Kitchen Design Inspired by Lanhydrock

There are many Victorian kitchen designs which have inspired Artichoke projects over the last 25 years, but few really hit the mark as soundly as the National Trust’s Lanhydrock house kitchen.   It is, in our view, one of the finest examples of Victorian back of house interior design and architecture in Britain.

 

The main kitchen at Lanhydrock house
Beautifully lit by natural light; the main kitchen at Lanhydrock house.

Originally Jacobean, the house was damaged by fire in 1881 and it was given an extensive restoration in the high Victorian style.  With the UK buoyed by the successes of the industrial revolution, the newly restored magnificent country house kitchen was updated with the very latest equipment and technology for staff to cook food for the owners, their guests and other staff.

The Artichoke kitchen design team has been quietly obsessed with Lanhydrock for many years.  When the opportunity arose to share our passion and interest with a client, we jumped at it, travelling down to Cornwall with him to help explain why we felt we should take inspiration from it for his bespoke kitchen design.  Our initial visit was about capturing some of the detail which makes this kitchen so special.

 

Cast iron ovens at Lanhydrock House kitchens
The huge cast iron oven forms the centrepiece of the Victorian kitchen design.  Note the recess in the background, framed with a cast iron mould
Artichokes Victorian Kitchen Designs

Much of Artichoke’s work involves designing kitchens with aesthetic links to the past.  More often than not this is because we are designing kitchens into period buildings where some link to the past is a sensitive and pragmatic way to ensure the kitchen design has longevity, does not date and sits comfortably within its architectural surroundings.  At the same time, we try not to let the past constrain us.  After all, we are designing kitchens and spaces which need to be used for modern living.

In this particular Victorian kitchen design project for a country house in Hampshire, we have been more exacting than we might usually be.  Surveys were taken of moulds and copies of the Victorian handles have been made using the same lost wax cast brass method used at the time of Lanhydrock’s restoration.

 

Render of Artichoke's bespoke kitchen design
Render of Artichoke’s bespoke kitchen design.

 

plate rack in Victorian kitchen design
Render of Artichoke’s bespoke kitchen design.

The plate rack Artichoke has designed above the brass sink is decorative and will be used to both store plates as well as dry them.  Each plate rack has a bespoke pewter drip-tray base.  The main sink is made from solid brass. During the late 1800’s Victorian kitchen designs often features metal sinks, usually made from copper or nickel alloy, a corrosion-resistant and robust lightweight material capable of standing up to the rigors of a large country house kitchen environment.

 

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The copper sink in Lanhydrock’s bakery. The walls were painted blue as it was considered the colour least attractive to flies.
The Range Oven

A large cast iron range almost always formed the centrepiece to many Victorian kitchens.  Artichoke works regularly with Officine Gullo, a modern Italian company specialising in the design and manufacture of incredibly hard wearing cast iron kitchen ranges.  The ovens are known for their build quality and distinctive period character; they fit well into many of the country house projects Artichoke designs kitchens for.

This particular oven top features a pasta cooker, four large gas burners, a French plate (used typically for sauces) and put down.  A pot filler has been integrated into the back.

 

Officine Gullo coup de feu top
The heavy gauge cast iron Coup de Feu or French plate is an essential piece of kit in professional kitchens.
Casting the frame mould

The original moulding which surrounds the recess on Lanhydrock’s kitchen is made from cast iron, which Artichoke has replicated for this bespoke kitchen

 

Officine Gullo range oven in Victorian kitchen

 

The moulding is being cast by a foundry in Somerset and is a highly involved process.  Starting with the mould frame pattern (made from timber), a reverse sand mould is made into specialist casting sand along with tapered edges to ensure it can be removed (similar to the reason children’s beach buckets have tapers on).  Poured molten pig iron is then poured into the mould and left to solidify and cool for 24 hours before it is then shot blasted and fettled.  The finished mould will be very dark grey in its natural state.

 

Cast iron moulds

 

Cooling in the original Kitchen

Domestic fridges were not invented until 1913, and until that point, a host of relatively creative methods were deployed to keep food cool in large country houses.

