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EuroCucina, is a key indicator for developments in the kitchen sector which held every two years in Milan showcases the latest trends. This year more than 430,000 visitors see how kitchens are changing in the event. This year it was clearer than ever before - the kitchen is still the heart of the home. For this very reason it is becoming less visible than it has ever been. Living room elements are used instead of classic kitchen equipment. Anything vaguely reminiscent of work disappears at the touch of a button. The kitchen as we know it is vanishing and at the same time it is more in the foreground than ever before. The kitchen is the new living room.

The future of kitchens was most clearly expressed this year in the Brera design quarter. In Brera an exhibition area has become established outside the fairgrounds where even more value is placed on design than at the fair itself, which already leans very heavily towards the design side. Here international companies display their latest developments in showrooms, back yards and temporary platforms. These include the philosopher among the kitchen manufacturers; Bulthaup who took up residence in the former church of San Carpoforo where it continued its concept from 2016.

However, this year it did so considerably more strictly and more radically. "What does the future of the kitchen in times of increasing convenience look like?" This is the question that Bulthaup aims to answer with its designs. Thanks to car apps we can save on travelling time, amazon delivers our groceries, other services bring us a hot deluxe burger with sweet potato crisps. But what should we do with the time we save? Bulthaup's theory: We gain time to focus on the essential. Namely on appreciation. "For time itself, for authentic things and moments of truth in life." The kitchen as the centre of communication, for unwinding and our social life has a central role in this respect – and in San Carpoforo visitors could see how it is evolving in response to these trends.

The new designs of the deluxe manufacturer from Bavaria are hardly recognisable as kitchens any more. Tables with bowls for cooling or keeping beverages and food warm are separated by multi-functional and also decorative partitions from the working area which, when it is not in use, also "vanishes".

Transparency & Naturalness

The opulent oriental style of the last EuroCucina, the monoliths, the solid worktops, are hardly in evidence any more. "Two words summarise the central trends: Transparency and naturalness," comments Harald Klüh, Global Brand Manager at GRASS. "Glass and open structures dominate the picture. What used to be a cabinet is now a shelf. At the same time it has never been as green in Milan as it was at this year's EuroCucina." Both trends are the result of a development that has been underway for some time - the convergence of living and cooking areas. For Leonardo Sani, Export Sales Director of Stosa Cucine, this development has little to do with fashions. "Houses are becoming smaller and this is why cooking and living are coming closer together – also with regard to design." At Stosa Cucine, which equips the interiors of its EuroCucina designs with Nova Pro Scala, Tipmatic Soft-close and Tiomos from GRASS, this is very obvious. Instead of closed fronts the kitchen manufacturer's exhibits featured open shelf structures and lots of green. "Our range includes structures that not only come from kitchens," Leonardo Sani adds. "Customers do not want to see the kitchen in the living area, but the living area in the kitchen."

Concealed Technology Permits Radical Furniture Concepts

This is how Sani really gets to the point with regard to "vanishing". Not the kitchen is vanishing. The image of the kitchen, which has hardly changed since the development of modern fitted kitchens, is undergoing a transformation. It is learning from the design of living areas. It is becoming more homely and cozy and there is less focus is on the working side of things. This transformation only works with a harmonious combination of design and technology. On the one hand, living room furniture elements such as book shelves are making inroads into the kitchen and are fundamentally changing the character of the room. On the other hand, movement systems and storage area concepts ensure that the homely style of the kitchen is not negatively affected by technical equipment or functional components. At Bulthaup, for example, the track-proven GRASS Dynapro concealed slide system is used. With its excellent running characteristics, Dynapro creates the technical conditions to make things "vanish" and is therefore an ideal solution for radical concepts such as those of bulthaup.

Another GRASS product in use was the classic Tiomos hinge, an innovative version of which GRASS had already launched at interzum 2017, and which completely preempted the vanishing trend. Tiomos H steps discreetly into the background and lets the furniture speak for itself. Even more - it fuses with the furniture and is therefore almost invisible. The concealed Tiomos Hidden hinge is recessed in the cabinet and is thereby flush with the surfaces of the door and of the inside wall of the piece of furniture. "Technology is becoming increasingly more intelligent, the functions even more convenient – but also increasingly less visible," explains Andrew Marosch, Head of Marketing at GRASS, describing the product. For a long time the trend was to show what we had, and developments are now heading in the direction of understatement. An under-statement in favour of homeliness.

Personalization With Accessories

Around 50 exhibitors at the Salone del Mobile place their confidence in the GRASS technologies when it comes to the interiors of their products. These range from the bathroom specialists Mobil Crab to the wood artisans of Toncelli and the major German players such as Häcker and Leicht. Arrital also equips its kitchens with Nova Pro Scala. CEO Mauro Giacomini explains the transformation of kitchens with feeling: "People used to buy kitchens," he says. "Today they buy emotion – and with it the kitchen." To him, technology such as the GRASS products and materials such as stone and glass are means of conveying emotion.

Emotion is also conveyed by the unbroken trend towards personalization, which also excellently harmonises with the living room-kitchen. "Personalization is not achieved with the product," adds Harald Klüh. "It is achieved by the objects that people put on their shelves. To some extent they take possession of the room with their own content." The differentiation criterion is therefore not the furniture itself, but the accessories. Shelves with the ubiquitous vertical structures that are also echoed in covered surfaces are an excellent way of showcasing one's own personality. Irrespective of whether you choose to decorate your "kitchen" with the collected works of Thomas Mann or shabby chic arte-facts – shelves are not much more than their contents and the owner decides what they are.

Green Instead of Networking

Interestingly, networked kitchens hardly played any role in Milan. Our world has become complicated – not only, but also due to technology. For this reason the large prevalence of green and matt surfaces was not really surprising. At Valcucine, for example, you could almost imagine that you weren't in a huge industrial hall, but surrounded by nature. Enrico Zanetti from Valcucine knows exactly why this is the case: "The stand was designed by the Valcucine founder Gabriele Centazzo, who also designs the kitchens. He loves nature and lives in a house in the middle of a forest. He wants to create this feeling - at least a little - at the stand." All elements of the stand and the kitchens themselves are also recyclable. Well-being is also the main focus of the design, for example with lighting elements. "Vanishing" is also an important topic for Valcucine, especially with the new "Logica Celata" element. Here a clever mechanism allows the kitchen to disappear behind a door when it is no longer in use. Silently and with a flick of the wrist.

A Room in a Room

After the Salone del Mobile 2018 it is impossible to ignore the fact that kitchens are undergoing fundamental changes. At Leicht Küchen, designers also focused with ambition on the convergence of living and cooking. The highlight was a free-standing cube that can be positioned anywhere in the room. A "room in a room" which combines comprehensive functional and storage solutions with a high level of homeliness. The walk-in cube has a great deal of storage space inside and can be used as a pantry and a utility room. From the outside the "room in room" has an unobtrusive cabinet front with shelf elements and a seating recess incorporated into the cube. A new drawer organization ensures that everything that has anything to do with work disappears as soon as spaghetti vongole and Chianti classico are on the table.

At Häcker the shelf and cabinet components ensured that the kitchens looked like living rooms. The Italian manufacturer Scavolini even exhibited a one-room apartment in which the kitchen and sleeping area can be folded away when necessary. While kitchens are vanishing and their functional elements are being incorporated into the living area.

Ultimately this is also what it is all about, irrespective of whether the kitchens are integrated into the living area or if one day the trend will move towards separate rooms again – the goal is to satisfy customers.

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