Picture: Pedini Kitchen, NJ – Integra in Grey Oak, Glossy white lacquer and glossy red lacquer.
When it comes to choosing a new kitchen, there is a very distinct difference between the American consumer and the Italian one. Here in the US, most consumers know the look, the color, the finish and the material of the kitchen they want in their home. Usually they are actually recreating a kitchen that they saw somewhere before, at a friends or neighbors house or in a magazine picture. They are focusing on a feeling of family, warmth and the good old days. Old World is IN, but…..
More and more, ultra-modern Italian kitchens are showing up in every corner kitchen store in America. It’s not that American consumers have given up the warm and fuzzy feeling of their home décor, but more than ever before some are now ready to open up to a world of new style, at least in their kitchen. They now want what the European’s want: the newest innovations, the most fashionable colors, something that they haven’t seen yet – the next thing!
Upscale American kitchens have traditionally been designed using custom cabinetry that can be used in the kitchen, but also in a library, a bathroom or any other space, even in commercial applications. The Italians are designing their kitchen lines to be kitchens from the initial prototype concept. Each kitchen model comes in a few chosen colors or woods, has its own type of unique doors, interiors, countertops, hoods and even its own unique appliances such as a cook top that is shaped to fit into a circular island.
The leading Italian kitchens are designed by famous designers and are much closer to works of art then they are to kitchen cabinetry. The other Italian and European manufacturers simply follow the leaders and trust their designer’s tastes and instincts. If they see that a new kitchen model sells well, they’ll produce it in the following year. So, just like in the fashion world, the same colors, shapes and materials are seen everywhere.
If you attended the last Euro Cucina (the bi-annual international kitchen show in Milan, Italy) you would have noticed the new trends and fashions everywhere. The leading manufacturers were showing off “this years colors” in their kitchens! The same colors that have dominated Milan’s fashion runways are featured in the kitchens a couple of months later. This season’s colors were everywhere, just as if it was all orchestrated by fashion designers and not cabinet manufacturers… or maybe it was. After all, Italy’s top kitchen designers are really in the fashion business much more then they are in the cabinet business.
After “this year’s colors” comes “this year’s woods”. After all we are still talking about kitchens. For 2006, the exotics were back – Zebra, Ebony, and Teak, to name a few, are everywhere, in matte or high-gloss. But not just exotic woods, the good old Oak is still hot, in white, dark grey and natural tones, in horizontal grain and lots of painted glass.
The similarity between fashion and cabinetry does not end in the colors and woods. In fashion there are certain shapes or “cuts” that are “in”. Italian kitchens are no different. In the last couple of years, more and more manufacturers have been showing radius islands and curved cabinets, very thick or very thin countertops and the latest trend – “ribbed” doors. It is interesting that none of these “new looks” is really that new. We have seen them before and they are simply coming back, with a new design twist, a new material or a new finish.
There will always be a place for Old World, traditional style. But if you don’t want to be caught dead in last year’s kitchen, maybe you’re ready for a makeover, Italian style.