Andy Wells has two important pictures on the wall in his office: One is of a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, the other of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
“The Boeing people are masters of storage that works and dealing with difficult constraints on space,” Wells explains. “With Vivienne Westwood, there’s a theme behind each dress and each outfit. She tells you, this is what it is, and this is how you wear it.” Together, these sources of inspiration help the vice president of product design for MasterBrand Cabinetry stay focused on managing consumers’ cabinetry preferences. Wells says the two trends he’s eyeing now are a move away from traditional sytles in favor of transitional design, and shifts toward cabinetry orientation for more accessibility. MasterBrand is parent company to cabinetry brands including Diamond, Omega, and Aristokraft.
Function & Form
With this in mind, Wells says the cabinet manufacturers are designing products that are “more considerate and conscious of what people want.” And what people want is evident in recent trend reports from Houzz and Zillow Digs. In Houzz’s 2013 Fall Kitchen Trends Study, homeowners reported that they wanted the feeling of more space without actually enlarging the kitchen. A tricky proposition, but Wells says products like variable-depth cabinets and improved interiors and capacity answer the call.
“It’s really turning into a game of better interiors,” Wells says. “After all, what business are we in? Aesthetics are important, but kitchens are about usefulness - what people do with it and how they live.” To that end, many manufacturers are offering much larger drawers dimensions, and Wells says MasterBrand is investigating new mechanisms for opening cabinets and delivering contents to the user. Designwise, let’s not forget about Ms. Westwood. A recent trend report by Zillow Digs says displaying kitchen wares in cabinetry with open shelving or glass doors is a growing trend among all kitchen types. Though functionality is key, Wells says the appearance of cabinetry is as important as what’s displayed on it.
“The big thing now is authenticity,” he says. “We’ve been taking photographs of river rock, 1870s barn wood, and portobello mushroom stems to develop authentic designs. But authenticity also means living what’s important to you and what your customer stands for. Our industry is finally getting to the point where we’re reinventing the box for its purpose and its aesthetic. We have to stop thinking about it as a SKU and start thinking of it as a visually appealing solution to the consumer’s aspiration, and a functioning delivery tool for any room in the house. We’re poised to do that now.”