Beautiful and performing, freestanding cookers offer consumers the ideal tools to cook like the professionals. Advanced technologies, attractive lines and variety of colors are the strengths of these products
by Elena Corti
Free-standing cookers are a combination of aesthetics and professional performance: materials and sophisticated processes distinguish the products design, while advanced technological solutions allow to achieve high-level results. The available variants are many and it is therefore important to understand needs of different consumers to indicate the most appropriate models to meet them, highlighting the plusses of the different types of appliances. First, the professional feature of these models is visible in the various constructive elements that make up the products. Starting with the hob, large and comfortable: the majority of freestanding cookers presents gas burners, but induction versions start to be proposed as well. The cooking zones generally ranging from 4 to 6, among which a double or triple ring burner is often present. These high efficiency components allow the user to cook with precision both at low flame and at full power, thus ensuring great flexibility. Moreover, the work plan can be made of steel (with a thickness of up to 4 cm) or with polished version. In the high-range models, there may also be variants as the possibility of using LPG or the top fry plate for a natural cooking of foods.
In general, other elements that characterize the professional level of the free-standing cookers are the cast iron grids with a design that allows to support pots without the need for reductions, the adjustable metal big feet, the soft touch handles and the backsplash that protects against sketches. At a technological level, a strength of these devices is the multifunction oven, electric or gas.
Among the most innovative functions, there are for example the one for leavening dough, the rapid achievement of the desired temperature and the 3D thermo-ventilated cooking that distributes heat in a very uniform way. The air circulation inside the oven cavity is strategic to get professional results easily: the most advanced kitchens have ovens even with 3 fans, and the presence of a circular resistance in combination with the ventilation allows to cook different foods on various levels without mixing odors.
Consumers who are particularly fond of cooking can be recommended cookers with double oven or with single maxi oven (above 100 liters), very similar to professional products. In addition, integrated ovens in the free-standing appliances are equipped with different accessories to facilitate food cooking: among these, some of the more “professional” are the rotisserie, the sensor for detecting the internal temperature of food and the tool inspired by the stone used in wood-fired ovens of pizzerias, perfect for cooking pizza or flat bread. In terms of comfort, finally, many of the freestanding cooker ovens have advanced systems to make cleaning easy (pyrolysis, cleaning with steam and easy to clean enamel cavity where dirt does not encrust).
Variety of styles and colors of free-standing cookers is so wide that it is easy to support consumers in choosing the ideal solution to be included in the kitchen environment. For those who love modern style, models are available where steel is protagonist and clean and essential lines prevail. To those who prefer vintage, it is possible to suggest refined solutions that combine the convenience of modern technology with a style of the past. If, finally, consumer prefers rustic taste, he will able to meet his needs thanks to appliances with warm colors and soft shapes.
Color is the strength of the freestanding cookers because the choice of nuances is very wide: from white to black, from pastels to brighter colors like red, yellow or orange. Chromatic combinations are also possible, for example front in stainless steel and colored door and sides. Further plusses of freestanding cookers are then the refined processing and finishes, the result of a crafts know-how: from the hob molded in one single piece, to the anti-fingerprint treatment, from mirror polished steel, to satin or enameled finishing.
The attention to details distinguishes these products and is visible, for example, in particulars such as the color that emphasizes knobs and oven door handle or the brand logo engraved on the sides of the handle itself. Finally, whatever the user’s taste is, many alternatives are also available in terms of sizes: from compact cookers, designed for small spaces, to standard 60 cm models up to maxi 90 cm variants, just like those of the restaurants.
Made-in-Italy, a protagonist role
Freestanding cookers are present in different channels, covering both stores specialized in the sale of home appliances and furnishings channel. These products satisfy a wide range of consumers, offering from simple and affordable models to very sophisticated versions with professional characteristics, which «require a high level of planning of the kitchen environment»- as Alberto Illotti, head of sales at Ilve points out.
Made-in-Italy companies stand out in this area for the quality of products and their high aesthetic level and despite the ups and downs of the market, forecast for 2017 seem to be broadly positive.
«For this year – Reza Salehi, owner of Lofra, comments – our expectations remain high: our strength is made-in-Italy and we have reached 60 years of production.»
«By definition, market is constantly changing – adds Massimo Pilot, Italy sales director at Fisher&Paykel Appliances Italy, a company that markets freestanding cookers with De’Longhi Cottura brand. – Consumption needs also change and a company like ours, careful to the satisfaction of the end user, must be able to give concrete answers to consumer. In a market such that of freestanding cookers, which seems to turn back to a negative trend, our company, in sharp contrast, has grown also in 2016, strong of its decades of experience in the industry and the quality of products. Our presence is focused on the retail electrical distribution, where is visible a steady erosion of the mix and sales price that does not leave immune neither the category of freestanding cookers, with an offer that has gradually flattened with regard to performance and covered segments. But mostly it has flattened as trademarks, giving space to No Brand and Private Label, usually symptomatic of poor quality and of little made-in-Italy, that is very demanded by qualified consumers in this product category. Instead we, as company, want to approach more and more those consumers who seek products with new performance and features and in line with the changing needs of cooking (but especially of culture) of food. We mean design products with refined and functional aesthetic details, appliances that must transmit empathy to become symbols of a central part of the furniture of the house and not be simple home appliances, offering cooking functions, accessories and performance in order to make cookers an interesting product to be treated in a broader market than the current one.»
The “beautiful and performant” binomial is one of the key factors of made-in-Italy cookers, which impose themselves on the markets for the ability to offer appliances that ensure high performance and, at the same time, are real furnishing elements for the kitchen environment. «Freestanding, which for the sector operators is usually a technical term used to distinguish the freestanding products from the built-in ones – Enrico Vento, president and CEO at Bompani Elettrodomestici explains – for us has become a freedom slogan, in life and in the home furnishing. Freestanding is an ideal that, first of all, can be recognized in people’s ability to fall in love with an object, a place, a music, a time, a book, a color (also a kitchen, why not!), and make it a part of their personality. We work in this way: knowing that our products will really come into the lives of those who choose them. And for this reason, freedom and aesthetics merge with the rigor of technical research, in order to propose beautiful and useful solutions. A solid pact between experience and made-in-Italy design, which was made concrete in our 60 years of work.
Kitchens must be chef tested: professional or not. This has always been the heart of Bompani and allows us to say, with the typical certainty that comes only from experience, that the best performances in the kitchen can only be guaranteed by a freestanding appliance. Let’s think about it: in the great chef kitchens built-in is banished in favor of a greater freedom in composing spaces and make use of better cooking techniques and heat management.»
As it happens for other products, even for freestanding cookers made-in-Italy is very appreciated abroad. «The decision taken in 2015 by Fulgor Milano to enter into a new product segment, very close to that of professional cooking equipment, has matured for a precise request of the American market, which in the high end cooking segment cannot leave aside the presence of this type of appliances defined professional ranges or range cookers – says Paolo Mainardi, brand manager of Fulgor Milano, speaking of the cookers of Sofia series -. A line that frees itself from the simple production of freestanding cookers for its building solutions, the functional characteristics, the used materials and the proposed performance. After a year of proposition, we achieved the revenue forecasts and we are going to increase sales, by expanding to other areas, in addition to the first chosen market, such as Europe and Australia after necessarily have adapted the technical specifications of products».