I went to one of the leading retailers of high-end appliances, Ferguson, for their 2012 trend forecast. Fred Minnigerode, Corporate Senior Product Manager of Residential Finished Goods, was happy to oblige. I hope you find his predictions as insightful as I did.
Technology, technology, technology! Think about it. The hottest selling Christmas items this year were iPods, tablets, e-readers and smart phones. Surveys show that two-thirds of consumers are planning to make a technology purchase in the next six months.
Appliance manufacturers are capitalizing on this trend and incorporating technology into their new products. They recognize that consumers are using touch technology, memory presets, etc. in their everyday lives and will soon be looking for this functionality in the kitchen and bathroom. In the past, these types of features were only available in high-end, premium appliances. However, now they are being offered at the mid-range level and more commonly available. This is a dynamic shift in the world of appliances.
With technology as the focus, here is our list of top kitchen appliance trends for 2012.
Induction cooking has been popular in Europe for a while, but Americans are taking notice and demand is steadily increasing. An induction cooker is faster and more energy-efficient than a traditional electric stove. It also provides the user with instant control of temperature level. Even die hard gas fans are slowly converting. Until recently, induction technology was mainly limited to cooktops. However, slide-in and free-standing models are now more readily available, so no matter what the design of your kitchen, you can enjoy the benefits of induction cooking.
This Gaggenau induction cooktop, introduced at Germany's 2011 LivingKitchen show, is planned for 2012 U.S. release
Intuitive Touch Screen Interfaces
Smart phones were among the first to introduce touch screen technology to the masses. There are millions of smart phone users that are now very accustomed to the functionality. And now you can have that same functionality in the kitchen with touch screen interfaces on dishwashers, refrigerators, ranges, ovens and microwaves. Tap the screen one-time to activate and then use the on-screen menu to select the function. The new Jenn-Air Pro-Style Range even allows cooks to program the cooking method, time and temperature of successful recipes and recall them when repeating the recipe.
High Tech Design
Not only are appliance manufacturers replicating the functionality of high-tech gadgets, but they are also replicating the style and design. Consumers will eventually be drawn to more streamlined looks in kitchen design and this will influence their purchasing behaviors. Whirlpool will soon be launching their White Ice and Black Ice finishes. The appliances will closely resemble the look of an iPhone or iPad. The finish will feature white or black floating glass accented by stainless steel trim.
I blogged about this Zephyr Arc ventilation hood, designed by a former Apple designer, as another example of technology-inspired design
Cooking with steam is a fast, easy way to seal in nutrients and flavors. Since the food only absorbs the amount of moisture needed to cook, there is less chance of overcooking or drying out. Steam ovens are not brand new to the market, but like induction cooking, it is quickly becoming a viable option and alternative to the standard oven. Especially now that the steam oven is available at the mid-range level and is being marketed to health-conscious consumers.
Steam cooking, as in this oven by Thermador, combines health and technology.
[JG Note: Often, space is a limitation in adding steam cooking to your kitchen. If you don't have room for a stand-alone oven, consider a combo steamer with microwave or range.]
Today’s appliances are smarter, faster and more efficient than ever before. And they have to function that way in order to keep up with consumer’s ever-changing demands. From a cooktop that boils water in a couple of minutes to new multifunctional toilets, today’s modern technology is influencing kitchen and bath trends. 2012 is sure to be an exciting time as we experience a shift from the traditional appliance to a more technologically advanced product, not just at the high-end- but at the average- consumer level.