May 23, 2019

Why Only 32% of Designers Recommend Tech in the Kitchen

Photography courtesy of NKBA Insiders.

The kitchen may be considered the heart of the home, but more recently
it’s also become a home’s tech hub. According to the 2018 NKBA Kitchen Technology Study, which surveyed designers and consumers, all of the consumers surveyed ranked their kitchen tech use as either frequent or

Their top tech activities ranged from checking emails and surfing the internet to recipe research and online grocery shopping. All of the respondents are also planning a kitchen remodel within the next two years, and 59% plan to incorporate technology solutions into their kitchens.

While the most common kitchen technology integration is used for entertainment purposes (Amazon Alexa, Apple TV) consumers believe smart kitchens make their home worth more and make their lives easier, save them time, keep them safe, reduce clutter — and are fun.

With that said, they also have some concerns. Picking the right technology is overwhelming; it’s expensive, and can be complicated to control. At the end of the day, consumers want smart appliances that are easier to use, cost-effective and potentially make them better cooks.

Samsung’s Smart Hub Refrigerator. Photography courtesy of NKBA Insiders.

But, when you talk technology integration with designers, 68% have little or no tech recommendations for their clients, according to the research. For the 32% surveyed who do frequently recommend technology solutions, tops on their lists are mobile charging stations, hands-free faucets, lighting control, and some smart — generally Wi-Fi enabled — appliances.

So why aren’t designers recommending technology more? It’s simple: they want more knowledge. They want to know more about how smart appliances can help their clients, how voice control can be a benefit in the kitchen, and how smart design integration will make life easier without adding clutter to the walls or countertops. And they need to understand and communicate the difference between smart tech that’s truly kitchen-specific —like connected appliances or a hands-free faucet —and the tech activities that just take place in the kitchen, like surfing the web or using a laptop or other smart device. These activities can take place anywhere in the home, they just happen to occur in the kitchen if that’s where the user is on his or her tablet or phone.

So what’s the solution? The NKBA offers free webinars to provide additional education on smart technology, and this fall, the association is hosting a thought leadership summit dedicated to the topic of technology at CEDIA, in which I’ll be participating.

Meanwhile, I will continue to bring you more insights on technology in the home and I encourage you to seek out additional ways to educate yourself on the brands you often spec and integrate into your designs.

The NKBA Insiders area hand-selected group of thought leaders, each with an area of design expertise, including topics on integrated technology, materials, sustainability, and the business of design. Each NKBA Insider will share their insights through blog posts and industry events. Ryan Herd is the owner and CEO of 1 Sound Choice, LLC, which specializes in smart home automation. He is also the author of Join the Smart Home Revolution.

To read more from Ryan and other NKBA Insiders, click here.

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