Faucets that dispense all manner of water. Appliances that behave (and look!) like computers. When it comes to kitchen technology, the future is here, even if includes some holdovers from the past (think warm woods, weathered metals, more than a few rustic touches). As a new consumer food show unveils its ideal concept kitchen in Toronto, here some trends that will transform your pantry.
In the ongoing battle against kitchen clutter, manufacturers are in the process of declaring all-out war. Shown above and on our cover, for instance, German-based Bulthaup's handsome b2 standalone cabinet distills kitchen storage "down to the essentials," housing almost every kitchen necessity behind (and in!) its doors. Look for equally novel storage solution at this weekend's Delicious Food Show ( www.deliciousfoodshow.com) at Toronto's Better Living Centre, where the Hettich concept kitchen boasts, among other innovations, drawers that open from both sides of islands and cabinets that rise and descend at the touch of a button.
Sexy range hoods? You bet. Beyond providing kitchens with needed ventilation, the latest models are paragons of cutting-edge design, combining advanced technology with knockout style. Among the handsomest is Robert Brunner's "new-minimalist" Horizon hood for Zephyr's Arc collection. Resembling an open laptop suspended from the wall, the glass-and-stainless-steel, halogen-illuminated hood is powered by direct current energy, an industry first. Like a laptop, it also comes in a range of satiny hues, including black, white and red.
Before World War II, copper was a common material in kitchens, but its appropriation for military uses all but banished it from homes. Until now. Over the last few years, kitchen firms have rediscovered just how malleable, anti-bacterial and eco-friendly copper is, reclaiming it for everything from cookware to sinks. Another plus: it adopts a lovely patina with time.
The new neutral when it comes to kitchen elements isn't black or white, but something in between: grey. If you think that the hue is too clinical or boring, however, take another look. These days, glossy finishes, shade options from gunmetal to Gustavian and the fact that grey pairs with almost any other tone make it both a solid investment and a thoroughly modern choice, as this sleek, wall-mounted counter unit by Lago demonstrates.
A TOUCH OF OLD WORLD
The rush to futuristic kitchens doesn't ignore the past: Indeed, the most interesting contemporary designs combine the latest technology with a hint of old Europe, whether it's Marimekko prints, Portuguese azulejo tiles or Delft-style pottery. Also especially hot, both literally and figuratively: Neapolitan pizza ovens.
Wanna be a star in the kitchen? Install a glam new crystal light fixture, as many designers are doing, to set the appropriate stage. In fact, the theatrical allusion isn't so far-fetched, as modern kitchens are increasingly becoming reception rooms, operations centres and performance spaces all in one. And if your brisket burns to a crisp or your soufflé falls flat, soft lighting can't hurt.
Like those Old World touches, rustic elements big and small are tempering the gloss of contemporary kitchens. Think faded wood floors and tumbled stone paired with shiny marble countertops and stainless steel furniture and appliances. Whatever you call it – Tuscany meets TriBeCa, industrial country – the impulse seems to be clear: Give us our smart appliances and restaurant-quality gear, but deliver them on an antique polished-silver tray.
Remember when self-cleaning ovens were the new plus ultra in kitchen technology? Today's iceboxes, from LG's savvy new Smart Fridge (which keeps track of what's inside) to GE's super-advanced models (they cool drinks in minutes and defrost meat within hours), make those ovens look like kids' play.
Something else to watch out for: stovetop computer screens, as showcased in Hettich's kitchen of the future at this weekend's Delicious Food Show.
Faucets that dispense filtered and unfiltered water from the same tap? Premium mineral waters? Boiled water for tea? See models by Moen, Grohe and In-Sink-Erator, respectively.
The future, at least when it comes to faucets, is now.
HEARTH AND SOUL
Before the invention of the stove, kitchens of the past always had a fireplace in them. And so they're starting to again.
Of course, today's installations tend to be sleeker and cleaner than the yawning pits of old (witness designer Michaël Harboun's Corian prototype above), but their coziness factor remains the same. Look to Paloform ( www.paloform.com) for some of the best commercial versions.