Functional Italian Kitchen Design

Every two years a trade show called  Eurocucina at Salone del Mobile is held in Milan, Italy. It is one of the premier Kitchen design shows in the world and features the latest and greatest in Italian design. While there are many sleek modern designs on display, unique functional components can also be found. The following are functional examples seen the last time Vestabul attended.

One of the most interesting aspects of Italian kitchen design is the integration of all of the components under each brand. A typical Italian Kitchen firm will have cabinetry, plumbing fixtures, countertops and appliances all designed and curated together. This approach seemed to offer more innovative solutions and this was seen in their appliance design.

Lineal Cooktops

Lineal cooktops are not the norm in North America but they were everywhere in Milan. This layout of burners is very functional providing access to all of the burners in a row rather than stacked back to back. The cook using a lineal cooktop never has to reach over a steaming pot to stir something on a back burner. This design is also great for islands with dining bars. The shallow depth of the lineal cooktop provides additional counter space between the appliance and the diner making it a much safer choice.

Lineal cooktops were shown in a variety of other unique island installations. The example on the left placed the cooktop directly behind a square sink. The cooktop and the sink were specified by the kitchen manufacturer to be the exact same size, producing a balanced  design. The function comes in with being able to fill a pot with water while it sits on the cooktop. The sink faucet can swivel around to do the job. In the other example a floating glass backsplash behind the cooktop and sink protects people sitting at the dining bar from heat and splashes. A great functional solution!


Arched Cooktops & Sinks

As stated above, Italian kitchen manufactures supply all of the elements of the kitchen allowing them to play with shape. A unique look seen at the show was radius designs with curved cooktops and sinks. There was even one with a floor mounted vent hood that arched over the cooktop like a piece of sculpture. The cooktops and sinks followed the line of the cabinetry and countertops for a fluid kitchen layout. These curved kitchens are very ergonomic since they eliminate hard edges, allowing cooks to move swiftly through the space with little worry of banging a hip!


Radius Kitchen Layouts

Radius kitchen layouts were also seen using standard appliances. The white kitchen above was laid out with stock cabinetry  and then topped with a radius countertop.  The cooktop is a standard square design and the sink is a standard double bowl with radius drain boards on the ends. The overall design is very functional by “hugging” the cook in the space. The addition of revolving shelves and hanging utensil racks puts all of the cooks supplies within easy reach. This kitchen would be a stylish addition in any small space. In the second example, wood veneer radius base cabinets provide all of the curved shapes in the design while standard lineal gloss white upper cabinets blend into the walls. The counters follow the line of the cabinets and the sink and vent hood are round discs that compliment the design. Again this kitchen would be very ergonomic and a delight to work in.


Storage Walls

Many of the Italian kitchen manufactures featured full walls of storage. This approach is very functional since the most convenient location to store supplies is between 24″ and 54″ off the ground. This placement causes the least amount of stress on the human body placing and retrieving items. A big trend with these storage walls was oversized sliding doors. The finishes on the doors covered the full spectrum from painted white, to painted/stained wood combos to hammered metal. Often the large sliding door would only cover a portion of the storage, bringing an “art installation” feel to the space as the doors were slid to reveal different parts of the wall.


Backsplash Storage

The large storage wall concept was also seen as backsplash storage in some displays. The installation placed storage behind the standard countertop depth and utilized space right down to the countertop. This was an interesting concept that could allow heavy items like small appliances to be stored at counter level and pulled out when needed. The sliding of the doors allowed larger doors to be used since they did not have to swing into the room.


Multiple Counter Levels

The ultimate in functional universal kitchen design was seen at displays that incorporated multiple countertop heights. This approach allows people of different heights and abilities to easily work in the kitchen. Most of the kitchens showing multiple counter heights also mixed up the counter materials allowing different activities to be completed at the different areas.


Concept Kitchen

The most unique concept kitchen seen at the show was one that allowed the main work area to pivot. An L-shaped counter with sink, cooktop and storage revolved around a center point. As with any concept kitchen, the idea behind it is to get designers thinking about how this technology could be incorporated into kitchen design. Flexibility is high on designers radar so I am sure we will see advanced concepts at future Eurocucina shows!

Design trade shows are the perfect place to see what is trending. Eurocucina did not disappoint. Let us know what you think of Italian Kitchen design! Would you incorporate any of these ideas into your new kitchen?

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