EuroCucina review: Phillip Ozorio, Connaught Kitchens

This year's EuroCucina was the place to be for ideas on the sector's upcoming trends and ideas. To find out what retailers thought of the event, we asked Phillip Ozorio, design director at Connaught Kitchens, for his impressions

Visiting the Milan Fair is a must for anyone who wants to get a head’s up on design and product trends in kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, appliances and general furnishing for the next two years. The Italians set the trends for the world because they are super creative, have great style and have the factories that can produce a huge range of quality products.  

It’s a truly international show with visitors from every corner of the globe, and there’s a good vibe helped by sunshine and hospitality.  

As a kitchen retailer, the focus was on the two kitchen halls. The size of these halls is immense and I think two days is needed to get around them properly. If you take in all the other halls, you may need the full week. You have to allow for queuing to visit some of the stands and I found that some stands were by invitation only. These stands had central viewing areas but you were separated from touching the products by glass. Queuing is tedious when you’re on a short visit, so best to leave these stands to the end of the day when its less crowded.

I was concerned that some big players in kitchen manufacturing were absent from the show on both the Italian side and the German side. This may be down to costs. I spoke to exhibitors about the costs and they said that apart from the cost of the stand itself, the logistics and material costs of setting up of the stand were huge.

Display furniture is sometimes sold on to retailers after the show for showroom displays so manufacturers can recoup costs this way. Fortunately, the manufacturers who did exhibit were able to show the major trends. Some manufacturers have showrooms in Milan which is included in the design week.

So what was new?    

For finishes, I think dark and moody was the main theme. There was one coral pink kitchen which I voted the star of the show. However, the earthy grey/browns are still predominant combined with dark woods, darker than walnut. Dark woods were everywhere. Black is also back.

Integrated lighting on grip rails for kitchens without handles was everywhere. Glass wall units with thin metal frames – some glass being over the frames. Integrated lighting in glass wall units and open shelving. Metallic finishes are a big trend – coloured aluminium, vertical fine lines. Wood fronts surrounded by black framing to contrast. There was very little green (which has been predicted as the next trend),  but no real presence at the show. There was little shaker and traditional.

For kitchen planning, double stacking of wall units to get height if you have the room. Some stands had displays combining many textures and finishes integrated into a design to create an eclectic look. Many slide to hide worktops that cover sinks and hobs and become breakfast bars.

For appliances, hobs with integrated extractors for islands must be a universal trend. Most displays also incorporated wine fridges. There were a few specialist stands for range cookers but mostly built in ovens.

Worktop thicknesses varied from very thin to thick so it was difficult to pick out any one trend – the majority were either 20mm or 30mm thick. There were a lot of sharks nose profiles, as well as many Taj Mahal quartz, quartzites and ceramics.

I saw hardly any stainless steel worktops, which have been a major trend in past shows. There were also no glass worktops or backsplashes, but I did notice some grey and bronze mirror finishes.

One major difference to previous shows was the growing importance of social media. Many stands had large artistic areas to attract visitors. These areas created huge interest with people taking pics and videos.   

We can take ideas form all the kitchens on display at the show and use the ideas in our own designs and products. The kitchen trends in Milan are different to the kitchen trends in the UK.  Being design savvy must give one designer an edge over a competitor who is not. I think the Milan Fair is inspirational and a must for spotting future design trends and new colours and finishes.

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