Cover image: blu_line. Not without reason, in 2020 South Africa, many homeowners are opting for renovation rather than relocation; noting that kitchens and bathrooms are likely the most deserving interiors in terms of ongoing viability, viz. spend. Creativity here is key to a successful result. But it’s perhaps wise to note that this ethereal factor is difficult to value, impossible to replicate – yet easy to discard.

Overall, the trend towards the open-plan living area / adjacent kitchens, seen for more than a decade in SA will undoubtedly continue in 2020. This direction is simply a reflection of family needs and an intelligent interpretation of today’s lifestyle. The solution lies in realising the contemporary kitchen as a vital sector of the fluid space within the home; proof that today, preparing and consuming food interacts with both family and social life.

Aesthetically, the open kitchen is a continuation of both the living room and dining room and it, therefore, becomes integral to the decorative style of these most noticed interiors. An effective approach here is to use the same finishing materials on floors, walls and cabinetry; to create visual flow, i.e. extend the common shell.

So, the 2020 family dynamic has established the kitchen firmly at the heart of most homes; it’s an already well established global design trend involving both eye appeal and practicality. In essence, it’s the lifestyle benchmark of modern homeowners and interior architects and designers favour an integrated sequence of spaces. This will ideally include the aesthetically appealing and well planned kitchen, plus stylish dining and comfortable living areas for multidimensional activities. All planned in an intelligent configuration.

Such a format requires the décor to be unburdened from unnecessary design confectionary, rather offering functional yet minimalist utilisation. So designers and suppliers are opting for agile, movable and tidy furniture elements to equip this hub of the home; without making it too dominant within its surroundings. The principle ‘hide it if you can’ becomes evident, a most noted trend being that the kitchen aims to become a non-culinary extension of the living space. Look for materials that coordinate with the living area shell surfaces, such as timber and stone finishes.

So how best do we choose kitchen design and decoration that will last and stay relevant? It’s vital to select coordinating textures, tones and materials that remain fresh for their lifespan.

Can kitchens be both classical and trendy?

Philip Richards from blu_line says yes: ‘I believe there’s always a trend element that must run through design, but the key is that it does not dominate the overall scheme. Longevity can be ensured through neutral colour palettes and consideration for functionality. We then are pushed to see how we can adapt a trend, but still keep the design timeless. I would liken this more to an art form than a science; so to me, the key is not to try and adopt every trend, but rather see which can enhance timeless design as opposed to diminishing it.’

The solution is to not overdo the trend consideration.

Daniel Slavin of Slavin: ‘In a redesign, one can infuse a timeless aesthetic with current trends if we are selective as to which trends to appropriate. Make sure that the bones of the kitchen are true to traditional / timeless cabinetry and earmark items that are easy to replace as trend-setting focal points. Worktops and backsplashes, as well as accessories and paint colours, are easy to change and can completely alter the overall feel / style in the kitchen.’

‘We seek to pioneer innovation, anticipating the consumers’ needs by allowing for classical functionality with the latest tech-trends. The future is now. Perfect integration of kitchen units with ergonomics increases their performance, so that using them becomes a superlative experience, with such advantages as soft and effortless opening and closing mechanisms,’ says Marita Boyers of Casarredo / Valcucine JHB. ‘Height, weight and depth should be planned around the specific requirements of the user, thus improving visibility and simplifying every movement, from access to wall units to grasping doors, so proportions and functionalities are designed to maximise simplicity. This includes drawers like Genius Loci, which incorporate trending elements such as metals and marble inlays that can be effortlessly changed years later for an updated look.’

Rakhee Hurdial of Franke Kitchens feels it’s easy to be ordinary; to have an ordinary home, filled with things that are neither loved nor hated. She adds: ‘But we should never settle for ordinary and that’s why we want to make everything exceptional. This factor turns a house into a home and turns work into play. Each product should be wonderful in every way; carefully considered design and manufacturing standards involving quality and craftsmanship.

‘Sinks should look beautiful and be resistant to staining, chipping, rust and corrosion, and have premium features and colours; black or white sinks can create a dramatic effect. Franke pioneered Fragranite sinks are exceptionally tough and resistant to burns, dents, chips and stains. They contain 80 percent granite to form a unique material with a subtle sheen that’s warm to the touch.

‘Kitchens demand special attention to hygiene and can be critical locations for bacteria growth, which can multiply every 20 minutes. But the integrated Sanitized® hygiene function in Fragranite prevents this and ensures lasting protection.’

However, even if a classic kitchen design signature is chosen, there’s no escaping the trends that will inform the finishes selected for this new space. From colour and layout to choice of sink and worktops, every micro-detail of kitchen design is part of what is an important overall undertaking.

