Kitchen Feature

Futuristic and Functional

Su Carroll discovers the shape of kitchens to come

Su Carroll
23 October 2017

At this time of year, life revolves around the kitchen. Gone are the assembled salads and garden barbecues of summer, and in come warming, meaty stews, comfort-food roasts and – the pinnacle of winter cooking – the Christmas dinner. 

Kitchen appliances will be tested to the limit and it’s only natural that thoughts turn to having something to make our domestic lives easier. Modern cookers and hobs are utilising technology more than ever before, as well as built-in, hardwearing materials with sleek lines and a control panel that wouldn’t look out of place in a cockpit. But what they can do is mind-boggling. 

When I first got married in the 1970s, I was delighted with my all-white New World gas cooker with electric oven, pan drawer, four-ring burners and eye-level grill. But it wasn’t long before this freestanding model was replaced by the integrated oven design I use today. 

So what awaits us in the kitchen of the future? 

Self-cleaning ovens are only the start. State-of-the-art appliances don’t just bake, roast and grill – they can prove bread, inject steam, give an intensive bake for things like pizzas, and offer warming drawers for heating plates and dishes.

Looking for the perfect roast? Miele has developed a wireless food probe that monitors the core temperature of your food and has a countdown timer showing the time your meal has left. Gaggenau’s flex induction cooktops come complete with an integrated ventilation system. And many high-end companies are developing appliances that allow you to control them remotely from your phone. 

Whether your kitchen design is elegant Edwardian, simple Shaker or cool contemporary, the oven and hob design stays the same, with appliances that are generally finished in stainless steel. 

Television has a lot to answer for when it comes to our enthusiasm for more complicated kitchen kit. Shows such as Grand Designs have underlined the role of the kitchen at the heart of a home, and there is a thirst for big, open-plan spaces with the ubiquitous bi-fold doors “bringing the outdoors in”. And there’s no doubt that programmes like The Great British Bake Off and MasterChef have whetted our appetite for bigger, better appliances. 

“Our best-seller is the Neff hide-and-slide oven, which they used on Bake Off,” says Lynn Winter from Ralph Winter Kitchens in Exeter. “There’s less cleaning to do, and they’re perfect for eye-level cooking or if you have a small galley kitchen. They come with telescopic runners for the shelves.”

Lynn says that people are moving away from double ovens to a larger single oven and a second oven/microwave combination. To even up the shape of the design, she adds a compact warming drawer beneath the combination oven.

Lynn says appliances are becoming more and more complicated – her company offers showroom demonstrations to help customers get the most out of them.

“You can now get induction hobs with dual zones, so you can use a griddle pan, and the Neff and Siemens ovens allow you to choose a programme for what you’re cooking – meat, veg, chicken or whatever – and the appliance will then choose the setting, the temperature and determine the time it needs,” says Lynn. “There are also cool start ovens that you don’t have to warm up, but ten minutes later your pizza is ready.”

Zoe Gething, a designer and director at Treyone, says the design of modern appliances is also being driven by the desire for healthy cooking. “Sous vide can become addictive, and it does prolong the life of things, sealing them properly so they don’t get freezer burn, for example.”

She continues: “The steam and combination oven is perfect for slow cooking things like pulled pork. People don’t realise it, but they’re also good for vegetables because they retain the minerals and the colour. They will keep a chicken moist but they can also blanch and sterilise. They’re brilliant for baking breads because you get that steam injection. That also means that if you’re cooking something like a beef joint, you’ll get less shrinkage.” 

Zoe believes that we will see more steam ovens and induction hobs coming onto the market. And Lynn Winter says manufacturers are developing new ideas all the time, but she admits that one thing they can’t do is control the human element: “In our display kitchens, we have two ovens that are operated by remote control. There’s also a coffee machine you can turn on by phone from your bed. You just have to remember to put a cup underneath it otherwise you’ll have a terrible mess!”

“Many high-end companies are developing appliances that allow you to control them remotely from your phone”

What can we expect to see happening in kitchens in 2018?

Experts suggest there will be more and more remote controlling of appliances and wireless food sensors. Ovens will become hotter, quicker, on the inside, and cooler on the outside. Motor-assisted doors will open with a light tap or the press of a button. Private kitchens will become more like professional ones, with features such as sous vide, steam ovens, induction hobs and more efficient air recirculation or extraction.

About Devon Home magazine

Devon Home is published by We Make Magazines, a family-owned Devon company. The only specialist interiors magazine for the county, Devon Home is a celebration of homes, gardens and interiors, with expert information from local designers, architects and craftspeople. Together with our Devon-based writers and sales team, we show you how to improve and love your living space.

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