NEFF has a long history producing cooking appliances, spanning more than 140 years. In the 1950s, NEFF was the first company to introduce thermostats as standard across its ovens and in the 1960s, NEFF launched the first built-in appliances to help save space in the kitchen.

Fast forward to 2024 at Eurocucina in Milan and the new Flex Design range was the hero of the NEFF booth. Available in four colours – brushed bronze, anthracite grey, metallic silver and deep black – Flex Design allows consumers to choose the design and combination of appliances with a number of trim kits.

Vice president of design, Ralf Grobleben, who has been with the company for more than 25 years, spoke to Appliance Retailer about the role of design and the inspiration behind bringing greater customisation to kitchens.

“What you see on the NEFF booth at Eurocucina this year is the brand’s direction from a design point of view and the way we’ve responded to trends in the building market today,” Grobleben said.

“Across the BSH business, we work with focus groups who share feedback on their experience with our products. Our NEFF customers tell us they enjoy cooking at home and are interested in product individuality and flexibility, while having fun in the kitchen, so technology isn’t a priority for them.

“With this in mind, we try to find character and personality in our products. We want to deliver high-quality, long-lasting appliances with design flair that makes them special and unique.

“We observed a trend towards colour in the market and wanted to move in this direction for some time. In line with demand for individuality and flexibility, we came up with the idea of changeable trims, so consumers weren’t fixed with their design choice. It’s often not easy to change the design or colour of your appliance but we’ve made this possible with the NEFF Flex Design range and we are looking at introducing more colours in the future.

“In addition to colour and seamless combinations, we put a lot of thought into the operation of the Flex Design appliances, which can be seen with the TwistPad Flex control knob. Feedback from our focus group was that not everybody wants a touch screen display on their cooking appliance. They still want to enjoy a tactile experience and the TwistPad is our solution – we believe it delivers something different, emotional and magical.

“It’s not just a technology upgrade, but rather something practical that goes to a deeper layer of the user experience. The TwistPad adapts to user preferences and can reduce the amount of information presented, which can often be overwhelming, particularly among older demographics or customers who only use their oven for a single task, such as baking a cake.

“The technology is there for those who want it but there’s also the ability to customise the user experience and reduce the amount of information available to cater to all customers. As we see more design elements integrated and tactile objects become increasingly obsolete, I believe this is a real game-changer for kitchen appliances.

“The oven used to be the hero or signature appliance of the kitchen standing loud and proud but today it has become part of the kitchen as homes become smaller and kitchens become more integrated with living spaces. With the colour choices offered by the Flex Design range, we give consumers the ability to design the kitchen the way they want it and with more character.”