What Is Home Technology?
Home technology includes a vast array of concepts and devices, from voice-controlled gadgetry to video doorbells. The term’s come to include audio-visual solutions (including whole-home sound and video), tunable lighting, connected locks, automated HVAC controls, and even home networking and Wi-Fi solutions. In the kitchen, “smart” appliances are gaining traction, including fridges with built-in tablets and videoconferencing rigs that allow the user to chat with family and friends while cooking. But there’s much, much more to kitchen tech than those aforementioned accessories.
European Kitchen Furniture’s built-in technology
When it comes to nobilia’s European kitchen furniture, the technology isn’t always visible – it’s often built right in. The notion of “hiding the device” is something that designers, architects, and the best designers of home technology systems (which can be incredibly complex) strive for – even when it comes to the simplest gear. Take, for example, the charging and power options – both high- and low-voltage/USB connections.
An electrical station that lifts out of a countertop is more than just cool – your outlets are closer to the actual appliances you’re using, you’ve maximized wall space for other options (or simply a cleaner look) and the socket can be “baby-proofed” in an incredibly elegant manner. Other available solutions include integrated phone or tablet charging pads.
Another great example of something you won’t notice until you use it: the available array of hinges and sensors that assist when you’re opening storage spaces. A tap of your foot against the bottom plinth of a low drawer can trigger nobilia’s Libero mechanism that offers hands-free operation, and motorized hinges that assist you can help lift upper cabinet fronts out of the way with minimal effort. All of those devices are tested for maximum durability – doors and drawers are opened and closed repeatedly to ensure they’ll hold up for a minimum of 15 years without fail – and there’s not special knowledge from the installers, either.
In addition to nobilia’s product testing labs in Germany, the firm is constantly receiving feedback from everyone who touchers their products, from salespeople to engineers to end-users. COO Marcus Haderlein notes that, “We have a variety of people presenting ‘wish lists’ to us – if it’s a workable idea, it goes to the product development team.”
LED Integrated Lighting
The arrival of LED lights designed for the home heralded a new era of possibilities: they’re extremely energy-efficient, they’re vastly superior to the harsh CFL bulbs that initially replaced your old incandescent bulbs, and they’re very long-lived. But their best feature? They’re tunable – with the right electronics contained right in the base of the luminaire, you can change not just brightness but the actual color temperature of the light. Many of the LEDs in a nobilia kitchen – yep, the lights are integrated right into the shelves, drawers, and every other bit of furniture – can be adjusted via something called “Emotion technology,” which can take the bulb from “cool” to “warm” white.
Those color temperatures can be key to both cooking efficiencies and enjoying the space. Lighting expert Sam Woodward – who’s worked for industry giant Lutron, massive live rock shows and Hollywood blockbusters – “Warmer light is more ‘red looking, like a desert sunset, and cooler is more blue looking,’ like a mountain sunrise.” That cooler light will likely reveal more detail, while, “The warmer light, reminiscent of an incandescent bulb, is much nicer for relaxing while you dine or entertain,” according to Woodward.
Beyond color, the range of forms and applications for those LED lights is astounding. Under-cabinet or under-shelf task lighting options – hugely popular in North America of late – are abundant in nobilia’s European kitchen furniture. Lighting for access or display can be found in and around every kind of cabinet in nobilia’s lines, tucked behind design elements, integrated into plinths, or diffused behind specialty glass. There are even lighting solutions that illuminate the inside of a drawer as it’s being opened and triggered off as the drawer is closed. As far as control goes, you can use nobilia’s remote to control four different “zones” or areas of lighting in the kitchen, or integrate your interface into a more complex whole-home technology network.
THE TECHNOLOGY OF THE BUILD
NOBILIA TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS
While nobilia has a range of other available tech – from an all-purpose kitchen slicer to a Bluetooth speaker that visually blends into its surroundings – the company also partners with appliance makers, notably Samsung and Bora. Samsung is offering 35 appliances that coordinate with the nobilia aesthetic, and can be controlled via a variety of interfaces, including voice commands. Bora brings a hotplate extractor fan to the table (pun intended) that pulls away steam while preserving room in the drawer below.
NOBILIA’S PRECISION ENGINEERING
Beyond the electronics, the smartphone apps and the bells and whistles of the digital world, there’s something else at work, here, too – the technology that goes into the mechanics of the furniture. The nobilia Profi+ drawer system is an adjustable marvel that allows the drawer to come completely out – in a hurry, and independent of its tracks – for organization and cleaning. The Sensys hinge system is a silent, damped and cushioned is a masterpiece of award-winning engineering. Worksurface heights aren’t one-size-fits-all, either – here are no less than 24 cabinet heights available to match your personal, ergonomically correct working height.
Those heights are task-specific, says Haderlein. “Once we determine who’s doing the bulk of the cooking, we have three heights set to the user,” he explains. “The lowest surfaces are for cooking, middle surfaces are for prep – you want the vegetables you’re chopping to be a few inches below where your hand is naturally held when your elbow’s at 90 degrees.” Your sink should be at the highest level: We’ve all had the experience of a backache when we’ve had, for whatever reason, to wash dishes by hand. The notion of the “fitted kitchen” popularized by nobilia’s Bauhaus forerunners has evolved well beyond a simple horizontal plane of countertops.
The design and build of nobilia’s European kitchen furniture is so exacting and precise it’s akin to the fit and finish of a luxury German automobile – with options that won’t bring the sticker shock of that high-end car. Every part, motorized or not, is designed for maximum ease of use, performance, and durability. By applying the principles of Bauhaus design – form following function, cabinetry and accessories built for the way people actually use them, and a contemporary aesthetic – has made nobilia the most popular kitchen manufacturer on the European continent.