 

Cold water feed in a cast iron trench system with marble and slate

 

The method above, as seen in Lanhydrock’s dairy, is one such example and not one we’ve seen anywhere else.  A cold water feed distributed water (from the hills above the house) around a cast iron trench system to keep dairy products cool.  The dairy room uses both marble and slate to keep the dairy products and desserts cool. However, more modern cooling methods were decided upon for this Victorian kitchen design with a Sub Zero refrigerator being integrated into the wall next to the cast iron range oven.

 

Victorian Pull Handles

During Artichoke’s numerous visits to Lanhydrock, we surveyed the handles on the cook’s table which we will be copying using the traditional method of casting them in brass.

 

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Stage 1:  Surveying one of the original kitchen handles from Lanhydrock.

 

Technical drawing in preparation for creating a mould for a new handle
Stage 2: Artichoke technically draws and details the handle in preparation for creating a mould for the brass team.

 

Scale version of the Lanhydrock handles in timber 
Stage 3: Artichoke makes a 1:1 scale version of the Lanhydrock handles in timber for the casting team to then use as a model

 

 

Completed copies of the new handle design
Stage 4: The completed copies, ready for client approval
Technically detailing the Cooks Table

Because Artichoke only designs one off projects, each is unique, so it is imperative to ensure the cabinet-making team is given the clearest possible information to make from.  To do this we design each component part using a specialist 3D technical drawing package.  This modern version of what used to be called ROD drawings allows us to provide our team with detailed drawings of incredible clarity, meaning that regardless of whether this is the first time the furniture has been made, they know exactly what to make it and how.

 

Technical drawings of a kitchen island

 

Cabinet maker making an island
Artichoke cabinet-maker Arthur making the Cook’s kitchen table.
Assembling the Kitchen

An important element of Artichoke’s cabinet-making work is the assembly phase.  It is the first time we get to see the kitchen come together.  The assembly phase allows us to fit the appliances, cut in the butt hinges and shoot in the doors and drawer fronts into their frames (“shooting in” where a cabinet makers uses a well sharpened plane to dimension a component to exactly the correct size.  Because all of our kitchens are bespoke, we are making each project for the first time, and doing this work on our premises means that we can avoid undertaking it at our clients homes, making the final installation more efficient.

Once the fully assembled kitchen has been signed off by our Production Manager, it is disassembled and prepared for finishing.

 

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Cook’s table island with wrought iron tie bars and visible joints.
Large plate rack
The kitchen’s large plate rack, ready for the sink and surfaces.
Close up image of how the frame of the Cook’s Table is jointed into the top of the turned leg
A close up of how the frame of the Cook’s Table is jointed into the top of the turned leg. The hole allows us to pass electricity cables through it.

 

 

The project is ongoing and will be added to as the project progresses.  For further information, contact Artichoke on 01934 745270 or email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk

Jacobean Country House Kitchen & Pantry

Every so often, a kitchen space is presented to our design team that requires particularly specialist attention.  In this case, a beautiful Grade II* listed Jacobean hall situated near the Peak District National Park.

 

 

The house sits beautifully in walled gardens with a perfectly symmetrical Georgian facade and wonderful views over rolling valleys and farmland.  The kitchen space is large (approximately 8×7 metres) which for designers presents a challenge. Often large kitchen spaces are more difficult to design into.  Added to this, the room is an unusual shape (not unexpected given the age of the house), but a challenge nonetheless. Further complications arise from various beams and supporting structure which require further investigation and structural engineering advice.

Artichoke was commissioned to undertake detailed kitchen design work on the back of our extensive 25 years experience designing into country houses.  Our brief was to design a kitchen space which worked for a modern family but which was also sensitive to the architecture of the listed Jacobean interior.

Following a number of visits and investigative work by Artichoke’s team, an idea began to formulate.  This  involved taking advantage of the existing beams and supports to divide the kitchen up using a combination of both architectural joinery and furniture. This is not an entirely new idea; it was extensively used by the architects of grand country houses to divide up parts of the domestic back ends of their servant’s kitchen and utility spaces.