Nicole Hunt Holmes from Inside Living / Leicht comments: ‘A leading trend is the use of steel in various applications. Steel surfaces are mesmerising and bring interesting features to architecture and kitchen design. When refined for use indoors, the rough-industrial elements now reflect the characteristics of elegance and sophistication.

‘Integrating industrial characters and materials is key in the merging of kitchens and living spaces, which includes the use of open shelving systems. The look can be open and homely with plenty of room for accessories; such shelving is a simple element of modern kitchen design, which is fashionable and elegant.’

Key creative opinion indicates that ostentation is not high on the horizon for the new decade kitchen. Rather, discretion is more apparent and is evident in floating, lightly framed cabinetry without handles. This manifests as both an ergonomic and visual modification, with the result being slightly stark, yet not appearing to be utilitarian. This is form following function yet again. At the fore will be a measure of aesthetic versatility, best seen in a linear urbanity that matches up to the design signature of these linked spaces within the modern home.

At the Milan Design Week 2020, Officine Gullo will introduce what they describe as ‘a revolutionary stylistic novelty’. The Contemporanea Collection: a modern interpretation of the company’s iconic kitchens.

Says their Alessandra Gucci: ‘The uniqueness lies in the choice of materials from which it’s crafted. Made of noble metals, such as high-thickness steel for the main structure and solid brass for the trim finishes, the collection emphasises the best characteristics of the material. It’s a case of looking to the future with a design to last over time.

‘The elegance of steel is frequently obtained through lacquering and texturing, where descriptions such as ‘metallic colour / effect’ are often used. In this new collection, solid steel is the predominant material, alongside brass presented in various finishes: from innovative galvanisation to fire-painted, tone-on-tone or opaque high-tech finishing. The kitchen structure can be painted in any colour on the RAL chart, in addition to customised shades available on request; endless solutions to personalise a kitchen tailored to individual tastes.

‘This represents a contemporary concept for steel connoisseurs who understand and appreciate the material’s aesthetic and functional value. It’s an illustration of technological knowledge acquired over time and used to harness this material’s expressive potential and versatility. The artisanal tradition is re-explored through innovative designs, which combine a clean aesthetic feel alongside advanced technological and functional solutions. Included is a specified selection of the most innovative built-in appliances from leading brands.’

Klyne Maharaj of The Kitchen Studio feels that classic contemporary is arguably the most sensible style combination for most homes. ‘Very rarely is a home purely classic, or modern, so a tasteful combination of elements from each can yield beautiful results.’

The kitchen core is all about location, flow and coordination. So it’s not merely a case of spatial planning – a lack of walls between dining area / family room and kitchen – but more the creative camouflaging of obvious kitchen units and impedimenta. This means clever design to reduce the visual impact of wall-mounted cabinetry, a lack of handles or knobs, the concealment of large and small appliances and the installation of seamless countertops.

‘The kitchen is still widely considered the heart of the home and as such is the centrepiece when it comes to family dining and entertaining. Just keep in mind that opening up the kitchen also means having to keep it always clean and tidy. Unless you have time, having a small scullery area to hide the mess might be a wise inclusion,’ so says Daniel Slavin.

Philip Richards: ‘The kitchen is the architectural anchor of the home, but open-plan living and our modern requirements are demanding that it now has to be adaptive. It needs to be able to adapt to the tasks being performed, as well as the relational interaction occurring in the space. The kitchen as modern furniture is essential, an area that effortlessly integrates with the surrounding environments, while making a dramatic statement. A dynamic, living organism within the modern home.’

‘Always start with the practical questions: do I entertain in my kitchen? Do I socialise when I cook? These will help determine where to position certain appliances like the hob and breakfast bar or island. In general, we need to keep key areas (prep basin, fridge, oven and hob) all within a few steps of each other. This is often referred to as the kitchen triangle,’ so says Klyne Maharaj.

As today’s lifestyle often means spending more time in the kitchen socialising, storage is transforming to offer not only practicality but also a way to streamline a kitchen’s appearance and hide unnecessary mess. Breakfast stations conceal everyday appliances like coffee machines and toasters, which would otherwise clutter the worktop – behind easy access bi-fold or pocket doors. These are kitchens that are designed with simple volumes to coordinate with adjacent décor.

Valcucine’s Logica Celata ‘Concealed Kitchen’ is the result of ingenious research aimed at rethinking space and reinventing ergonomics. Bar, kitchen and preparation are the available models, each proposed with solutions and accessories designed for specific needs. Configurations where everything is ready to be used as effectively as possible and then completely hidden once the processing phase is finished.

The door moves upwards, giving full access to the work area, including a hob, extractor and a prep bowl. The accessories, such as the power strip and the accessorised shelf complemented by a chopping-board rack, knife-rack and bottle-rack are on-hand to turn cooking into an effortless ritual.

