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What's Hot and Not in Kitchen Design:
10 Tip-Offs

Dateline: The Kitchen & Bath Show, Chicago

By Tracy L. Ziemer
Thursday, April 27, 2006

the daily dishMore than 900 companies from around the world showed their shiny new gadgets at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show last weekend in Chicago. This annual orgy of appliance ogling is a time to see the latest and greatest in kitchen design, from cutting-edge ovens to cutting boards. Miles of booths stirred up serious kitchen envy while unveiling some hot (and not-so-hot) trends and products this year:


Speed Cooking: What do you get when you cross an oven with a microwave? This year's bumper crop of ovens built for speed. GE's Profile model comes with Trivection technology, TurboChef uses Airspeed, and Miele's version has MasterChef technology — all fancy ways of saying you can cook a turkey in half the time and still get full roasted flavor.

Dynamic Drawers: The drawer design gave humdrum appliances a functionality face-lift. Italian manufacturer Ariston ( was selling a 36-inch, two-drawer refrigerator for under the counter. It's the biggest of its kind in the U.S., with 6.7-cubic-foot capacity and extra space for three wine bottles. KitchenAid showed its first single-drawer dishwasher, and Sharp Electronics unveiled its Microwave Drawer, which installs under a cooktop or counter for easier loading, doubles as a warming oven, and opens with the push of a button — a plus for those with arthritis or disabilities.

Warm It Up: Stainless steel? Yawn. Companies were dabbling in warmer metals and finishes. The show featured several copper sinks, like hammered round beauties from D'Vontz of Oklahoma. And Jenn-Air rolled out its new oiled-bronze finish, which gives appliances a rich patina while maintaining a steely texture.

Countertops were getting cozier, too. Cosentino's Silestone quartz surface is easy to care for and now comes in seven polished-leather textures. And several companies were hawking warm solid-wood counter surfaces, including DeVos Custom Woodworking, Denmark's Spekva, and John Boos & Company. Texas-based Living Elements showed gorgeous mesquite countertops made from sustainable resources.

The Mod Squad: Modular refrigeration allows consumers to mix and match components for a customized look. A terrific example came from Germany's Liebherr. Its 48-inch side-by-side model had three pieces in one: a refrigerator with four separate temperature zones, roomy freezer, and wine cooler with storage for 42 bottles. Another perk: a soft alarm if any door is left ajar — perfect for preserving a pricey wine collection.

Sexy Sinks: The party's at the prep sink this year. One standout was the copper Luna model, which will be available in June from California's Native Trails. Shown paired with a wood countertop, the Luna sink's crescent shape hugs the cutting surface, creating a user-friendly prep area while taking up minimal space. The company says it will soon offer a divider so you can fill half with ice and drinks when entertaining.


Fridge Flame-Out: Refrigerators with custom graphic fronts, such as hot rod flames or a soaring bass, seemed more suitable for the garage than the kitchen.

Obscured Functionality: Dishwashers with control panels hidden on the top edge of the door were still the rage. But GE's Profile model even hid the timer, meaning you have to open the dishwasher — and stop it — to see how much time is left on the cycle.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Does the world need LG's fridge that reminds you of your anniversary, and plays music and DVDs on a built-in LCD TV?

Everything Old Is... Old Again: Elmira Stove Works' bulky retro appliances in colors like Mint Green created the feeling of being trapped in Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals kitchen.

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