 

Kitchen design and development

Artichoke’s 3D visuals show how architectural joinery has been introduced to the kitchen to divide the space up.  The joinery elements feature solid brass glazed framed windows to ensure light floods the room.  These windows are to be made from solid brass and are moulded.  They open on pivot hinges, secured with brass ball catches embedded into the oak frames.

 

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The glass shelves within the interior hand painted furniture elements feature turned brass gallery rails supported on brass posts.  The large central island is hand painted, with the colour taken directly from the main kitchen at Tyntesfield Abbey. The batterie de cuisine over the island will be in blackened steel, and the chopping block will feature brass straps (not steel as shown).

 

View of island

 

Brass detail development

The image below shows one of the unwelded frames machined from solid brass.  The glass we are setting within the frame will be restoration glass which has slight imperfections which refract light, making it well suited to match ‘old fashioned’ windows throughout the rest of the building.

 

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Close up detail showing the turned brass gallery rails mounted onto the glass shelves.

 

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Sink and Taps

A heavyweight solid brass sink has been designed into the scullery to match detailing throughout the rest of the room.

 

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We have chosen to use the fantastic Regulator tap from Waterworks in unlacquered brass to ensure it ages.

Brass Waterworks Regulator tap

Lighting

Artichoke has specified these lovely simple wall lights (in antique brass) with clear reeded glass shades.

 

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Update: 7th October 2016

A welded sample for the solid brass windows with an aged patina.  Each window is calculated to be around 12kg (with glass), with double windows being around 20kg.  This will affect how the joinery into which they are set is re-inforced.

 

Aged brass window fame for kitchen

 

detail of brass window frame for kitchen

 

 

14 November 2016:  Ongoing project.  Further updates soon!

More Case Studies of Artichoke’s work can be viewed by visiting our Profile page.

Art Deco Kitchen and Dining Room, Mayfair

If you are a fan of the art deco kitchen or the flamboyant art deco period in general, then it’s quite possible you’d have seen images of the lift doors in the Chrysler Building in New York which have been the inspiration for a bespoke kitchen and dining room commission we have recently completed in Mayfair, Central London.

 

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To set the scene, the Chrysler Building was constructed in the competitive and fast paced world of 1920’s New York.  The economy in America was booming; the social scene was roaring, and the fields of design and architecture were creating their own very specific identities.  The discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 had also unleashed a huge thirst for Egyptian design with the Karnak Temple in particular influencing global design detail of the time.

 

 

The Chrysler Building was funded entirely by Walter P Chrysler who incredibly paid for the building from his own pocket in order that his children and grand-children could benefit from it.  It was therefore he who made many of the bold design decisions alongside the architect William Van Allen.  The eccentric Art Deco crescent-shaped steps of the spire (spire scaffolding) were made of chrome-nickel steel as a stylised sunburst motif, and underneath it steel deco gargoyles, depicting American eagles, stare over the city. Sculptures modelled after Chrysler automobile radiator caps decorate the lower setbacks, along with ornaments of car wheels.   It really was an awe-inspiring folly.

 

 

There were many stunning and original design details included in the architecture of the Chrysler Building, but the one to influence the panelling and doors for our kitchen and dining room commission are the incredible lift doors, of which there are 32 sets within the Chrysler Building and 37 in the kitchen and dining room we are making.

 

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The lift doors in the Chrysler Building, New York.

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Our rendered images of the approved design.

According to the book, New York, 1930, the Art Deco Chrysler Building Lift doors are made of Japanese ash, English gray harewood and Asian walnut. Inside the elevators, the cabs include American walnut, dye-ebonized wood, satinwood, Cuban plum-pudding wood and curly maple.  The cabs are all different inside.  The metal work is chrome-nickel steel to match the exterior of the building.

The project creative idea was originally conceived by our friends at Fletcher Priest Architects, with Artichoke being responsible for taking the conceptual idea of the art deco kitchen and then turning it into reality.

The design detail within the doors includes some fascinating references to Egyptian mythology including references to the Egyptian feather of truth (the feather, because of its Egyptian name, “shut”, was a symbol of Shu).  This may have been a clever attempt at humour by the architect.

