What Should be the Focal Point in Bespoke Kitchen Design?

With bespoke kitchen design, there are so many approaches to deciding the focal point of a kitchen. It will depend on the house, its period, the requirements of the household – their habits and their desired aesthetic.

Historically, the obvious focal point in a kitchen is the solid fuel range to cook on. An Aga stuck in a fireplace is a quintessential focal point in a traditional English country house.  The Aga or stove was critical not only for cooking but as a source of heating the kitchen. Its focus was accentuated further by a chimney cowl to ventilate it.  The range remains an obvious and appropriate choice as the focal point of a kitchen, so much so that we create other features around the range to increase the focus.

Bespoke kitchen design with Artichoke's glossy painted cook's table
The beautiful stone mantel was introduced to create a focal point of the range cooker

Life with no heating

In other rooms in period homes, the fireplace was also the natural focal point – life without central heating was cold and therefore furniture was arranged in a way to take maximum advantage of the heat source.  In new houses and with 21st century technology like underfloor heating, this is no longer the case.  This brings possibilities for alternative focal points like views or art in both the kitchen and the rest of the house.

Bespoke kitchen design makes the most of garden views and sunlight
The orangery kitchen makes the most of garden views and spectacular light.

Modern living

Family life has evolved so that kitchens and the way we use them has changed. Even in grand houses, they are not just the preserve of servants but tend to be central to family life.  Kitchens are not simply practical spaces stuffed with cupboards.  Kitchens have become more like living rooms.

Bespoke kitchen design in this London apartment creates a wonderful kitchen and living space
A kitchen that’s easy to live in.

The heart of the home

Traditionally kitchens were small, located in the back of the house for logistical reasons. The purpose of a kitchen was entirely functional.  In our market, kitchens are much larger, often centrally located in the heart of the house.  They enjoy the best light and the best views.  Read more about how we move a kitchen in a listed building here.  The generous space allows more room to absorb the many functions associated with storing, preparing, and cooking food.  Kitchens such as these can afford to be more like living rooms.  Therefore, a focal point may well be a beautiful painting or a view – features that are not related to functional cooking equipment or storage.  Instead, the bespoke kitchen design deliberately emphasises a piece of art or decorative element like a fireplace.

Bespoke kitchen design creates an island in this Bristol kitchen.
The location of the fireplace interfered with the layout of this Bristol kitchen so we created a unique island as the focal point instead.

Ancillary rooms today

In large houses, ancillary rooms like pantries and sculleries can be useful in freeing up the kitchen, making it a more pleasant place to hang out and entertain. Kitchen storage, washing up, cooking and preparation can therefore be kept slightly separate.  It is very much a speciality of Artichoke to design such rooms.

Bespoke kitchen design can involve ancillary rooms like this pantry
Artichoke’s hand finishing gives depth and character to the timber.

The scullery

Recently we have been treating the scullery as a secondary focal point in our bespoke kitchen design. Washing up is an important element of kitchen tasks and is often neglected.  We believe, with a bit of flair and imagination, a scullery can be just as exciting a focal point.

Bespoke kitchen design can involve ancillary rooms like sculleries for washiing up
Tasks related to washing up are housed in this eye catching scullery.

Alternative focal point

An approach we sometimes take with our bespoke kitchen design is to consider each area with the same focus as might historically have been given to the kitchen range. This sink is expertly crafted out of a block of soapstone creating an unusual focal point at the window.

Bespoke kitchen design creates additional focal points like this soapstone sink

Material choice

Material choice is an important part in bespoke kitchen design and can create natural focal points. Making certain elements out of a very special timber or stone or highlighting particular pieces of furniture via a pop of colour can be very effective in creating a focal point.  In this London kitchen, we have used marble with a striking figure to elevate the cooking area to be the focal point.

Bespoke kitchen design means striking materials can be chosen to create a focal point

If you’d like to discuss our approach to bespoke kitchen design and discover first hand our passion for brilliantly designed furniture and how it can improve your experience of living in a period house, please email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call +44 (0)1934 745270.

