Influences of Car Design On Kitchen (& Bath) Design

A design discussion

hosted by Lisa M. Smith

Kitchen and bathroom design influences come from a myriad of places. Recognizing that kitchens and bathrooms in the simplest form are purely a collection of large planes and purposeful, durable shapes, what other daily living product shares this similarity? Automobiles. Cars have their intrinsic elements: wheels, engine, seating and controls, kitchens have theirs: cabinetry, countertops and appliances. Both have the same set of problems we as designers are tasked to solve, functionality, durability and oh yeah, its gotta have visual appeal. By looking at how automotive designers create attractive solutions. We can streamline our interior design process by building on what works.

photo-a-doors-on-lamborghini-aventatdor

Frameless Doors and Drawers – Frames are not exposed on a car, all doors (trunk, bonnet, fuel filler, glove box) are fairly seamless. Car design disposed of exposed hinges long ago, kitchen and bathroom cabinetry are on the same path. Exposed hinges are a dust magnet. Why create a problem for a customer when the goal is to design a solution? Consumers today have a much higher tuned design aesthetic.  They don’t want to view anything which does not add to the visual appeal.

photo-b-stainless-steel-in-cars-and-kitchens

Q1: Car doors eliminate visual hinges and frames. Do you use frame or frameless cabinets in your designs and why?

The use of stainless steel for functional items or pure visual embellishment is an important material used by car manufacturers.  It is a classic. Just like with cars, in K&B stainless steel symbolized quality and durability.  Did you know Blanco, the German manufacturer of kitchen faucets and sinks actually has an automotive connection? BLANCO is the company trusted by Porsche, Mercedes- Benz and Rolls-Royce for stainless steel work included on their automobiles.

Q2:  Stainless steel is a common element in cars and kitchens. How do you incorporate stainless steel into your designs?

photo-c-new-materials

Automotive manufacturers are constantly bringing new materials to consumers.  Cars used to only have big metal bumpers.  Kitchens had big cast iron sinks. Metal was once the only bumper option on a car. Today, numbers are hidden behind gorgeous skins.  In the kitchen and bath, we have a number of new material or surface products to choose from.

Q3: Innovative materials drive the car industry. What new material choices do you like to use for K&B and how?

Automobile design trends shift back and forth throughout history from boxy to curvy.

Q4: Today’s cars are sleek and curvy. How do you keep kitchen and bathrooms from feeling like a room full of boxes?

photo-d-old-and-new-car-dashboard

Technology is important in cars and kitchens. Consumers want connectivity, they are used to digital screens which are clear and updated. Technology changes from model year to model year in cars.  It has to. This influences buying decisions.

Q5: Cars keep adding tech. How are you incorporating latest technology into K&B and keeping your designs fresh and up to date?

Efficiency is another characteristic cars and kitchens have in common. Whether going from point A to point B or preparing a family meal people want to complete these tasks with ease. Good automobile designers put everything the driver or passengers needs within reach.

 

Q6: A good car is easy to use, a master of efficiency. What design elements make a kitchen efficient and easy?

A chief component of automotive interior design is comfortable seating and being ergonomically sound. Seating is supportive and adjustable. Not unlike a car where long commutes are not unusual, how much time one is seated in the kitchen is for a much longer period than many years ago.

 

Q7: Luxury cars have 18-way adjustable seats. How do you incorporate truly comfortable seating into the kitchen?

Luxury cars are all the rage and while every one can’t afford a $100,000 car, car companies are very adept at making moderately priced cars look and feel luxurious.

Q8: What are your tips for making a kitchen or bath luxurious without a big price tag?

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