Are You Inviting “Big Brother” into Your Home with Smart Technology?

The debate continues about whether smart technology makes sense in the kitchen. It’s hard to argue against appliances that notify owners of problems and schedule service. However, some object to delegating tasks and thinking to smart devices. They worry that smart devices are making us lazy, or worse, dumb and anti-social.

As the baby boomer population continues to grow and people are busier than ever, one can easily make the case for employing smart technology in kitchen design. Configuring smart devices and appliances with smart phones, Google Home, or Amazon Alexa lets you remotely complete tasks that normally require your presence or direct touch.

Who Is Interested in Smart Home Technology?

According to The New York Times article, To Invade Homes, Tech Is Trying to Get in Your Kitchen, only 5% of Americans own smart appliances. Yet, appliance brands lead us to believe there is high demand.

In a related survey from October 2017, RICKI – Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence, the nation’s leading authority for kitchen research and trends, revealed statistics about who is interested in smart technology:

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If only 5% of Americans own smart appliances, these percentages translate to fairly small numbers. Interest does not necessarily result in a purchase.

Appliance Brands Need to Walk the Talk

I live in the high-tech region of North Carolina known as Research Triangle Park (RTP). RTP is home to numerous IT companies from hi-tech startups to well-established giants like IBM. Local designers enjoy a higher level of interest in technology products here.

During a recent visit to The Appliance Center in Durham, I spoke with owner, Stu Stewart, and Marketing Director, Kim Stewart. They supply appliances to the building and design communities, as well as homeowners. They report seeing a limited number of homeowners or builders seeking smart appliances, and 80 percent of consumers are not computer-savvy. The Appliance Center’s staff receives training on smart technology from the brands, which equips them with the knowledge to educate their customers.

Appliance brands need to educate their sellers and help them stay current with smart technology in order to efficiently sell it. Combine uneducated consumers with untrained sales professionals, and the percentages noted by RICKI are not surprising. If sellers cannot explain the benefits and uses of smart features, how can they close the sale?

Smart Technology in the Kitchen

Many appliance brands offer smart technology options. Dacor has refrigerators with features that simplify our lives: Doors open with a touch… interior LED lights illuminate what’s inside… Dual cameras pair with your smartphone so you can see inside your fridge as you shop.

Samsung brings cutting-edge technology to the masses with the Family Hub Refrigerator. With a panel similar to your tablet or smart phone, you can access multiple apps right from the fridge. Pull up the family calendar… Play music… Leave a note.

The Family Hub Refrigerator operates on Z-Wave technology. People lacking skills might want to consult a technology professional to ensure it functions as expected.

Great Appliances Help Us Prepare Great Meals

Maybe Bertazzoni president, Paolo Bertazzoni, has the right idea… The enduring Italian appliance company does not want their appliances to rely on a smart phone. The main objective for their appliances is that they cook well!

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We live in exciting and changing times in the design industry. Some consumers will find the idea of smart technology in the kitchen irresistible. But me, I’d rather spend the extra money on a snazzy range and sit around the table talking with mi famiglia.

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Daily Design Inspiration

Where do you find inspiration when you are planning to update your home? Many people are conditioned nowadays to go to Pinterest or Houzz to find ideas. They may see some pretty pictures of white kitchens and say, “Oooo! I want that!” So they complete their remodel with white cabinets and whatever else they found online.

Other people are inspired by life… maybe they recently took a trip. Perhaps they went to Italy and visited Siena.

Inspired by the beautiful red, gold, and black marble used all over Siena, they consulted a designer and asked her to “…design a room that makes me feel like I’m in Siena.” We probably won’t include a statue looking in the direction of Florence to fend off invaders, but we can select products and materials that evoke memories of Siena.

Or maybe you’ve just come back from a very cool exhibit at the art museum and you’d like to have that ultramodern feel in your home:

Can you imagine creating a room with this as your inspiration? Combine Monogram stainless steel appliances with white cabinets and add drama with counters and lighting. You are limited only by your imagination and your budget.

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Maybe you aren’t into art and just want a room that coordinates with your beloved pet or the woods by your house…

Putting together a kitchen or bathroom composed of dark and creamy tones with natural green accents is welcoming and classic.

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A neutral palette leaves plenty of room for pops of your favorite colors. Confine the accent colors to paint and soft goods to change out at whim with minimal expense and disruption.

So go out and look around and be inspired! Share your ideas with your favorite designer and together you can create a space that moves you.

 

Studying Modern Design and Trends at the Monogram Designer Summit 2018

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I was honored to attend the Monogram Designer Summit 2018 in Louisville last week. This year’s theme was Journey: The Impact of One to Many.  Our gracious Monogram hosts began the summit with a cocktail reception and dinner at the historic Brown Hotel. This was followed by two days jam-packed with opportunities to learn and wander awe-struck through the modernist masterpiece that is Columbus, Indiana.

To help us get started on our journey, Bryan Goodpastor, Senior Creative Director of Trends and Forecasting at LPK, shared a dynamic presentation about trends for now and the future. At LPK, Bryan specializes in looking ahead to identify trends and help businesses optimize for the future.

Bryan’s team forecasts global trends and identifies shifts in socio-culture that affect consumer attitudes, values and beliefs—ultimately defining the consumer behaviors of the future.

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Bryan’s presentation was a great segue to our trip the next day to Columbus, Indiana, an architecturally significant town that clearly demonstrates how one person’s vision can create a lasting impact.

Columbus, Indiana was forever changed as J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia made extraordinary contributions in their home town. Miller clearly was a man ahead of  his time. Watch the following video and see for yourself:

J. Irwin Miller: Portrait of a Leader

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The highlight of our visit to Columbus was touring the Miller House and Gardens, which is now owned and maintained by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Still photos cannot capture the magic of the house and grounds, but the following video gives you an idea:

Miller House and Garden

Unfortunately, the magnolia trees were not in bloom for our visit. Having grown up with a magnolia tree in my front yard, I immediately recognized the budding beauties and can only imagine the spectacle they created when all were in bloom.

If you want to learn more about Columbus, Indiana and J. Irwin Miller, read Columbus, Ind.: A Midwestern Mecca Of Architecture.

We ended the day  with cocktails and dinner at the KY Museum of Arts and Crafts.

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Tuesday began bright and early at The Speed Art Museum with Bryan Goodpastor reporting on industry trends, followed by our dynamic facilitators Sunni and Jesse setting us up for an afternoon of discovery and innovation.

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One of the most fun parts of the Monogram Designer Summits is being able to envision and create product prototypes. Building on Bryan’s information with Sunni and Jesse motivating us, we broke out into teams and let our imaginations run wild.

Using “junkyard” scraps of cardboard, foamcore, handles and knobs, we put our heads together and built full-size appliances. Each group was assigned a demographic based on Bryan’s presentation,and we had only a short time to come to consensus and build our prototypes!

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Unfortunately, I cannot show you pictures of our top-secret, innovate creations or I will be sent away to appliance jail and tortured. Just kidding. Nyuck nyuck nyuck!

But seriously, folks, if you want to see truly innovative products that exceed your wildest dreams you only have to check out Monogram Appliances!

We wrapped up the 2018 Designer Summit with cocktails and dinner in The Crystal Ballroom at the Brown Hotel. As we savored as last hours together, Karl Champley, Master Builder, Humanitarian, and TV host shared his journey with us.

Thank you, Monogram, for hosting another fabulous designer summit!