Mannheim, 04/02/2021 This is going to be an extraordinary year, which like 2020 will set our lives on its head. The pandemic has complicated our lives while at the same time accelerating processes that normally would have taken place over years.
With remote work and homeschooling, people are spending more time at home. People are doing more cooking in their own kitchen – and with greater enthusiasm – and the kitchen is being used as a comprehensive living space. Priorities are changing, and although the purchase of a new kitchen might not be on the agenda, people are definitely investing in things with more lasting value rather than clothing or travel. That’s why the kitchen trade has seen a significant upswing in sales despite the coronavirus.
With kitchens, comfort, functionality and cosiness are the prime considerations. Which features are currently in demand in terms of furniture and appliances and what the future tendencies are, you can find out in the results of the latest survey of AMK members. Colours, materials, technology, equipment, style – what’s going to stick around, what new things are coming?
Here is our 2021/2022 trend barometer:
Planning and floor plan
The generous open kitchen, relaxed and expressive, is high in demand, as always. In most new houses, flowing transitions between the cooking, dining and living spaces have become part of the architectural standard. Here, pocket door cabinets are used to quickly make the kitchen available – and disappear again after use. A coffee bar, a kitchenette with appliances or a shelf with supplies can be concealed very nicely behind the high doors, which disappear back into the sides of the cupboard.
At the same time, demand is growing for small compact kitchenettes with perfectly optimised storage space. Why is that? The real estate market has continued to tighten in urban areas. Small apartments in particular are expensive, and thus you have to make every square inch count. The idea that you should be able to take your kitchen – or part of it – with you when you move is driving a slight increase in demand for modular construction with furniture on feet instead of a base.
Kitchen islands are especially popular. The free-standing elements give the kitchen a more casual look, create work space, and may serve as an additional dining area and as a room divider.
The kitchen is evolving beyond itself: In many cases, the planning of the design specialist will also include adjoining areas such as the pantry, utility room, cloakroom, dressing room and even the bathroom. Typical kitchen-specific features such as durability, resilience, ease of use, use of storage space and a well-thought-out combination of furniture and technology are simply very conducive to this. Whether it’s a home office or the sideboard next to the dining area – living and kitchen furniture from a single source makes for a unified look.
Word is getting around that a high built-in oven is a huge gain in comfort. The idea of placing wine refrigerators, coffee machines, steam ovens and dishwashers at a height that’s not too hard on the back is becoming more popular. With the dishwasher in particular, it makes sense since it makes removing clean dishes easier.
As storage room for plates, cups and glasses, wall units are the furniture of choice. These have sliding doors or doors that open upward, giving you maximum freedom of movement and helping you to avoid bumping your head. With lift-up doors, electrical opening systems are becoming more established – the door is lowered again just by pressing a button on a small switch in the cupboard. This is a real benefit for ergonomics.
Drawers as well as practical pull-out shelves are used to bring food, cookware, etc. from deep inside the cabinet to the front and make optimal use of the reserve space. A customised and flexible inside organisation for cutlery and supplies makes everything better organised. Colours such as grey and black and oak wood are dominant in the furnishings, which mostly relates to the external appearance. Fittings with damping systems are a must, which ensures smooth, controlled and noise-free closing. Just as things on the inside are customised, the height of the working area is planned, i.e. perfectly tailored to the height of the user.
So what does a trendy kitchen look like after all? It certainly looks restrained and straightforward. Often it is handle-free and in some cases opens mechanically while in other cases with electrical support. Where they are used, handles are discreet and are made of metal. Or there are handle recesses and strips directly in the front, thereby lending the kitchen a calm appearance.
The current style trends range from the “Industrial look” to a neutral and pure linearity to the modern and smooth cottage look. The traditional cottage style is in decline. Indoor plants and herbs are finding their way into the kitchen (urban farming). In addition to the brighter Scandi Look, there are also alpine touches (see wood and nature).
The beauty of it is that nothing is dogmatic: instead of “either or”, “both and” is the order of the day, and a mixture of styles is the key to an individual design.
