Brightly, pale or neutral: the chromatic variants in household appliances are more and more numerous, to provide the best possible integration with the house furnishings and meet the taste of users with a view to greater customization.
By Elena Corti
Today, the color of an household appliance is a far from secondary element. Whether large or small appliances, these products are increasingly “dressed” with an appealing look, with styles able to satisfy the most different needs and tastes. Regarding large appliances, products as ovens, freestanding cookers or hoods now offer a certain variety of colors and finishes. But also the traditionally White Goods (washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators) are proposed in some colored versions to give a touch of vivacity to the environment or to harmonize with the furniture. Even air conditioners can be “transformed ” into elements of color: on the market, for example, products have been launched with prints or photographs integrated into the front panel, becoming like paintings.
On the small domestic appliances front, colorful proposals are not missing. Starting with the kitchen appliances, both for breakfast (for example coffee machines, juicers, extractors, kettles and toasters) and for food preparation (such as food processors, slicers, blenders and mixers). Here the brands really offer a remarkable variety of colors: from bright shades, to pastel tones, up to hi-tech colors. After all, these are appliances that often remain on display in the kitchen and therefore their aesthetic appeal is no less important than their functionality. But also other types of products are increasingly offered with colored details or bright colors, which make these appliances more trendy: for example, appliances for personal care and beauty – both for women and men – such as hair dryers, hair straightener, epilators and razors. Finally, even cleaning products (electric brooms, handheld vacuum cleaners, vacuum cleaners) and irons are made more pleasing to the eye thanks to “touches” of color.
More generally, depending on brands and type of appliance (small or large appliances), you can find bright colors such as red, yellow or orange or more delicate tones such as pink, green and blue. Neutral colors, then, are not missing, such as gray, beige, ivory and cream. Furthermore, even if the color range has expanded, white, black and stainless steel remain timeless proposals. White never seems to go out of fashion and is a solution that in induction hobs can create an effect of perfect integration with the kitchen top. Black, then, continues to dominate for its elegance and essentiality, and is proposed in different finishes: for example material, glossy or in combination with metal parts. The stainless steel aesthetic, on the other hand, is one of the most suitable solutions to enhance the professional and hi-tech aspect of the product, and fits very well within a contemporary furniture. Sometimes, the purity of steel is combined with color details like in some freestanding kitchens with colored handles and knobs. Furthermore, to satisfy the need to better harmonize household appliances placed in the same environment, one of the latest trends is the proposal of coordinated collections no longer just for small household appliances (as sets for breakfast or for food preparation) but also of large appliances to be installed in a column or in line to have greater aesthetic uniformity (for example coordinated collections for the kitchen including different types of ovens, hobs, microwaves, hoods and drawers). Finally, as already mentioned, the theme of color is not only a matter of shades but also of treatments and finishes: from the painting techniques inspired by the luxury sports car industry to the processes such as satin finishing, polishing and chrome plating, there are many possibilities guaranteed by manufacturers of household appliances that combine, in the definition of a product, craftsmanship and propensity for innovation.
The distinctive factor that gives personality
Color concurs to give character to an appliances, distinguishes it and makes it special. It is therefore an important factor, which plays a role in the conception of a product, as confirmed by some companies in the sector. «Color contributes to give personality to the appliance – declares Marco Guerzoni, Marketing Director of Glem Gas -. There are models that were born to remain in their original version of professional and timeless product thanks to the use of stainless steel. Others, instead, are born to be developed in shapes, details and functions and to be offered in different colors. Today the appliance is considered the true protagonist of the kitchen and a piece of furniture, whether it is a minimal, modern appliance born to integrate completely in the furniture (and so conceived in the shape and color to marry at best with the furniture until it merges with it), whether it is a device conceived with an appealing personality and color, to attract attention from the first glance».
