KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Dec 22 2010

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Are you ready for a sink revolution?

As Ellen Cheever noted in a recent talk, “the sink isn’t simply a hole in the counter anymore.” She’s right. If you hadn’t noticed yet, we’re seeing a quiet revolution in kitchen sinks —one that’s coming directly from Europe where counter space is at a premium and sinks are set up as a way to recapture some of that space and turn it into a multi-prep area.
Sure, we’ve seen a gradual introduction of grids to protect the bottom of sinks, and some add-on butcher block tops. Even the integrated drains have been around for some time, although they’ve never had mass popularity. However, there are other factors at work which are (and will be) influencing this trend:

1) The kitchen is emerging as the main room for family gatherings and entertaining, with a stronger focus on a living kitchen instead of a commercial set-up.

2) Folks are driven back to home-cooking as a result of the economy.

3) Television networks, which are devoted to all things cooking and home design, are inspiring both foodies and nesters, who are always in search of the latest inspirations.
I also believe there’s another factor at work: the large pro appliances of the last decade have so severely reduced counter space (and storage) so much that we’re all searching for ways to gain space back.

With that in mind, take a look at Kohler’s Stages sinks, both the 33 in. and the 45 in., which came out a couple of years ago.

Kohler Stages1Kohler’s Stages 33 in. sink from the Chef-Inspired Collection.

Kohler Stages2Kohler’s Stages 45 in. sink—the blending of a trough sink for single or multiple cooks.

There are sliding trays where one can safely wash the knives and other sharp objects, condiment dishes, and integrated drain trays to keep water off the counter. The 45” trough sink is an opportunity for couples to work side-by-side in food preparation, yet still allow one side to be recaptured as alternate use, if necessary. Or it might be a possible solution in a kitchen where a client really desires a second prep sink, but the design doesn’t allow for it.

Sure, the multistep depths could be an obstacle for some (careful where you set that glass), and I’m not saying we have to incorporate yet another large-scale element in a kitchen. I’m simply asking you to look at the reason behind this—not only as counter space recapture, but also to realize that for the upcoming generations, the reason for a “standard” sink have changed. The old reason for a double-bowl sinks to wash the baby isn’t even on the radar. They’re looking for ways to work as long as possible at the island sink while they chat with their friends and family.

Let me share with you where I think we’re going in the next decade. Blanco Germany has the BlancoAlaros, which unfortunately isn’t available in the U.S., but is really the perfect element for smaller city-style lofts, walk-ups, condos and the smaller home. It has a “cool” ratio which appeals to the Gen-Y market, with plenty of attractive add-ons—especially with that retractable push-down faucet to capture the entire sliding counter space. I’m mentally placing bets as to when a version of this debuts in the U.S.

Blanco AlarosBlanco Germany’s Alaros sink—double duty as counter, sink and drying rack.

The challenge to both us and the manufacturers will be how to integrate that drop-in European sink to the American desire for under-mount. Personally, I think we’re going to see the next generation of kitchen owners returning to the drop-in sink—they don’t like to be locked into anything—although they might hesitate if the designs end up looking like this.

Until next time,


This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Kitchen Design, Products. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.