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NKBA Survey Shows Growing Need for Tech-Savvy Design
Being tech-savvy is going to become more important for kitchen and bath designers as the consumer market they serve experiences a paradigm shift. As younger clients replace baby boomer and Gen X homeowners look to remodel, the focus on products that are programmable, easy to use and accessible on remote smart devices will become more prevalent.
This idea was reflected in the Kitchen Tech & Millennials Report, recently released by the National Kitchen & Bath Association. In particular, millennials – who range in age from 26 to 41 – represent an increasing percentage of the remodeling and home-buying client base, compared with Gen X and Boomers.
This group is gaining economic strength and rising in their careers, so their disposable income is growing, notes the NKBA. In addition, this is the first generation of “digital natives” who understand how to use technology to make their lives easier, more convenient and efficient, the association adds.
The report also notes that, unlike some of their elders, millennials have no fear of technology, and firmly believe that tech is essential in kitchen design. The study found that kitchen designers must level up on design-plus-technology to remain relevant with this consumer base.
Unfortunately, designers still seem to be in the early phase of introducing technology into their clients’ designs, notes the report. Only 30 percent of designers surveyed said they have integrated technology into kitchen projects, while fewer than 10% said they regularly use a Technology Integrator. All the experts agreed, however, that the design process must start smart and bring a tech integrator into the early stages of the project to plan for adequate infrastructure, electrical work and network security.
While smart systems that connect systems throughout the home are in their early stages, kitchen and bath designers can educate themselves about items currently available that deliver a more digital and customized experience. From voice-command faucets and connected appliances to preset digitized showers and responsive lighting, products that employ connectivity via apps and smart home systems are being introduced at an accelerated pace as interest increases.
Here are a few of the hottest smart products on the market right now:
Delta Faucet’s Emmeline Kitchen Faucet, which balances traditional and contemporary style and features a diamond-shaped spout, is a pull-down fitting that features Touch2O Technology, which allows the start and stop of water flow with a simple touch anywhere on the spout or handle. It is also available with VoiceIQ Technology, meaning users can activate water flow, dispense metered amounts and fill custom containers with a voice command when paired with Amazon Alexa® or Google Assistant-enabled devices.
With its largest appliance launch in its history, Miele has introduced an array of units from ovens and coffee systems to dishwashers and refrigeration. Clients have the ability to interact with the appliances without physically touching them via the Miele@home app, which lets users access and control appliances, as well as see the status of programs, from their smart devices.
Kohler’s Anthem valves and controls have been designed to give users an immersive shower experience that is tailored to their exact specifications and altered according to their needs. The digital valve control’s minimalist, touch-sensitive surface is intuitive, and valves can control up to six outlets, allowing for user personalization over any combination of shower sprays, rainheads, showerheads, handshowers and body sprays. The digital controls are integrated with the Kohler Konnect app, which allows users to control nearly every facet of the showering experience via a smart phone, including monitoring water usage and shower duration. The shower can be paired with voice assistants to allow for voice operation.
Tresco Lighting has partnered with Swidget Corp. to offer a modular smart home solution that allows for customization and upgrading with a simple swap. Existing outlets and switches can be replaced with a technology-ready Swidget 20A Outlet, Switch or Dimmer, and a choice of WiFi-enabled inserts – including the energy-efficient motion sensor, the fast-charging USB or the high-efficiency LED Guide/Night Light – can be added. Users can control lights, program schedules, create scenes, set automations and more with the Swidget App, or pair it with Amazon Alexa or Google Home to enable voice commands.