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Cooking up a storm

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Closely following the trend of incorporating living room luxury in contemporary bathrooms, is the trend of transforming kitchens from mere functional cooking space to a lifestyle statement with technologically advanced character. Sapna Srivastava reports on what defines the new-age Indian kitchen and the latest developments in this segment.

Bringing kitchens to the forefront of home design is the modern lifestyle, typified by the limitation of time that demands organized and functional space and open kitchen style layout planned more like a family room or as an extension of dining area. Moreover, the classic kitchen work triangle, with the stove, refrigerator, and sink forming its three points is no longer the focus. Instead, restaurant-inspired workstations are being set up. There may be a prep area for vegetables near the main sink, a cooking station with a pullout cutting board or lift-up mixer in the base cabinets, a pantry area near the refrigerator, and a bar with second sink and mini-fridge in the island. In addition, with emergence of home-office concept, office areas are too being added to the kitchens. Interior Designer Bhavna Lal explains the gaining prominence of open plan kitchen, “An open kitchen layout has become feasible mainly due to the perfection of the extractor hood that can be integrated more or less with the kitchen design without causing the whole apartment or house to smell. Also, with a change in the perception of cooking as a creative and social act instead of work has brought about its integration with the living area. Love for technology is another factor driving the changes in kitchen design. For instance, state of the art appliances, built-in ovens, integrated fridges, dishwasher and other gadgets are driving the kitchen cabinetry designs and finishes.”

Although, mainly driven by international players, the number of indigenous brands in this segment is growing across the country. Confirming the trend is the report ‘Indian Housing Sector Analysis,’ by RNCOS, a market research consulting services company that states, “The rapidly growing residential complexes, changing lifestyle, and western influence are some of the factors stimulating the demand for modular kitchen across the country. The availability of lucrative price range for both value conscious and luxury seekers too is inducing high demand for modular kitchens. Consequently, the modular kitchen market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of around 33% during 2010-2014 in India.”

“A new concept for the Indian market is the stainless steel (SS) kitchen. We are one of the few companies worldwide who are into complete SS kitchens in the consumer space. Our innovative prints and designs of wood and self embossing are a first on a stainless steel surface anywhere in the world.”
Tom Joseph

Talking to Buildotech, Tom Joseph, AVP and Business Head Arttd’inox modular kitchens says, “The trend of using premium kitchen appliances is growing at a substantial rate. Already there are 6-7 luxury kitchen appliance brands operating in India which points to the fact that it is a segment which is fast catching up. The kitchen design trends in India reflect that the modern kitchen interiors are becoming multi-functional and more than just a design consideration. There is an increase in the demand of kitchen designs that blend harmoniously into any home architecture. People prefer complementing interiors style while they also want to ensure maximum utilization of the available space. The modular space is based on the idea that the kitchen should become not just a room in which to cook and eat, but a space for gathering and relaxation. A Kitchen should be light & airy, less cluttered, well organized and simple to operate where one can move freely & tirelessly. All appliances should be integrated and neatly fitted in the cabinetry to give a feeling of neat, clean & clutter free kitchen.”

The shift towards modular kitchens and its growing popularity among Indian consumers is mainly attributed to greater exposure of Indians to international trends, rising disposable income and aspirations along with change in lifestyle and more people now living in compact apartments. According to the major players in the modular kitchen and appliances segment, the biggest consumers for these lifestyle products in India are high net-worth individuals (HNIs) and the young upper-middle-class couples. Going beyond the utility aspect of the kitchens, the upper middle class home owners today seek intangibles like smart technology and branded designs. Especially in the metros and tier-I cities, consumers want to have kitchens that are functional, convenient and also complement the décor of their house.

Commenting on these developments, Joseph says, “With the boom in the construction industry and the inventories that are expected to be off loaded in the market in the next few months, we see a huge surge in the demand for modular kitchens. Indian market is still shaping up as people are gradually moving from traditional to more modern accessories/appliances for their kitchens. The biggest trigger would be the shift in residential structures, people are moving from bungalows to flats that definitely require better utilization of space and modular kitchens provide intelligent space management. In terms of customization, for the Indian household, manufacturers take into consideration the specific needs, for instance, the requirement of bigger storage space for larger cookware and regular use of wheat & rice in most Indian homes. Therefore, the relevant sizes of drawers have been created to take care of storage of the cookware in the kitchens and addition of grain trolley which can store large weight of food items.”