The nuances launched on the market are sometimes inspired by the latest fashion trends, in other cases they refer to “symbolic” meanings connected to the influence that colors exert on mood and well-being. Consumer is attentive to the symbolism of color – explains Gianluigi Freschi, Ceo-General Manager of Ilve – because he relates the chromatic element with factors such as fashion, taste and style, but not only: Pantone has decreed, as Color of The Year 2021, not one but two colors to underline the complexity of the phase we are experiencing and, therefore, the difficulty in bringing it back to a unique and single chromatic interpretation. The Colors of The Year 2021 “Ultimate Gray” and “Illuminating” are two visual languages that simultaneously suggest reflexivity and hope: color, in this case, leaves the boundaries of pure style exercise to take on a different value role.» The chromatic element therefore has a value that goes beyond aesthetics in the strict sense and this is particularly evident if you think of the kitchen, a space where people spend more and more time and where they want to create an environment capable of reflect the personality of those who live there. «Undoubtedly color is a characterizing element for an appliance, above all because it must dialogue with a kitchen environment that is increasingly developed in a space open to the living area – affirms Tiziana Prosperi, Technician Graphic & Design Manager of Franke Home Solutions -. For this reason, today hood must communicate the same style and also harmonize in chromatic terms with the other components and with their design. Today color no longer has only a purely aesthetic value, but also an emotional and functional value. For all these reasons, it is a fundamental factor during the consumer purchase evaluations.» The wideness of the offer that the home appliance industry is able to supply today responds to the need for customization that emerges from users, interested in finding solutions that fully satisfy their specific desires. «Without any doubt – affirms Paolo Mainardi, Brand Manager of Fulgor Milano – the possibility of choosing between different color solutions with shades closer to the consumer’s feeling is one of the ingredients that can guide the purchase decision.» Personalization is a key theme because the preference for certain colors rather than others is a very subjective fact and every choice in terms of nuance says who we are, as Lorenzo Baraldi points out. «Color – explains the General Manager of Baraldi – is a tool for conveying personality and uniqueness, it is a distinctive element: the choice of the colors of our home is crucial to communicate who we are. And the possibility of proposing different colors orient companies and research towards increasingly personalized offers.»
However, the importance of color in defining a product and in guiding the consumer’s decision can vary according to the type of product itself: it seems in fact a less decisive element in more professional appliances, as underlined by the CEO of R.G.V. Marco Di Leo. «In my opinion – he explains – the fact that the color of an appliance is a distinctive element depends on the product. As far as R.G.V. is concerned, we have always paid particular attention to realize appliances with a strong professional impact and, as such, the most important factor is the material they are made of. If steel, the better. Neutral colors of the alloys, however, have always a great success. For other products, however, I believe that color can certainly make the difference, if it is guessed with respect to the object itself.» Finally, another aspect to consider in relation to the theme of color is the time factor: if you think, for example, of large appliances, these products are designed to last a long time and for this reason they should not tire those who own them. «It is undeniable – explains Fabrizio Crisà, Global Design Director of Elica – that color can be a characterizing and attractive element for consumers. However, a distinction must be made between what is trendy, and therefore by definition appealing for a limited period of time, from what consumer really evaluates at the time of purchase. The automotive world can teach us a lot on the subject: the models are available in many colors, often the most particular are also the protagonists of communication, but then the products that record the highest sales are the classic ones in white, black or gray. In the world of fashion, on the contrary, color becomes the basis of the collections, we live of the “pantone” of the year, and then change, shortly after, the entire wardrobe to adopt the tone of the new trends. An appliance has a very long life, so binding to a particular color becomes a “brave” choice. Appliances are an integral part of the kitchen, therefore the problem of matching with the finishes of the furniture and the environment arises immediately. This does not mean abandoning the idea of colored appliances, but rather finding the right chromatic and material balance. This is what we try to do in Elica: proposing timeless products, in harmony with the environment and able to give a distinctive touch. Another path we are following is thinking of customizable solutions according to the tastes and needs of consumers. For example, the Nuage and Illusion hoods can be coated with drywall and then painted with the same finish as the wall or ceiling. Or the Rules hood, that is available, besides in glass or Dekton black sirius, also in the Naked version, that is without the aesthetic panel that can be added by the consumer by choosing the material and color he prefers. Breaking the mold means proposing new and characterful solutions, adapting them to the real needs and environments in which the products will come to life.» On the refrigerators front, instead, an interesting proposal in terms of customization is that relating to models equipped with an easily interchangeable front panel: a solution that allows to reinvent the look of the product without having to replace it.
