An extension of the living environment for socialising, alongside cooking and eating, will continue to push boundaries in kitchen design. Consumers will continue looking at how to create something different and there will be more demand for features that make the kitchen stand out, from curves and colour through to textures.
But 2012 will be the year for consumer choice, demanding quality at cost – effective prices, with top-end product trends now making their way into the mainstream market. With consumers working longer hours, convenience will also be a key purchasing factor and will influence appliance design and sales.
But one of the biggest stories for the kitchen, in 2012, will be the demand for energy-efficient and water-saving appliances. It will be driven by law in July and also by consumers’ need to reduce their ever-increasing utility bills. Design director of Mowlem & Co, Jane Stewart summarises: “Most of all, the kitchen will become a customised space created for each individual household’s specific needs – be that a grand and glamorous scheme or a compact design that completely packs away when not in use.”
Handleless furniture will continue be a theme in 2012 with islands, where space allows, varying levels and curves. Managing director of Stoneham Kitchens, Adrian Stoneham comments: “A particular area in which we will concentrate is curved designs for base units, islands and even overhead units.”
But Bodie Kelay, director of Bauformat UK, argues: “Curves may be a nice idea in principle but in reality they can be problematic. They require a large amount of floor space. . . [and] a large amount of cash. For homeowners looking for a less expensive alternative, it could well come in the form ofdiagonal units.”
And for colour it’s out with high gloss and, for on-trend homes, in with matt finishes and painted wood. Simon Collyns, marketing director at Symphony, comments: “We’ll see a continuation of neutral colours and earthy tones dominating the scene in 2012. We’ve seen a definite move towards more matt finishes. High gloss will be less prominent and in its place will be more wood with authentic characteristics.”
While stainless steel undoubtedly reigns in kitchen sales, composites and ceramics have made some headway as consumers look to inject colour Neil Clark, sales and marketing director of Carron Phoenix, says: “Black is going to be a very dominant colour in 2012 for sinks. Sales of our granite sinks in jet black are outgrowing those of the historical top seller of Graphite by two to one. Black ceramic is performing strongly too.”
And in terms of form, bigger bowls are still better as the workstation trend now moves into the mainstream. Sales and marketing director of Reginox UK, Dave Mayer explains: “Currently workstation sinks are considered more of a top-end product. However demand for them is growing amongst the lower to mid-end market and we are now seeing more affordable models being introduced?
Capacity is key for washing machines, with models holding up to 11kg, but it will be programme features that drive laundry sales. The ability to wash at lower water temperatures, saving money on utility bills, as well as specihc programmes to improve fabric care will be key.
Simon Freear, country manager for Amica in the UK, warns: “‘With the ability to wash laundry at lower temperatures comes the need for self – cleaning washing machines – high temperature sterilisation at regular intervals is necessary to help prevent the build-up of dirt, mould and odours caused by regular low-temperature washing to keep these appliances properly functioning for the full- term of their lite expectancy.”
Gas is the still the fuel of choice for hobs and has already seen the introduction of Direct Flame burners. “Getting heat to the pan in the most efticient way will be a major focus for hobs in 2012 says Hotpoint brand director lan Moverley. But, according to the marketing director of Hoover Candy, Steve Macdonald: “Direct flame products are a strong future trend for hobs. However; this technology won’t go mainstream (mid—priced hobs) until end of 2012, early 2013.”
However induction is quickly chasing down gas hob sales, as the technology filters down the market. Libby Morley, lndesit advertising and communications managen says: “Competitively·priced induction hobs are making induction technology accessible to everyone. We see induction as a prime competitor for electric sealed and ceramic hobs, but maybe less so for gas hobs.”