Trends in Coating Finishes for Modern Kitchen Appliances
The coating should ideally be a part of the design process from an early stage.
There are some trends building steam in the home appliance industry. After a long period of sameness, the major appliance industry is undergoing a design and innovation renaissance and the changes have only just begun.
As both a supplier of coatings to the appliances industry, and as a consumer buying appliances, we are in the unique position of sharing insights from two different perspectives. Driven by our own desires as a consumer and being a supplier developing these coatings allows us to relate to both coating and fashion trends that can then be developed and offered to the various OEMs.
Traditionally, the appliance industry was typically ‘any color you want as long as it’s white’—a bit like in the automotive industry of yesteryear with the Henry Ford ‘any color you like as long as it’s black.’ Today, the automotive industry is far removed from where it began. Likewise, whilst white still makes up a very large percentage of the appliances you see in the retail outlets, we are seeing more variations on this, ranging from subtle shades of whites to colors, metallic shades and silver variants. We even see tactile surfaces being introduced such as soft touch and textures as well as moving from the accepted high gloss shiny surfaces to more matte finishes, a trend also seen in the automotive industry. Some high-end appliance OEMs are also more specifically well known for their use of bright primary colors in order to really make a statement, which is a long way from the more usual white.
Predominantly, appliances were coated with liquid paints, usually solvent based, but as society has evolved to become more concerned and aware of the environment, powder coatings have become the preferred choice for appliances. Powder coatings do not contain any VOC (volatile organic content – solvent), which means they are much more environmentally friendly, and they can be almost fully recycled during the coating operation, meaning better utilization of the coatings, improved productivity and sustainability for the manufacturer and a safer environment to bring up our children.
From a consumer perspective, today we tend to spend more time at home, in our own unique living space and we like that space to reflect who we are, our style, our persona, our character. A space that we can be proud of when we entertain others and we care a lot more these days about the appearance of our appliances as part of our overall home environment. Although the aesthetic appeal of an appliance is important to consumers, it must also be able to perform; a washing machine must be capable of cleaning our clothes and a refrigerator must still keep our food fresh. Where once functionality was the focus of the appliance industry, today aesthetics are just as significant. Moreover, the internet and social media has made the world more aware about societal and environmental factors, creating conscious customers who want sustainable, more efficient options wherever possible.
As a coatings supplier, we have to evaluate trends using this customer insight to deliver what we feel the consumer and the OEM want from a coating in terms of function, and more importantly, in terms of form, style, feel and overall appearance. When considering the appearance, the coating should ideally be a part of the design process from an early stage.
As powder coatings suppliers, first and foremost, we need to ensure we meet the needs of customers: OEMs that need our coating to apply in the most efficient way possible. Thinner coatings giving more metal coated per kilogram of powder used, lower curing temperatures so that less energy is consumed during manufacture, faster curing times to allow for the best productivity possible and of course, the required level of corrosion protection. In addition, we also need to satisfy the requirements of our customer’s customers, the end consumer, by providing the desired finish and appearance. So, in essence, what we need are coatings that are sustainable, recyclable and efficient, that consume less energy and enhance productivity whilst being available in metallic finishes, matte and soft touch finishes, bright colors and the traditional hues of whites... Is that too much to ask? Well, not really.
As mentioned earlier, the appliance industry has witnessed growing demand for fresh and bright colors. It seems the mid-century retro trend for colors is coming back. Experimentation and self-expression is in, as consumers want to express themselves through style, color and vitality; and this is reflected in their choices for home appliances. Retro, yet contemporary pastels, the new classics in a way, bright vivid reds and primary colors are all finding their place in the modern kitchen.
Neutral metallic finishes have been in fashion for a while now with primarily silvers and variations of silver predominant. Now we are seeing trends broaden towards other metallic finishes such as copper, brass, bronze and that Industrial Luxe look. Exposed brickwork, rusting steel, corroding copper and restored wood are combined together to generate a new and exciting design ethic symbolizing all that is good about rejuvenating the old with a touch of the new.
High gloss white will always be a staple of the modern kitchen appliance and is unlikely to go out of fashion in the foreseeable future; however, with the growing demand to be unique, it is not out of the question to see a desire to move towards a more matte, non-reflective finish, particularly in combination with metallic finishes. We mentioned the automotive industry earlier, citing Henry Ford’s view on colors, we again see similarities in trends from the automotive industry, with luxury vehicles getting a matte finish foil or special paint finish to stand out from the crowd. A very matte finish can even add a tactile dimension or soft touch feel to home appliances, meaning we can influence color, style, finish and tactility of the appliances we choose, which in turn reflect and represent our personal fashion or design statement when creating our home environment.
As a society, we strive to be more individual in our style choices in all aspects of our life, even down to the appliances we buy for our home, and we are looking for those choices to be made available to us. As a supplier of coatings to the appliances industry, it is our job to listen, understand the insight, and make those choices available wherever possible.
Serena Gonsalves is the global communications manager at Jotun A/S - Powder Coatings Segment. For more information, call +971 4 3472515,
email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jotun.com.