Step inside 12 kitchens from around the world where design is shaped by craft.
This year’s kitchen edition of est magazine – ‘Modern Craft’ – explored how intuitive, human-centred design details are central to the experience of a kitchen. In this feature, we revisit 12 standout kitchens featured in ‘Modern Craft’ to see how designers from different corners of the globe confront our understanding of this space.
The Hove kitchen’s arched ceiling isn’t what you’d typically expect in a home on the outskirts of Antwerp. “It surprises every guest, and the monumentality combined with the materials awaken an emotive response,” Belgian designer Benoit Viaene says.
Naturally, Benoit set out to create a kitchen unique in form and experience. While the arch sets the tone, it’s accentuated by the materials and finishes, from the custom clay plaster, smoked oak veneer “left as natural as possible to keep the gradation in the wood” to the brushed Travertine benchtops. The kitchen floors are a custom mix of gravel, hand polished to give an imperfect, waved appearance. “Although monumental in space, the palette of materials, kitchen design and wall finish create a more intimate atmosphere,” Benoit adds.
A custom wine cellar, dining table, kitchen tap and central pendant have been specially designed for the space. Benoit credits the craftspeople they worked with to pull off this level of detail. “An idea or a design can be strong on a drawing board or presentation, but in the end, the skills of craftspeople make it real,” he says. “They are a key element in making a design real.”
The Woollahra kitchen by AP Design House takes cues from its past life as a gallery space through a minimal aesthetic, heralded by custom stainless steel joinery. Taking form in a space that was dark and narrow, the stainless steel plays an unexpected role in reflecting light and movement.
AP Design House director Alexandra Ponting draws attention to the intricacies of the craftsmanship, where the stainless steel benchtop sits flush with the door and drawers below. “The benchtop seamlessly integrates into a custom stainless sink; a thing of beauty, but also unbelievably practical,” Alexandra says. She also admires the relationship between the joinery and cooker. “The custom joinery hugs the French Lacanche cooker with such precision that it appears it was made for the oven,” Alexandra adds.
Creamy Tadelakt and micro-cement finishes and olive terrazzo tiled flooring anchor the stainless steel’s soft and sharp lines, just as the custom-made and antique Italian furniture and lighting. “The antique furniture and lighting boast charm and intrigue; a refreshing and homely contrast to the foundations.”
French architect Joseph Dirand is always concerned with how the senses respond to space, particularly through the quality of light, informing his restrained yet elegant interiors. This couldn’t be more clear than in his own kitchen, located on Paris’ Right Bank with front-row views of the Eiffel Tower.
The architect is known for collecting cuts of marble and saving them for the right opportunity – just like the breccia stazzema marble he selected for his kitchen island, which he had stored away for five years prior. The marble island symbolises Joseph’s belief that “craftsmanship and its wide range of expertise are a genuine laboratory of ideas”, reflected in the stone’s polished curved edges and detailing beneath. The scorched stainless steel cabinets also attest to his signature approach to materiality, grounded by the Versailles parquet flooring. Above, a chandelier by Philippe Anthonioz and Joseph’s own Gelule wall light nearby affirm how Joseph’s classic French design is always grounded by artisans, classic and contemporary..
Belgian designer Frederic Kielemoes says his Project M kitchen exists as a series of balancing juxtapositions; “Contemporary, yet timeless. Minimal, yet warm. Graphic, yet calm. Calculated, yet intuitive.” For this, he derived inspiration from how we seek tactile, familiar touch points away from the virtual world. “This longing for familiarity translated into a study on materiality. I did this mostly by opposing raw materials, often with a history, with refined contemporary materials,” he says. Reclaimed old French flagstones on the floor meet untreated iron and solid worn oak, limewashed cupboards and expressive marble that intersects in a series of pieces. Above, solid timber slats line the ceiling, “directly cut from a tree”.
An important aspect of the kitchen is also the nearby fireplace, “almost as sacred and symmetrical as an altar,” Frederic says. Deliberately, Frederic has hidden as much modern technology as possible – heating, ventilation, appliances, lighting – so that the space elicits relaxation and ease.
Banda follows the mantra that homes and spaces are not just to be lived in, but to be loved. It’s through working with craftspeople and the provenance of the materials, that they achieve this. “Craftsmanship is everything,” CEO and creative director Edo Mapelli Mozzi says, leading the redesign of an 1850s townhouse, with its high ceilings, period windows and historic garden square vistas.
The cantilevered Calacatta Oro marble Obumex ‘Joseph Dirand’ kitchen, is the space’s dramatic centrepiece. “It gives the notion of solidity and quality, the roots of the home, and then the softer, contrasting features of the vintage wooden pieces and fabrics,” Edo says. “The kitchen is a celebration of natural materials, colours and textures – marble, bronzes, vintage and antique woods.”
There’s even a bespoke bar that can be completely shut away behind a hidden door when not in use. “The kitchen is the perfect blend of old and new, hard and soft,” Edo reflects. “It is a place to come together, to gather, cook, talk, entertain, have fun but also seek respite.”
The kitchen exists as part of the open plan living and dining area, so every effort was made to conceal it being a workspace. “I wanted the kitchen to integrate seamlessly,” AM Designs founder Mark Mertens adds, concealing Gaggenau appliances behind the floor-to-ceiling wall joinery that runs along the side of the kitchen.
