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Increased integration will be coming to a kitchen near you. No longer are paneled dishwashers and refrigerators enough for the modern open kitchen.
Ovens, microwaves and other wall-mounted appliances are becoming sleeker, more modular and hug their cabinetry more closely than ever before. This is abundantly evident in this kitchen that Paul Anater, my friend and fellow traveler to IMM's LivingKitchen show, shared in his coverage of the event.
High-tech design is another hot appliance trend for the new year. Not only are manufacturers bringing the functionality of high-tech gadgets to appliances, they also are borrowing their streamlined designs.
This Horizon vent hood by Zephyr exemplifies this trend. In fact, it was designed by former Apple Computer designer Robert Brunner.
Intuitive touchscreen interfaces will be a major trend in 2012, according to Ferguson. They've been available in basic form for awhile, but the smartphone and tablet craze has spread like wildfire to the appliance category.
New models will provide far more functionality than just presets, cooking time and mode. Ferguson points to the new Jenn-Air Pro Style Range with recipe memory and recall as one example of the "smart stove" offerings.
Steam cooking, something I fell in love with a few years ago, will be another major trend in 2012. Steam ovens have long been popular in large upscale kitchens whose owners value its healthy cooking benefits.
New offerings bring steam to microwaves, double ovens and even ranges. This dramatically improves the opportunity to design steam cooking into the typical American kitchen.
New ventilation pretenders will likely cross the Atlantic to American shores this year. Elica, an Italian manufacturer famous for whimsical range hoods, is one of the leaders in making these appliances look like chandeliers or sculpture. Neff is a German manufacturer that also creates stylish, non-traditionally-styled hoods. The reason hoods like theirs, and like Zephyr's Horizon, are likely to trend next year is they are ideal for minimalist, open plan kitchens.
Many are narrow enough to hide behind the same panels as the cooktop below. Others simply look like something other than a hood, thus reinforcing the living room feel to the kitchen.
White will be returning in sleek modular glass-front appliances later in the new year.
This photo from last year's IMM LivingKitchen show in Cologne was part of Miele's European line. Many of the appliance brands there were showing similar glossy, glass-fronted whites.
Expect to see these styles cross the pond later this year. American manufacturers are taking note; according to Ferguson, Whirlpool already has an iPhone-inspired White Ice series planned for the US market.
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