All this is aesthetically relevant, but for the ultimate result, this refined ‘anti-kitchen’ should still be equipped with enough storage space to cope with every culinary necessity. It may also include in-counter extractors that mechanically lift when needed, power towers and touch control induction hobs, without rude hob hardware.

Such invisibility spells expense, but care should be taken. If overdone, the anti-kitchen could become somewhat impractical.

Space planning and storage are vital to successful kitchen design, and by using suspended metal frames as shelves, or internally in illuminated glass cabinets, designers provide visual spaciousness to the top row of kitchen cabinets. It’s a creative alternative to the classic arrangement of upper and lower kitchen units. Vive la différence!

This current direction towards open shelving and airy metal hanging units can produce dramatic solutions. Examples are large, open steel frames suspended over (and visually anchoring) an island, to dedicated, illuminated areas within the runs of cabinets that reveal a curated display. Appealing glassware and cookware can dress these spaces, where semi-opaque panes create interest with partial views into cupboards.

What of 2020 cooking / serving revolutions?

Gourmet warmer drawers and vacuum-sealing drawers are an important part of Miele’s Generation 7000 design system of built-in appliances. Says Mercia de Jager of Miele SA: ‘The Gourmet warmer drawer range (left) is available in two sizes, with heights of 14cm and 29cm. A 45cm wall oven with integrated microwave, together with a smaller gourmet warmer drawer, fit snugly into a standard 60cm oven recess. The functional outcome is a highly versatile couplet of appliances that appear to come from the same design mould, offering a seamlessly integrated aesthetic.

‘The new drawers feature attractive glass fronts and Push2open mechanisms, which are easy to operate and offer a supremely slick handleless finish. Their Soft Close mechanisms allow the telescopic runners to glide open gently, and return to their original position without affecting contents stored. And all are operated by Touch Controls for four temperatures within the temperature range of the chosen mode.

‘Separate operating modes facilitate pre-heating crockery, keeping food warm or even low temperature cooking. These Wi-Fi-enabled drawers are linked using the Miele@mobile app. The drawer can be switched on remotely, ensuring pre-warmed utensils on arrival back home.’

Vacuum sealer drawers are becoming increasingly popular due to the many benefits that they offer: food storage, re-sealing, marinating, saving time and offering sous vide cooking. These integrated drawers have a vacuum chamber, equipped with seamless stainless steel sheets, which offer ease of maintenance.

‘We believe in organising not only the movement of the space in a kitchen but at the same time the internal organisation of the cabinetry, says Philip Richards. ‘We are constantly developing and working with new materials and functions to ensure an ordered environment. There are exciting technological advances where you will be able to ‘speak’ to your kitchen during the cooking process as you anticipate what you may need, with the kitchen responding by opening the drawers and fridges and storage cabinets as and when required. Again the kitchen is developing into a dynamic living space.’

For doors, metal framing in sophisticated accent finishes is lifting slabs of kitchen cabinetry off the floor, allowing light to flow and the units to float free. This hovering, horizontal effect is an appealing plus for a kitchen island. If disconnected from plumbing and electrical points, such a unit can even be wheeled into another position.

Poggenpohl has several modular architectural kitchens that illustrate this look, including their lightweight Venovo range; described as a ‘discarding of the static boundaries between living areas and kitchen’. Added to this are the aesthetic, typically European square bar legged pieces that help deliver defining geometry in the kitchen. This is in synch with square and rectangular cabinet structures in steel or metals, set below wall-hung, integrated open shelving. Together with cantilevered breakfast bar areas, this can evoke a look that’s sculptural, dramatic and Bauhaus-inspired.

Do we wish to conceal everything possible, even knobs and handles? Choosing a top edge-recessed handle for drawers and base cabinets, with side grooves for larger cupboards and even the fridge and freezer, will simplify the landscape of a highly linear kitchen and remove visual clutter.

Hungry for colour in 2020? The message from the global marketplace is to go deep, dark and matt with black on the storyboard. Pastel greens, from blue-green and teal to grey-green are evident in this season’s interior palette, and in the US and Europe green kitchen cabinetry is trending. This can be balanced and spiced up with metallic accents, also on-trend, plus tinted glass and creamy latte detailing. These plant nuances – darker hues such as moss green, sage and hunter green – can introduce visual freshness. And they’re being used very effectively.

Daniel Slavin: ‘Natural palettes are still the easiest to incorporate into the home space, with warmer tones winning over cooler colour schemes. Bold colours in the kitchen translate to dark blues and browns, while fixtures and fitting will be where brighter, riskier colours appear. Bronze, copper and matt black will remain at the forefront with natural elements like timber and concrete also having a seat at the table this year.’

Nicole Hunt Holmes agrees: ‘A finish that LEICHT by Inside Living offers is concrete. It’s one of the core building materials of modern design; characterful, authentic and unique. The concrete is applied with great skill and finished with a protective lacquer coating, making the final surface suitable for daily kitchen use.’

