This kitchen project was a bit of departure for Artichoke as it required us to get involved in a space that was not domestic. The Warburg Ensemble – a collection of nine charming 19th-century townhouses in Hamburg, was to become the heart of The New Institute, a place where academics converge to drive social change.
The owner of the buildings, inspired by our work on his private project, knew that we possessed a unique ability to infuse life and character into the area that was to become a kitchen. We also created a stunning home bar.
The mission was to create a space that would work as a hub of international connection and culinary delight.
The result was a simple yet elegant kitchen, equipped with everything needed for guests’ needs. By day, the room would transform into a public space, where skilled chefs serve guests at the counter, offering a delectable array of dishes and breakfast delights. In the evening, it became the place where international fellows could gather, forging bonds over shared culinary experiences.
When we got on board, the project was already well underway. The client recognised that Artichoke could bring something vital – creating a fully functioning kitchen that felt authentic and in tune with the unique character of the building. Through painstaking consideration, we unlocked the room’s full potential to create a space that feels completely resolved.
Our breakthrough moment came with the realisation that by dividing the space and creating distinct zones for specific functions, we could control the architecture. Instead of designing furniture to fit a space, we designed the space for the furniture, allowing us to push the boundaries of form and function. The result looks effortless.
The kitchen needed to strike a delicate balance. It had to be open, inviting, and accessible to all, embodying the spirit of inclusivity. This space was also to be a culinary theatre where chefs could perform their magic, a place where the act of cooking became an immersive experience, and where guests could engage with the cooks and each other.
While there was a service kitchen in the basement for the bulk of the cooking, this kitchen had a higher purpose—to create an atmosphere of connection and interaction.
Our work began with a briefing document that encapsulated the project’s philosophies, influenced by the design principles of Ilse Crawford. Her humanistic approach to design, placing human needs and desires at the forefront, resonated with our mission. We carefully considered every detail to blend history, functionality, and aesthetics seamlessly.
The key to creating a kitchen that is spatially perfect and exquisitely detailed, lay in controlling every aspect, including building a deep frame into which the furniture would be installed. We added the arch that helped us handle the ceiling height change whilst offering the perfect proportions for the cabinets. We then infused the furniture with richly decorated, tastefully judged European details.
Tasteful neoclassical detail became our signature, from the the elegant cornices that echoed the room’s tall ceilings to the seemingly modest details, like the shallow bolection moulding and delicate foot mouldings.
All the practical elements like the generous prep sink, the grand ‘Officine Gullo’ cooker, the sneeze guard and bespoke display fridges have been artfully incorporated into the overall design.
The bespoke display fridges are remarkable, specially designed to take a cabinetry frame with wooden doors, and blend beautifully into the room’s aesthetic.
The serving table in the centre of the room comes with clever pull-out sections that rest on lopers and serve a dual purpose: they provide an extra surface for chefs to present food and help to maintain a divide between professional cooks and the public when necessary. The need for including the sneeze guard was mandated by Health & Safety regulations, but we made sure it looked beautiful and integrated well into the room’s aesthetic.
For the walls, we chose Victorian-era moulded tiles, their precision reflecting a period when the crisp perfection of mass-produced tiles was novel and celebrated. The tiles, with their special matte glaze, bring a modern touch whilst honouring tradition.
The finish of the woodwork was a labour of love. Designed to appear as if it had been well looked after over many years of use, we introduced layers of paint to hint at the passage of time and history. The single colour used throughout the scheme brings harmony and lends a modern touch creating a cosy and inviting atmosphere morning, noon and night.
The centrepiece of the room, the Cook’s Table, was made from bleached African Mahogany and designed to evoke the charm of antique European furniture. Its intricate detailing, including a powerful, distinctive turned and faceted leg and brass angular handles, capture the essence of baroque craftsmanship.
It is a meticulously crafted yet functional piece. Bruce Hodgson, the Artichoke founder, believes in the beauty of every detail, even those hidden from view. His philosophy is simple yet profound: “Even the underside of things should be beautiful.” Bruce’s belief extends to the flawless planks under the worktable, which he likens to “polishing the heel and the toe.”
It is this kind of dedication to perfection that really sets Artichoke apart.
Every facet of this project reflects our dedication to creating a space where each detail, no matter how small, contributes to its overall success.
The New Institute initiative is rooted in people and their experiences – in part a quest to understand how design shapes the human journey within spaces. Our contribution mirrors this philosophy creating a space that invites and pleases – a room that embodies the art of holistic design.