 

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A marquetry bespoke Art Deco Kitchen and Dining room

Artichoke was asked to create a panelled bespoke art deco kitchen and dining-room for the project which overlooks Green Park.  The design had similarities to the original doors in the Chrysler Building, albeit with less flamboyant metalwork, pared down Egyptian references and sightly different decorative veneers.

There are many complexities to undertaking a marquetry job of this nature.  Firstly, unlike lift doors, kitchen doors are often different widths because they often house different hardware within them.  How do the designers ensure therefore that the panels are equal in size and mirror each other on either side of the room, a vital puzzle to solve in order to adhere to the classical symmetry and proportions so important in Deco design?

Secondly, from a purely practical point of view, how does one treat the copper sheet that’s embedded within some of the marquetry panels?  Research shows that copper contains a repellant which actually breaks down most rubber based glues, and other glues have varying degrees of success.  Copper also expands rapidly when heated, so a cautious approach is needed when sanding the veneers, otherwise the copper is likely to heat up with friction, expand and ping off.  Then, once the correct glue is found to successfully adhere copper, testing is needed to see how it reacts with the exotic wood veneers either side of it.  Any reaction, and it’s back to square one!

In addition to that, copper also dis-colours when being cut by laser, so specialist laser equipment with weaker strength beams were sourced specifically to cut the individual copper elements.

Grain direction is another big discussion point, as is trying to ensure that the flitches of veneers used in the doors match each other in both tone and scale as closely as possible.

 

A successful sample; an initial experiment gluing up copper and decorative veneers

There are six primary doors and thirty one secondary doors throughout the dining room and bespoke kitchen, including an automated moving partition wall that divides the rooms when entertaining.

 

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The initial layout of the marquetry doors with their materials listed.



How the marquetry is cut.

 

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Initial client sample showing veneers and copper inlay for the primary doors on the right hand side and secondary on the left.

The client approved the sample for the art deco kitchen’s secondary doors, but it was felt a more intricate pattern for the primary doors was needed.   The latest design is on the right hand side, showing a much more intricate pattern for the copper veneers on the primary doors.  You may notice that the Egyptian feather has been re-introduced to the design on the right.

 

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This more detailed elevation shows the intricate copper detailing on the primary marquetry panelled doors.

 

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All of Artichoke’s bespoke kitchen projects are first made digitally using engineering software. This ensures that all of the cabinet-making issues can be ironed out before real production starts.

 

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Detail of the copper in-situ.

 

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One of the 37 doors ready to be wrapped and taken to site.

 

The completed bespoke Art Deco kitchen and dining room

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art deco kitchen panels

 

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Curved Kitchen for a Round House

Round houses were once all the rage (think mud huts, yurts and teepees).  Houses were built in the round because they offered strength against earthquakes, strong winds and heavy snow, and because they were quick to heat and simple to roof.

These days, modern building materials and fixings offer enough strength and stability to not have to deploy round exteriors for strength, and it is unusual to see one.  Not because the shape is unappealing aesthetically, but largely because the machinery that makes and shapes building materials such as steel, brick, glass, timber and stone is designed to produce it flat, square and straight.  Flat, square and straight is the default setting for most building material manufacturers, so it should be of no great surprise that design and manufacture of curved furniture takes longer and ultimately costs more.

Even the glass backsplash is curved.

 


This particular house is round because it has been inspired by the circular garage carousel upon which it sits, created to store the clients car collection.

Design Challenges – Designing A Kitchen in a Round House
The project has been designed in collaboration with Mark Gillette and for it to be authentic and a design success, it was first vital that all of the curved elements of the bespoke kitchen doors were actually curved, and not faceted.

This challenge is further compounded by the fact that the curve becomes tighter the nearer to the center of the roundhouse the furniture is positioned.  This means that the radius of the furniture doors in the scullery at the back of the kitchen is different (shallower) to the radius of the doors on the outside of the island (tighter).

Radius dimensions are 16.16 metres for the scullery, 15.32 for the glass splashback, 14.62 for the main kitchen furniture, 13.49 for the inside of the island and 12.09 for the outside of the island.