Designing a Warehouse Industrial Style Vintage Kitchen in London

Despite being designers ourselves, we are occasionally called upon by other designers to take their concept ideas forward to reality.  Because we are both maker and designer we bring deep understanding of wood, the manufacturing process and period finishing to the conversation which enables us to add value to their ideas and create rooms of exceptional individualty and quality for their clients.

We were invited to do just this for the design team at Studio Indigo.  The practice, based in Chelsea, is one of the best design companies we work with.  Quite uniquely their teams are made up of both architects and interior designers, which gives their clients a really efficient service.  We love working with them for this reason.

This particular project was for a Victorian villa in London which was to have a modern and fresh industrial style vintage kitchen at its heart.

Initial Conceptual Idea

Studio Indigo’s initial idea was for a U shaped island on one level at the centre of the room with an integrated central hob and preparation sink.

 

 

 

The original island featured a central raised bar which enveloped a supporting post at the centre of the room.  The ovens were to be behind with tall refridgeration on a tall run alongside the main scullery sink.

 

 

 

 

Design Development

As is the case with most projects, as discussions with clients continue, ideas develop and interior architecture shifts.  One of the principle issues we all had with the initial kitchen was there was little room for larder storage.  To overcome this, we consulted with the team at Studio Indigo and commandeered some redundant space under the stairs behind the kitchen to the right  which provided ample room for larder storage for the family.  This freed up the main kitchen and allowed us to make some important improvements to the design.

Moving the larder storage out of the main kitchen freed up the design of the main run.

 

Once this was resolved, we could then turned our attention to the island, the centrepiece of the room.  Our first collective decision was that we should raise the entire front face of the island to hide the main hob from the rest of the room; hobs can be messy spaces and rarely benefit from being on view.  In rooms with tall ceilings such as this, we also find that raising an island’s height better serves the room’s proportions.

3D Renders

Once the design was agreed, a render could be produced to bring the elements of furniture to life.  At this stage it was decided to add zinc to the raised island section which had the effect of turning it into a bar from its public side, a feature which suited the client and the relaxed intention for this social kitchen space.

 

 

 

Seating Area

The initial idea for the bench seat from Studio Indigo was to create a wonderful Victorian industrial booth seat with distressed bronze finish, leather seating and shelving.  Their initial concept sketch to us below was incredibly helpful.

 

As research was undertaken into the best approach to take for this piece, it became apparent that to create the frame from mild steel, which is hollow and has rounded edges, would not deliver the crisp engineered look we were all after.  It could also buckle if fallen into, creating a safety concern,.  It was therefore decided to make the entire frame from solid brass bar.  This provided the opportunity to create a really authentic engineered look, and it also allowed us to distress the surface of the brass to add patina to the piece.

The Completed Room

Some professional images taken of the completed work are below.

industrial style kitchen

vintage style family kitchen in a georgian house

Solid Brass kitchen Bench Seat

Photo credit Studio Indigo.

Further information regarding this completed kitchen space can be found here.

 


If you would like to discuss a kitchen or joinery design project with Artichoke, please email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call 01934 745270

Gun Room Design for a 21st Century Country House

Gun room design for a 21st Century Country house, whether for a newly built house or a period house fitted out for modern living, we are experts. With a strong focus on designing luxury bespoke interiors for private country houses,  Artichoke are specialists in bespoke gun rooms.

We have an exceptional understanding of the diverse and very specific specialisms required for designing custom-made gun rooms and bespoke gun cabinets: location, security, size, humidity, materials, interior design, storage and gun expertise.

The sporting heart of a house

The essential role of a gun room is as a safe, secure and legal room to store guns and ammunition.

But they play other roles too.  A fine gun room can add greatly to the delightful rituals at both ends of a day’s sport.  And often the gun room is the first room of your house a visiting shot will experience as they unload the night before a shoot.  They are a place to anticipate a day in the field, and to reflect on it.

Bespoke gun cabinets allow for the safe storage and display of your own guns, and your guests’. Surfaces should be large and robust enough for the putting together, breaking down and cleaning of guns. Storage should encourage the orderly arrangement of cartridges.

