Quiet operation is also important in ventilation says Brian Wellnitz, marketing manager, kitchen ventilation for Broan-NuTone in Hartford, WI., along with the ability to remove smoke and odors, and features that make it easier to maintain the product. Consumers are also looking for external mounted blowers to reduce sound level, he says.
For refrigeration, Russell says there’s a trend toward modular units that are easy to integrate and install into existing spaces. “Customers look for timeless, elegant design, convenience and functionality,” he notes. “They want precise temperature settings that allow for maximum preservation of food and beverages.”
Drawers are still important in the appliance category as well, according to manufacturers. “Drawer appliances – including dishwashers, refrigeration and freezers, microwaves and food warmers – are still in demand and wonderfully universal,” says Connett. “Because they’re right under the counter, they provide easy access for children, seniors or people with mobility problems. For the most part, there are no knobs to turn and controls are at the front where they are easiest to see and access.”
Davies adds, “The ergonomic advantage of drawers is obvious and continues to represent a huge growth market for Fisher & Paykel.”
Elkin notes, “The luxury kitchen appliance market will always have a demand for built-in products, making appliance drawers an even larger necessity.”
Convenience, speed and easy-to-navigate controls are all essential in the kitchen, and for that reason, advances in technology continue to be important in appliances, manufacturers say.
“The evolution of technology into our daily lives has impacted customer expectations, and it has also improved what we can do with our appliances,” says Russell. “Our engineers have integrated new technologies that allow optimum airflow and preservation,” he points out.
Haber says, “Technology continues to improve the speed and quality of cooking in domestic and professional kitchens.”
Shaw states, “Technology that enables homeowners to do more is extremely popular right now.” Induction cooking is beginning to gain traction in the U.S., she adds, due to its speed, efficiency and ability to deliver even results.
Bertazzoni agrees. While induction cooking is not new, he says that it is offered more and more due to an increased awareness and understanding of the advantages by consumers. He adds that digital controls are also becoming more sophisticated, with user friendly interfaces.
Fisher & Paykel’s Davies notes, “Electronics, including smart chip technology, play a huge part in our appliances – creating more easy-to-use benefits and performance features as well as streamlined design.”
Touch technology, similar to that employed in tablet computers and smartphones, is increasingly common for appliance controls as well. “As culinary enthusiasts get increasingly savvy in the kitchen, technology certainly begins to play a role,” says Elkin.
“The touch screen trend in electronics has migrated into the kitchen,” says Connett, adding that, “Touch screen controls are popping up on the faces of appliances.”
Technology comes into play in ways that aren’t specifically integrated into the appliance as well. Blake Woodall, v.p. at Vent-A-Hood in Richardson, TX says, “For us, the iPad has been a remarkable tool for presentation. We have developed multiple apps that enhance our capability to show our new EZ Clean process along with our Whisper Technology.” Additionally, Vent-A-Hood is developing an online model for designing hoods, called Build-A-Hood, to allow the customer to feel more involved in the design process.”
Wellnitz adds, “Trends in connected appliances will have an impact on the way range hoods communicate with other appliances as well as with other systems in the home.”
Appliances in high-end kitchens have long been popular in stainless steel or integrated into the cabinets. Now, however, designers are making a splash in the kitchen with color.
“Consumers seem to be less afraid to use color in the kitchen for major appliances,” says Haber. “While color was just taking off a year ago, we now see it as a standard in orders.” She adds that EuroChef has seen a big demand for the Midnight Blue ranges, as well as True White and Matte Black, which she says fit in nicely with a trend toward a white kitchen.