The classic white kitchen will always have its place, but there is a clear trend towards darker shades. The furniture fronts still appear in black and grey tones such as anthracite, taupe or graphite. Warm beige and sand and expressive wood and concrete decors are also being used. Where more colourful styles are used, the colours tend to be more muted or are at least in pastel tones. With materials, the focus is on matte surfaces in lacquer, laminate, lacquered laminate and melamine with increased demand for anti-fingerprint furnishings. High-quality real wood veneer with oak at the very front is also being used. Reproductions of wood and concrete with their authentic colours and texture are effective. Finish foils are becoming less common. The development of wood materials and recycled materials is significant. Rarely does everything come from a single mould, and combinations lend the kitchen a personal note.
As with furnishings, the colour pallet of the worktops includes ample grey and brown tones and black. Natural stone and wood with a distinctive grain and structure – whether genuine, as decor or an authentic reproduction in ceramic – are in demand. Laminate, wood-based materials and quartz composite are also among the range of materials. Anti-fingerprint finishes are becoming more important, especially on dark, matt surfaces. Thin worktops starting at 12 millimetres are in demand, but those around 40 millimetres in thickness also have their fans.
The kitchenette of tomorrow has many facets: These are increasingly being made with worktop material, thereby providing a consistent look. Panels with abstract decors and understated patterns are likewise becoming more popular. The material diversity is considerable and ranges from melamine resin, laminate, veneer and aluminium composites to glass. An alternative for wall cladding are open storage space solutions or panels with shelves and racks, such as for cooking utensils and spices. Light plays the primary role in the niche, first for lighting the work surface and also to create an atmospheric ambience in the room.
The sink is also playing a larger role now too. In addition to traditional stainless steel, ceramic and composite materials are becoming significantly more attractive. Installed flush in the – what else – dark worktop, the most frequented work area is often solid black or grey from the eccentric connector to the tap. Accessories in the form of sieves, shelves and strainers upgrade the sink as a functional workstation, which also includes the waste system for the base cabinet. The focus is on single basins with a radius of around 10 millimetres – this design is both puristic and easy to care for.
The tap itself meets professional requirements of all types: With the pull-out hose spray, drinking water filter as a combination of cooling, sparkling and boiling water technology, measuring cup function and sensor operation, it leaves nothing to be desired. Its shape is straightforward and simple, and it is colour-coordinated with the sink.
Technology for greater pleasure
Many built-in appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers are fully integrated or are concealed behind large cabinet doors, while ovens, etc. usually remain visible. In keeping with the aforementioned furniture trend, its fronts are almost entirely black, while metal parts in stainless steel are minimised or are dark toned. This prevents conflicts in style with other metal colours such as brass or copper.
The appliances include lots of high tech and artificial intelligence which are used for comfort and culinary functions. Everything is designed to be straightforward and intuitive, e.g. via voice and gesture control. The refrigerator and oven can then respond to a call, a gesture or the tap of a finger. Appliances are networked with each other as well as with the house technology at large (keyword connectivity and smart home). Assistance systems provide support with measuring and maintenance, for example on dishwashers and coffee machines. With open floor plans, a premium is placed on appliances running extra quietly. A balance is struck between functionality and energy efficiency in terms of significance.
With refrigerators, there is a specific demand for larger freshness zones and more clever storage space solutions, as well as convenient no-frost equipment and low energy consumption. Wine storage cabinets should be compact and well organised and should offer separate storage and temperature zones. Induction, ideally full-surface and flexible, makes hobs faster. Extractor hoods sit above the hob or are integrated into the glass ceramic surface as a downdraft fan and ideally respond to the cooking process independently through a sensor. Ovens, steamers and microwaves as well as popular space-saving combo appliances rely on versatile heating types, speed and automatic programs with guaranteed success. Cooking with steam and low temperature using the sous vide method is in vogue. With dishwashers, the main criteria are speed, energy efficiency and a high hygienic standard.
The multifaceted outlook of the furniture and appliance specialists illustrates just how complex and rich in design possibilities the kitchen is. In addition to the hardware, there is the emotional component – it’s not for nothing that it is sometimes called the “heart of the house”.
Each day is another chance to customise the kitchen to people’s needs as a bespoke suit is customised to the body. When it fits well, you hardly notice it. The kitchen should thus become a self-explanatory oasis of comfort where cooking, eating and living together are unified (AMK).