Most of Artichoke’s management team were brought up in the country. They understand country sports and know the role of a good gun room.

Bespoke beauty and practicality

Every bespoke gunroom designed by Artichoke is individual according to the client brief. We offer a full creative space-planning service for gun room design that takes account of all design considerations including:

  • Comprehensive furniture and storage design options such as custom-made display cabinetry, drying racks, storage drawers, free standing tables, desks and seating
  • Robust security

We maintain close ties with our local Police firearms officer and keep up to date with changes in legislation regarding the safe and secure storage of shotguns and rifles to ensure our gun room design is compliant.

Case Study: Gun and Sporting Room, Shaftesbury, Dorset

     

European Oak and leather were the two main materials used to create this bespoke gun and sporting room. Some of the delicate detail, which made this room so special, included angled storage for each gun, and padded hide to protect the stocks. In addition, we put a slight slope around the edge on the central island, thus preventing cartridges and gun equipment from falling to the floor.

At Artichoke, we are passionate about creating outstanding, luxury spaces for your home. Once the tailored design process for your gun room is complete, our skilled cabinet makers will bring your bespoke designs to life in our Somerset workshops. Explore more of our work in English country houses here.

Georgian Library in Dublin Restored To Former Glory

We are happy to be able to share details of a recently completed project on an early 19th-century Georgian library in Dublin.

The Brief

The owners of the property in question, an exquisite Georgian townhouse, wanted a large Georgian library to form the main part of their raised ground floor living space. The client, Jean Flitcroft of Interior Designers Leon and Croft, wanted the room to look understated, elevating the books as the heroes of the room. The brief to Artichoke was to update the space without compromising its historic charm and value.

Architectural Challenges

When designing libraries into period settings, we aim to integrate our work with a building’s original architectural joinery, and in this case the grand townhouse room, built in 1819, presented itself beautifully. A section of the original Georgian dado was stripped of years of paint build up to present its original crisp lines. This was then copied and integrated along the face of the Georgian library bookcases to make them appear more architectural. The perfect location of the door into the room also allowed the library furniture to span both sides of the opening, giving our team the opportunity to integrate the architrave into the library furniture.

grand painting above fireplace

 

Design Inspiration

The client’s request for us to design them a Georgian library coincided with a series of visits to St Giles House in Wiltshire, the original home of the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury. The house had fallen into disrepair after the Second World War and was on the English Heritage Buildings ‘At Risk’ register until it was rescued by the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, Nick Ashley-Cooper, in 2010. The property’s magnificent Georgian library remained untouched and was in a state of disrepair. However, its former elegance and subtle grandeur shone through, and it was this room that gave Artichoke the inspiration for the bespoke Georgian library design in Dublin.

library in st giles house

 

The Result

The Georgian library is flooded with light, while soft red walls and a rich colour palette deliver a more traditional library aesthetic. Different leathers and woods are mixed to give an eclectic look that feels cosy without being stuffy. A chandelier in each section of the Georgian library interior hints at grandeur, while armchairs dotted throughout invite the family and their guests to make themselves comfortable.

Perhaps most importantly, the books are presented in understated white bookcases, allowing them to be seen clearly – answering the client’s brief perfectly. We have been successful in creating a space that the family will enjoy and cherish for years to come without compromising the historic charm of the house.

grand georgian library

 

If this project convinces of the transformative potential of well considered and authentic architectural joinery, please do get in touch and tell us about your project. Email the Artichoke team at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call on +44 (0)1934 745270 or read more about our services.

Victorian 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 Victorian kitchen design 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 Victorian 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 practical 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 exacting in our attention to the smallest details. 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 featured 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.

 

copper sink in the bakery
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 formed the centrepiece to many Victorian kitchen designs. 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 Victorian kitchen.

