The latest technology brings the twenty-first century into the heart of your home
LWK Kitchens London (020 7536 9266; ilwk-home.com)
Technology permeates almost every aspect of our lives, and the kitchen is no exception. The hub of the home now houses an increasing number of automated and smart innovations. Recent research by B&Q shows that up to 40 per cent of us would be willing to pay between £5,000 and £10,000 more for a home with a hi-tech kitchen. The trend for these advances, however, isn’t about simply adding gratuitous gadgets and gizmos, it’s geared towards helping our kitchens to run seamlessly and efficiently.
‘Designing and creating a room that looks amazing and also does its job as a working cooking space is essential,’ says Daniele Brutto, co-founder of Hub Kitchens (020 7924 2285; hubkitchens.com). ‘This blend of form and function can be achieved with the latest built-in systems and smart appliances.’
Cabinets and worktops
Electronically controlled cabinetry that opens and closes using motion sensors has been on offer for a few years, but has yet to become widely popular. Where technology is making a difference, however, is by adding functionality to units with tablet holders, built-in charging stations, touchscreens, USB outlets and functions such as Amazon Dash, which automatically orders new products when you run out.
'Flip-down TV screens are no longer the go-to product,’ explains Dieter Berends, senior designer at Urban Interior (020 7739 4644; urbaninterior.co.uk). ‘Instead, technology has taken audio-visual design to a new level. There is now integrated, internet connected equipment that can stream information via Bluetooth or contain complete home-entertainment systems with multiple audio-visual options. They might have the ability to sync with a USB stick, connect to online radio or even with an older, analogue device.’
Worktops also come with extras, as the latest surfaces can be laid over electronics, such as an induction zone to make an invisible hob, or to create a wireless device-charging port. ‘Major mechanical moving parts within a kitchen will soon make their way into mainstream design,’ says Brutto. ‘A sliding table or breakfast bar that can be revealed at the touch of a button can now be incorporated into a kitchen to suit multifunctional needs. TM Italia, for example, already has a kitchen that is controlled via a desktop application, so the tap rises and falls on the click of a button and the sink lid opens and closes on demand.’
Wharfside (020 7253 3206; wharfside.co.uk)
Kitchen machines are a natural place for extra technology, and models controlled and monitored by tablets or smartphones are set to change how we use our kitchens.
‘We are fast heading towards the connected home, where we will start to see electricity savings, remote monitoring of functions and appliances, control of media, house surveillance and internet shopping,’ reveals Thomas Johansson, design director at Electrolux (0344 561 3613; electrolux.co.uk). ‘We will start to have more appliances connected together using sensors and cameras. We will also see cooking technology – steam, sous-vide, temperature probes and so on – open up a world of culinary possibilities.’
Beyond controlling your appliances from anywhere in the world, this connectivity enables other features, such as fridges that can monitor which groceries need replacing or models that will even self-diagnose technical issues and send service notifications to customer-care offices. Appliances can be regularly updated with the newest operating systems or recipes.
‘Connected appliances do more – they save time, energy and money,’ says Jennifer Taylor, senior brand manager at Whirlpool (0344 815 8989; whirlpool.co.uk). ‘By delegating more tasks and options to the device, it can choose the best time to operate and the most economical programme. Eventually, we’ll have interactive splashbacks and cooktops that connect to social networks, favourite websites and recipes.’
As we use our kitchens for more than cooking, well-lit cabinetry has become essential to accent furniture and worktops.
‘Remote-controlled LED bulbs are becoming more popular, while lights accessed remotely by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth can offer a solution to saving energy in the home,’ suggests Sean Cochrane, the director and founder of Cochrane Design (020 7751 0075; cochranedesign.com).
It’s crucial to consider how you’ll illuminate the room at the beginning of a project, ideally in conjunction with other services. ‘I’d advise people to invest in good controls. Some homeowners like total integration and touchscreens, but others like a simple on/off switch,’ says Sanjit Bahra, founder and director at DesignPlusLight (020 8762 9585; designpluslight. com). ‘The latter can be harder to incorporate now, as there is so much behind-the-scenes technology.’
Wiring and plumbing require extra planning. As well as concealing pipework, you also need to hide cables, but with the option of access. Connectivity points are best grouped together, rather than dotted around. Look for wireless versions where possible. You’ll also need to dedicate a portion of your budget to installing the extra tech.
'Allow around £5,000 for running the feeds and incorporating them into the kitchen cabinetry,’ says interior designer Stephanie Dunning (01722 710 608; stephaniedunninginteriordesign.com).
Words: Rachel Ogden, Photography: Andy Beasley