Aside from seeing new products and touring homes, one of the best reasons to attend Dwell on Design is to hear industry leaders discuss trends in residential design. I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation entitled “Contemporary Kitchens on Fast Forward: High Design Goes Beyond Smart” featuring Laurie Haefele, owner of Haefele Design, Inc., Russ Diamond, President of Snyder Diamond, and chef Lulu Powers. Their insights into the future of kitchen design were truly interesting. As kitchen designers, they travel the world and see first hand new trends, new products, and what ideas are are in the pipeline for major manufactures. Just like fashion, these trends take time before they become readily available to the general public. But it’s fun to see how we may use our kitchens in the near future. Here’s what they had to say about the future of kitchen design.

Bespoke versus high tech

In the world of home design, there is a continuing trend of bespoke, or handmade, features, even in the kitchen. This might include a hand-hewn walnut kitchen island, leather drawer pulls, or hand-blown glass lighting. Fixtures and materials that feel “real” or handmade always lend a natural touch to the kitchen. Conversely, there is also a strong trend towards high-tech appliances, connectivity, interactive appliances, and mechanical elements. Shiny surfaces, metallic appliances and advanced materials will become more commonplace in the kitchen. Titanium cooking islands, like the ones offered by Bonnet International, scream “high tech” while the hand-feel of wood, like kitchen design company HenryBuilt, create a completely different look. The kitchen of the future can certainly combine both elements, and most often the best looking kitchens strike a balance between the two.

HenryBuilt kitchens

A hand-crafted piece by HenryBuilt, a leader in bespoke and ready-made kitchen designs.

Mechanics and automation

Automation in our appliances is expected these days, but more manually operated objects (like drawers, cabinets and ventilation hoods) will become automated as well. Remote controls, touch panel buttons, and improved mechanics are becoming more sophisticated, allowing for cabinets and drawers to be easily moved and lifted. New upper cabinet doors can be installed with a nearly invisible touch buttons, meaning that people will limited mobility can easily move larger objects.

Hiding the kitchen in plain sight

As kitchens become open rooms connected to dining, family, or living areas, some homeowners like the option to conceal as much as possible. Appliance garages have been incorporated into kitchen design for decades, allowing the homeowner to essentially roll down the door and cover up messy areas like the toaster or baking station. 

Going forward, homeowners can also choose sliding doors and smart hinges that allow entire walls of pantry storage or appliances (like refrigerators) to be hidden. Some of the newest creations, like a pop-up faucet that allows you to hide the entire sink, aren’t yet available in the US yet. However, other products like hidden ventilation systems, like this flush-mounted ceiling range hood by Best, are only revealed when a remote activates the doors. Soon, homeowners can choose to hide as much of the working aspects of the kitchen as possible.

To achieve this, hire a contractor to seamlessly integrate innovative solutions such as sliding doors, smart hinges, and concealed walls of pantry storage or appliances like refrigerators. This professional touch ensures a sleek and functional design for your modern kitchen.

modern kitchen design

A thoroughly modern kitchen design by Haefele Design. Notice the hidden ventilation system the drops down from the ceiling and titanium cooking island. Most everything else in the kitchen is hidden from view.

Connectivity and interactive features

New kitchen products and appliances are continuing to add interactive features that allow our hand held devices to communicate with our kitchen. Appliances like Top Brewer, which is a marvelous coffee machine and drink dispenser, can be controlled by an iPad, iPhone, Android devices (and I imagine, the Apple Watch). Meaning that you can wake up, punch in your drink order, and pick it up in your kitchen without having to actually grind your own beans or brew a pot (it also makes carbonated beverages). There are ovens that not only allow you to program in recipes and view images of how done you’d like your meat, it also gives you updated information on how the appliance is functioning. This type of self-diagnosis and repair come in handy for many homeowners. Whirlpool has developed a prototype for hologram cooktops, wherein a projected image of a cooktop can be beamed (or removed) from a heating surface. A hologram chef will give you cooking instructions as well as recipe cards – all with the touch of a button.

top brewer coffee drink maker

The inventive drink maker by Top Brewer, that connects to your hand held devices.

Professional-quality appliances

Homeowners are becoming more educated and innovative in the kitchen, and are creating a demand for professional-quality appliances in their residential kitchens. It’s not uncommon to see blast chillers, fryers, planchas, bratt pans, instant pot sous vide, bain-maries and boiling pans in the kitchen, especially in kitchens where homeowners have live-in chefs and entertain frequently. Manufacturers are actually designing at-home versions of these specialized pieces of equipment, making them fit the standard sizes of a kitchen cabinet as well as ensuring they can run on a standard electrical circuit.

The urban cultivator

As our world becomes more high tech, and space becomes a premium, homeowners may choose to grow and cultivate microgreens, herbs or other produce right inside their kitchen. This line of products by Urban Cultivator offers a unique alternative to any homeowner interested in growing their own foods but without having to go out into the garden. Access to fresh, home-grown food may also coincide with an increase in ready-to-swallow meals, like Soylent. Of course, it is yet to be seen how the food industry will change how and what we actually cook in our kitchens.

urban cultivator

The Urban Cultivator lets you grow your own herbs and microgreens right inside your kitchen.