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Italy rightfully prides itself on its food culture, and its kitchen industry is a natural extension of that. Every two years, cabinetry design giants like Scavolini and appliance makers like Miele (whose club-like booth entrance is shown above) gather to showcase their latest innovations and new stylistic directions at Salone del Mobile’s EuroCucina exhibition — and 2024 was no exception. Fridges glowed and countertops gleamed, tempting fairgoers to imagine the dough they might knead or the short ribs they might braise in environments like the ones on display. (If they weren’t quite so crowded, that is.)

EuroCucina 2024 trends in Milan include A.I. Here, three men stand in front of an oven display with a large screen above advertising that the oven is "powered by artificial intelligence."

But, as hard as it might be for an Italian to admit, not everyone is a skilled, passionate home cook. Enter A.I. appliances, which both Bosch and Samsung (among others) were promoting in earnest. Don’t know how long to bake carrots for? No need for a recipe — just drop some on a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and your oven will figure the rest out. Or at least, that’s what some of the marketing text would have you believe. And even if this isn’t quite how it works yet, in a few more editions of EuroCucina the exaggeration will surely become reality.

Smart appliances have been the talk of the town for a decade, so a lot of this is just the next step in the evolution. And even if you’re someone who savours mealtime prep, there are still plenty of practical applications for A.I. to tap into. At a dinner later in the week, a Copenhaganite pointed out that she regularly used ChatGPT to convert measurements in American recipes. And who hasn’t gotten frustrated when a crust comes out a little more brown than a cookbook promised it would? Depending on how you feel, the trial-and-error nature of recipe experimentation is either a standard part of fine-tuning great food, or an annoying process that we will soon eliminate forever.

For now, at least, it’s hard to picture the stereotypical Italian family switching an oven to auto-pilot mode. And by dedicating the heart of EuroCucina to “All You Have Ever Wanted to Know About Food Design in Six Performances” — an installation designed by Lombardini22 where visiting chefs prepared elaborate dishes in sequences that were equal parts theatre and cooking tutorial — Salone del Mobile seemed eager to reassure visitors that, even if a robot can eventually make a better dinner than you, there will still be something special about a meal that’s been lovingly laboured over.

EuroCucina 2024 showcased two-toned focaccia braided into unexpected shapes and arranged across two curving stainless steel shelves.

In one performance, New York chef Sophia Roe braided two- (or sometimes three-) toned focaccia into elaborate shapes, then arranged the baked loaves on the stainless steel shelves that snaked around her, creating a still life that captured the magic of the culinary arts. EuroCucina was, in other words, having its focaccia and eating it, too — touting both technological advance and time-honoured tradition.

Speaking of finding the best of both worlds, many kitchen manufacturers seemed eager to find a middle ground between proper dining rooms — which, for a busy family, might not see much use outside of special occasions — and bar top seating that strips away some of the ceremonial magic of mealtime. A great many of the setups on display incorporated a rounded or rectangular table added on to the end of the kitchen island — integrating a liminal zone that maintains the relaxed ease of eating in the kitchen, but also establishes a stronger sense of setting.

Speaking of kitchens with major presence, Eggersmann showcased two particularly evocative introductions: Nami, a Yabu Pushelberg–designed island that rests a countertop on a geode-like block, and Skywalk, an angular fusion of brass and quartzite with glowing accents.

If there were main ingredients to the fair’s introductions, they were steel and aluminum. Libra by Scavolini, V3 by Vipp, Elementi by Snaidero, Prime by Molteni&C (displayed in hall 24) and Very Simple Wall Cabinets by Very Simple Kitchen all cast the typically industrial materials in a new light. On the one hand, these designs had a futuristic flair. But viewed through another lens, they also resembled a more elevated version of the commercial setups you might find behind the scenes of a Michelin-starred restaurant. Much like EuroCucina 2024 as a whole, they reflected modern advances while still maintaining an appreciation for great food and the hard work that goes into preparing it.

Look for more coverage of EuroCucina’s kitchen launches in Azure’s upcoming July/August issue.

EuroCucina 2024’s Main Ingredients: A.I. and Stainless Steel

At Salone del Mobile’s kitchen showcase, cabinetry embraces industrial finishes while ovens set out to remove the guesswork from recipe timings.

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