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European kitchens go checkboard, botanical and purple (yes, lots of purple)

April 20, 2010 |  8:30 am

Kitchen_CheckersDetail Eurocucina is the Olympics of the kitchen world. Held every two years in conjunction with the Milan furniture fair in Italy, the showcase includes more than 150 exhibitors showing their latest looks in cabinets, counters and cooking accouterments. Toss in about 25 appliance manufacturers in the accompanying FTK show (the Italian acronym for Technology for the Kitchen), and you are bound to see the thrill of innovation victory and the agony of design defeat. 

Kitchen_CounterDesign Some threads running through the show: graphic decoration, remote-controlled storage and -- say it isn't so -- purple as color du jour. 

But before we jump into that color puzzler, let's start with Checkers, a new design from Armani/Dada. It was one of many exhibitors looking for ways to add graphic pattern to traditionally monotone surfaces. Instead of the usual wood or glass doors, Checkers' silver or acid-etched doors have visual depth -- a subtle, textured pattern that lies under transparent glass and can be seen only up close. The door functions differently too, popping every so subtly and sliding sideways.

At the other end of the style spectrum, the French company Mobalpa gave a graphic treatment to the counter top of its new concept, Télécharger, designed by Antoine Fritsch. Induction burners set into the Corian formed a botanical pattern, right.

The new look at Bontempi was a design by Paola Navone called "Menu." Upper cabinets carried either a geometric pattern with a hand-drawn quality or a fool-the-eye depiction of glassware or stacked ceramics. Base cabinets were textured wood whose grooves ran against the grain, created a subtle checkerboard effect.

Cabinet fronts can come with cubbies on the outside, for a sort of European pantry look. Overscaled handles -- seen in so many showrooms ar the show -- finished the look, below.




Now, about that purple thing. Keep reading to see (and believe) ...

Call it plum, aubergine, violet, lavender, magenta, lilac, merlot -- whatever. I'm going to use the umbrella term "purple" to cover the range of shades between bubble gum and grape, and I don't want a debate, OK? My point is that at least a dozen demonstration kitchens at the Milan show prescribed it as the look in doses large and small. Knives stuck in the heart above are a nice touch, no?

Kitchen_Purple2 Purple cabinets, purple pendant lights, purple backsplashes, even a purple door that incorporate a TV screen, right.

Remeber, I don't make the trends. I just report 'em.

-- Craig Nakano

Photo credits, from top: Armani/Dada, Armani/Dada, Craig Nakano, Bontempi, Bontempi, Bontempi, Craig Nakano, Craig Nakano.

More Milan: Keeps tabs on coverage from the 2010 show and get updates on our Facebook page.

Photo gallery: A visual tour of furniture premieres.