, like down drafts and bright color choices, were first implemented and refined in Europe, and now they’re making their way into North American kitchens.
Just one more thing. What’s the best part of a cooktop or fridge with no knobs or dials? It’s incredibly easy to clean. How’s that for the cherry on top?