Fashion and high design have invaded the American kitchen.
Toasters, mixers, hand tools, pots and pans, dinnerware--an endless list of accessories that fill up a kitchen--are reflecting European influence: a clean, sophisticated yet simpler, sleeker style.
Kitchen appliances and cabinets are changing looks as well. White or bright are in, light tones are the word.
Increasing in number are shops devoted to high-tech and contemporary culinary gadgets. And as consumers gear toward more opulent buying, designers are working harder to go one step further.
Among the new appliances that reflect high design standards is the Europa II collection from Thermador/Waste King. Thermador's new grouping has moved away from the stark look of black glass and chrome, seen in its successful first series, Europa I.
"A lot of manufacturers have copied our tempered black glass, so it was time to move on," says Paul Friedrich, company president. "We chose gray, a color only now coming to be appreciated."
The new design features a warm gray color overall with subtle gray pin-striping on the glass panels and color accents of heliotrope and teal.
"The Europa II collection was designed to change the look of the kitchen and make it the most fashionable room in the house," says New York industrial designer Morrison Cousins of Cousins Design, who designed Europa II. "There's a simplicity of detailing that creates an added elegance. The look is very cohesive and very contemporary."
Included in the Europa II collection are the CMT-21 Micro-Thermal oven, three varieties of cooktops (including Cook 'n' Vent), the THD4800 dishwasher, a trash compactor, range hoods in three sizes and a stay-hot oven.
Thermador's Micro-Thermal oven, a built-in double-oven unit, is the most expensive item in the line. It permits simultaneous use of microwave and conventional thermal cooking, which ensures even browning. A 20-pound turkey, for instance, will cook and brown in one hour and 40 minutes, as compared to five hours in the regular oven.
The upper oven has the micro-thermal features, which let you bake, broil, microwave, microwave/bake or microwave/broil, whereas the lower oven does conventional baking and broiling. Both ovens are self-cleaning and have front windows for viewing.
Made of tempered glass, Europa II's three cooktops vary in size: 30 inches wide, 36 inches wide and the 36-inch Cook 'n' Vent with down-draft ventilation. Each cooktop features four cast-iron electric cooking elements--two regular and two ThermaSensor. A metal button in the center of each ThermaSensor element is a thermostat that senses the temperature of a pot or pan in use. It heats up to the temperature quickly, then maintains the temperature so it can hold even delicate sauces without burning or boiling over.
The cooktops are easy to take care of with the glass top and the smooth, flat cooking elements, which are fitted flush to the surface with enameled steel rings. The Cook 'n' Vent model has a back vent that can be raised and lowered with a push of a button.
The sleek design of Europa II extends to its range hoods, which are offered in three sizes to correspond to the cooktops. Removable wraparound filters reduce the noise level while trapping smoke and moisture.
The Europa II trash compactor can be used either built in or free standing. It has a built-in chute so the door needn't be opened. Three thousand pounds of pressure will compact every kind of trash, including cartons, cans and bottles. There are no cracks or seams for residue to collect, and a custom-controlled deodorizer takes care of odors.
Designed with a stainless steel interior, Thermador's Stay Hot Oven has three-setting controls and a slide-vent control that allows you the choice of keeping foods crisp or moist.
You can put a big load of dishes in Thermador's stainless steel steam dishwasher, which offers a wide range of cycles. Its powerful steam cycle and heavy water jets rinse away food debris. Stainless steel has advantages of not cracking, chipping or peeling and is resistant to corrosion.
With white in the limelight in today's kitchens, the Europa II appliances are perfect in white kitchens for an elegant classic effect. Or they can be coordinated with light or deep grays for a soft feeling of monochromatic color schemes, or contrasted with deep colors for a striking effect.
The Europa II collection has a suggested retail price ranging from $215 (the hoods) to $2,700 (the Micro-Thermal oven). The appliances are available at Bay Cities Appliances and Snyder Diamond in Santa Monica; California Kitchens in Burbank; Pacific Sales in Torrance , and Fators in Los Angeles.