Milan Design Week is underway, but in the home appliance displays, some of the most interesting items in the design capital of Europe come from places like Benton Harbor, MI and Madison, WI.
While the cabinetry, furniture, home accessories, and bath fixtures on display remain distinctly rooted in Europe, Design Week's kitchen component, known as EuroCucina, has become an increasingly relevant show for American consumers.
Thanks to the globalization of the appliance industry and the recovering U.S. economy, more design innovations are crossing the Atlantic, and more European manufacturers are pushing product to the US.
Take, for example, KitchenAid. The brand's stand mixer has been an icon in America for years, but now it's starting to become a staple in European design magazines and high-end homes.
That's why the company decided to incorporate design elements from the mixer into a revamped European large appliance lineup. Ovens on display in Milan now feature knurled handles and colors that echo the stand mixer's handles and finish. The new look should come back to the U.S. on American ranges and wall ovens starting in 2015.
Well-known American luxury brands Wolf and Sub-Zero are at Design Week for the first time, with the same built-in refrigerators and pro-style ranges that made them famous across the U.S. Their booth highlights new designs that incorporate sleek, European designs such as narrow handles and flush-mounted fridge doors.
Products are moving in the other direction, too. Smeg's new small appliance line is key to the company's further expansion into the US, a market that's becoming increasingly important as the European economy remains stagnant. The retro blender, toaster, and stand mixer will go on sale in upscale American kitchen stores next year.