A know-how that grows thanks to research and innovation
Advanced painting techniques, surface treatments and innovative materials make it possible to create a very wide variety of colors and finishes. All this is part of the vast know-how acquired by the household appliance industry, a knowledge that constantly progresses thanks to continuous research and technological innovation. The theme of color, in facts, is closely linked to finishes and materials, even in the perception of the end user. «When we buy a household appliance – explains Lorenzo Baraldi of the homonymous company – its finish strongly affects the purchase choice. And thanks to new technologies, today we can offer numerous options to consumers because it is possible to propose ranges of colors or effects that were unthinkable until a few years ago.» The close connection among surface treatment, materials and chromatic elements is also underlined by Fulgor Milano: «The finish is an integral part of the color – underlines Paolo Mainardi – as happens in our induction hobs which have a white shade (CeraWhite) which perfectly matches with the materials of kitchen furniture worktops. In the same way, the new black material finish, proposed with our Urbantech and Cluster Concept series (MBK version), is the result of the application of the opaque color on different materials such as steel, glass or ceramic glass.»
Materials and colors contribute to make an appliance an innovative appliance and the colors and processes themselves are the result of techniques that evolve over time with a view to innovation. «About ten years ago – explains Marco Di Leo of R.G.V. – we started to make a range of colored slicers and today the Red version is the best-seller on the Italian market. Clearly, then, technology has progressed, so that the paints also served to protect the appliance and make it resistant over time, becoming an element of innovation.»
In order to obtain high quality standards in terms of aesthetics and performance, specific tests are carried out to verify the color duration over time, the resistance to corrosion or to high temperatures, as occurs for example in the Elica Propulsion Laboratory. «The selection of material and color – says Fabrizio Crisà – is an integral part of the innovation that distinguishes household appliances, further more for hoods and hobs with integrated extraction system that represent Elica’s business. All the elements that make up Elica products, including materials and paints, are subjected to specific stress tests in the Elica Propulsion Laboratory. High temperature resistance tests are carried out: all materials must be fireproof and self-extinguishing, as well as having to pass the “ball pressure test” to verify the aesthetic fastness of the material at high temperatures. Moreover, the resistance of the materials to corrosion and aging is tested through the salt spray test, in order to guarantee maximum strength over time. The application on Elica products of materials such as wood, technopolymers or paints is the result of careful research and stringent controls to guarantee the solidity and safety of the product.»
There are also different purposes that can lead to the use of color in household appliances: for example, to signal the presence of a certain technology in a product, or to obtain a particular aesthetic effect or to make a material more appealing. «Color – Tiziana Prosperi of Franke Home Solutions says – can be an element of the functional project aimed at emphasizing the use of a specific technology or it can characterize a certain type of material or shape. Furthermore, certain painting techniques such as powder coating, in addition to being very resistant, allow for infinite colors and effects. The same applies to materials, which can be further characterized and emphasized by one shade than another. This is very evident in the Soft Line range, thanks to the Fenix material, and in the Zero Drip range where colors such as sand, dusty blue and black, both glossy and matt with particular acid process of the tempered glass, embellish the material. Otherwise, in the Air-Treatment line the light brown color aims to emphasize and identify a particular characteristic of the range: that of being equipped with innovative sensors for the treatment of indoor air.»
