The kitchen renaissance continues as designers work to make kitchens efficient, aesthetically pleasing social hubs in the home.
Trend reports are predicting simple design and clean lines for kitchens, particularly in urban areas where space is scarce across residential and commercial environments.
The freestanding kitchen island remains at the core of the overall design but is being stripped back to the absolute minimum, with even the countertop concealed.
Successfully demonstrating the trend is Dutch firm i29 interior architects, which has designed a kitchen island so slender that when viewed from certain angles, appears invisible.
Installed within a light filled Parisian apartment, the multitasking invisible kitchen is made of an island that is but a few centimetres thick but is fitted out with water, a sink, a cooktop and the general electronic connections found in a modern kitchen.
“Our aim was to develop a kitchen system that seems to disappear in space,” explained i29.
The kitchen is also installed in front of a series of large cabinets with sliding wall panels which mirror existing kitchen walls in the apartment. This placement sees the cabinet lines align perfectly with the straight lines of the countertop allowing the island to appear as a standalone piece of furniture.
The cabinets also effortlessly conceal pantry items, kitchen appliances and provide storage along with a computer and workstation if required.
The trend toward clean lines and minimalist kitchens was picked up by Dutch architect and designer Ben van Berkel in 2011.
“The kitchen of the year (2011) is multifunctional, combining cooking, eating, sitting and living space," he said. “The modern kitchen is becoming less and less obviously a kitchen."
OLA20, a futuristic kitchen designed by Italian firm Pininfarina Design for Snaidero, highlights the trend. The kitchen's architectural aesthetic "blends the unmistakable characteristics of a historical classic from Snaidero with strongly contemporary elements."
"The result is an elegant, refined product, characterised by precise, immediate stylistic features," said Pinafura.
This year's global kitchen design expo in Milan - Eurocucina 2014 - noted the growing trend toward sleek kitchens in its own trend report.
“Kitchens have become the focus for socilaising and meeting, not just the room in which meals are made and consumed,” the report stated. “The growing interest in natural materials – a rising trend over the last few years – and innovative design is inexorably linked to a desire to make kitchens into warm and welcoming, as well as functional and technological environments."
The 2014 National Kitchen & Bath Association Design Trends Survey predicted that consumers will be "cleaning up their kitchens" in 2014 from a design standpoint. The New Jersey-based association interviewed consumers and industry professionals from across the country for its survey.
“While transitional style are still number one, we see kitchen design trending more contemporary this year, with clean, simple lines; less clutter, and little ornamentation,” said John Petrie, 2014 NKBA president.
The report also showed that more than half (56 per cent) of respondents want kitchens that are accessible and/or universal design-based, and that they want easy-maintenance features in their kitchens.
Electronic technology such as docking and charging stations, as well as a desks as seen in i29's invisible kitchen, are also a growing feature.
Elmar’s “Slim” kitchen series offers a transformative kitchen where tables slide out to create chopping boards or dining tables.
"Slim is a high-aulaity modern kitchen that has been designed with a special focus on smaller spaces," Elmar said. "A practical and design-orientated kitchen for city people."
"By alternating standard depths with smaller ones it is possible to create special graphical effects and architectural volumes to achieve innovative solutions for interior designers and architects.”
These designs can be implemented within workplaces or commercial buildings keen to create a social hub for employees to engage in without the distraction of kitchen clutter.
In a hotel setting, the clean lines of the kitchen allows for additional space for moving about, an open-plan design and an alternative living area where provisions for a sofa may not be available.