The kitchen has come a long way from simply being the place where meals are prepared. With the continued interest in open-concept kitchens comes the demand for the overall space to be aesthetically pleasing. Because of this, today’s appliances are selected not only for their functionality, but for how they look and work within the kitchen design.
“Consumers are looking for the value and features that fit how they are living and using their kitchens today,” says Lisa Rowland, Frigidaire marketing and merchandising manager, Electrolux Home Products in Augusta, GA.
And, while looks are important, meal preparation is still the primary function of a kitchen.
With more people entertaining at home, kitchen appliances need to be able to handle both high-volume production and provide the quality that consumers are looking for.
The products available on the market today are doing just that, according to manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.
Due to today’s busy lifestyles, people are looking for appliances that help simplify their lives. “Kitchen appliances are now becoming more considerate of people’s needs and actual use and behavior. Appliances today should adapt to the consumer, not the other way around,” says Steve Bashara, chief branding officer, TurboChef Technologies in Atlanta, GA. He says that technology has found a home in the kitchen, and adds that his company’s TurboChef 30" “is an excellent example where the most advanced technology – our AirSpeed Technology – cooks at up to 15 times faster than conventional ovens, allowing people to save time and enjoy family and friends more.”
Convection ovens are also a growing trend because they reduce cooking time, says Rowland. Frigidaire manufactures these ovens with an option for regular baking or convection, and the unit will automatically convert from conventional to convection. “You don’t have to sit there and try to do the math,” says Rowland. “You have automatic convection conversion, which takes care of it for you.” The convection feature also allows consumers to use all of their oven capacity rather than just one rack, because of the circulating air that evenly distributes the heat, she adds.
Paul Leuthe, corporate marketing manager for Sub-Zero/Wolf in Madison, WI, agrees that technology that increases appliance performance is what it’s all about. “People want equipment to function the way it’s supposed to,” he says.
“Consumers have accepted electronic controls as being both reliable and actually providing precise control of the cooking and baking functions the owner chooses,” says John Swenson, director of Electrolux brand marketing, Electrolux Home Products in Augusta, GA. He continues that research has shown that simplicity in design is also desired, however. Electrolux has responded by including Wave Touch technology, which is activated by a touch on a control panel, into its ICON appliances, including the wall ovens and the high-speed oven. “Program your selections and those functions not chosen or active will fade away to a dark panel in a minute, displaying only the functions you are using,” he remarks.
As important as function is, it, of course, isn’t the only consideration. Designers need to have plenty of appliance options, from a professional stainless steel look to appliances that are integrated into the cabinetry to splashes of bold color as accent pieces.
Manufacturers agree that stainless steel is still the top choice for designers and consumers. Danyel Tiefenbacher, associate brand manager, Bosch, BSH Home Appliances Corp., in Huntington Beach, CA, notes, “Trendy appliance colors are attention-grabbers in a retail or advertising environment.” However, he continues, “The vast majority of consumers and designers still prefer stainless steel over a trend color.”