Finally, focusing on color, with original and innovative proposals, is an added value that is appreciated by end users, such as Ilve and Glem Gas emphasize. «Innovation means intercepting unexpressed needs and satisfying consumer expectations: from this point of view, color represents an added value that the market evaluates positively – underlines Gianluigi Freschi of Ilve -. New consumers are carriers of sensitivities that, in many cases, reward unconventional aesthetics and that clear products that convey a more decisive chromatic allegory.» «In our more than 60 years of experience – affirms Marco Guerzoni of Glem Gas in turn – we can say that the focus has always been not to leave out any detail, be it a detail of the installation process or an aesthetic detail of the product, such as the use of color. As “Specialsti in cottura” and Italian producers from Modena, we believe that the attention to every single detail is the real plus we can offer to our users. Each aspect is evaluated and developed to be useful and functional, at the service of the user and not vice versa, so contributing to the success of the product. By introducing more color into our selection of models, we wanted to give the user an added value, expanding the choice not only in terms of size and functionality but also in terms of style for furnishing the kitchen environment. Moreover, we wanted to give an alternative solution to all those who get more comfortable with the cleaning and maintenance of a colored product.»
|Color and furniture trends
“Today home is no longer just the place where we carry out our daily activities and that welcomes us at the end of the day, but it is also the place where we often work, socialize and cultivate our interests. People therefore opt for open and multifunctional spaces in which, for example, it is possible to incorporate the office corner among the environments of daily life. Furniture trends place the emphasis on sustainability, pursuit of luxury and individuality, and in this context color plays a significant role. In a house, for example, can not miss the neutral colors (which in our case are translated in the use of steel, which also gives a strong professional connotation): the choice of these color tones means to recreate a particularly intimate and welcoming atmosphere. Furthermore, embossed black is confirmed as one of the main trendy colors and with its character it refers to a luxurious and elegant style. As for the propensity to seek an individual style, this trend pushes to customize spaces, without limiting oneself to specific stylistic dictates but above all taking into account oneself and one's tastes and interests, to create a truly unique and original environment. At Baraldi we respond to this need, for example with our Full Color technology that allows us to permanently print any color, image or graphic effect on metal.” (Baraldi, Lorenzo Baraldi)
CUSTOMIZATION IN THE ONE HOOD
To satisfy the desire for customization, the One hood by Baraldi can be treated with Full Color technology. Each user can thus choose the solution that best reflects his color and taste preferences, in line with the tendency to prefer a style that reflects the personality of those who live in the house.
|The importance of materiality, texture and finish
“Color, not only intended as a shade, but also as finish, texture and material, is fundamental during the product design phase. Every project, every shape and every functionality are closely linked to color or aesthetic finish. Currently we are oriented towards dark shades: we use a lot of black with a matte finish and gloss with silk effect, cast iron effect or materials such as Dekton, so not only color but materiality of the elements. The black and white glass are the masters but we have also added pastel gray. Although black is the color of the moment as far as furniture is concerned, white remains the most popular color for kitchens and our answer is the use of silky soft touch paints and materials such as Krion in matt white paste and velvety to the touch. In some cases the winning combination was white with aged oak wood or black with Canaletto walnut wood. The search for new finishes and the flowering of new colors go hand in hand with the use of stainless steel which remains the reference material.” (Elica, Fabrizio Crisà)
Illusion by Elica “disappears” in the ceiling. The hood can be finished with a white panel and frame, or with a stainless steel frame and plasterboard panel that can be customized with the texture of the ceiling. In addition, the model is equipped with strip led integrated in the lateral suction areas and with a system that allows to adjust the light intensity.
