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NEW YORK, NY —
It’s no surprise that kitchens and baths are becoming more upscale as consumers continue to strive for a certain level of luxury, convenience and comfort. However, the fact that eco-friendly design is in increasing demand in terms of kitchen and bath design and products should make a few heads turn.
In fact, a panel of industry experts who gathered last month at the AF New York (AFNY) showroom agree consumers are realizing that green design can be beautiful.
“There’s more quality and function in products that are green,” noted panelist S. Russell Groves, principal of S. Russell Groves Studio in Manhattan.
“[Green is] not just popular, it’s important to do. What I find today is that you can get green products that are well-designed, highly functional and beautiful,” added panelist Bennett Friedman, principal of AF New York and design director of AFNY’s exclusive DaVinci Collection.
The panel, which also featured Marc E. Nover, the Monroe Township, NJ-based general manager/bath, kitchen and tile division for Villeroy & Boch, and Paul A. Shaffer, BSH Home Appliance’s Canton, MA-based regional marketing manager for the Northeast, discussed the evolution of and trends for kitchen and bath design in the luxury arena.
All four pointed to dual trends for the kitchen (both built-in and professional-style appliances driving the aesthetics and function) and for the bath (water conservation along with spa-like water functions).
The interactive panelist event, “The Experience of Luxury at Home – Trends in Kitchen and Bath,” was sponsored by The Luxury Home Alliance, which is open by invitation to top marketers specifically in the home arena. Stephen Nobel, founder and CEO of The Luxury Home Alliance, moderated the panel.
In the kitchen, all four see a desire for two aesthetics, both centering on function. One is a sleek, ultra-contemporary kitchen aesthetic, with appliances built-in and concealed. The other is a slightly more traditional, but still uncluttered, kitchen style that puts stainless steel, pro-style appliances on proud display.
And what’s the common thread linking the two distinct kitchen design trends? The demand for a host of appliances that go beyond the dated “stove, fridge and dishwasher” combo, according to the panelists.
Indeed, the panelists agreed that having double ovens, two dishwashers and/or dishdrawers, multiple refrigerator/freezer drawers, and even a cooktop with a separate range is fairly commonplace in upscale kitchens. How many “multiples” of appliances installed in an upscale kitchen is only limited by the size of the space, with every inch maximized for optimum function.
Specialty appliances are also in demand, noted the panelists, with built-in coffee makers, warming drawers, undercounter beverage centers and wine storage units leading the pack.
Demand for function also extends to cabinet interiors, with myriad storage options being installed by designers to better organize busy clients and de-clutter their lives.
In the bath, the panelists noted the continued trend toward creating a soothing, spa-like atmosphere replete with a separate areas for bathing, grooming and dressing.
“Showers are getting bigger with multiple functions. Tubs are also being brought into the center of the room, becoming sculptural objects,” added Groves.
Green design is also making headway, with panelists noting that consumers are becoming more aware of the need for water conservation, and for easy-to-maintain products.
In terms of overall kitchen and bath design, Friedman noted: “It’s very interesting that after the last 15 years of more minimalist designs, which was in answer to the more ornate designs from 20 to 30 years ago, designs are becoming softer, more romantic and more sensual. There’s a movement toward more decorative designs that are more refined, tasteful and contemporary than those 30 years ago. People are seeking more authentic period pieces, and classic, contemporary pieces that are better detailed than years ago. There’s more of a classic look with much cleaner lines now.”