Sub-Zero and Wolf, the industry leaders in premium refrigeration, wine preservation and cooking equipment – and longtime partners and advocates for the design community – revealed the results of their 2016 Kitchen Design Forecast at "Design Pros Call It," an event at the Sub-Zero and Wolf Manhattan Showroom, last week.
Sub-Zero and Wolf's Kitchen Design Contest is the longest-running contest of its kind in the industry. Its 11th and most recent contest had 53 regional winners and eight global winners, all of whom were polled on trends in kitchen design, appliances, materials, the role of the kitchen and kitchen must-haves. Poll results were compiled to form a must-see forecast of what’s to come in kitchen design.
At the forecast event, award-winning kitchen and bath designer, previous Kitchen Design Contest winner and judge Matthew Quinn of Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath Studio in Atlanta shared the poll findings and personal knowledge and insight on what he is seeing in the industry. Quinn then turned it over to the three 2013-2014 Kitchen Design Contest first-place global winners, Bill Suk of Suk Design Group LLP (New York City), Mikal Otten of Exquisite Kitchen Design (Denver) and Dovide Secter of Secter Design Limited (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada). The three shared details of their winning designs and provided personal design forecasts, including where they would like to see the industry continue to progress.
"Designing a kitchen is 50 percent science; it's about making the space efficient and functional right down to the placement of the sinks and the height of the appliances," said Quinn. "The other half is about making the space something that fits with the emotional needs of the homeowners and the aesthetic they are hoping to achieve."
All three global Kitchen Design Contest winners and Quinn agree that one role of a kitchen design professional is to help make the owner's life easier and their time in the kitchen more efficient, from making the design intuitive to cutting down steps between the cooking and prep surfaces. A good designer can save families 10 minutes a day, which equals 61 hours a year.
"Time is the greatest luxury. I do everything I can to help clients save time. Often it's a simple solution to save that one extra step," Quinn said.
Other key findings from the poll and takeaways from the event include:
- Seven out of 10 designers say that the open floor plan is still in demand.
- Seventy-two percent of designers agree that the formal dining room is a thing of the past, with 47 percent of clients asking to have it removed. When retained, formal dining spaces are becoming part of a different room divided by barn doors or drapery, which allow homeowners to close up the space but keep it open if they choose.
- White is still the most popular color in the kitchen, but design professionals are seeing a rise in new neutrals and accent colors, with gray, blue and black as the most popular colors.
- Design professionals named convection steam ovens and induction cooktops as the hottest appliances. They'd like to see consumers remove microwaves from their kitchens.
- Integrated appliances are in demand. More panels and panel overlays are being used; refrigerator and freezer drawer technology is on the rise, as is the desire for concealed ovens, cooktops and sinks when not in use. However, design pros agree that the term "integrated" is the most misunderstood word in kitchen design today.
- Three out of four designers complete projects more for function over form, providing aesthetically pleasing design that fits into clients' living and cooking styles vs. a "show kitchen."
- Wood is the number one material of choice, followed by quartz and stainless steel.
- When it comes to kitchen must-haves, 82 percent of design pros say the kitchen island is a must-have, and 72 percent say recycling centers are too.
- Over half of the design professionals surveyed agree that the outdoor kitchen is becoming more popular.
- As children become more interested in cooking and the cooking process, designers need to start thinking about how to include them in the kitchen design – whether that means creating a separate drawer refrigerator especially for their snacks, a smoothie or salad station, or corner sinks so parents and kids can clean dishes together.
- Aging Americans are looking for a cleaner design with fewer ledges and grooves. They seek curated homes and are downsizing or "right-sizing."
- Designers are seeing more "organic design," where salvaged woods and recycled materials are being incorporated into the home – not just in the materials but also in living things like plants. Homeowners are becoming more interested in vertical gardens, particularly in areas where outdoor space is limited.
- While there is growing interest in the modern aesthetic, the most popular and widely categorized style of kitchen design is transitional, a term typically used only in the U.S.
- "Timeless" is different than "classic."
"Truly timeless kitchen design is quite difficult, is very limiting and depends heavily on its surrounding architecture," Quinn said. "White cabinets, white marble and wood floors most commonly stand the test of time. Like the Barcelona chair, classic kitchen design is incorporating great design elements of that moment that reflect that era. A metal range hood, a pro-style faucet and some decorative hardware are examples."
Over 11,450 kitchen designs have been submitted throughout the Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest’s 22 years. Winners are blindly selected by an esteemed panel of seven judges based on each design’s superior use of space, beauty in design, and integration of Sub-Zero and Wolf products.
"For more than 20 years, Sub-Zero and Wolf have been committed to recognizing the work of talented design professionals through our Kitchen Design Contest," said Brian Jones, director of marketing at Sub-Zero Group, Inc. "We also engage with top design professionals as we develop our products, collaborating with the design community to ensure that we meet homeowners' needs in performance, functionality and design,"
Expect to see a variety of the trends noted above in the next Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest. The 2015-2016 contest entry period will open in February 2016 and run through January 2017. Eligibility requires that all design and construction be fully completed within the contest period of January 2015 through December 2016. Categories include first and second place in three categories (contemporary, transitional and traditional), first-time entry, student winner, and – new this year – best small-space kitchen and best outdoor kitchen. For more information on the Kitchen Design Contest, including contest timeline, awards and prizes, an introduction to the judges, and official rules, visit subzero-wolf.com/contest beginning in February.