AM Designs visualised the kitchen as “pieces of free-standing furniture”, achieved through a signature palette of Douglas fir timber and Pietra Dei Medici stone, warmed by brushed brass fixtures. “Ultimately, the stone and timber needed to connect with the large outside terraces and surrounding nature,” Mark adds.
Walker Workshop’s president Noah Walker describes their Rustic Canyon kitchen as a sacred place. As the tallest room in the house, Walker Workshop designed and installed the expansive steel-framed windows, crediting natural light for the creation of their ‘Kitchen Cathedral’. “Rustic Canyon is nestled among some of the most beautiful Southern California flora and fauna,” Noah says. “We chose to pull dappled natural light from the outside environment into the core of the home. It was imperative to pull that light into the house.”
The material palette was selected for how it collected, reflected or observed the light. “We chose the softer, lighter-coloured wood veneer that was consistent in colour and a white, almost ephemeral stone to complement,” Noah says. Fundamentally, Rustic Canyon also challenges traditional perceptions of a kitchen’s purpose. “The great lesson we learned is a kitchen doesn’t have to prescribe to outdated notions of what a kitchen should be for it to be functional, exciting, and unexpected,” Noah adds.
‘Apartment Mariposa’ lies within a 1970s architectural icon designed by Sir Basil Spence and Eugène Lizero, in Cannes, France. The Brutalist-Modernist style of the building informed Caprini & Pellerin interior treatment. “The apartment was designed so that it would age with authenticity,” Caprini & Pellerin co-director Kevin Caprini says. “It was very important the result gave the impression that everything had always been there.”
In Kevin’s words, they’re “defenders of ancestral techniques”. “We like to apply them or reinterpret them,” he says. It’s how they worked with their 70s-inspired material palette; ash grey Dordogne stone, upcycled oak, patinated bronze, Travertine and walnut wood. “We used handmade bottle green tiles by New Terracotta, laid one by one for an artisanal touch and to create depth,” Kevin adds.
Designed for Caprini & Pellerin co-director Jerry Pellerin’s mother, he says what lies within the kitchen drawers tells its story best. “I know all of her objects and utensils and I took all of these into consideration,” Jerry says. “For example, moulds of her silverware and spice jars were taken so that they all fit snugly.”
Studio Author’s co-founders Alex Simpson and Jayme Million were inspired by the moon in their restoration of an 18th-century stone manor in rural Goderich, Ontario, Canada. The now private residence and special events space nods to the state it was found through an underlying theme of imperfection that reflects the textures of the moon. Studio Author co-founder Jayme Million says this is most notable in the kitchen’s large raw brass island – the showpiece – designed to patina. “We used unlacquered brass, which will transform beautifully over time, further adding to the character and story of the space,” Jayme says.
Marble slabs were broken by hand and layered to create a unique backsplash, “not dissimilar from the rocky terrain of the moon”, underpinned by contrasting stone floor tiles and hand-applied limewashed walls. “We knew that we wanted the focus to be on the finishes,” Jayme says. “Integrated finger pulls and appliances, the absence of upper cabinets and the island’s monolithic form allowed the natural, tactile surfaces to stand out,” Jayme says.
Æ Studio, led by interior designers Arno Broeckhoven and Ellen Van Laer, were tasked with designing the “perfect hideaway” from the city centre in Brussels, Belgium. In an apartment that deliberately eschews the hustle, Æ Studio derived calm from patina and texture. “The patinated copper was the key ingredient in the kitchen,” Arno says. “The colour, depth and gradient will keep on evolving through the years, while the sleek lines and sharp corners make the welded copper cabinetry dramatic and stylish.”
Arno believes the combination of materials in the kitchen and their bespoke application, including custom patinated copper Vola tapware, are essential to the design outcome.“The combination of the plaster technique’s soothing tones, and the dramatic copper forge a strong bond. They tell the story of those who live there.”
When Arjaan De Feyter was first introduced to the ‘Old Factory’, it consisted of two parts – a terraced house, and a small former steel factory. The designer converted the two into a complete ‘whole’ for the family that now lives there.
Arjaan says the kitchen was deliberately positioned at the centre of the former factory space. “It oversees the house and its users like a captain on a ship,” he adds. The kitchen makes liberal use of Calacatta Viola stone for the island with a custom sink, backsplash, benchtop and shelving. The evocative stone commands attention on a canvas of ebony cabinetry painted using a “special paint technique” and white concrete floors. “Everything happens around the kitchen island, everyone passes by there,” Arjaan says. “That’s why it has also been given striking materials in an otherwise sober context.”
Interior designer Cassie James-Herrick is a stickler for details, which comes with leading both her design practice CJH Studio and architecture and interior hardware business, Linear Standard. The House E Kitchen sees both come together inside a heritage home, in a response that highlights the strength of natural materials, contrasted by textural bronze accents.
Cassie selected Quartzite as a hardwearing working surface for the central island, explored through a series of precise, angular intersections. “The kitchen explores an interplay of mixed grain directions in the timber veneer and natural stone, pushing what’s possible with interconnecting planes on the island bench,” Cassie says.
Full-height solid American oak handles were designed for the kitchen and crafted by Grange Joinery, integrated into the wall joinery. “They enhance the bespoke detailing that’s streamlined yet durable in nature,” Cassie says. Linear Standard ‘THIN’ handles were also powder coated in a custom bronze for the return working bench area. The craftsmanship behind the finer details throughout were imperative to the project’s success.