During ICFF, the 2016 NKBA K+B Insiders were on a panel to discuss designing for the modern lifestyle, which was specifically focused on the intersection of tech and design in the kitchen and bath.
Here are the five tech trends they discussed:
1. Tech Facilitates Function. “Tech is no longer an afterthought of the design process,” said New York City-based interior designer and NKBA K+B Insider Young Huh. Just as technology has a major influence on how we live in our homes, it’s starting to have a bigger and bigger impact on how designers approach their work as well. “We are now working with a whole generation of clients who never knew the world before the Internet, and that has a huge influence on the way we work,” he added.
2. Smart Kitchens Designed to Support Multi-Tasking. Regardless of age, we have all become multi-taskers. “It’s our job as designers to find ways to support this habit by integrating features such as charging stations, under-cabinet power strips and more into kitchen design,” said Atlanta-based interior designer, national TV personality and NKBA K+B Insider Brian Patrick Flynn.
Two manufacturers helping lead this trend include DuPont and Legrand; the DuPont Corian Charging Surface charges smart devices wirelessly, and the adorne by Legrand Under-Cabinet Lighting & Power System can be completely customized to accommodate smart devices while keeping the counter tidy and backsplash free of outlets. It’s all about accommodating without cluttering.
3. Integration Is King. For today’s homeowner, functionality is just as important as aesthetic in the kitchen or bath, or as New-York City based interior designer and NKBA K+B Insider Alberto Villalobos calls it, high-tech yet hidden; a practice that comes from floor plans becoming more open.
“In more urban markets, spaces must serve more than one function, so the ability to build appliances into the wall, allowing it to be discretely hidden but still compliment the rest of the space, is huge,” he said.
For example, Minotticucine recently introduced the Atelier Collection; the countertop of a simple base cabinet pulled back to reveal a cooktop underneath, a kitchen sink and a pop-up faucet. Cabinet doors also conceal under-counter refrigeration; a great example of seamless integration and smart use of space.
4. High-Tech Influences on Universal Design. Just as much as tech offers streamlined convenience in the kitchen and bath, there’s something to be said for how tech serves universal design and the aging-in-place demographic. Patricia Davis Brown, CKD, CBD, ASID, NCIDQ, an NKBA K+B Insider based in Vero Beach, Fla., says that beyond aging in place, its important to recognize how much more we’re asking of a house that serves a multi-generational family.
“Both in the kitchen and bath, I think we’ll continue to see greater advancements made in terms of voice control and automation and how that customizes the user experience for each person,” she said. “Lighting could be integrated with voice command, for example, to bring lights to the appropriate and safe level for food prep for a grandparent – without the hassle of light controls. We could even take it a step further to have wall-mounted vanities that adjust to the user’s height when he or she enters the bath. With the introduction of Siri and Alexa – its not that far off.”
5. From Smart Homes to a Smarter Society. Technological advancements have and will continue to have a huge influence on sustainable design. According to Los Angeles-based master builder and NKBA K+B Insider, Karl Champley, the bathroom consumes the largest amount of water in the household, and water is our most precious resource. In response to this, it is important to incorporate products that do the thinking for us.
“Many manufacturers produce products that help the consumer conserve. For example, Kohler’s .8 gallon flush toilets or GROHE’s bathroom faucets and shower systems that promise to reduce water consumption by up to 50 percent,” she said. “As Title 24 energy standards continue to gain awareness nationwide, it’s our responsibility as designers to educate the consumer on products that cut waste. Looking to the future of sustainability in K&B tech, the integration of water-recycling tubs and sinks are a must.”