 

Officine Gullo range oven in Victorian kitchen

 

The moulding was cast by a foundry in Somerset and was a highly involved process. Starting with the mould frame pattern (made from timber), a reverse sand mould was made into specialist casting sand. This had tapered edges to ensure it can be removed – similar to the reason children’s beach buckets have tapers on. Molten pig iron was then poured into the mould and left to solidify and cool for 24 hours before it was shot blasted and fettled. The finished mould is 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 our client’s Victorian kitchen design with a Sub Zero refrigerator being integrated into the wall next to the cast iron range oven. We have made sure it’s introduction is discrete – it takes a central position in the kitchen but is disguised by being housed in a cabinet – a practical and neat solution.

 

Victorian Pull Handles

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

 

Brass pull handle for kitchen
Stage 1:  Surveying one of the original kitchen handles from Lanhydrock.

 

Scale version of the Lanhydrock handles in timber 
Stage 2: 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 3: 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 and how to make it.

 

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 in the workshop. 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 maker 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 Victorian kitchen design was signed off by our Production Manager, it is disassembled and prepared for finishing.

 

kitchen island table
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 finished project can be viewed by following this link
 

With each project, whether a kitchen or a whole house, we aim to create Britain’s future heritage, adding architectural value to our clients’ houses for their family and for future generations. We aren’t simply making joinery. We are making history.

To discuss your project, email the Artichoke team at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call on +44 (0)1934 745270.

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.

 

1795-view-4

 

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.

 

brass window frame

 

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

 

turned-brass-gallery-rails

 

Sink and Taps

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

 

OfficineGullo_lvq039

 

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.

 

carey_prismatic_glass_contemporary_bathroom_wall_light_1

 

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.

Luxury Bespoke Kitchens with Large Islands

During the process of designing a luxury kitchen, Artichoke’s design team will almost always allow for a large kitchen island.

In the 25 years that we have been designing bespoke kitchens for clients, we’ve never designed the same island twice. Islands will usually sit in a commanding position centrally within the kitchen space and they are therefore the first item of furniture that client’s like to focus on during the design process. They have a large impact on a room and are usually the first piece of furniture that visitors see when they enter, so they should be designed with care and attention to detail.

The design direction for a kitchen island depends on a number of key factors. First and foremost, is the kitchen island there to impress or do you want it to have a practical function? When designing the large kitchen island in the image below, attention was primarily focussed on drama. The contemporary bookmatched marble island offsets the regency sash windows perfectly.

 

Marble kitchen island
A large island in a regency house in Somerset designed by Artichoke in conjunction with interior designer Ilse Crawford.

When pressed with the question of form over function, many clients are tempted to want both, but in our experience asking for both a dramatic and functional island simply serves to dilute both in equal measure; if you can, choose one, and pursue it whole-heartedly.

In the kitchen island below, care was taken to be far more subtle in the design process. This is a working kitchen for a London house, and as such the luxury of drama was over ridden by the need for a large practical island that functions well as a working kitchen space. The drama was introduced over the island with the large batterie-de-cuisine and striking industrial extractor hood behind.

 

This more practical and subtle island take a more discreet approach.
This more practical and subtle island takes a more discreet approach.

Artichoke regularly designs kitchens for professional and semi professional cooks where function usually takes precedent over form. The large cook’s kitchen island below is one such commission. The worktop is divided in two, with basalt forming the main surface at one end of the island for more heavy duty food preparation such as washing vegetables, peeling, chopping etc, with a softer material, oak, at the other end for baking and pastries. Aesthetically this large kitchen island takes on the feel of an Edwardian Cook’s table.

 

A kitchen island designed by Artichoke inspired by an Edwardian cook's kitchen.
A kitchen island designed by Artichoke inspired by an Edwardian cook’s kitchen.

Chef's knives are stored in this large kitchen island.

 

Chef’s knives are stored in this large kitchen island.Occasionally, Artichoke will be asked to include more than one island in the design. In this instance it is first important to consider whether multiple islands are actually needed.  In our experience having more than one island can result in one becoming a dumping ground for daily administration, keys, post and other items not considered essential to a kitchen. However, in some cases two may be the right decision for the space, and the project pictured below is a great example of this. Artichoke designed two kitchen islands to aesthetically complement the over hanging roof lantern; the circle forming the centre of the islands matches the shape of the roof lantern above.  In this case, having two islands also improved the flow of the space and was the preferred option over one large kitchen island for the client to walk around.