The open kitchen with flowing transitions with the dining and living room remains very popular. Dark colours and distinctive woods are popular and create a cosy ambience. (Photo: AMK)
Open sesame! With pocket door cabinets, the doors slide into the cupboard on the side after opening so that they are not in the way while the appliances are being used. And when you're finished cooking, the kitchen technology is quickly out of sight again. (Photo: AMK)
Everything is well organised in the pantry cabinets. The storage space is divided between the shelves on the inside of the door and in the cabinet. When you open the door the shelf comes towards you. This gives you a birds eye view of everything. The higher edges keep small parts from falling out. (Photo: AMK)
The dining area in the kitchen bridges the gap with the living area. The closed, handleless fronts in a warm red contribute to the home-like atmosphere. The table top can of course also be used as an extension of the work surface when cooking in groups – or when doing more elaborate cooking. (Photo: AMK)
The utility room is playing a more and more important role, not least because most new buildings rarely have a basement. It is often planned in combination with the kitchen – many manufacturers have equivalent programs in their portfolio which are predestined for this by their durability and practical features. (Photo: AMK)
The kitchen can also be a living space – the highboard used as a room divider has the same wooden fronts as the kitchen. This creates a harmonious and peaceful overall look. (Photo: AMK)
Appliances today have a consistently black design, which means that technology is de-emphasised visually. The fully integrated dishwasher is now not even recognisable from the outside. It makes minimal noise during operation – which is important when the sofa is within earshot. (Photo: AMK)
Drawers are an advantage because of their neat arrangement and ergonomic qualities. If the fronts are handle-free, then they open via push-to-open features. For larger pull-outs in the lower area, an electric opening support ensures more comfort, as they can be opened with just a slight push of the knee. (Photo: AMK)
Folding lift up doors which open upwards allow for maximum freedom of movement by the wall unit. This enables a full view of the contents of the cabinet and also helps you to avoid bumping your head. Thanks to the electrical support, it can then be closed easily by pressing a switch in the cupboard. (Photo: AMK)
Everything just as it should be. The sophistication of the design doesn't stop at the fronts either, as the interior fittings of the drawers and pull-outs present an elegant black look. (Photo: AMK)
Fronts in a concrete look lend the cabinets a handcrafted, casual touch. Combine it with black for a really striking look. The indirect LED lighting on the handle strips produces a dramatic effect. (Photo: AMK)
It goes without saying that people are cooking more at home. Trying out new recipes and working together at the chopping board is just plain fun. The full-surface induction hob is ideal for a slightly larger pan, as it adapts to the cookware. (Photo: AMK)
Getting beyond the cramped niche: The back wall behind the work surface offers various design options, from the decorative panel to the backlit shelving system. Shelves and functional elements, such as the knife board or the spice module, free up additional storage space. The dimmable light provides a cosy ambience. (Photo: AMK)
Light gives kitchens the appearance of floating in air – the indirect lighting of the plinth base lends the furniture a feeling of lightness and can also help you find your way when all the other light sources are switched off. (Photo: AMK)
The sink is a multifunctional centre with several levels and versatile accessories. The large sink and the dark work surface appear to be made of a single piece, a look which is made possible by solid surface materials in many colour nuances. The metal tone of the tap is adapted. (Photo: AMK)
The taps meet professional standards and – quite in keeping with the current trend – have a matte-black finish. The reduction of chrome and stainless steel parts gives the kitchen a more homely appearance. (Photo: AMK)
In addition to the classic extractor hood, downdraft ventilation in the hob has also become established. The advantage: It is almost entirely out of view and is thus an attractive option for the combined kitchen and living room. Both exhaust and recirculation technology now have a similarly high level of efficiency. (Photo: AMK)
The refrigerator as a multimedia centre with internet connection – quite a clever touch. Using a camera, you can see your supplies on a screen and even on your mobile phone while you're out and about, which helps you to avoid buying supplies twice. The side-by-side appliance with fridge and freezer compartment also has a fresh water and ice cube dispenser. (Photo: AMK)
Fine wines are appropriately stored ready to drink in wine coolers and temperature control cabinets. White and red wine need different temperatures, which here is solved with two devices for the 45 cm niche. But there are also larger models with multiple temperature zones. The bottles shining in the light make for a nifty eye-catching effect. (Photo: AMK)
The extractor hood above the hob acts both as a stylish light object and a practical shelf. The sophisticated suspension is possible because of the air circulation technology, and if necessary the height can be adjusted and the extractor hood can even be placed under the ceiling. (Photo: AMK)