In addition to the varying radius dimensions, other challenges present themselves. Dishwashers and fridges have flat doors, raising the question of how you fix a curved furniture door to the face of a flat metal door?  Does the hinge on the appliance throw the curved door out far enough so that it doesn’t meet adjacent doors?  Hardly any of the joints meet at 90 degrees.  How do you clamp these items together at an angle?  Are the floor tilers using the same radius as you and will their floor radius match your plinth radius?  The glass backsplash needs to be specially curved. How do you set out the kitchen at the installation stage?


Artichoke’s creative design images of the desk area with doors open and closed. The right hand side of these images show the strength of the curved doors.

Materials
The primary material chosen for this kitchen is fumed Eucalyptus, typically found in Australia, New Zealand and Spain. The material is a light brown/golden yellow in its natural state, and it is made to go a deep chocolate brown colour by fuming it (a process using ammonia that causes a reaction with the tannins in the timber).

As you can see, the timber has a wonderful ripple running through it and great care and considerable time was chosen to source a pack of veneer that was even in colour throughout and maintained its ripple across the width of the kitchen.  As is often the case, we took the client to our veneer suppliers to advise and discuss the choice.

The Fumed Eucalyptus in Artichoke’s workshops before it is worked.

This video shows an Artichoke cabinet-maker bonding veneer onto one of the curved substrates using a vacuum bag-press. 

Production Engineering
At Artichoke, because our kitchens are so highly bespoke, we put every completed design through a process called Production Engineering.  This essentially means we are making the kitchen digitally into an accurately surveyed wire-frame model of the room.  This allows us to iron out every issue on computer first before any materials are purchased.

Images show the kitchen being digitally cabinet-made into the wire frame model of the room.   Once this process is complete and we are happy the kitchen works, we can use this software to produce making drawings for the cabinet-makers.

Cabinet Making
For quality control reasons, every bespoke kitchen we design is assembled at Artichoke’s workshops to ensure any issues are ironed out before we come to the installation phase.  This also gives us the opportunity to ensure that all of the appliances fit perfectly and that all of the door gaps are perfect.  Only then is the kitchen dis-assembled and finished in Artichoke’s high tech, air filtered finishing booths. 


Individually, the curve on each door is surprisingly slight, but when compounded it becomes more pronounced.

Installation Phase
Artichoke’s workshop environment is specifically set to domestic heat and humidity levels, so moving completed furniture into a non domestic environment is a potential danger.

The installation phase is often the most risky, and we take great care to ensure that our furniture is introduced to the building at the correct stage of the build.  We are particularly focussed on ensuring the relative humidity is appropriate (between 40 and 60%).  If humidity levels are under, it can cause the timber in the kitchen to shrink, causing cracking, gapping and surface checking.  If the humidity levels are above (which can be as a result of plasterers still working on the site), then it can encourage mould growth and buckling.    Solid timber is particularly vulnerable.


The house nearing completion.

The main sink elevation.


The double doors lead to the scullery.  The glass was also curved, as was the stone profile.  The stone has a textured surface.

 

Completed Project

If you are interested in curved kitchen design and would like to discuss a project with us, please contact Andrew or Bruce on +(0)1934 745270.

Villa Guglielmesca, Tuscany, Italy

Villa Guglielmesca is situated near the town of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo in Tuscany. While the prevailing character of Cortona’s architecture is medieval Renaissance, the villa itself dates back to the beginning of the 1900’s.  Originally a private house, it was transformed into a hotel with 12 bedrooms in the 1950’s before being purchased by the current owner.

 

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Villa Guglielmesca, Cortona, Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy (in 2011 before work started)
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The View from the Villa

In 2010, Artichoke was commissioned directly by the owner to reconfigure the Villa and make it function again as a private residence.  This has involved extensive interior architectural design work by Artichoke’s creative team and includes designing the architecture and furniture for the entrance hall, master bedrooms, bespoke kitchen, dining room, butler’s pantry, boot-room, guest and master bathrooms, ballroom, interior architectural joinery, doors, skirting and floors.