 

The shape of these two islands reflects the roof lantern above.
The shape of these two islands reflects the roof lantern above.

The final option is to create a large kitchen island from a single appliance, as in this kitchen designed by Artichoke for an Art Deco inspired house in London.  This option limits typical uses for a kitchen island as there is often little preparation space, but with the correct appliance, such as a La Cornue in this instance, it can look very striking.

 

A La Cornue forms the large island at the centre of this Art Deco inspired kitchen.
A La Cornue forms the large island at the centre of this Art Deco inspired kitchen.

Our portfolio contains further images of large kitchen islands.  If you have a design project you’d like to discuss, please call +44 (0)1934 745270.

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 Art Deco kitchen and dining room commission we have recently completed in Mayfair, Central London.

 

Screen shot 2013-09-30 at 15_37_30

 

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 paid for the building from his own pocket in order that his children and grand-children could benefit from it. He made many of the bold design decisions alongside his 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 Art Deco kitchen and dining room are the incredible lift doors, of which there are 32 sets within the Chrysler Building. In Artichoke’s Art Deco kitchen and dining room there are 37 doors.

 

Screen shot 2013-09-30 at 16_14_17
The lift doors in the Chrysler Building, New York.

Project 149 - View 1 - Closed

 

Project 149 - View 1 - Open

 

Project 149 - View 5
Our rendered images of the approved design.

According to the book, New York, 1930, ‘Architecture and Urbanism Between the two World Wars.’, 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 cabinets are all different inside. The metal work is chrome-nickel steel to match the exterior of the building.

The creative idea for this project 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 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”, which was a symbol of Shu). This may have been a clever attempt at humour by the architect.

 

DSC04316

 

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 slightly different decorative veneers.

There are many complexities associated with 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 Art Deco kitchen panels are equal in size and mirror each other on either side of the room? This is 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. 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 discolours when being cut by laser, so specialist laser equipment with weaker strength beams were sourced specifically to cut the individual copper elements of the art deco kitchen panels.

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 bespoke Art Deco kitchen and dining room, 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 sample showing veneers and copper inlay for the primary doors on the right hand side and secondary on the left.
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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 later 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 1900s. Originally a private house, it was transformed into a hotel with 12 bedrooms in the 1950s 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 Tuscan style 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 entrance door was designed taking inspiration from the architecture of local Tuscan vernacular. Our initial design below proposed the door as European Walnut, although the 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 Tuscan columns and the fireplace found in the Tuscan style kitchen. 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 decided to use for 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 Tuscan 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 was bleached and the oak for the pan-shelves were fumed to age them. The breadboard island tops were made from wild-grain European walnut which we sourced 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 to match the Tuscan style kitchen. The glazed dresser doors close on traditional espagnoletes.

 

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These images are renders or computer generated representations of the designs which are part of our process. They enable all involved to see the current plans in a 3D format. They show the two brick islands in the Tuscan style kitchen finished in rough finish lime render
Boot room Design

In addition to the villa’s Tuscan style kitchen, Artichoke designed a simple and authentic boot room for the private residence. Artichoke’s design teams have designed numerous bespoke boot rooms for country properties and apart from plenty of storage, a key aspect to most successful boot room designs is combining practicality with simplicity. Boot rooms 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 becomes 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 renders (computer generated designs) for the villa’s boot room
Kitchen Fireplace

Artichoke designed the fireplace in the Tuscan style kitchen 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 in the tuscan style kitchen, also designed by Artichoke.
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
A bespoke marble sink carved to fit a special nook in the cloak room

 

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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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The groined ceiling in the corridor is complemented by the Artichoke designed openings and doors.

 

The Completed Project

This project can be found in full by visiting our website. A selection of images from the completed project are below. With each project, whether a kitchen or a whole house, we aim to create fitted furniture of lasting value, adding architectural value to our clients’ houses for their family and for future generations. We aren’t simply making joinery. We are making history.

To discuss your project, email the Artichoke team at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call on +44 (0)1934 745270.
 

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