Design Trends

The current trend in kitchen design is towards clean minimalism or modern with classic look. Long straight worktops, cabinet doors with less ornamentation, open shelving and horizontal lines are in vogue. Kitchens are more streamlined with clever storage systems such as deep drawers or entire walls of tall cupboards and with appliances hidden in cabinets or integrated with the cabinetry. Joseph says, “These days focus is on functionality and ergonomics. Cabinets in modern kitchens are integrated with space for free and tireless movement. For example, all main appliances like refrigerator, hob, oven and sink should be within 9ft to 18ft. As the modern living style is showing ever increasing preference for openly configured, shareable environments that are bright and open, home owners are looking for accessible solutions that are easy to design, customize, purchase and inhabit.” With reference to the latest design trends he adds, “Fusion of different styles and material are increasingly being experimented with. Arttd’inox primarily works on stainless steel kitchens but we also ensure an interesting mixture of traditional materials such as granite and ceramics alongside new products such as Corian, engineered stone, composite, laminates and glass in their varying forms. These provide an endless combination and a chance to combine traditional, classic looks with an elegant and modern twist.”

Likewise, LED lighting too is finding its way in the new kitchen design globally and extensively being used in closed and open storage areas. Inside open shelving LED lighting creates contrast and dramatic effect. When installed in light glass-front top cabinets, it gives an ambient glow whereas, storage drawers and base cabinets fitted with lights inside are activated by motion sensors when opened. Another popular trend is that of cabinets that open not with the traditional left or right swing, but either by lifting up garage-door-style, by retracting into the sides of the cabinet or by operating as a bi-fold or even by sliding. All of these options offer increased efficiency. Also sought after are frameless cabinets which minimize the lines in the kitchen and give more access to cabinet inside. “The trend towards maximizing of space is evident in the frameless cabinets and pullout drawers which allow the whole 24inch depth under the counter to be used. Specialized drawers are provided to keep all the kitchen accessories and equipments in an organized way. Pantry cabinets have different storage compartments for cans, grocery and vegetables while, top-to-bottom cabinet can store utensils, broom and other cleaning materials,” adds Architect Menka Sehgal.

No more matching colours and finishes too. Top cabinets may be different from base cabinets. Frosted-glass overhead cabinet coexist with cherry or gray below the counter cabinets, combination of ebony and maple or natural wood finish with a creamy white are in style as they offer depth and warmth. Brightly colored cabinets for distinct flavor or stainless steel finish merging with the built in appliances are the other modern trends in kitchen design. In keeping with the cleaner lines of the minimalist style, is the no visible flush handles, concealed hinges and finger-pulls that are notched out of the edges of doors or latches that close magnetically.

Replacing the standard countertops 1¼ or 1½ inches thick are slimmer versions as thin as a half inch. Many countertops are being fitted with built-in cutting board or a flush-mount composting bucket near the sink. Granite and marble remain favorites as countertop material while acrylic surfaces such as ‘Corian’ and reconstituted stone products are gaining popularity. For splash back glass, wood, stone and steel splash backs are in fashion as they complement and add modern look to any countertop and cabinet finish.

Futuristic Kitchens

A touch glides the countertop gently to one side, disclosing the heater that keeps the food warm while preparing the meal. With a single finger movement, a TV gets lifted up to view it perfectly from the other end of the island. Designed by Hafele, the countertop of the kitchen island can be driven electrically by remote control to the side so it can be used for a breakfast table or a reception in a small circle. Even though hidden under the kitchen counter, the TV can be unveiled by a single touch.

A team of industrial design students at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey, has developed an ingenious design for a bipartite, or two-compartment, waterless dishwasher that is wall-mounted and doubles as a kitchen cabinet. Called dualWash, the dishwasher uses supercritical carbon dioxide for cleaning rather than water.

Italian brand Toncelli, Prisma Kitchen, sleek minimalist design includes an interactive workbench which uses Samsung technology to allow users to connect to the internet. The interactive tabletop designed by Experientia is inspired by tablet technology.


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