The kitchen is not only a zone for cooking and cleaning; it has fast become the heart of the modern home. Homeowners today have very specific ideas about what their kitchens should be - beautiful, space savvy, eco-friendly and functional. With this in mind, we chatted to Ramón Casadó, the Design Director and co-owner of bulthaup South Africa, premium kitchen manufacturers, to get some advice on how to craft the perfect kitchen and to hear more about what the company is doing on the storage and eco front.
What five things should people keep in mind when building a new kitchen or renovating an old one?
We have the following tips for anyone who's looking to build a new kitchen:
How do you ensure that small kitchens with very limited space still function effectively?
- When doing research, look for companies that deliver the highest quality and best value for money and can build a kitchen that will last 20 years or more. Go for companies that innovate and have won numerous design and innovation awards.
- Use the general rule of thumb and budget 10% of the value of the home for the kitchen.
- The kitchen is for cooking, so make sure yours is functional and not simply filled with architectural elements that are purely sculptural.
- Look for a company that can provide a wide variety of stunning finishes and remember that shiny doesn't necessarily equal luxury.
- Here in South Africa, the term 'local and bespoke' has an implied level of quality and luxury that it probably doesn't merit. Bear in mind that local manufacturing processes are not up to speed with leading global kitchen furniture producers and local materials may not always meet the highest quality standards.
Combining luxury with precision is a unique aspect of bulthaup’s DNA, and we specialise in realising clients' unique visions in the most precise way, from the overarching design to the ergonomics of where appliances are placed to the storage of cutlery and glassware and the size and location of the pantry and scullery. A great innovation is the award-winning Prism interior storage system for the b3 range. Stunningly designed functional prisms combined with dividers and accessories allow homeowners to tidy and organise the interior of their pull-outs in line with their specific needs and then redefine the arrangement every day as they wish.
We also have new e-touch technology for fridges that allows for a handle-free facade and exquisitely crafted pocket doors that conceal anything from a coffee machine to large appliances when not in use. The overall effect of these innovations is that everything from wine refrigerators and freezers to ovens disappear behind sleek walls.
Having an eco-friendly home is very important to many people, and we understand it’s important to you too. How do you make sure your products and process are environmentally sustainable?
A commitment to actively pursue sustainable solutions with low environmental impact flows through every aspect of the business. We focus on energy-conserving manufacturing processes and the use of renewable raw materials for fronts, side panels, wall panels and bar tops. We categorically refuse to use ecologically questionable types of wood and employ water-based lacquers, glues and adhesives that have low emissions and low toxicity. Waste is avoided wherever possible and even the packaging is designed for recyclability.
You mention the responsible use of wood. Could you tell us more about your swamp oak veneer?
The rare, exclusive swamp oak veneer is the ultimate in recovered wood. It's made from oak trunks that have lain in swamps or on river banks in a vacuum for the last 600 to 8500 years. The wood can only be recovered when conditions are exactly right, and the result is extraordinary. The variation in colour depends on the location as well as the suspension of the trunk in the swamp.
Can we expect any exciting new products from bulthaup in the near future?
In April this year, new innovations from bulthaup will be unveiled at EuroCucina in Milan, but right now these are very well-kept secrets. Two new innovations that are available right now though are a soft-touch matte paint finish in the new colour caramel and the use of a new type of wood, structured larch.
To find out more about kitchens from bulthaup, visit bulthaup.com