Mockett says there will always be a market for custom hardware since every job is different and may sometimes require special attention. “Custom hardware tends to be more expensive due to the nature of the work involved, so it may be beneficial to seek an alternative that is a standard piece and readily available to reduce costs. But if the job calls for an uncompromising specification, there may not be any other option,” he says.
Koskela agrees: “Due to people’s creativity in designing kitchens and our capabilities, custom is still in our company’s vocabulary.”
Ramsland, on the other hand, says “I haven’t had a customer request custom hardware in years.”
Technological advances have a big impact on the functional hardware market, manufacturers say. Soft-close and touch-open systems have become more standard than unique, but other areas such as electrical components are expanding.
Poteat says, “Successful designers, dealers, manufacturers and cabinetmakers are all looking to differentiate themselves from everyone else; to offer something that no one else can.” For Blum, this means having the soft-closing mechanism built into the hinge for a more discreet look, touch-to-open waste/recycle bin drawers, and lift doors in upper cabinets, which according to Poteat is Blum’s fastest-growing product.
Fitzpatrick says that soft-close is the “hot ticket” on the market currently. “On drawers and doors, everyone loves the smooth, quiet closing action. It just makes you feel good to give your door or drawer a little tap and it closes automatically.”
Fitzpatrick adds, “Some trends are moving away from visible decorative hardware so the ‘touch’ systems for doors and drawers come into play.”
According to Tripp, “Touch-open hardware is often used due to the desire to not see the hardware and have a cleaner design…in this case, the hardware is allowing for the design to work, rather than dictating the design.”
Dewald sees technology having a profound impact on hardware, and adds that on the functional front, consumers have migrated to higher-quality soft-close features on both drawers and hinges. “Customers want more from their products, and technology will continue to play a defining role in meeting those needs,” he says.
Mockett states that electrical components, for items like coffee makers, and technology in the kitchen, are seeing the most growth. “Power and communication systems are really beginning to take flight. While the convenience of having power and data options at your fingertips on the desktop has always been a popular idea, it is now essential in the kitchen and other areas. We are constantly expanding our line in order to accommodate the growing world of technology,” he says.
The trick is to incorporate this technology into a sleek and modern design, he adds. “With basic convenience and functionality in place, the biggest challenge is creating a design with a clean and unobtrusive look. Recessed models or spring-loaded, pop-up models are a very popular way of hiding the power and data components when the unit is not in use.”