Dickson sees plenty of sustainable options in
countertops. Among those she likes are surfaces
that incorporate recycled glass, as well as
a 100 percent recyclable countertop from Durat,
which also is made of recycled materials.
Appliances, too, are becoming gentler on the
environment. Dishwashers are being developed
to use less water and energy, and refrigerators
have smaller condensers, which use less coolant.
At Dacor, the company has chosen energy-efficient and better-performing materials for many
of its refrigerators. Some manufacturers also
use an environmentally friendly refrigerant, and
have a compressor that runs at variable speeds
to reduce energy consumption.
True Manufacturing also takes sustainability
seriously. The company builds appliances with the
intention they’ll last for years. “If our units can last
30 to 40 years, our footprint is greatly lessened,”
says Shead. In addition, the refrigerators are
designed to be significantly energy efficient; the
company uses recycled composite materials, as
well as eco-friendly insulation; and it has greatly
reduced the use of hazardous materials like lead,
mercury, and cadmium.
At the construction level, environmental
responsibility is just as important. Dickson notes
that, in the past, demolished cabinets headed
straight to a dumpster; now, however, most
contractors will carefully remove the cabinetry
and donate it to organizations that can resell
or donate it.
The Future Is Now
The promise of smart appliances has long been dangled before consumers, and it’s an
idea whose time has finally come. Countertop appliances, lighting, and heating can be
controlled with apps, and sinks and trash cans can be operated with a gesture. Some
of the most recent high-tech additions to the kitchen include wall-mounted flat screens,
docking stations, lighting-control keypads, and voice-enabled automation devices,
according to the design trends report from NKBA. The study also shows that Gen-Xers
(now aged 37 to 52) are most likely to add technology into their kitchen designs.
What’s disappearing is the so-called “command center” in the kitchen, a desk where
a computer might reside for household tasks like bill paying and emailing. With the advent
of wireless technology, a wired space for a desktop computer is fast becoming obsolete
as homeowners now are free to move around with their tablets or laptop computers.
Instead, Dickson often is asked for USB ports in kitchen islands or at outlets for charging.
“Over the past few years, we have made huge strides in product development and
technology,” says Scott Kim, director of products and R&D for Dacor. “Many of our
cooking and refrigeration products are Wi-Fi-enabled, with touchscreens, hidden controls,
and remote view cameras.” He thinks the industry will continue to see kitchen products
being developed that seamlessly integrate automation and other smart technologies into
The increasing prevalence of LED lighting also opens new realms for kitchen design. At
Wood-Mode, a new cabinet program fully integrates LED lighting into the design of the
cabinet, so the lighting and wiring is united seamlessly into the cabinet installation.
The company works in partnership with Häfele America Co. to design such applications
as task lighting, in-cabinet lighting, downlighting, and in-drawer lighting. Every lighting
configuration serves a specific function and can be programmed to different combinations
depending on the time of day or task at hand.
Notes Jeff Wolfe, director of marketing for Wood-Mode, “LED technology, as a low-heat,
low-energy source, has really opened the door to put lighting into small spaces—look at
what’s going on in cars, with LED trim on the interiors.”
Another advantage of LED is the longevity of the bulb. Dickson explains this makes it
easier to have lighting in vaulted ceilings or other hard-to-reach places, since it might be
decades before the bulb needs replacing.
Induction cooking continues to be of interest in future-forward kitchens, although gas is
still the most popular cooktop. SapienStone has taken induction technology to the next
level, integrating an induction cooktop right into the porcelain surface.
Advances in cooking are coming from Bertazzoni as well. The company says its new
MonoBloc 19,000 BTU brass burner has the fastest time-to-boil on the market, while other
advances include new user interface gauges with an embedded cooking mode display
and a food probe; a temperature gauge that monitors pre-heat cycles and cooking
temperature progression; and a convection speed oven that combines convection baking,
an electric grill, and a microwave.
What does the future hold for kitchen technology? NKBA’s 2018 Kitchen Technology
Awareness and Usage Report sees opportunities in cooking appliances that can
automatically cook food or turn off if left on accidentally, as well as hands-free functions,
lighting with preset modes, and built-in docking stations with integrated charging.
But, there are barriers to overcome first: According to the study, consumers’ main
deterrents to incorporating more technology—such as smart features—into their kitchens
include an assumption the cost will be too high, fears about privacy or security issues,
and the concern that the technology will break and require repair.
Dacor has incorporated technology,
like Wi-Fi capability, touchscreens, and
remote view cameras, into many of
its cooking and refrigeration products.