This year at the Kitchen & Bath Show in Chicago, it was clear that beautifully designed sinks and faucets now offer innovative functionality to today's homeowners with new products such as pioneering disposers, water filtration options, European trends for faucet style and finishes, and functional sink configurations.

Danze Inc. Parma Collection

Faucet Style

Let's start above deck with the continued movement toward streamlined faucet design. From a completely aesthetic angle, Danze Inc. has announced additions to its Parma Collection of kitchen faucets that feature significant European influence.

“European designs are a growing influence in North America and appeal to those interested in more contemporary styling,” says Ed Detgen, Danze director of marketing. “Italy and Germany are on the forefront of this type of style.”

Danze, Detgen says, has been following the various European kitchen and bath shows and trends, and the company's Parma kitchen faucet was designed in and inspired by the European lines. It features a single handle on a low, side-mounted valve. The faucet itself is tall in stature with a graceful high arc spout; it offers a clear alternative to traditional widespread design.

Finishes for Parma include classic chrome and the ever-popular stainless steel. Metallic finishes like these lend themselves well to contemporary design, especially appealing in metro areas and to larger condominium developments. There is still a growing trend to match faucets to appliances, and many of those nowadays include stainless-steel.

“In Europe, you don't see 'special' finishes - no antiquing or oil-rubbed finishes; it's all chrome.”

Expanding on the streamlined look, Moen Inc.'s integrated filtration system featuring ChoiceFlo™ technology replaces bulky filtering pitchers and water bottles, as well as the need for multiple filtering faucets at the sink deck.

“There seems to be clutter everywhere - including inside the refrigerator,” says Moen's design and product management team. Consumers can now get both filtered and ordinary tap water from one spout with ChoiceFlo filtering technology. This technology has been integrated into Moen's popular and affordable Chateau® faucet.

Installation is simple: a separate handle is mounted next to the faucet deck plate. Turning the lever allows consumers to easily switch from tap to filtered water. A separate water line delivers the filtered water through a hidden spout on the faucet neck. An under-the-sink carbon filter is installed and connected to the filtered water line.

“Changing the carbon filter is very simple,” says Moen. “Just unscrew the old filter and screw on the new one - no need to even turn off the water.”

The filter lasts up to six months, and homeowners can purchase replacements from their plumber or plumbing wholesaler. A filter-life indicator signals when it needs to be replaced.

The faucet also features a flow rate of 1 gpm, almost double the rate of many competitive products. As a result, pitchers and glasses are filled with filtered water in no time.

Sink D-sign

Another continuing trend in new and remodeled kitchens is solid-surface countertops. Highlighting that surface's appeal are Kohler's Undertone stainless-steel sinks, specifically Kohler's D-bowl shaped offerings.

Drop in or self-rimming sinks are rarely requested by remodeling homeowners these days, but they are still looking for functionality. D-shapes offer a curved profile and create more useable space near the central part of the sink.

The company's triple-basin sink models offer varying sizes and shapes to suit individual design tastes as well as workspace restrictions. They also offer optional accessories such as hardwood cutting boards, bottom basin racks and wire mesh racks for user convenience.

Kohler is also making clean-up easier by re-engineering the traditional double-bowl sink with its Smart Divide feature, a low-profile basin divider giving homeowners greater clearance between the faucet and the mid section of the sink.

“The new Smart Divide design available on select Kohler cast-iron kitchen sinks provides the best of both worlds - double-basin convenience and the roominess of a single-basin sink,” says Andy Barber, marketing manager for Kohler kitchen products.

Smart Divide is half the height of conventional dividers, so extra-long pots and pans can be more fully submerged, and less water is needed to soak cookware.

InSinkErator Evolution PRO Series™ disposer

Disposer Overhaulin'

Moving below the sink, InSinkErator has made dramatic improvements to the food waste disposer, which hasn't undergone much innovation since its creation in 1927. The Evolution PRO Series™ features five new disposers and features MultiGrind™ and SoundSeal™ technology.

“Improved grinding ability and reduced noise are the most common requests we've heard over the years from plumbers, wholesalers and consumers,” notes InSinkErator President Jerry Ryder in the line's introductory release. Evolution PRO can handle corncobs, rib bones, potato peels and fibrous celery - and the consumer hears almost nothing.

According to the company, SoundSeal reduces noise by at least 40 percent against standard disposers; SoundSeal Plus reduces noise by up to 60 percent. It features cushions of rubber to remove noise and vibration, and a baffle design that lets water pool near the opening, creating a thin “water dam” that caps noise coming up through the sink. Antimicrobial rubber inhibits the growth of bacterial odors.

InSinkErator's MultiGrind technology sends food through multiple stages of grindage, shearing food into finer waste - ideal for stringy foods like corn husks and celery. The stainless-steel grind chambers protect against corrosion. Attention to components, such as fixed and swivel lugs, helps propel water throughout the grinder to help rinse and clean it.

A special Jam-Sensor Circuit™ actually senses a jam before it happens, and increases rotational torque while pulsing the system to clear lines.

Evolution PRO Series will be available to wholesalers beginning this summer.

Trends To Watch

What's next for the kitchen? The Moen design and product management team believes homeowners will continue to focus on high-end design that emulates commercial kitchens, as well as gravitate toward functional products that will allow them to easily fit kitchen tasks into their busy lives.

“New products, such as our Lancelot Professional Sink line, offer unique angled sidewalls for a more commercial look in the kitchen,” Moen says.

“Established styles will remain popular,” predicts Detgen, which includes Tuscan motifs, Art Deco styles and the emerging European and contemporary trends. Danze will soon offer increased functionality to homeowners with its deck-mounted pot fillers, as well as introductions of faucet designs that will “bring a breath of fresh air” in terms of dramatic styling at the sink.

“Contracting plumbing companies would do well to partner up with local showrooms, or create a showroom space of their own, in order to better serve their customers,” Detgen advises. Modern showrooms filled with knowledgeable design staff are one of the best ways to link customer to product, and stay up-to-date with the latest kitchen trends.