|A mix & match that gives personality
“Color is a central element in the development of a Faber hood because it contributes to give personality to the model and at the same time reflects the trends of the most modern kitchens. We are currently focusing in particular on a mix & match that combines different finishes, including glossy and opaque ones, in the same composition, following a trend which is lately very widespread in interior design. We have recently proposed a line with an innovative material for hoods, Fenix, which we have, however, combined with some shiny details to give further modernity and greater dynamism to the velvety surface of these models. In terms of colors, our preference is for ultra-matte shades, especially when we opt for black. A choice that we also decline in the painting of metal and glass. In terms of color palette, we range from shades of matt gray and matt dusty blue for the hoods with young and essential lines, such as Beat, to more classic and refined finishes such as matt black and matt titanium for the premium models.” (Franke Home Solutions, Tiziana Prosperi)
The Beat chandelier hood by Faber is characterized by trendy colors such as dusty blue, black, dark gray and white, all in a matte finish. It is composed of two divided panels and a steel element that create a contrast among different materials and different treatments. It is a solution that well integrates itself into kitchens with a contemporary style.
|Black, steel and immortal white
“The style of design and the choice of materials are intimately connected among them. Some common colors like white are more appreciated on some shapes and less on others. Furthermore, in the built-in appliances that remain visible in the kitchen furniture, the research is to make the combination of different materials more pleasant and impactful to the eye of those who have to make the purchase decision. If the aesthetics in stainless steel are irreplaceable when the product must communicate solidity, durability and ‘strength', and therefore essential in lines such as our Professional series, there are also new trends in the choice of colors such as the use of material black, which dominates in the upper segment of the market and which we propose for example with our new Urbantech series, or as the elegant shades of an intense black which are incredibly attractive when combined with satin metal components such as in our Cluster Concept series, which is a jewel lent to cooking." (Fulgor Milano, Paolo Mainardi)
|For a contemporary kitchen environment
“Speaking of design with a focus on the Italian market, this year with the Specialista range there has been a more important corporate commitment in the expansion of the color concept in freestanding cookers. In fact, the new concept was developed not only thinking of rustic and/or vintage environment but also of a contemporary kitchen environment. With Specialista ST we have introduced modern opaque colors that are best suited to the furniture design: we are talking about Nero Carbone (Carbon Black), Rosso Pomodoro (Tomato Red) and Bianco Farina (Flour White). While for the SB version, always maintaining the matte finish, other more classic but equally flexible colors have been added besides Carbon Black: the delicate and timeless Giallo Parmigiano (Parmesan Yellow) and the elegant and intense Rosso Lambrusco (Lambrusco Red). Tones always accompanied by our main choice of color and material, the stainless steel version, and enriched in all variants with red details in the knobs, black bands in the ST version and alternations for the creation of plays of light and color between black and steel elements, in different matt and glossy finishes." (Glem Gas, Marco Guerzoni)
|A multiplicity of color variations
“Ilve uses color as a distinct marketing lever and offers the market, in addition to standard finishes, the opportunity to customize their kitchens using the RAL color palette in 200 variants. This result is achieved because Ilve's industrial platform allows extreme flexibility and each kitchen is built according to customer specifications. The basic coloring can then be combined with aesthetic details that place the product almost in a sartorial dimension. On the company website there is a product configurator which shows, in preview, the result of the choices made by the consumer who can also use augmented reality to virtually place the product within his own home environment". (Ilve, Gianluigi Freschi)
Ilve interprets the 2021 Color of The Year Illuminating in the M15N cooking block. Each year the Pantone Color of the Year is designated: also in 2021 Ilve has accepted the suggestion, transforming it into a product that combines advanced technologies and current trends. The cooking block was also made in Ultimate Gray, also Color of the Year 2021.
|Professional opens to color
“Our roots belong to the professional world, so our prerogative is tendentially to produce medium-high range products, preferably in steel or aluminum (or alloys) and with little plastic. However, we have still expanded our range to include appliances with classic, traditional colors, and a study is underway to propose more trendy colors, linked to new technologies and new trends: for example opaque solutions, details with very particular colors, etc." (R.G.V., Marco Di Leo)