Micro-kitchens, concealed burners, and new oven technologies are some of the surprises for 2018 brought to you in an article by Houzz.
We kept an eye open for signs of how the most lively and innovative space in the house, the kitchen, is evolving. Among the exhibits were increasingly flexible setups, commercial appliances redesigned for the home cook and innovative new technologies. Picking up on the current trend of the integration of kitchen and living spaces, designers also presented kitchen features that either blend seamlessly into their surroundings or disappear altogether. Here are some of the kitchen innovations coming your way in 2018.
1. Beautifully designed compact kitchens. These kitchens have everything you need — a sink, cooktop and storage space — all in a mini unit.
Sanwa Company presented compact kitchens that fit well into any space. The floating model pictured here features an extractor hood and has an affordable price tag — compared to other models on the kitchen market of about $1,950 (1,600 euros).
Another compact kitchen on wheels (not pictured) can also be used in outdoor spaces and can accommodate a mini fridge.
Designed with wheelchair users in mind, Sanwa presented another wall-mounted kitchen that can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button.
2. Super organized kitchen-bar. When the kitchen invades the living room, everything is exposed, and therefore everything needs to stay tidy. According to the 2018 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends survey, decluttering kitchen surfaces is a constant worry for the vast majority of respondents other kitchen obsessions, like replacing hand towels or composting, trailed far behind.
Therefore dividers, bottle holders, hangers, glassware racks and other organizers are becoming increasingly incorporated into kitchen designs. Ernestomeda offered a solution with its Inside System, which allows anything including a kitchen to be hidden behind fully retractable doors.
3. Continuous surfaces. Kitchens that are open toward the living area are starting to look less and less like kitchens: Pantries match living room furniture and kitchen islands are starting to resemble large tables, made of a single material.
For example, Stosa has integrated gas cookers and a flush-mounted steel sink into a slate-gray high-pressure-laminate top.
Even more radical was Elica’s Monolight kitchen concept. This integrates the stove directly into the wood or stoneware counter, concealing induction cookers under the 0.2-inch-thick (5-millimeter-thick) surface.
“We are still working on this prototype, to make sure that the wood won’t change color or deform with the heat,” says designer Fabrizio Crisà, manager of Elica’s design center, in a press release. “I imagined a space without boundaries … in which technology merges with design to offer a new way of working in the kitchen. Even when not in use, this kitchen is a wonderful piece of design to look at.”
4. Commercial appliances for the home. More and more solutions born in restaurant kitchens are making their way into our homes. One example is the blast chiller, which freezes food with reduced crystallization and minimal effect on its taste and texture.
These are now available for the domestic market. Electrolux’s BlastChiller has three settings: soft chilling at 41°F (5°C), hard chilling at 37.4°F (3°C) and shock freezing at -0.4°F (-18°C). These can be activated either manually, by entering the weight of the food to be frozen, or automatically through a thermometer that measures the inside temperature of the food.
The KeepHeat oven by Hoover is another crossover from the world of commercial kitchens. It can bake but also keep food warm and fresh for prolonged periods of time, maintaining a constant temperature of 143.6°F (62°C). A technician at the Hoover booth told us food that has been vacuum-sealed can be safely stored at this temperature for up to two weeks.
The oven is targeted at those who only have time to cook on the weekends and want to have food ready on demand over the next few days, or for hosts who want to keep food fresh for their guests’ arrival.
5. High-tech ovens and stoves. Having debuted last September at the IFA in Berlin, the Dialog oven is a completely new approach to making food.
Once the user has selected the type of food to be cooked on the touch-screen, two internal sensors direct electromagnetic waves at changing frequencies. They detect the weight of the food to be cooked, automatically adjust the amount of energy released and distribute the waves as needed through the oven during the cooking process.
This means that, unlike traditional ovens, which cook from the outside in, the Dialog cooks food evenly all the way through, or directs the energy to where it’s needed most. It can, therefore, cook a dish made up of several components, such as a roast surrounded by vegetables, to perfection all at once, saving time and effort.
It is completely different from its cousin, the microwave oven, despite what you might think at first. “The frequency of the waves is different, the effectiveness is different and the operating principle is different,” says Carlo Santeroni, a product and sales trainer at Miele. “The Dialog by Miele ‘converses’ with the food hence the name while a traditional microwave is only a monologue.”
Innovations to induction cooktops and stoves were also presented. Siemens, for example, has developed flexMotion, which remembers the cook settings of each element, allowing you to quickly move pots to another part of the stove. They also integrated a powerful extractor with a liquid collection tray for cleaning up spills.
“The vapors produced while cooking are not necessarily sucked away immediately,” says Giuseppe Rago, a training manager at BSH Home Appliances Group. “For example, this could happen when you are using a very high-walled pot. But the high power level of this hood makes it extremely effective. Our integrated ventilation system, in fact, can filter up to 690 cubic meters [2,500 cubic feet] of air per hour and is therefore suitable even for large spaces.”
6. Connected kitchens. Internet-enabled kitchens deserve a separate section here, because more and more companies are introducing smart home automation systems, increasingly in more affordable models as well.
Apps already on the market allow you to peek inside your camera-equipped fridge to see what you’ll need before you go shopping, turn the oven on and monitor what is happening inside while on your way home from work and even set your washing machine and dishwasher cycles.
This year, Smeg enhanced its SmegConnect app to work with its wine cooler. The app allows the user to adjust the temperature in the wine cooler remotely, monitor stock and make purchases. It also connects to major Italian food websites, allowing novice wine lovers to learn more about wine storage and pairing. Stay tuned for linkups with international brands.
Last but not least, first-generation web-connected kitchens used smartphones and tablets as an interface; now everything is on a touch-screen that is integrated into the appliance itself. These screens have become increasingly large, intuitive and multicolored, and they now even offer video cooking tutorials.
Candy has even managed to transform the door of the Watch&Touch oven into a 19” internet-enabled touch-screen, on which you can watch video recipes or browse for and enter cooking settings.
Judging by this year’s fair, it won’t be long until the kitchen is fully integrated into our living rooms, our schedules, and our phones.