Housewares manufacturers mine lifestyle trends to shape the development and design of products. And from the look of things, manufacturers are focusing on healthy eating, saving time and space, and consumer cravings for simple, homemade edibles and beverages.
The best examples are stylishly delivered, with a dash of fashion and an emphasis on cool shapes, on-trend colors and patterns. The theme at this spring’s Housewares Show in Chicago touched on another hot button: smart design. It’s actually smART, to signify an intersection of art and engineering, technology and style.
The smart kitchen market is projected to be worth as much as $10 billion by the early 2020s, according to Transparency Market Research.
“And with consumers increasingly comfortable using color as a form of expression, we are seeing more experimentation and creative uses of color throughout the home, and nowhere has this showcasing of color been more pronounced than in the kitchen,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute.
Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, says the calmness of the Pink Quartz and Serenity hues helps consumers “escape the stress of their modern lives, offering reassurance and security in difficult times.”
An appreciation for natural, organic materials like wood is also showing up in everything from handles on pots to grained cutting boards and trays that feature embellishments, including contrasting metal accents. Umbra, for example, teamed wood with white marble and white powder-coated aluminum in accessories and storage benches.
Texture is also playing a bigger role in housewares. Hammered looks in metal further distinguish cookware, with luxe examples offered by Italian company Ruffoni. Patterns are more playful in tabletop products and canisters, with signature polka dots and stripes channeling iconic brands like Kate Spade.
And brands like TarHong and French Bull have splashed outdoor products with paisley, tropical and geometric patterns and created frosted glass in bold hues.
In cookware, health is underscored by technology and new colors. Ceramic coatings are gaining traction, as are pressure cookers, with their speed and ability to tenderize and extract flavors from ingredients.
Fresh prep and convenience (start a meal before you leave for work; enjoy it when you get home) have contributed to the sale of 12.6 million slow cookers in the year ending in June 2015, totaling $334.1 million, according to NPD Group Inc., a market research company in Port Washington, NY.
One-pot cooking is especially popular among millennials because of its simplicity, back-to-basics appeal and familiarity of classic dishes, according to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2016” study.
“Fresh is the single most important buzzword associated with healthy eating today,” says Tom Mirabile, senior vice president of global trend and design for Lifetime Brands Inc. “There’s also more focus on mindful living or taking the time to savor both process and consumption.”
Innovation, he says, no longer trickles down but gushes out.
“The future is about convenience and anything that saves consumers time,” he says. “This can be as high-tech as a robotic cleaning device or as low-tech as a food prep kit that is delivered to your door.”
Here are highlights of the show:
▪ Gourmia GPC1000 Smart Pot Electric Pressure Cooker: The 13-function cooker has a 7-inch LED touch screen and a mobile app. It guides the user through a recipe, sensing when the correct ingredient has been added and moving on to the next step with visual and audible prompts.
▪ Cuisinart’s CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer: It’s slick, compact and transparent and delivers powerful steam from the top that surrounds food, cooking it quickly and evenly.
▪ Kalorik Black Digital Air Fryer: With a dual layer rack, it adds to last year’s Emeril Lagasse launch.
▪ L’Chef’s NutriMill: It allows you to grind your own grains.
▪ The Zanzibar pepper bar by Peugeot: A tray with a trio of interchangeable containers holds the expanding array of sea salts and peppercorns.
▪ LeCreuset enameled cast-iron cookware in Pink Quartz and Serenity: The French cookware line launched a retro-inspired Oasis collection, which includes Pantone’s co-colors of the year, as well as Hibiscus and Pink Chiffon. Keurig’s single-serve limited-edition brewer also comes in Serenity.
▪ Nambe’s Eco collection by Neil Cohen: Metal accessories and dishware products have been warmed up with matte champagne gold accents and wood.
▪ Epicurious’ aluminum nonstick cookware: It now comes in colored metallics such as sapphire, ruby red and copper.
▪ Samsung’s Family Hub: This refrigerator has a Wi-Fi-enabled touch screen and three interior cameras that snap pictures of your food every time you close the door. You can access those photos through your phone.