Over the past 14 years, Sub-Zero and Wolf have held its Kitchen Design Contest. In addition to attracting hundreds of entries from the best of the best in kitchen design, each Kitchen Design Contest serves as a sneak peek at the materials, appliances and overall design tones that soon make their way into the kitchens of mainstream America.
For its most recent contest, Sub-Zero and Wolf enlisted seven of the country's top design professionals and architects to judge the 1,046 entries:
MaryJo Camp of Standards of Excellence, San Francisco, CA
Mick DeGiulio of de Giulio kitchen design, inc., Chicago, IL
Jamie Drake, ASID, of Drake Design Associates, New York, NY
Wendy Mendes, AIA, of RTKL Associates, Coral Gables, FL
Robert Schwartz of St. Charles of New York, New York, NY
Patti Weaver, CKD, of Creative Design Solutions, Longmont, CO
From these entries, following are the group's top five predictions for kitchen trends: International Feel—Nationwide, designs are incorporating more of an international feel, with simpler and more sophisticated aesthetics. Jamie Drake, MaryJo Camp and Wendy Mendes all mentioned their surprise at finding very modern, contemporary kitchens—ones that would fit perfectly in a cosmopolitan home—in the heartland of America.
Mixed Materials—There is greater acceptance of a more component-like approach to the kitchen, in which materials are mixed to create a custom-styled space that can be used however the homeowner wishes. For example, multiple cabinet styles and finishes can be paired with several countertop surfaces and backsplashes to create a kitchen with separate zones for cooking, officing, etc
New Age Materials—Materials including crystallized glass, terrazzo and quartz are replacing traditional granite surfaces. Matthew Quinn noted that material quality, texture and color rather than a large size, high cost and quantity are being emphasized of late.
Green Design—The trend toward green is influencing not only the choice of energy-efficient appliances but also the choice of environmentally conscious materials used in kitchen design. Patti Weaver commented that consumers want to utilize sustainable, renewable and eco-friendly resources. As such items like recycled glass products, cast-stone products made from recycled marble and limestone and renewable woods are making an appearance.
Originality/Personalization—Embellishments in the kitchen have evolved into a reflection of the homeowner's personality, with designers incorporating intricate details such as mosaic flooring and ceilings and textured paints. Colorful accent pieces and other accoutrements including collectibles and antiques are also making appearances in a growing number of kitchens.
In addition to these new trends, contest judges noted a few timeless trends that are still demonstrating great design influence and staying power. One of the recurring trends, appliance integration, which began in the 1990s, was a prevalent component in the most recent contest entries, as increasingly modern designs call for a seamless, clean-lined approach.
Judges also noted the continued presence of specialized appliances that fulfill a consumer's individual needs according to their specific lifestyle. In kitchens designed for health-conscious homeowners, designs allowed for appliances tailored to a healthy lifestyle such as refrigerators with larger crisper drawers and longer food preservation capabilities, and even countertops with integrated steamer units.
Kitchens are increasingly designed as the centerpiece of the home, and designers are using the space so that the kitchen flows seamlessly with the rest of the house to provide an area for gathering and socialization alongside food preparation.
Finally, the stainless-steel-appliance trend continues to stand the test of time. Judges estimated that more than 65 percent of the contest entrants used stainless steel appliances in their design schemes, confirming that although new materials are increasingly sought-after, stainless steel remains in high demand.
Sub-Zero and Wolf are planning their next Kitchen Design Contest, which will take place in 2006/2007. For more information, visit www.subzero.com/contest.