Kitchen: a term rapidly changing into the ‘hub’ of the home, an integral part of the family life. It is becoming a long way removed from the hidden sculleries of the past. More and more people are turning to the sleek, clean lines of the handleless kitchen, so that in its new open plan aesthetic, it works as sculptural furniture. In so far as some companies would have you believe, it is morphing into a piece of art. Well, I’m not going to jump into the Design Art debate here, but I will acknowledge that every dog has its day. Good design, people, is good design. If twisted pilasters and dental moulds float your boat, that’s all well and good. Just do it well, for heavens sake. For today’s exercise, I’m looking at clean lines and not a reeded column in sight…
Within this new uncompromising strict form of geometric lines, how do we cope with the practical needs of the modern kitchen? There are many issues that crossing over to the minimal side of kitchen design raise; issues that have annoyed and perplexed for years. Firstly, was the question of fridge/freezers and how you could integrate them into the handleless design? Next comes the still unanswered fully integrated washing machine and tumble dryer debacle (yes, Miele, you know what we want). And then the area I want to really focus on today, the hob area.
Increasingly I am designing rooms for the dinner party or kid’s-doing-homework-whilst-I’m-cooking scenarios. Next comes the discussion of where the focus of attention in the room will be? It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if you want to be in control of the room, you need to be looking into it. Enter the island unit stage right, take a bow, and enter the spotlight. Of course a large room is required here, hence the Kirstie Allsopp approach of knocking down walls, so you can interact with your guests or admonish the child for not concentrating on homework. All whilst juggling pans and pasta or dishes and Fairy liquid? Well, the last thing you want to see on your spantastic island unit, with ultra sharp lines, is a sink full of dirty pans and dishes, oh no. That you want to secrete away from prying eyes, out on the borders of the layout, possibly looking out a window onto a neighbours brick wall (Londoners, you know what I mean). What you want to have on your island unit is the most exquisite of hobs, and above your island unit? Well, the answer according to Building Regulations is some form of extraction. This is metered out by the usual suspects as some clunky steel monstrosity, that always, always needs cutting down. It seems that no manufacturer on Earth has worked out that ceiling heights are usually less than 260cm (no, can’t single out anyone here; they’re all bad). At this point, the illuminated will know the answer to this problem, and there are two solutions. Flush mounted ceiling extractors or surface mounted downdraft extractors.
Here’s where I roll up the sleeves and jump on the soap box. Everybody loves gas, whereas the Illuminati are shouting ‘induction’ at the screen right now! Fair point, induction hobs are the quickest way known to man to boil water. And it’s very easy to use once you learn the ropes. But you can’t have both solutions for cooking with both solutions for extraction. Now listen very carefully, as I’ll say this only once: gas hobs do not go with downdraft extractors. End of story. You want downdraft? Prepare yourself for the following tasks: you are in for an electric hob, best to grab a magnet and go pan shopping as induction is your best friend now, lose all viable storage space below your hob, kiss goodbye to pan drawers, hope that your installer knows how to run duct work under the floor, across the room, up and over the damp proof course and out the wall. If you are still interested, how do you keep the slick lines on your tops if you have to have a drop-in hob? There are a few companies that do flush mounted hobs that look very nice in a Nero Assoluto granite or some other jet black composite (say ‘Adios’ to Corian though; that won’t wear it). But what if you want to have five rings? Or even three rings? In a row? Curved? How’s that choice looking now? The answer is finally here: independent induction burners that are flush mounted into any surface. Even the knowledgeable are impressed now; this stuff is gorgeous and practical. Oh, and that downdraft extractor can take a top hat of whatever material you choose for the surface.
And for you gas lovers, the same is true, with two types of stunning burners. And yes, they go into any worktop of your choice.
My advice? Top it all off with a ceiling mounted extractor in white: let it really disappear from view:
Where can you get these, dare I say it, sexy burners and hoods from? Shame on you; of course it’s us!