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Cooking up a storm
BON APPÉTIT

Are you ready to spend a crore to smarten up your kitchen? Or, would you rather settle for a slightly cheaper offering that comes with a Rs 50 lakh price tag?

Kitchens were once the most used and abused rooms in the house. Then, came modular kitchens bringing a smartened up look. Now, we’re moving to a new level of culinary magnificence as state-of-the-art technology merges with cutting-edge designs to produce glamour and luxury rolled into one — along with great food, presumably.

Says Pawan Malhotra, MD, Cucine Lube, India: “Kitchens are smartly packaged and becoming more of a style statement.”

Expect to shell out a crore for Germany based Poggenpohl’s newly launched Porsche Design Kitchen P’7340 designed in collaboration with auto maker Porsche. With its multi-functional mood lighting systems, choice of wood veneers for cabinets, high-tech audio-video system and built-in LCD module — this one looks more like a living room than a kitchen.

Or take Italian company Cucine Lube making a foray in the Indian market. It’s all about kitchen aesthetics with its range of materials, colours and layout. The kitchens are all customised and start at a relatively modest Rs 1.5 lakh and go up to Rs 50 lakh. Then there’s Gruppo Del Tongo, another Italian modular kitchen company with its wide range of external finishes and cutting edge appliances. Here, prices start at Rs 3 lakh and go as high as Rs 50 lakh.

For those looking for high-end appliances, there is the German brand Miele which too has set its sights on India with an array of fancy offerings like wine-conditioners, tumble dryers and dishwashers. Other premium brands rushing to tap the premium segments with their array of kitchen designs include the Italian brand Friuli and French brand Kohler.

So for all those who cook for pleasure and for fun, here’s a low-down on what’s on offer from some of the high-end modular kitchen brands.

THEME IS IN

Did you think that the kitchen is only a space for women? With the emergence of gastrosexual males, kitchen-makers worldwide are recognising men who’re whipping up culinary delicacies.

Take a look at Poggenpohl’s Porsche Design Kitchen that has been launched keeping in mind the man who loves to cook. It offers everything that might appeal to today’s man at the stove from smart design to top-of-the-line technology. Says Elmar Duffner, managing director, Poggenpohl: “Men are attracted to top-notch technology. Our teaming up with Porsche Design enabled us to design a kitchen whose sleek and functional design language specifically addresses male customers.”

Porsche’s kitchens offer new tech features like touch controls on appliances, mechanical touch latches for doors and drawers, multifunctional lighting, high-quality aluminium for the frames, and handles-free cabinets and drawers.

Says fashion designer Nil, for whom cooking is a stress-buster: “For me, apart from the look, what counts is technology and the engineering of products. To spend some quality time in the kitchen, I want it to look as professional as it gets, with clean worktops, the latest hobs and chimneys, good audio-visual systems and functional storage units.”

Indeed, kitchens in the West are undergoing a metamorphosis. So, for instance, you have lounge-type areas where the kitchen is more like a chill-out zone. Says Arun Nawani, GM, Grandeur Interiors, Mumbai, which has brought Germany-based Del Tongo kitchens to India: “Though in India such concepts are yet to be tried out, we get several requests from clients who want their kitchen to be a lively place for entertaining guests.”

Another design trend is that people prefer everything — the kitchen units and worktops — to be concealed when not in use. Take a look at the Monos line of Del Tongo kitchens in which at the press of the button the counter-top slides open and turns into a work area and a separate dining table. “Only when you press the button is the entire kitchen visible; otherwise it is concealed,” says Nawani.

The German brand Miele provides appliances like induction cook-tops (above) and refrigerators with wine conditioners (below)

There are also features that have nothing to do with preparing meals — and everything to do with high-end facilities for the cook and the family. Most now offer televisions and audio systems, so you won’t miss your favourite show if you are stuck at the stove. “If you’re entertaining guests in your kitchen with some live cooking, it’s good to have a television and a sound system installed,” says Rati Sharma, Floorshop Manager, Poggenpohl Porsche Kitchens, Mumbai. The electronics of the built-in LCD module in Poggenpohl-Porsche kitchens are installed behind glass to protect against dirt and splashing water.

The international brands aim to turn their kitchens into the centre of attraction in homes. In fact, they are trying to reinvent them as a second living room with emphasis on bright colours.

Take Cucine Lube’s Modern and Classic lines which appear in bright colours like pink, violet, green and yellow. Bangalore-based Ikian Furniture which markets Friuli Cucine in India has 18 models in classic and modern range in yellow, natural oak, glossy blue and cherry shades. Says Namrata Dugar, managing director, Ikian Furniture, Bangalore: “Today, kitchens are the hearts of homes, serving as the hub of the house. Therefore, they deserve more attention and with all the variety of finishes, styles and designs.”

