Homeowner preferences can change quickly, which is why it’s important to constantly stay on top of the latest homebuilding design trends. Patrick Schiavone, vice president of Global Consumer Design at Whirlpool Corporation, leads the team that develops innovative appliances based on those homeowner needs.

Schiavone shares his team’s most recent discoveries and what builders need to know about consumer design preferences in the kitchen and appliance categories.

What inspires your design?

Our design team finds inspiration everywhere. We track work from all over the world in fields like architecture, interior design, and even car design. We’re very curious by nature and are always looking for the next trend. That trend-spotting feeds right into our design projects.

At the Whirlpool Corporation Global Consumer Design centers, we study the cultures, behaviors, and needs of people of all ages. One focus coming out of our research is changes in color finish and material. The future is going to be much more colorful and builders are going to see the benefit of a design team driven by consumer insights.

What are two important trends builders should pay attention to in 2016?

  1. Outdoor spaces are going mainstream in 2016. Across our portfolio of brands, we’re blurring the line between indoor and outdoor furnishings. It’s important for us as an appliance manufacturer to be at the forefront of design in the kitchen, but also have that same standard of beautiful aesthetics outside. We have the opportunity to design appliances that fit perfectly outside the home as well as inside.
  2. The second trend evolves from the first, and that is the desire for a more open floor plan. This trend is going to be here for a long, long time. The kitchen is the new living area and it’s leading to an overall simplicity from a design perspective. People are departing from a separate kitchen and dining room and instead enjoying meals around the center island. I predict the end of glitz and glamour and an increase in a more laid back, modern look.

What advice would you offer to builders when designing a kitchen?

Keep it simple, keep it open, and keep an open mind. Consumers want an open kitchen and a more modern and simple lifestyle. For example, this preference led our design team to the KitchenAid black stainless finish. It’s a tinted stainless and incorporates a warm charcoal color with a matte finish.

An open mind means changing the status quo to include as much detail on the interior of an appliance as we do on the exterior. The Platinum interior of the KitchenAid® French Door Refrigerator and the Multi-door Freestanding Refrigerator is a welcome departure from the typical white light and features LED lighting. It’s also an industry exclusive with its silver, glossy walls.

These finishes can make an enormous impact on a home’s aesthetic, and builders can take advantage of the opportunity we see in designing appliances to fit into the environment of a home and harmonize with the rest of its elements.

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