So we understand that trends, colour and design have an impact on the style and function of a kitchen. So then What can the proper layout bring to the ergonomics and productivity of the kitchen? Philip Richards of Blu_Line offers the following response: ‘Proper layout should ensure that the space is above all relational where the experience of the person/s using the space is enhanced and not hindered. The kitchen designed into separate zones ensuring each task is catered for, will enable flow of movement through the space to be unhindered and an overall pleasurable experience. This will in turn increase productivity as those using the space performing a task will find that they are able to function without being disturbed and that everything they need from cooking utensils to counter space is available enabling them to achieve a favourable result on the culinary side of things.’ Wow! There is so much to consider when designing a kitchen! How can one ensure the proper layout of a kitchen? ‘The strong direction towards relational spaces that not only meet the demands made on them but also enhance the overall design scheme have given way to the demands made on the modern kitchen increasing. Focus therefore has needed to be applied to zone planning, making sure that all the functional requirements of each zone in the kitchen has been met, enabling various tasks to be in motion simultaneously yet still keeping the workflow clean.’ Blu_Line’s representative touches on all angles which makes me wonder if there Are rules / guidelines one should follow in terms of proper kitchen layout?
‘There are definite guidelines that need to be followed to ensure the design is relational and overall functional. Separate the living space into zones, not only catering for cooking and preparation zones but also for activity zones as this environment now needs to serve many functions ranging from social to work to family activities. Ensure that the flow of the space is continually assessed, as a space that caters for all the necessary functions required of it but fails to have a calm and functional flow around each zone, will ultimately fail as a living space. Finally, realize that correct layout through zone planning and ergonomic planning is directly linked to aesthetics, meaning that the way a kitchen functions is directly related to the way the kitchen looks. Form does indeed follow function, but function without form will lead you to a space that is task orientated without any character or overall appeal, meaning that many of the activities catered for will not performed in the space due to lack of enthusiasm from the side of the participant as no one wants to use a space that is either dull, boring or overpowered by colour and clutter!’ this makes perfect sense, so one should always keep focus on attention to detail and the bigger picture, in order to have a satisfactory and fulfilling kitchen experience!
There is a definite shift in the way we live today and our requirements and needs have changed significantly, how would that impact on our living space and how important is the work triangle within the kitchen? ‘The Kitchen work triangle was a concept created in the 1940’s at a time when there was only one person working in the kitchen, the mom! Today, we all know that society has changed and we now have numerous people working in the kitchen, not only performing tasks related to cooking but also tasks related to entertaining, working and relaxation. The work triangle was also only focused around the oven, sink and fridge but today we have microwave, steamers, coffee machines, sometimes separate cooking areas with teppanyaki grills and induction woks. We have wine coolers as well as fridges and we therefore cannot place all the items together in one place. We can then see how we have, as a society, forced the work triangle to expand to zone planning where we have separate areas for different functions and also the need to repeat storage for certain items like knives and utensils as meals are prepared at the prep zone and cooking zone, especially when two or more are cooking at the same time. The reality is that we cannot operate in the standard work triangle anymore and not because it did not work but because our lifestyles demand that we change. The old reality of one woman in a closed off space by herself preparing the meal is over, welcome to the 21st century!’ Now that is insight! Ha, who would have thought that a shift in roles would have such a profound affect on your kitchen!
This seems very technical but should zones or areas be allocated within the kitchen layout? Richards’ perception on this: ‘Allocating zones in the kitchen layout is not a ‘nice to have’ or luxury in terms of kitchen design as our lifestyles demand that the kitchen be broken up into separate zones. We are a relational people who require, even demand spaces that enable relational interaction. In a world that is increasingly less relational due to technology, this could be the last space we have to make an effort at keeping our social skills intact! Zones are a critical part of this as they allow the end users; not just user, as there is never just one; to operate in an environment that meets the high demands required of it, demands that are not just cooking related but socially and work related too.’
So far we have examined the layout and change in societal shift and the impact it has on our living space specifically our kitchen. What about cabinetry, what cabinetry options are currently the most popular, and what are the advantages
thereof? Blu_Line’s experienced designer mentions that:‘Using the correct cabinets is essential to living space design as more is now being demanded from the space than in previous years. The use therefore of sliding units and drawer systems is critical as everything needs to have its place. It is not enough to just have a lot of cabinets, they each need to have a specific purpose and that purpose ranges from storing day to day cooking items, crockery and dining items to audio visual equipment and household items. Living space design requires that the space not only dazzles you but that it is highly ergonomic and functional and this can only be achieved by using the latest storage solutions. A kitchen always needs to be workable first, a masterpiece second. Though with advances in technology in drawer and door systems, handleless systems and appliance integration, we are beginning to see an overlap where the elements that make the kitchen workable also make it a showpiece. The use of sliding units to conceal appliances such as ovens, microwaves and fridges is becoming popular as this gives way to very clean lines and an uncluttered space.’
Let’s explore a personal question as it is all about individualizing your space, what in Philip’s opinion is the best material for kitchen cabinetry and why? His response is: ‘As with every product there are different ranges of materials and of course different materials with different pricing. The reality is always the same, you get what you pay for and so if you are prepared to pay for high end finishes, you will receive a product that not only gives you longevity but also guarantees you functionality. Due to the kitchen being a space that functions and not just there to admire, materials like high gloss lacquers, which is extremely popular needs to be applied in a way that ensures that no yellowing will occur and that the finish is seamless to avoid chipping. Care though must be taken with this surface so a good alternative would be a laminate high gloss. The same applies with timber veneer, where laminate can also be used as an alternative. Thought must also be given not only to the exterior of the cabinets but also the interior as the interior is what is really used daily with items being placed on and removed, spills and messes occurring and other situations so thought must be given to the material and the colour of the internal finish of the cabinetry too.’ Good answer, so many people make the mistake and forget that a kitchen needs to be functional and easy to work in; it should be a creative space where you can explore various dishes and have cabinetry space to store your bountiful desires.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to cabinetry, so what are the different finishes availably for cabinetry? ‘From a functional and aesthetic point of view, high gloss lacquers, sprayed glass and reconstructed veneered timbers are popular as they give weight to the contemporary feel and allow for seamless design. The process that the high gloss undergoes must also be considered so as to achieve a practical finish. We are also seeing a wonderful play on textures between different materials in the same kitchen space that adds interest and character to the overall scheme.’ Philip has an excellent understanding of a practical space and how to utilize it efficiently and effectively.
Let’s us examine this further based on the above answer, what should one consider for increased longevity? ‘High Gloss lacquer can be used extremely effectively provided that the spraying is done on machines and that the lacquers used are applied and sanded properly to ensure a smooth and even finish. Care must be taken with this finish more so than a laminate but there is a sacrifice in the final finish. As with any type of furniture or product, the care given the product will ultimately determine the longevity of the product.’ Thus far Blu_Line’s spokesperson has been helpful and his experience has given us supportive guidelines to a modern, functional and precision based kitchen. Is there any other advice that he would like to add?
‘The kitchen will continue to develop as a living space and will therefore need to continue to evolve to meet the high demands of our society. The role this living space has to play is crucial as so much time is spent here. The introduction of relational living will also continue to develop as this space is required to provide an atmosphere that will meet all the requirements demanded of it. Material used will be timeless and neutral enabling designs to seamlessly integrate into the rest of the interior architecture while at the same time provide a relevant and needed feature to the overall space.’
One cannot go wrong with obtaining as much information as possible when designing your own meaningful living space. These tips have served tremendously and should be used wisely when dreaming about your own master kitchen!