‘Our designs are more about lifestyle’

Matt Podesta of Podesta Luxury Kitchens in London’s Chelsea Harbour considers how designs must adapt to the new roles of the modern kitchen

It’s mainly about ‘space within space’, as I call it. The room these days perhaps should not be called a ‘kitchen’, as it tends to perform any task – which is why more often we are designing spaces that are more about lifestyle and happen to incorporate a cooking and storage area as well.

Last week, I presented to an old client who has purchased a pied-à-terre in London’s Knightsbridge. It was not a big room, but would be an area viewed from the drawing room, so had to look good. The function of the room was to have a seating area for breakfast, coffee and reading the paper, etc, the rest of it we decided to hide behind curved tall cabinets with pocket doors.

The fronts would have various inlays and details that were more like wardrobes, but when open, would reveal the necessary items to make a small meal, should that ever happen (I seriously think not). However, as the place might be sold in the future, we had need to make sure that the functionality was there for sales purposes. The primary brief for the client was to create a space that looked beautiful from afar and while you were in the space, then it had to feel great, too.

Yesterday, a local friend sent over some drawings from a well-known ‘shed’. They had a limited budget, but the room was enormous and they were struggling to know what to do. They had busy lives and really knew nothing about design.

Their designer had literally thrown in as many cabinets as he or she could, all in a straight line, with very little serious consideration for the client’s need. I’m not saying it was bad, it’s just that it could have been so much more.

The market is changing, the client’s needs are changing and quite frankly we’ve been doing the same thing for too long

With a sharp pencil, I reshaped the design, solved a few issues, such as the microwave being in the wrong position due to the way it opens, took out a load of unnecessary items and suggested we used some antique pieces in the more informal areas.

This now created a two- or three-zone area, cooking, dining and relaxing. A clever use of lighting, some nice colour schemes, a rug or two and they would have a very cool family area. The good part was that the bill would be less, and instead of being a room full of cream units, it would now have character and more purpose.

Does the ‘working triangle’ work? Perhaps, but as a designer you now have to consider so much more than we did a few years ago, so I think we should banish the expression and come up with something new. The market is changing, the client’s needs are changing and quite frankly we’ve been doing the same thing for too long now.

I’m not going to get into what the future holds, as I don’t have a crystal ball, but I really do feel we should be looking to revise the way we design, present, manufacture and install.

Appliances will improve. Yes, they will all be ‘connected’, but this is still in its infancy and needs a lot more work. Hopefully self-cleaning ovens will become the norm, combi ovens are very handy, and perhaps Aga or someone similar can come up with a product that is more flexible.

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