 

Front Entrance Door

The front entrace door was designed taking inspiration from the architecture of local vernacular. Our initial design below proposed the door as European Walnut, althoughthe door is now more likely to be hand painted.  The exterior elevation on the left shows the stone architrave which will be in Pietra Serena to match the the Tuscan columns we designed for the interior.  Pietra Serena is a beautiful grey Tuscan sandstone which was used by Michelangelo in the Medici Chapel Romeare.

 

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The splayed reveal August 2014, ready for plastering
Entrance Hall Design

Below is the Entrance Hall as it existed while Villa Guglielmesca was a hotel.   As you can see, the existing interior architecture of the Villa required significant design work.  Our initial focus was to research and gain a thorough understanding of local vernacular to create an appropriate space for family living.

 

The Villa’s entrance hall when it was a hotel

The images below show the approved Artichoke re-design of the entrance hall with twinned Etruscan columns supporting the vaulted ceiling and hiding the re-enforced concrete columns. The stone we are using fo the columns are made from Pietra Serena.

 

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Artichoke’s re-design of the entrance hall

 

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Plans show Artichoke’s architectural plans for the main hall

 

Bespoke Kitchen Interior Design

Artichoke’s design team also introduced the groin vaulted ceiling detail used in the entrance hall to the principal bespoke kitchen as both a device to architecturally tie the two ends of the vast space together and to frame the large open fireplace (also designed by us).

 

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The Villa’s kitchen space taken back to brick

Inspiration for the bespoke kitchen design in Villa Guglielmesca was taken from typical Tuscan agricultural furniture design.  The primary timber being used for the kitchen is French oak. The oak on the island will be bleached and the oak for the pan-shelves will be fumed to age them. The bread board island tops will be made from wild-grain European Walnut which we will source in Italy. The arched doors on the end of the island, which is plastered, are made from solid oak, and roughly hand planed across the grain with a curved plane blade to create an aged effect. The glazed dresser doors close on traditional espagnoletes.

 

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Image shows the two brick islands finished in rough finish lime render
Boot room Design

Artichoke’s design teams have designed numerous bespoke bootrooms for country properties and apart from plenty of storage, a key aspect to most successful bootroom designs is combining practicality with simplicity.  Bootrooms get a lot of wear. They get dirty and are more loved for their practicality than their looks, mainly because most of the fitted furniture becomes draped in coats, hats and scarves, and eventually much of it become invisible. Artichoke designed the Villa’s boot-room with drainage at the centre of the room to allow mud to be washed and brushed away.

 

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Artichoke’s design for the Villa’s bootroom
Kitchen Fireplace

Artichoke designed the fireplace and surround as a multi-functional space, and it is far from simply decorative.  A chargrill has been designed on the right hand side, with the left reserved for open fires and spit-roasting meats.  The stone for the surround is Pietra Serena.

 

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Shows the Artichoke designed fireplace being prepared in tandem with the groined ceiling, also designed by us
Interior Architecture

There are nearly 100 individual features designed by Artichoke inside Villa Guglielmesca, including coffered ceilings, fireplaces, windows, columns, doors and stone architraves.   A few examples can be seen below:

 

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Construction in progress of the groined ceiling in the Villa’s Limonaria

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Pietra Serena stone architrave being set into the Villa walls
One of the Artichoke designed Pietra Serena window surrounds

 

Installation Phase
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Artichoke’s European walnut vanity unit with walnut mirrors. The marble to be added will be Carrara
The Villa’s exterior showing the Pietra Serena windows and door frames designed by Artichoke. The shutters were make locally

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Walnut skirting was designed for the dining room
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Artichoke designed this simple linen store. Note the detail in the clay tiles at the threshold of the door

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Completed Project

A small selection of images from the completed project are below.

Kitchen

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Scullery

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Bootroom

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Guest WC

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Hallway Doors

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Selected Architectural Joinery

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Baroque Library Design

In late 2013, Artichoke’s architectural design team were approached by the new owner of a magnificent late 17th Century Grade II* Listed Georgian Hall in the English countryside.

