Written by Annie Reid for (inside) magazine.
At the high end of the market, David Kane’s kitchen design business, Pepper Design, is proving popular. He recently launched the company’s showroom on Church Street, in the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond, where he has hosted Iron Chefs from Japan, held whisky tastings and invited the design community and potential customers to monthly cooking demonstrations.
“We have a lot of fun,” he says. He adds that the biggest change in cooking right now is the rise of steam technology. “It’s more than gas or induction these days. We’re seeing more customers request steam cooking appliances.”
As for design, he says 90 percent of his kitchens are specified with Cosentino’s Dekton, with zero porosity, or porcelain, which is also non-porous. “Kitchens became polarised with Caesarstone and 2-pak, and people have been looking for a point of difference.”
Popular kitchen brand Miele continues the current trend to integrate its appliances to appear as joinery. Its new K 30000 refrigeration range is fully integrated and includes a choice of fridge, freezer and fridge/freezer models that can be installed individually or side by side. More interestingly, it also recently launched an integrated dishwasher, the G 6995 SCVi XXL K2O, equipped with Miele’s latest Knock2Open technology. Designed without handles, the model opens automatically by simply knocking on the door twice.
For Kesha Pillay, a kitchen designer with Art of Kitchens, the current preference is for a blend of modern and traditional, instead of sleek and seamless. For example, she might pair different coloured marble elements together with polyurethane on the cabinetry, instead of 2-pak. “It’s about incorporating different elements and sticking to style trends, but adding mixed materials,” she says.
It’s a formula that worked well for Art of Kitchens last year, when it won three top awards at the 2014 HIA-CSR NSW Housing and Kitchens Awards. The winning project in Cammeray, Sydney features a Calcutta Gold Smartstone island bench and splash back, paired with a bronze Armani marble top. “What is also now striking is the use of dark colour in the kitchen, which has never been a theme before,” she adds.
The company recently designed a kitchen featuring a dark timber island bench, with marble benches and profiled door edges on the cabinetry below to soften the heavy effect. She said the look was popular for clients with older, traditional style homes seeking a modern touch. Splash backs have also moved away from coloured glass towards playful subway tiling or mirroring instead. “Door handles play a big part too, particularly a more detailed handle,” she says. “I’d love to see more curved cabinet doors. They’re expensive, but for some kitchens they can work really well.”
In the bathroom market, Astra Walker reports that the same trends in kitchens are extending to bathrooms too, led by a mix of black, gold and brass. The manufacturer’s black tap ware and accessories are particularly popular with customers, available in both matt or gloss to provide impact against white backdrops. “The trends are nature inspired,” says Astra Walker’s director, Andrew Shirtliff. “The aged brass finish mimics the ageing of natural brass and luxe metallic finishes, and warmer metals like gold and copper also provide a gleaming addition.
The metallic look also informs bathroom manufacturer, Brodware’s latest range. Its new Yokato collection offers knurled details, simple geometric lines and slender trims, with finishes in weathered brass, vecchio and brushed brass across its selection of tap ware. Black is also a highlight of Caroma’s new Contura collection. The introduction of a black basin, as well as the brand’s first solid surface basin, joins a range of toilet suites and a freestanding bath as part of Contura. Caroma has also launched four new basin ranges: Teo, Muze, Grace and Quinn, each made in Italy.
Another major manufacturer, Blanco has recently launched its new Subline sink series, which combines its improved Silgranit PuraDur technology with a patented SteelFrame solution. Only introduced to the Australian market last year, the German engineered composite product Silgranit PuraDur has actually been around since 1981, but it’s been refreshed with a smoother surface, greater resistance and hygiene protection.
Stain, heat, acid and scratch resistant, the range comprises 80 percent of the hardest components of granite, and is available in anthracite or white, along with a series of coordinating mixer taps, frames and sink configurations.
Smeg has also been inspired to extend one of its successful brands, the FAB range of fridges, and has hit the market with a new collection of small, retro appliances. With seven colours to choose from, the new range comprises a toaster, kettle, blender and mixer, united by a design that pays homage to the golden age of the 1950s.
With a slightly different bent, Melbourne-based design and manufacturing company, Cantilever Interiors, headed to another space in the home to inspire its new product. This time it’s turned to the humble carpentry workshop, to create the third model in its premium kitchen series, K3. “People often forget that the kitchen is primarily a workplace,” says Cantilever Interior’s partner, Travis Dean. “With a trend towards smaller living spaces in Australia, we were interested in exploring design ideas that utilise space efficiently and our workshop was a great reference point.”
Key to the design is its ‘tool board’, a modular shelving system that can be moved using hand turned supports, which house a magnetic pin. This not only allows for kitchen users to craft their own space, but also adds to the overall longevity of the kitchen.
Bathroom brands are responding to similar market motivations. To appeal to the trend towards higher density living, Cibo has recently released Cirque: a contemporary wall-hung basin designed for smaller bathrooms or guest powder rooms.
In a smooth, matt white finish, the smaller sized product is the latest in its Solid Surface collection featuring a round bowl inset into a bench top and space to store a hand towel.
More hot stuff in the kitchen and bathroom market
Methven has launched its Aurajet technology and shower collection, Aio, in Sydney recently. The halo-shaped showerheads have hidden nozzles generating individual jet sprays, which fall in precise angles to create a fan of dense droplets. Methven’s Australia CEO, Mark Bejatovic says it delivers water saving without compromise in performance and design. “Our aim was to produce a shower that was as close to perfection as possible.”
Qasair’s new rangecraft Rangehoods use plasma technology to clear the air of odours. The plasma unit is installed either in the cupboard above the rangehood’s motorbox or can be ducted to another space several metres away, making it ideal for apartments or Heritage-listed buildings where rangehood ducting may not be available. Condari Pty Ltd’s director, John Keating says the new product will revolutionise the recirculating rangehood market. “It allows residents to enjoy the benefits of clean air inside their homes.”