27 January 2011

LivingKitchen at IMM Cologne: Top Trends

Last week in Germany, two firsts occurred: One, I attended a European trade show. Two, the popular IMM Cologne interior design expo created LivingKitchen, a show within their already popular show dedicated exclusively to my favorite room in the house!

LivingKitchen featured some of the top European brands, including Blanco, the sink and faucet company sponsoring our group, among others. I'm a member of the Blanco Design Council, which means I'm periodically asked for my input on products, advertisements and other company initiatives.

What it's important for my readers to know is that my BDC involvement doesn't mean that I'm paid to write or speak about their products; long before I became a member, I was praising their Silgranit sinks. In fact, don't be surprised if you see a Blanco product or two in my next IMM top products post, or if you see a Cafe Brown Silgranit II sink in my kitchen in the not-too-distant future either. Enough on that subject. Let's get to the good stuff -- the trends I spotted at IMM's LivingKitchen show last week.

Cool white was red hot at IMM. White appliances showed up everywhere, along with white cabinets and countertops. While I don't see white being a hot seller in the US, at least not in the near future, it did have a nice look at the show.

Sleeker ovens showed up strongly at IMM. When I toured KBIS with my architect contributor/ friend/go-to guy for luxury trends Dean Larkin, AIA in 2008, he was lamenting the chunky ovens that protruded awkwardly from their cabinets. Well, that problem appears to have been solved. So many of the ovens on display at this show were fully integrated into their boxes. If they came paneled, like dishwashers or refrigerators, you would never know they were there. This leads smoothly to my next trend...

Minimalist white appliances from Miele

"Un-kitchens" were handsomely on display last week. Don't want to see your appliances? Pull a door across them. Want an open floor plan that doesn't scream kitchen? This hide-away design strategy is for you!

One of the many handsome "Un-Kitchens" on display at LivingKitchen expo
Photo: Koelnmesse

Laminate continues to come on strong. It clads more European cabinets and countertops than any other material I spotted at the show. Their laminate, however, is much higher end than what we're used to seeing in American tract homes. (You know, the stuff we rip out in almost every remodel!) The dominant look is textured, but glossy laminates that look like glass caught my eye, too.

One of my favorites, white and textured laminate from Allmilmo

Black cladding on polished chrome was a sharp, formal yet modern look for faucets. I like this trend myself, but see it more in a powder room or master bath than a kitchen. They evoke a black-tie soiree at home!

What's black and chrome and stylish all over? A Blanco faucet!

Skinny tops ruled the show! Whereas in the US, we're used to the "bigger is better" approach in countertops, the Europeans have gone the opposite direction. Countertops were thin, (about three-eighths of an-inch), sleek and sometimes raised above the cabinets with LEDs or open space between the two.

One of the many ultra-thin countertops on display at LivingKitchen expo
Photo: Koelnmesse

Sinks rose to new heights. Since laminate tops are so popular in Europe, you don't see as many of the undermounts we associate with high-end design here. Some manufacturers, like Duravit, are showing just raised edges. Others are raising the whole countertop section around the sink, or creating "wading pool" sinks for the kitchen. While I like their style, I'm not sold yet on the sensibility of these.

I do, however, like the hideaway concept, where a clever cutting board slides across to hide the sink and add extra workspace. There were many hideaway options shown at Living Kitchen, and I can see them coming to the US market quickly, too.

Built-in drainboards are popular there, too. They work especially well with drop-in sinks, but can be extended from undermounts, too.

Blanco lets the sink drainboard Flow 0nto the countertop

Check out my second post on the show: LivingKitchen at IMM Cologne - Top Products. You'll spot what I consider to be The Next Great Countertop and other game changers. Promise!


Also check out the brilliant blogs by my LivingKitchen traveling companions: Cheryl Nagle Kees Clendenon, Paul Anater, Susan Serra and Leslie Claggett - some of the most respected design bloggers in the industry and folks I'm happy to call friends. Search "IMM" or "Living Kitchen" or "LivingKitchen" from the above links and enjoy their individual takes on the trip of a lifetime!


  1. Very nice. Looks like everything is going sleek and minimalist. I agree that the wading pool concept might be a bit impractical. I'm not sure how anyone would clean a broiler pan or a big spaghetti pot in that type of sink.

    But I'm liking the thinner counters and would like to see more of this trend with the LEDs underneath.

  2. Nice report, Jamie. I saw some of this in Toronto too but Living Kitchen takes it to a whole other level.

  3. Thanks Jamie for posting the pictures and thoughts. I think laminate counters (and everything else) never went away in Europe like it did here, because they have been using the better quality stuff for longer.
    Do they use a taller "plinth" for the skinny counters? The German line I use has 10,20 and 30cm toekicks to fit in with their modular boxes and 3cm counters - these skinny ones would change that grid, wouldn't they?

  4. Great post Jamie! Loving that Allmilmo especially paired with Blanco. I just received a bunch of photos from the Allmilmo booth. I'm sorry I had to miss this expo. I am absolutely loving the thin countertops. They would be magnificent on top of backlit glass so the edges glow (imagine that outside!)

  5. I found this blog.its awesome kitchen cabinets colors are wonderful.

  6. Thanks for all the great feedback! I appreciate it.


Found Gold: Popular Posts from the Past!

Don't miss out on any gold -- subscribe by email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner