Just two years ago there was a color tsunami at the international housewares show in Chicago. From spatulas, knives and cooking pots to mixers, blenders, irons and the ubiquitous water bottle, a rainbow of pigments electrified booths.
Now what? No longer shocked by the novelty of hip, hot hues (or even the revolutionary silicon), we can observe ever-emerging favorites (always shades of blue) and shifts in popularity, perhaps away from neon lime (although not abandoning orange or magenta).
Or we can take in a mini-moment for purple cookware, thanks to an intriguing speckled lavender from Paula Deen or a plum from Rachael Ray’s Cucina line, both from Meyer. But we’re not colorblind to great form, style and design.
And manufacturers are aiming to please with modern, simple and sometimes elegant designs that especially target the millennial consumer. Other areas of home design capture microtrends like the use of wood, wood-metal mixes, hammered and relief finishes, and patterns such as animal prints from fashion runways.
With so many products to peruse, show organizers divvied up the wares into categories including Wired & Well; Dine & Design; Clean, Contain & Sustain; and Global Crossroads. With a lens on the kitchen, dining and entertaining, here is what to expect in stores this summer and fall.
Health and cooking styles
Demand for professional heavy-duty juicers such as Omega and Vitamix remains robust, high price tags notwithstanding. But the offerings (and price points) continue to expand.
Salton’s newest professional power blender is marketed with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak. It can whip up smoothies and soups and even mill rice into flour. Best of all is a more modest price of just under $200 (compared to $500 to $700 for others).
And Hamilton’s Jamba affiliation will draw aficionados of the fresh-squeezed-juice chain of stores.
Slow cookers have taken off: A blast from the past capturing a new generation. Low temperature settings are said to retain flavor, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But attractive to many, of course, is the set-and-forget factor, allowing cooks to come home to an aromatic, ready-to-eat meal.
Steam cooking continues to attract those seeking healthier cuisine. So in addition to uber-pricey built-in steam/convection ovens, there are more than a smattering of inexpensive gadgets that allow cooks to adapt the appliances and cookware they already have. There are devices for the microwave and inserts for pots, with some cleverly retractable for storage.
This all speaks to added value and double duty. Appliances such as rice cookers gain traction when they add functions, like Philips’ new all-in-one multicooker, which steams, braises, slow cooks and even makes yogurt.
Practical add-ons also make sense. For example, a number of cutting boards have morphed to include storage as well. A new eco-friendly bamboo cutting board from Curtis Stone includes recessed containers on top for cut up ingredients and storage drawers tucked beneath, all made from plastic BPA-free material.
Dreamfarm also delivers with wit. Its well-thought-out solutions are tagged with clever names such as “clongs” (click-lock tongs), “chopulas” (chop and sit up spatulas) and “levoons” (scrape-level measuring spoons).
Oven-to-table and serve ware
Nambe metal ware has upped the ante on stylish, sculptural pieces that can go from freezer to oven to table. And cookware manufacturers of stainless and enamel-clad pots have paid more attention to design.
One standout with a modern sensibility is the Italian maker Sambonet. Its square handles and matte-finished terra-cotta give it a distinctive look that handsomely transitions to tabletop.
And sturdy cast iron has been gaining devotees. Finex takes design to a new level with its handcrafted cast-iron skillets. Octagonal lids are not only fashion-forward, they also allow easy pouring from six directions. Stylish, ribbed, polished stainless steel handles also are ergonomic, shaped to fit the natural curve of the hand. And the handsome mottled lids have brass accents.
There’s an uptick in the use of wood, especially spotlighting unusual grains and inlays. From cutting boards to serving pieces for crudites, cheeses or appetizers, there’s more variety in wood species as well as characteristic markings.
Carving also is calling new attention to wood, as with pieces designed by Marcel Wanders as part of the Dressed Collection for Alessi.
Among the leading edge of design are Italian, Scandinavian, French and German imports. Many of these manufacturers introduced products earlier in the year in Paris at Maison & Objet and in Frankfurt at Ambiente, two important international furnishings shows.
With more emphasis on form and function inspired by evolving lifestyle trends, stepped-up focus on healthy eating as well as fashion and decor, housewares in this country will continue to gain points in the style, efficiency and health arenas.
Other lifestyle trends
While single-serve coffee makers continue percolating, other methods of java brewing also are emerging.
KitchenAid introduced three other coffee makers to “bring the barista home.” One is a siphon brewer with vacuum technology that fully immerses grounds in water to create a more complex flavor.
And French press is making a strong showing. Its simple brewing process, which measures coffee and water by weight instead of volume, is touted for its strong flavor.
▪ Marcel's Culinary Experience, MarcelsCulinaryExperience.com