How homes are changing

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Tending towards a more osmotic relationship with the living room, the kitchen is reinvented in terms of use, materials and functions. Current trends, both architectural and stylistic, explained by two designers with many years’ experience in the sector: Giuseppe Bavuso and Stefano Cavazzana.

The kitchen is a space that is changing in nature. Increasingly multifunctional with a more osmotic relationship with the living room, it is a space that accommodates people’s different needs throughout the day. The past two years of lockdown living have led to a redesign of outdoor kitchens too. Materials and design trends for the kitchen, explained by two kitchen designers: Giuseppe Bavuso and Stefano Cavazzana.

Kitchens seem to have a more osmotic relationship with other rooms in the home. What design possibilities does this open up?

Giuseppe Bavuso. The kitchen is the heart of the home. In recent times it has become much more of a “living area” and less a space dedicated to making meals. Conversely, the growing interest in cooking, evident from the attention devoted to the subject by the media, has made domestic kitchens more similar to professional ones, with appliances offering more sophisticated levels of performance. Designing a kitchen-cum-living space involves study on two fronts: on the one hand there are stylistic considerations, with the need to make the kitchen in keeping with the rest of the house – hence the use of decorative materials like stone or wood used in the living area – and on the other hand, the need for performance, with a focus on materials offering excellent resistance to water, steam and impact. Porcelain stoneware is the ideal choice in this sense, not just because it is non-absorbent and resistant to wear, but also because it is highly workable, on a par with natural stone or glass. It is an increasingly popular choice for kitchen countertops. Indeed, the trend is for colorbody materials that let designers play with the thickness of edges which remain visible: the contrast between the monochrome thickness of slabs and their decorated surface can be another focus of design. Similarly, I would like to see increasing research in stone effects: given the potential of printing, I expect to see effects like continuous veining on a par with natural stone.

Kitchen materials have changed a great deal in recent years. What are the current trends?

Trends in finishes for the kitchen are cyclical, so there is always a new take on things from the past. We have seen exaggerated use of glossy materials like lacquered finishes, also in polyester, but also the return of warmer, more homely materials like wood in both natural and laminated versions, plus painted glass. Solid surfaces are still used for their technical characteristics but are now more of a niche choice. We are rediscovering stainless steel in combination with wood which softens its coldness: a pairing that gives spaces a more contemporary vibe.

Kitchens seem to have a more osmotic relationship with other rooms in the home. What design possibilities does this open up?

Stefano Cavazzana. Kitchens are no longer used just at meal times, but are occupied throughout the day, often used as an ideal space to accommodate the different needs of the whole family. With home working, kitchens have had to deal with the problems that affect tight spaces and the need for temporary, flexible work stations, delivering new environments that are suited to work, while still fulfilling their usual everyday purpose. At the same time, we are seeing a trend in the installation of outdoor kitchens, driven by recent lockdowns that have seen us confined to home. An outdoor kitchen can be used not just as a kitchen, but also as a proper entertainment space, especially if fitted out with stools or dining furniture, creating dynamic and flexible new areas for socialising.

What are the latest materials for the kitchen and what applications are we seeing for ceramic materials?

Kitchen materials are high-performance, hygienic and innovative, with a strong focus on the environment. Less and less ephemeral or temporary, and increasingly of good quality, kitchens and kitchen materials must stand the test of time. As for ceramic materials like porcelain stoneware, there is a demand for materials with “light” design, in other words that facilitate compositional creativity and tailor-made projects. Large slabs are increasingly used for wall coverings that echo the finish of cabinet doors or countertops, with slimmer thicknesses to limit the weight when applied to cabinet doors. What makes the real difference is the tailor-made option.