The Hall sits in gently undulating parkland with some quite magnificent architectural design features which include a  listed fishing temple with a pedimented Roman Doric portico, and listed Palladian stables.

Among the requirements for the Hall was a grand library in the Baroque style.  For those unfamiliar with Baroque interior design, it can best be described as a dramatic and theatrical take on Renaissance architecture, often including bold features such as opulent use of ornaments and colour, gilding and carving.  For interior architectural designers and cabinet makers, this is an deeply interesting and challenging project.

 

The Philosophical Hall Prague

There are many baroque rooms to take inspiration from when preparing an interior design of this nature.  During design meetings with the Hall’s owner, one particular room caught our eye, the breathtaking Philosophical Hall in the Strahov Monastery in Prague, arguably one of the most beautiful libraries and interiors in The World. The library in the Philosophical Hall was built in 1779.  We flew to Prague to survey some of the detail (with kind permission from the monastery).

 

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The Philosophical Hall at the Strahov Monastary
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Carved angels and garlands adorn the furniture
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Carved gilded Acanthus leaves rise from the base of the frames of each book-case
Each shelf has a gilded front edge. Note the painted interior and the double layer of books

Stunning wild grain walnut was used throughout the library because it is so beautiful and works well in a room of this size.

 

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Raised cabinet door panels in the Baroque style
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Gilded acanthus leaves on the underside of the cornice
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Gilded egg and dart molding, symbolising life and death, runs across the gallery
Creative Design Work
Original plan of the library
Fireplace elevation

Close up of the entablatures below show the gilded swags and tails, egg and dart, dental mold and gilded acanthus leaves.

 

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Hand Carving

This image shows work in progress of the carved gilding work.  All the carving in the library is being undertaken under Artichoke’s direction by Ian Agrell Carving, an English company with offices in London, San Rafael and Calcutta.  The company is run by master carver Ian Agrell, one of the few carving companies who never carve by machine.  Their work is of the highest possible quality (which is why we use them).  All of this work is undertaken by eye using the sharpest chisels.  Ian’s video is below.

 

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An acanthus leaf being worked on by hand.  The carving is undertaken in Calcutta by carvers specially trained in classical detailing.  Their work is crisp, accurate and leaves an excellent surface upon which the gilding teams can layer their gesso and gild work. Note how the hand-drawn paper template guides the carver through the shapes and layers of the detail.

 

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Below are some examples of the carved swags

 

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Samples of gild-work were produced concurrently to help gauge the correct level of brightness for the final gild work.  The above image shows how different types of gilding can alter the final look of carved work.  We have specified water gilding for the library which is a traditional method of applying gold leaf to a surface.  It is the highest quality of all gilding methods.

The larger piece on the left has been lightly antiqued to look in period, while the other items have a much brighter and fresher tone.  We are partnering with Gareth from Watergilders who is undertaking the water gilding of these items.

 

photo[2] - gilded

 

Production Engineering

Once the final creative design is signed off, we move on to the Production Engineering phase where Artichoke’s technical designers model the room in 3D to work out the most efficient and best methods of constructing the room.  We are, in effect, digital cabinet making at this stage.  Each component is constructed in digital form so we know how it interacts with other component parts.

 

Library 2[1]

 

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Water Guilding

Acanthus leaf carvings ready to be watergilded by the Watergilders team

 

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The image below Shows the various stages of the water gilding process being undertaken by the Watergilders team.  Up to ten layers of gesso are added to the timber substrate and smoothed down (bottom right) before a yellow gold gilding clay is added.  Burnishing clay, or bole, is then added to parts of the leaf before the gold leaf is added.  This is then dampened with water to encourage the leaf to stick to the surface before it is then burnished with an Agate stone.

 

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Production

Part of the cornicework in the workshop. The central band of carved lillies will be water gilded. The timber is European Walnut.

 

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Below are images of the base cabinets in assembly at Artichoke’s workshop with the hinges about to be fitted.  Finish has already been applied to the perimeter of the panels which are made from solid walnut.  These solid panels will contract in size as the timber acclimatises to the domestic environment.  Pre-finishing the edge first allows for the panel to contract within the frame without revealing any unfinished timber at the shrinkage points.