MATERIAL MATTERS

With home kitchens slowly turning into a professional chef’s studio, emphasis is being put on materials that make all the difference. Greater emphasis on craftsmanship and attention to detail is being given to cabinets, countertops and drawers. Poggenpohl Porsche for instance is using a lot of black granite for its slim-line worktop and a mix of aluminium and titanium for the entire framework in cabinet doors. The storage cabinets are made from glass and driftwood or dark-oak.

Kohler kitchens offer a variety of sink options

The newest entrant to the market, Kohler kitchens in India has five lines – Prelude, Kuranda, Nuva, Retra and Bristol which come in lacquered wood, laminates and solid wood. A regular 8ftx10ft kitchen with basic accessories, countertop, sink and faucet in Kohler can begin from Rs 3 lakh and can rise upwards to Rs 50 lakh.

Lube kitchens are also using a lot of lacquered ash, solid wood and glass for cabinets. There’s also Friuli Cucine whose modern lines such as Alexia, Life and Evoluzione are characterised by different finishes for instance glossy lacquers, laminates, veneers and glass for the doors and shutters. Solid lacquered wood is used to make the shutters and the storage units.

Many kitchen brands are also going for high-quality steel to bring in a more contemporary and clean look. Says Rohin Ramchandani, Director of Grandeur Interiors, Mumbai: “The latest trend in kitchens is to use newer materials like steel, glass, quartz and corian (a type of anti-scratch plastic) counter-tops, steel back-splash (used to prevent splashes) and lacquered doors in vibrant colours.” Del Tongo for instance uses materials like stainless steel, lacquer, laminates, frosted glass, cherry and oak wood, chrome and aluminum for its finishes.

Apart from counter-tops and cabinets, various sink designs have gone space age and you can take your pick from asymmetrical, oval or rounded shapes. Kohler has heaps of kitchen sink options to choose from and one hot-seller is the Stages sink inspired by the ones used by professional chefs. The large, deep basin offers ample room for cleaning big pots and pans, while the stepped side platform provides a convenient area for cutting and cleaning vegetables or drying dishes.

Also available are exciting faucets from Kohler like the newly launched Karbon kitchen faucet collection marrying which aim to marry design with technology. The colours of faucets range from gold, bronze and black and they pivot into any position and remain there for hands-free operation.

On the other hand, the sinks in Poggenpohl Porsche kitchens come with drainer grooves in satinised glass (which gives a nice satin-like glossy finish to the glass) or stone. The sloping drain-away grooves are an integral part of the worktop as they channel drained-off water directly into the under-mounted stainless steel sink.

One important feature in all these high-end modular kitchens is that most of the cabinets can be opened without handles. This means a gentle touch of the finger can open a drawer because of the built-in high-precision systems, while a light push suffices to close them. The Poggenpohl Porsche Design Kitchen features +Motion Drive, a new ‘handle-less’ design technology that enables ultimate ease of opening and closing of drawers. Lube kitchens too come with sensor keys for opening and closing of cabinets, chimneys and hobs and Del Tongo kitchens come with child-locks for its cabinets.

COOL TOOLS

Today’s kitchens are also about cool appliances that can make storing food and cooking a breeze. And with health and wellness being the top priority with Indians today, appliance makers are wooing customers with an array of top-of-the –line appliances that give your kitchen a smarter edge.

There’s German brand Miele which has a wide array of cool appliances to choose from. This includes refrigerators that come with wine conditioners, coffee machines, dishwashers and steam ovens. Some of its hot-sellers include the wine conditioners which have three temperature and humidity controlled zones each for storing different types of wines.

Similarly, the coffee machines can serve espresso, cappuccino and latte based on whatever you’d like to drink. Expect to pay anywhere between Rs 27,000 to Rs 20 lakh for these upscale products. Says Dhananjay Chaturvedi, MD, Miele, India: “The Indian consumer is evolving today and is willing to invest in creating world class homes. Therefore, the discerning consumer is definitely ready for high-end appliances.”

Steam ovens are also becoming very popular nowadays with health-savvy customers. Other show-stealers include induction cook-tops, speed-cooking ovens, high-end refrigerators and wine chillers.

In fact, as people become more conscious about eating healthy and preparing exotic cuisine at home, the trend towards professional grade appliances is ruling high. Grandeur Interiors which has brought Del Tongo Kitchens in India has wine chillers from Electrolux and refrigerators from Sub-Zero. And as Nawani of Grandeur Interiors says: “If you are spending a huge sum in making a stylish kitchen, it makes sense to invest in good appliances too which will last several years.”

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