Consumers are increasingly demanding about the aesthetics of kitchen tools, even for “niche” products such as toasters, slicers or vacuum machines. Companies respond creating more and more practical accessories, but that can be looked as real furnishings objects
by Lara Colombi
Not rarely modern kitchens offer little spaces or otherwise unsuited to the needs of consumers, increasingly looking for new tools and accessories for cooking good food in a practical and quick way. Many tools, therefore, end necessarily to stay in plain sight, out of drawers and cupboards, becoming like it or not, furnishings accessories of kitchens, that are now frequently open spaces also visible from the living room. This new trend represents both an opportunity and a challenge for companies that produce appliances. In fact, tools for daily use are cared in the smallest details to be perfectly integrated in the furnishing of the home, but also design of accessories and niche appliances or of professional origin, such as slicers or vacuum machines, is increasingly careful to the aesthetic content as well as to functionality.
Home appliance or furnishing accessory?
Aesthetics is an important element for companies, a fundamental aspect, but always linked to functionality: «An indissoluble binomial in which Trabo has always believed – tells Federica Zoe Castiglioni, designer, artistic and communication director of the company. – Ours is a business family company that has design in its DNA. Just remember that my great-grandfather, Giannino Castiglioni, father of the famous designers brothers Castiglioni, realized one of the doors of the Milan Cathedral. Today we continue to follow our projects with dedication, passion, determination and constancy.»
The icon of the company is Toast, much more than a simple toaster: «This product, absolutely 100% Made in Italy, was designed by the architect Gae Aulenti and today has become a “must” of design, on display and for sale at the Moma in New York.» Two years ago Toast followed a careful restyling: «We worked above all to improve its functionality, equipping it with a timer and a red light that indicates that the product is working. In addition, we chose to use a clamp holding that opens downward and we made the inlet openings wider and blunt to cook larger toast. We are the only ones to have made these innovative and functional tongs on the market. In addition, we have inserted a single removable crumb tray under the toaster, instead of the previous two. This system makes cleaning easier and more functional.» The product is offered in a luxurious gift box: «To make this particular packaging, Toast has been “drowned ” in a special foam that allows to keep the packaging stable and then enclosed in a precious wood box, tailored-made, similar to the typical champagne box. This is an appropriate dress for the icon of Trabo house and of which I personally cared the concept and graphic design.»
In addition to aesthetics, consumers seek answers to their needs, which become particularly important when we speak about nutrition: «We are aware of the sensitivity that today people show about food and so we have decided to implement “save bags” Toast in Belgium. It is an “envelope ” that can also be washed in the dishwasher and used 50 times, which protects the health of people with celiac disease. Thanks to the save bags, toasts do not come into contact with the walls of the toaster, avoiding on the one hand that crumbs escape and on the other the possibility of cross-contamination.»
Another must-have product by Trabo is Naturcook. «It is an hand-made plate, realized in Italy, with mixes of natural refractory clay, ideal for cooking pizzas, focaccias and biscuits. The idea for the creation of this product has come to life comparing ourselves in the company and with some pizza chefs. For us, in fact, the comparison leads to growth and this is fundamental for the creation of an innovative, useful and very high quality product.»
Trabo has chosen to combine this product also with Naturpala, a wooden pizza peel: «It is an instrument made by a master craftsman and is very useful to insert the dough on the pan and remove it at the end of cooking. The peel is also branded Trabo like the refractory baking tray. The details always make the difference, so we maintain a maniacal care for every single nuance.»
The Inductiondisk diffusers also deserve to be mentioned: «These adapters are 100% Made in Italy and allow cooking on the induction hob even with pans not suitable for this type of use. These are useful and practical products: the handle, in fact, can be removed in a very simple way, reducing the overall dimensions to a minimum.» Also in this case great attention was paid to details: «The handle detail is the red button as the company logo on the induction adapter. Available in different sizes, this product has a three-year warranty with immediate replacement, without passing through the service center and waiting too long. This applies to all Trabo house products. These are fundamental attentions to recognize the identity of a company in a very low-cost market, where we want to distinguish ourselves by offering products of excellence, together with quality and service. Besides, of course, an appealing design.»
An eye to functionality and the other to aesthetics
The combination of functionality and design becomes indispensable even when talking about particular tools, which cannot find place in every kitchen, such as slicers. «This is a niche product, which must respond to a series of specific features – explains Marco Di Leo, CEO of RGV, a company specialist in the production of slicers for industrial and domestic use. – First comes functionality: those who buy one of our slicers expect to find a high quality product, able to ensure optimal working performance for a long time. We have never compromised on this aspect and this attention continues to distinguish us in the market. We also try to work to always improve the practicality of these devices, adopting measures and modifications, also with the specific aim of facilitating the cleaning and use in the home environment.» Even if these are the priorities, aesthetics is not absolutely neglected: «Consumer expects to find a pleasant product also from this point of view: design is important, above all because slicer is a tool with important dimensions and that, therefore, must also be left visible, becoming a true object of furnishing in the kitchen.» Although it is considered a niche product, the production volumes of RGV continue to be constant: «In one year we sell about 85.000 pieces, in over 35 countries around the world: export is a growing segment.» Among the sales channels, the on-line one is becoming more and more interesting: «Its importance is still limited, even if growing, considering our customers target which surely are not millennials, accustomed to make their purchases on the Internet.»
Even companies traditionally oriented to the professional world are starting to focus even more on the aesthetic characteristics of the tools they offer: «90% of our products are semi-professional, so design often leaves place to functionality, which is the real determining factor – Giorgio Re of Reber explains .- Some kinds of product, such as the Pinkki Power vacuum machine, present a design specifically studied for domestic users. Also the new product lines we are projecting will be oriented to this segment and will therefore be characterized by more attractive and pleasing lines. Moreover, for some specific products we are thinking about introducing solutions related to home automation, which respond to a growing interest of consumers for this technological innovation.»