The more I learn about design and more importantly how design enables, the more passionate I get about design. During my recent presentations at the London KitchenAid Experience store, I was able to share my passion for interior design with some key people in the London design community.
The interesting thing is that design is so personal and each of us will have a different view about what we do and don’t like. But good design is universal. We learn to adopt and accept good design into our personal views. A great designer will take the best of design and incorporate it into our life. This allows us to be better, great design enables that to happen.
Whilst I love classic design, I’m always on the lookout for interesting interior design trends. These trends are the manifestation of our culture, the way in which we predict that we are going to be living in our spaces. It’s a snapshot of us looking forward. I find trends tell us a lot about who we are and our aspirations.
It’s important to be knowledgeable about trends, but you don’t necessarily need to implement them. They help you to find design inspiration.
The Artisanal Kitchen
This is, in many ways, the ‘Age of the Artisan’, at least in an aesthetic sense. Chefs, designers and even homeowners are tired of mass-production, and this is paving the way for more creativity and artistry in the way we design, lay out and utilize kitchens.
The kitchen is no longer merely a functional space in which to produce meals and store ingredients. It’s increasingly viewed as a place to perform the culinary arts – to foster creativity. For those who genuinely enjoy time spent in the kitchen, this is a great opportunity to look into redesigning and injecting a bit of life and artisan’s flair into this space.
From a design perspective, these new trends allow us to think about designing the kitchen in a new way. There’s more of a focus on sourcing artisan tools and appliances that help connect us to a professional kitchen, but still keeping us comfortable at home. We are also using materials that remind us of the artisan aesthetic: ceramics, wood, copper, marble, etc.
Introducing Multi-Work Surfaces to Kitchen Islands
In today’s homes, the cooker is usually located on an island at the centre of the kitchen. In this sense, the island has been transformed into a stage on which the resident chef performs. Standing at the island whilst cooking also creates a relaxed and personal space in which a person can live out their hobby and further develop their passion for cooking.
The island evokes the performance. It’s a stage where a person can live out their passion for the culinary arts – with or without an audience. Above all, it’s a place to cook for the sheer pleasure of the art form. To dance like nobody’s watching, to borrow a phrase.
The KitchenAid experience store is a perfect example of this trend. The large islands create a space where you want to gather around and see what the chefs are cooking. This focus on the kitchen island draws your attention to the food being prepared. With multiple appliances now being housed on the island, it’s clear that this central space has redefined the way a kitchen operates.
Combining multiple materials on the kitchen island help to zone the space. I love doing this as it helps our brains understand that there are different spaces, and we naturally understand that this means that there are different tasks to be performed in the different spaces.
So, for example, the cooking area is done in stainless steel, whilst concrete is used for the prep area and wood for dining and entertainment sections. It’s a subtle way to celebrate the multipurpose role that the modern kitchen plays.
Bring Shelving into the Open
Why hide the tools and ingredients used to create the culinary masterpieces that come from the kitchen? I believe the tools of the artisan chef should be put on display. This adds an air of inspiration to the kitchen and makes the space feel more honest and authentic.
To accomplish this, we’re using open shelving in expansive open-plan spaces to help divide up and zone the kitchen. As far as materials are concerned, we’re seeing a lot of metal frames – adding stone, wood and other natural materials for warmth and beauty.
When styling open shelving, it’s important that certain key elements are displayed prominently. Use beautifully made utensils and appliances. Family heirlooms, well-worn cookbooks and other more sentimental pieces also have a place here and can tell your own story.
Creative Combinations of Materials
Work surfaces are particularly important in a kitchen. When cooking, you’re touching the food and the appliances, touch is a very important sense in the kitchen. As a designer, we can help to expand and amplify this by using materials that are beautiful to touch. But more importantly, a mix of materials, this makes you want to move around the space and touch more of it.
A mixture of concrete, wood and stainless steel are a good base to start with. Think about how you could use these materials in your kitchen. A concrete worktop, a stainless steel sink and perhaps wooden stools.
Feature Walls Complete the Space
The increase in feature walls is a really interesting trend. Seeing a wall covered in moroccan tiles for example is very inspiring and actually does work well, especially when the interior designer has used colours from the wall to accent through the rest of the space.
Perhaps moroccan tiling is a bit too bold for you, but a smoky backlit glass splashback might inspire you to think about using smoky glass pendants for lighting. The feature wall helps us to connect the design elements from the kitchen to the rest of the space.
It wasn’t so long ago that extractor fans were bulky and made entirely of stainless steel. But now, we’re seeing extractor fans that disappear into the kitchen island with the touch of a button.
The other trend we’re noticing is for shelvin to be installed over the length of the island and these have the extractor fan built into them.
I’ve even seen some fitted with speakers for an in-kitchen sound system. Alternately, they can even be equipped to display moving graphics or recipes against the wall for a decidedly futuristic look.
Smart Kitchens Are on the Horizon
Whilst we have been moving away from kitchens that looked rather space age, I don’t think that we should fear the introduction of modern technology into the kitchen. It’s being done in such clever ways, that you don’t even see that the tech equipment is there. Apps that connect to your fridge and monitor what you have in stock, digital scales that simply form part of your kitchen island, and invisible chargers all work behind the scenes supporting our lifestyle. Giving you more time to do the things you love - cook!
Design is about You
Kitchens are finally becoming more personal, they are no longer just a box at the end of the house, but rather being incorporated into the house. Our job as designers is to ensure that the kitchen doesnt’ feel foreign to the rest of the house, you want it to seamlessly be a part of it.
When designing anything, always think about the experience you want to have in the space. Pick out the elements that are important to you and use those as your starting blocks.
In my experience of working with KitchenAid, both their products and the design of the London Experience Store has helped me develop a greater sense of how I want to spend my time in my kitchen. I know that it will do the same for you too.
A pair of Paris designers creates artworks with hamburgers
Food as a cultural expression in the works of Antoni Miralda.
Three stories of passion and creativity behind the trends of professional kitchens