Ramsland is finding consumers’ desires for warmer finishes driving the current market. “We recently launched a line of polished nickel knobs and pulls due to large demand from consumers. This finish has a warmer tone compared to the cold polished chrome typically found in contemporary designs,” he says.
“The stainless steel look has dominated the market for the past several years. Popular finishes for metal hardware are satin finishes, such as nickel and chrome,” according to Mockett. “Glass is being paired up with cool metals such as satin aluminum on drawer pulls and knobs which, with the popularity of dark woods, adds a nice accent and sparkle to an installation. Another strong up-and-coming trend in cabinetry hardware is Carbon Fibre. It adds a sleek, smart look that is rich and is nice to the touch.”
Mockett, like Ramsland, notes the niche trend of mixing metals in hardware and contrasting unusual metals against conventional materials elsewhere in the kitchen to add options for designers and consumers who are looking for true customization.
“The mixing of traditional mediums such as finished metals – be it plated finishes or stainless steel with a satin finish – combined with materials not typically or historically used in cabinet hardware, such as glass, crystal and leather, is emerging as a very strong trend that will have longevity in the market,” Mockett says.
Mihai Subran, product manager for Montreal, Quebec-based Richelieu Hardware, sees the changes in finish preferences as a return to form.
“The industry is turning again to the polished chrome and polished nickel finishes of ’70s-era contemporary; many manufacturers have exchanged brass and steel for alloys due to extreme material costs in the period from 2006 through this year,” he says.
According to Mockett, the trends are not changing so much as they are “evolving.”
“The trendy hardware from the ’90s is different from what we are seeing today. At the time, it was considered very cutting edge, modern and forward,” he says. “Today looking back at some of those designs, they seem to scream ’90s.”
“However, not all hardware designed in the ’90s was trendy; there are still many classic designs that emerged from that period,” Subran offers.
Fase spots the current trend as “a departure from the classic traditional or contemporary styles.” Clean, basic shapes are coming to prominence. “Sleeker, more geometric knob and pull shapes are gaining popularity over the more traditional rounder ‘mushroom’ styles,” he notes.
Mockett agrees, but says the very definitions of these terms are evolving: “Contemporary design is actually evolving into a standard design aesthetic that will one day be considered traditional. What we consider traditional today will be termed out to a style with more of a historical or period appeal.”
“We’re going to see an increasing demand for rectangular shapes, clean and simple geometrical forms and also for transitional designs and finishes. These include contemporary designs with traditional finishes for people who would like to evolve to this design slowly, people who are ready for contemporary designs, but not ready yet for contemporary finishes like polished nickel,” says Subran.
“Basic, clean shapes that are well executed are in high demand,” comments Mockett. “The trend in size is going larger and/or longer. Beefy pulls or handles with elongated lines and clean design that complement furniture and cabinetry are very popular.”
Manufacturers also comment that what influences the choice in styles for decorative hardware is shifting away from traditional sources.
“Cabinet design doesn’t seem to have as much influence as it once did in the choice of a design or style as the appliance selection and finish. It is appliances, countertop materials and colors influencing the style and finishes of kitchen cabinet hardware,” Fase offers. Ramsland notes some of his company’s products are available in expanded materials and finishes, such as oil-rubbed bronze, to match trends in faucets and accessories.
Subran notes an existing synergy between cabinetry and hardware designs, and says, “If one hardware manufacturer is too far from the cabinet design movement, its designs threaten to become a niche.”