Dark blue interacts well with green tones, but is also a stand-alone choice, navy offering a more intense presence. It combines harmoniously with many other shades, especially greys. As do black and white in graphic juxtaposition with stylish wooden accents. Black is also being seen as a discreet metal frame and appliance accent.

Today’s designers seem unafraid to experiment with these moody, dramatically darker tones for kitchen design, in particular when paired with organic materials. Embracing such a colour palette can include the black accents mentioned, plus contrasting rich coffee browns and darker natural woods accented with shades of grey, taupe or biscuit beige. The result? A chic and welcoming kitchen ambiance.

‘There are exciting new materials and applications for natural stones that offer the user visual and tactile experience. Glass, wood and metals are essential as they invite emotion. Dramatic tones are adding authenticity and will be built on as we keep working on ultimate interpretations,’ says Philip Richards.

Natural materials continue to be a major trend – from timbers to genuine stone and marble. However, where these materials don’t always meet the required levels of durability needed for the modern family home, realistic visual-effect finishes are becoming increasingly popular. From hardwearing wood-look porcelain tiles to virtually indestructible quartz work surfaces, consider the longevity and stain-proof benefits of these faux materials before opting for the real thing.

Engineered surfaces replicating natural stone, granite and marble will remain popular for high-end kitchen work surfaces in 2020. Combined with wood and laminate in a monochrome colour selection, they evoke a clean and stylish emanation. This year they may illustrate a more modern-classic look, with muted and matt surfaces and darker worktops, such as veined granite and marble to provide dramatic layering and slight differences in hues. This to create a ‘dark sophistication’; an almost Gothic signature when paired with clean, modern profiles.

Klyne Maharaj agrees: ‘Synthetic materials – like quartz and sintered porcelain – are still the dominant trend in work surfaces. Brutestone quartz, Franke’s Lapitec and Dekton are some favourites. And we predict that 2mm slimline glass and wild grain veneers will be the trending cupboard and door finishes in the new decade.’

Pre-millennium, there was a leaning towards neutral hues for kitchen cabinets, tiles and flooring. This is because in 2020 South Africa a new kitchen is an expensive investment, and yet its re-sale appeal has always been a valid consideration. However, as the trend towards ‘improve, don’t move’ grows, so might levels of courage for colour in the kitchen. From subtle, grown-up dark blue and green to fun, bold hues, the choice of a colourful kitchen makes a statement that this is a place for living in.

If the kitchen is a compact space, then choosing white as the major tone helps achieve a strong spatial effect and makes a small kitchen appear larger. An all-white kitchen can create a clinical overtone; so by adding colourful accessories or bold, brightly coloured appliances the overly aesthetic feel can
be avoided.

In fact, apart from ever-popular white, light and earthy tonalities are likely to remain high up on the palette as a popular, safe choice. Variations from mushroom to pale terracotta, soft beige greys and ivories are colours that combine effortlessly with wooden accents and metal fixtures. More metals – as accents and cladding for lamps, appliances, fittings as a constructive part of kitchen furnishings – are being seen in projects. These vary from aesthetic industrial applications to the warm rusticity of weathered and worn-looking metal structures.

Enjoy the new decade in this much-valued hub of our homes.

The world consumption of coffee is increasing and the advances in home coffee machines are escalating ongoing.

Peter Eleftheriou of Importalia offers info on the latest trends: ‘If you consider any study examining the most consumed beverages in the world, coffee usually places in the top three, water and tea making up the balance. What is changing is how people drink coffee, and the knowledge and background the consumer demands from the industry.

‘Coffee is such a personal thing that it’s impossible to say that one could be the universal best, so in terms of best blends, the answer is that there are many, and the joy is being able to discover the strengths and weaknesses of each of them. Espresso allowed coffee to travel the world and it has been the way that coffee has trailblazed into every corner of the globe. A balanced blend of very low acidity and bitterness, offering high taste / aroma profiles is what most people tend to look for.’

So, what of methods and machines?

‘This is very dependent on what the individual requires from their coffee, and what coffee he / she is working with. With the invention of new (Aero press, Delta Press) and the re-emergence of older methods such as Greek / Turkish, drip and syphon, there are many exciting ways to enjoy coffee. Of course, in the espresso arena when using the traditional / manual espresso machines, we are biased towards the Slayer units, which have truly opened up new possibilities in this very traditional arena.

‘The most apparent trend is that espresso is becoming important again. Despite the variety of ways that coffee can be enjoyed, espresso is continually mentioned and talked about as the real yardstick for enjoying coffee in a public arena. Be it as a single, double and Americano – or in dilution with complementing products such as in milk preparations – this is a given. The biggest area of development has been espresso-based cold coffee drinks, which have moved away from powdered, pre-formulated concoctions to using fresh ingredients paired with either a single or double espresso.’


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