3 October 2009

Beware a storm of superlatives approaching!


The launch of a kitchen designed by Philippe Starck can only mean one thing: we are in for a mountain of ill-informed comments about kitchens.

I think most of us who write about the 'designer' end of the kitchen market have long-awaited a kitchen by the maverick designer Philippe Starck. The man is a genius, and his ability to completely rethink everyday objects borders on the amazing.

Over the years he has flirted on the edges of the kitchen scene. Most will remember his iconic juicer for Alessi. (If there's anyone out there in KBB-Land that knows how to get the darn thing to work, please share the secret with the rest of us.

More recently there was the kitchen sink for Duravit, but now we have the full enchilada, a complete kitchen for Warendorf.

Okay, it doesn't seem the rewrite the book on kitchen design as we know it, but it certainly has quite a lot to commend it, even if the central concept of hiding away the appliances was one of the main themes of Eurocucina 2008.

Frankly I am dreading the next few weeks. Why? Because a section of the design world that never writes about the design of kitchen furniture from one year to the next are going to suddenly assume that they are experts on the subject.

And they are probably going to write a pile of complete tosh!

A few weeks ago I choked on my Saturday cornflakes when I was advised by an 'expert' in one of the supplements that all kitchen cabinets were broadly the same. And if I wanted to save a few bob, I should head off to a trade supplier and buy my units from it.

This neatly overlooked the fact that the company concerned sold complete kitchens to the building trade, and that their cabinets were of a somewhat lower specification than those sold by a substantial number of high street kitchen retailers.

Now don't misunderstand me. While I have only seen images so far, I like what I've seen with the Philippe Starck kitchen. It seems obvious to me that he has thought long and hard about how to bridge the space between the living and cooking areas of a home, and I love the way he has run a bookcase around kitchen cabinets as can be seen in the image above.

But I can also hear a chorus from kitchen companies throughout Europe saying: "but you can do that with our furniture too!".

And that, sadly, is my point.

What about a bit of attention for the other great furniture designers there are? For a brief moment, thanks to Philippe Starck, the spotlight will be shining on kitchen furniture design.

Will these 'experts' also look at the work of designers Paolo Pininfarina, Gerd Bulthaup, or Mark Wilkinson, to name but three?

Will they bill and coo over the innovation shown by Porsche's designers in the P'7340 kitchen for Poggenpohl?

Will they spare more than a half-interested glance at the other kitchens in the Warendorf range?

I think we all know the answers to these questions, don't we?

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