Action stations: the evolving role of the sink in kitchen design
The sink has evolved. What was once just a wash-and-dry area is now a multifunctional food-prep zone that packs a punch in the design stakes
The advent of open-plan living has had a dramatic effect on how the wet zone is used in a contemporary kitchen.
While the sink is an integral part of every scheme, the fact that all elements are visible from dining and living areas has meant there is an increased demand for models that enhance their surroundings, by blending in seamlessly or creating a visual impact.
“Kitchen sinks continue to evolve in line with design trends and consumer demand,” says James Cunningham, sales and marketing director for Rangemaster.
“Undermount sinks remain popular, particularly in modern kitchens encompassing clean lines and contemporary styling. They are discreet, sitting under a worktop, allowing it to successfully ‘flow’ through a kitchen, which is of paramount importance in terms of a large, open-plan design.”
“Consumers are investing in matching kitchen products to create a sleek, complete aesthetic”
Using a sink as a design flourish as part of a more maximalist aesthetic has led to a variety of tones and finishes making it on to the market. “People want choice, which is why we’re seeing a growth in demand for more alternative colours and textures,” says Lucy Dunstan, product manager at Smeg UK.
“Metallic finishes such as copper, and colours like anthracite are definitely proving popular.” Stainless steel remains a strong contender – according to Reginox it accounts for nearly 70% of the company’s sink sales – but the sector has now opened up to include other materials and finishes, all eye-catching and meeting the practical demands of one of the hardest-working areas of the kitchen.
What’s trending in sinks?“With the trend for adding more colour and texture in the kitchen, as well as sleek and streamlined looks, we’ve reimagined our granite offer to incorporate products like the Aruba sink, which is low profile in design and available in contemporary colours” - Larah Kuziw, brand manager, Carron Phoenix
“Consumers are investing in matching kitchen products to create a sleek, complete aesthetic. For instance, our copper sink perfectly matches with the copper trim detail on our Dolce Stil Novo appliances – this makes for a great upselling opportunity when compared to the traditional stainless steel option” - Lucy Dunstan, product manager, Smeg UK
“Undermount sinks in stainless steel are the most popular design choice with consumers in the mid-market and upwards because they deliver a streamlined look, and suit all kitchen styles from classic to contemporary. But at the top end of the market, the trend for flush mounting continues” - Jeanette Ward, communications manager, Franke UK
“Matching an undermount sink to the worktop is becoming increasingly popular – something that is made easy by our range of Silestone Integrity sinks. Customers are wanting a range of different choices aside from the standard ones, and are drawn to retailers offering the chance for bespoke options” - Laura Davie, marketing co-ordinator, Cosentino UK and Ireland
Products need to be durable, abrasion resistant and easy to clean, and manufacturers are coming up with many ways of achieving this. Villeroy & Boch says that its ceramic sinks are shock-resistant, as well as scratch- and heat-proof, and the addition of its CeramicPlus finish makes it easier to wipe down.
“Undermount sinks in stainless steel are the most popular design choice with consumers in the mid-market and upwards because they deliver a streamlined look”
Similarly, GROHE’s composite sinks are made from 80% quartz mixed with acrylic resin for a hygienic and hard-wearing surface that won’t fade under UV light. But there are other factors at play.
According to Trend-Monitor’s Kitchen Behaviours & Product Usage Report 2019, almost half of all households now have a dishwasher and, for these consumers, this affects how their sinks are used.
“Where people are using a dishwasher for the daily washing-up chores, larger sink bowl sizes are popular for washing bulky items that need to be washed by hand,” says Abode MD Darren Holliday.
Added to that, where washing up is no longer the key requirement, the wet zone has become more of a multifunctional work station for food prep, with manufacturers responding by producing an array of co-ordinating accessories including chopping boards, strainers, baskets and colanders to support this.
Similarly, smaller secondary sinks as part of a food preparation area are also rising in demand. In spite of the current economic challenges, consumers’ enthusiasm for the breadth of product on offer is strong and the sinks sector is continuing to grow.
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According to the Domestic Kitchen Furniture Market Report UK 2019-2023 by AMA Research, the sinks market was estimated to be worth £132m at manufacturers’ selling prices in 2018, which represents a 2% increase on 2017.
“More than ever before, brands offer a plethora of versatile and design-led options catering to a range of tastes,” says Smeg UK’s Dunstan.
With sinks available to suit all aesthetic and practical needs, variety would seem to be the key.