 

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Below are images of the watergilded bases and swags fixed in position.

 

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This Video shows the gilders applying oil gild to the walnut frames at Artichoke’s worktops.

 

 

Here is the main entrance door to the library, with the frame mould gilded and the raised and fielded panels about to be fixed

 

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Installation

The installation phase of every project is potentially the most risky.  A great deal of effort is placed on ensuring that we install at the correct time, and that the environment is not damp, dusty or busy with builders and other third party trades.

Images of the installed library are below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, as a surprise for the client and a thank-you gift to them from us, Artichoke secretly designed in this book operated secret drawer.  Every great baroque library should have one!

 

 

Please click here to see more about our bespoke library design service.  For further information regarding Artichoke’s work, please contact us.

 

Designing a Country House Kitchen Island

The kitchen island has humble origins.  In the days when large houses were supported by busy kitchens teaming with staff, the oak table was the workhorse of the room.

 

The kitchen at Middleton Park. The house was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and his son Robert Lutyens in 1938 for the 9th Earl of Jersey. Not Used CL 12/07/1946
The central island in the main kitchen at Middleton Park was simply a domestic table raised off the ground on blocks

Today, most domestic kitchens are used by the home-owner and not by staff. We prepare our own food, and as a result, kitchen islands tend to look less utilitarian.

Many of Artichoke’s kitchen design commissions are for large country houses where history has played its part in shaping how the house looks and runs.  Often these design commissions are from the new owners who are often responsible for replacing years of lost period character.  As bespoke kitchen designers, it is often our responsibility to balance their wishes for period authenticity with the practical needs of a modern home.

This case-study shows how one such kitchen island has evolved from a series of simple sketches to the finished article in Artichoke’s workshop.

The brief was to design a kitchen with a period feel that met the needs of a modern family.  The house is a captivating Grade II listed house set in National Trust parkland near Alderley Edge in Cheshire, with owners keen to re-introduce some high quality period detail back into the house.

 

Initial hand sketch

Each kitchen design project evolves in different ways, but in this case, initial ideas were roughed out on paper to gauge the feasibility and to help give the client an understanding for what can be achieved.

 

Island 1

 

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2D Drawings

Once the concept is proven, the general intent drawings are prepared showing turning detail, period moulding detail and interior layouts of the drawers.  At this stage we are drawing to scale.

 

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3D Renders

Artichoke’s design team often deploys CGI (Computer Generated Images) to explore how kitchen furniture works with the rest of the room and the architecture. The studies below show the oak kitchen island at the centre alongside other decorative items.  CGI can be extremely useful in helping clients understand how design impacts their space.

 

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Production Engineering

Once the kitchen island  design is approved by the client, our cabinet makers will make the piece in digital form first using a software package that will also calculate bills of materials, quantities of components* weight of parts etc.  We make every piece virtually in this way.  It ensures all potential problems are ironed out before we purchase materials, and it improves efficiency for the client.

 

Island b

 

Island d
there are 141 individual hand made component parts in this island. Each is bespoke made from the original raw materials (European Oak)
Production

Artichoke makes the finest quality kitchens that are robust enough to last for many years.  To make kitchens of this quality requires the component parts to be jointed traditionally using craft base skills that have stood the test of time.

In the case of this kitchen island, the rail is jointed to the turned legs using dovetail joints and mortice and tenons.  These traditional joints take time to make and will be unseen by the client, so some would argue that they are uneccessary.  However, we know that these methods are a mark of quality and will far outlast a mechaniocal fixings.  We know that it will never fail.

 

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Dovetail joint
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Mortice and tenon joints
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A specially designed jig with leather protective padding clamps the rail to the leg
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Dovetailed drawers
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Artichoke cabinet maker Craig putting final adjustments to one of the island drawers
Finishing

The final phase is the finishing, and in this case the finish required is mid to late 19th century.  Our head of finishing, Rob, used to be a well known antique restorer and has incredible skill for turning new oak into old.  Like most professionals, Rob keeps his recipies a closely guarded secret.

 

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24 February 2016: Project being installed.

 

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