A celebration of kitchens

By Rachel Love

Gone are the days when the home kitchen was tucked away out of sight, a cordoned-off, hot and lowly space where the hard working cook toiled in solitude. These days a lifestyle revolution has transformed this once-humble room into a focal point. In restaurants, open kitchens take pride of place, and in modern homes the kitchen has evolved to become a central showpiece. Even in Bali, where expatriates enjoy a neo-colonial lifestyle complete with domestic staff, a new wave of designer kitchens reveals a discriminating taste for functional beauty and cutting-edge style.

Design trends

The kitchen connects the rest of the home, its open-concept layout allows the host – or the cook – to talk and interact with guests or family while the food is being prepared. A central island unit, a coffee bar, or a breakfast counter makes the space more inviting, allowing people to congregate. Designers are embracing the crisp, clean, linear form of contemporary minimalism by creating a look that is simple without being stark. Sliding doors without handles, work surfaces and opaque glass doors with integrated lighting, together with the streamlined runs of extrawide pan drawers, are all signatures of the modern custom kitchen, proving that flair and ingenuity can work beautifully together. Driss Tabakkalt is the founder of 8°SOUTH, a high-quality, tailor-made kitchen cabinetry supplier in Bali. The company has a factory in Solo, Java, with hi-tech German equipment that allows them the flexibility to shape whatever the customer has in mind. Driss maintains that design trends and customer demands vary depending on geographic context and situation. “We notice quite a lot of difference between the requirements of our clients in Bali and those of our clients in other parts of the world. While overseas clients might want a modern kitchen that blends efficiency with a sober design, our clients in Bali for instance usually request something a bit more exotic, mixing natural wood on the countertop.”

What’s hot?

Commercial and designer appliances are also part of the new trend in power persuasive kitchens. People now look for the quality, design and durability of a large commercial oven and hob, together with cavernous refrigerators and the chef-chic gleam of stainless steel exteriors. Driss particularly loves the kitchens by Austrian company, Steininger, maintaining, “Each one of their kitchens is a masterpiece of design.” Another brand that he rates is Gaggenau. “They make this mechanical extractor hood that’s hidden within the countertop, disappearing out of sight when not in use. Wonderful! Most of Gaggenau’s appliances display an attention to detail that fits completely with our approach.” Also ranking high on the wish list are integrated refrigerators and dishwashers that appear to be part of the cabinetry, together with built-in lockable wine coolers set at European cave temperature. Furthermore, global influences are now making their way into the kitchen. People are exploring new recipes and exotic cuisines, and therefore building and installing the appropriate equipment, which could be anything from a cappuccino machine to a wood fired-pizza oven, or a traditional Indian tandoor created from Indian clay to ensure authenticity of flavour.

Breaking new ground

Stone, slate, or granite materials, and natural wood finishes are in vogue. Polished concrete and terrazzo counter tops are also standard practice. The flexibility of concrete makes it an ideal material for unusual and seamless counter top shapes and although terrazzo was disregarded for many years as being a cheap option, its attraction is in the range of colour and ingredients, such as mother of pearl, sparkling stones and metal, which can be blended with the cement. “Meanwhile, we see more and more customers looking for quartz,” says Driss, “and recently we’ve made several kitchens with lava stone countertops, delivered by ‘Couleur Lave’, who also have a shop in Bali. In fact we liked the concept so much that we used it in one of the kitchens in our showroom in Kerobokan.” Other innovative elements in a showpiece kitchen include bright laminates, wood veneers, solid hardwoods, mellow aluminium, magic glass windows (which can be switched instantly between translucent and clear), stained glass, and crystal gloss doors.

True colours

In a minimalist space, the choice of colour is crucial because, unlike traditional kitchens where accessories and fabrics enhance the palette, the 21st century contemporary kitchen acts alone. Asked about the most popular colour choice, Driss replies, “White, white, white! We have hundreds of colours in finishes and paints, as well as naturally coloured materials, but most of the time our customers will ask for white. However, people often like to accent it with a light touch of colour such as a thin red line or one dark blue door in amongst the white ones.” Yet, while fresh white will always look elegant and current, especially in the tropics, the adventurous injection of bold, saturated colour reflects a strong desire to balance the aesthetic overload of technology with the need for human sensory experience. A strong Latin influence has brought about the appearance of lively reds, yellows and oranges, and the influence of nature has produced aquatic blues, together with yellows and greens inspired by the organic qualities of fruits, grains and rice fields. Meanwhile, transparency has come to maturity; the illusion of furniture floating in space is achieved with the use of block colours for walls, floors and work tops. Metallic hues are also branching out with strong, dark finishes such as oil-rubbed bronze, copper, brass, and wrought iron for taps and accessories. Alternatively, for those who yearn for a professional look, brushed stainless steel or aluminium is a good choice and easy to clean.

Everything but the…

Kitchen sinks no longer consist of a simple tap and bowl; multiple bowls of various shapes and sizes are designed with integral drainers, cutting boards, soap dispensers, instant hot water dispensers, purified water taps, sprayers and more. Sleek tactile taps are designed to turn heads with the perfect combination of avant-garde styling and engineering excellence. Grohe’s ‘Blue’ chilled and sparkling water system combines the modern look of a designer tap mixer with a high-performance filter, cooler and carbonator, which is as easy to use as an ordinary kitchen tap. Sinks are essentially durable, fashioned from stainless steel, enamelled metal, concrete and quartz composites. “Here again, quartz is very much in demand,” reiterates Driss, describing the material as being “strong, flexible and raw yet sophisticated and resistant.”

Light fantastic

Kitchen lighting has become dramatic. “LED brought about a big change,” says Driss, their small size and low warm-up allows them to be put anywhere. So we do! LED does bring something special when placed in glass window shelves, or a feeling of space when placed above the backsplash board.” Recessed lighting above counters provides good task light, while dimmers help set the mood to fit the multipurpose activity of the kitchen, offering the choice of bright, full strength radiance for cooking, or a romantic diffused glow for those special dinner parties. Indeed, as the focus shifts to the kitchen, it‘s only natural that this space should reflect the personality, creativity and lifestyle of the people who spend their time there. “Always in the kitchen at parties” is no longer deemed to be antisocial; these days the vibrant kitchen is where the party takes place!