He adds that both the cabinet and hardware industries should be trying to adapt to the changing trends to maintain this synergy.
According to Schaub, appliance-style pulls are gaining traction in the marketplace. “Oversized handles to accommodate larger drawers and doors and oversized appliance pulls are a strong trend right now,” he says.
Fase concurs and says, “Larger scale is definitely in greater demand.”
Ramsland identifies it as a designer-driven trend. “Designers have been asking for longer 30" pulls as well as giving additional options for knobs and pulls,” he says.
Mockett is seeing a trend toward customization using eye-catching colors and textures to variegate designs, further personalizing a design.
“The ‘color du jour’ is many shades of violet, though jazzy reds, library greens and cool blues have tended to have more staying power in terms of popularity,” he says. “While finished metals are still going strong, complementing them with colored leathers adds a nice accent and makes hardware ‘pop’ in an interior or on a piece of furniture while not overpowering or dominating the overall design aesthetic.”
The keys to current trends in functional hardware are simple, according to Kearns.
“Our market is looking for upgrade products that not only appeal to customers, but are easy to install and can be incorporated efficiently into their production workflow,” she says.
Touch-release opening, self-closing capabilities and integrated in-drawer task lighting are hot across the price point spectrum, as consumers become more educated about what’s available.
“With customers/end-users being more educated about the various functionality of drawer slides, they determine the trend with emphasis on the smooth motion of the drawer, the ease of pull when opening a drawer and the automatic closing action of a drawer,” says Jan Fitzpatrick, customer & market relations manager of Kernersville, NC-based Grass America.
“Special features such as these have brought about a new awareness with respect to functional hardware—something consumers typically did not concern themselves with in the past. This awareness expands to the aspect of product value; these special features increase the price of the products and consumers are becoming more concerned with value beyond the ‘wow’ factor of these features. There are increased expectations for product durability and long-term reliability and performance; today, more consumers are concerned with the life cycle costing of products,” Kearns continues.
These products can be retrofit to existing cabinetry as well for an value add-on, notes Fitzpatrick.
“For hinges, this may be as simple as an additional piece placed on the hinge arm, allowing the customer to upgrade for a small price,” she says. “For the drawer slide, the combination of the undermount drawer slide with wood drawers is still a favorite in the industry. The soft-close feature is being offered in many cases as the standard to their drawers, but there is also the option to offer this as an upgrade.”
Karen Armour, product manager for Archdale, NC-based Häfele America, reports that functional hardware requests typically begin with self-closing and dampening features on the runner systems and become more elaborate from there.
“The next option is drawer runners with concealed undermount and ball bearing products: Easy opening and soft-closing. The next level in the kitchen is to fit the upper cabinet doors and leave hinges behind with a whole new world of lift-up systems which include the soft close feature as well,” says Armour.
“Finally, move into the cabinets and specify interior fittings like pantry pullouts, waste bin pullouts, base cabinets and drawer pullouts all with soft closing full extension runner systems bringing the things inside the cabinet outside,” Armour says.
Manufacturers agree these features are on the way to becoming the standard, and say they already are for consumers of high-end products. What lays ahead for functional hardware depends on whom one asks.
Dean Bradshaw of Ferrari USA sees the computerization of self-opening drawers expanding.