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Spotlight: Kitchens
Inspiring projects (including this beauty in Ontario cottage country by Paolo Ferrari) and new systems that evolve the most important space in the home.
A Muskoka Kitchen Embraces the Beauty of Nature
In Toronto, A Communal Condo Kitchen Balances Privacy and Togetherness
IAAC Valldaura Labs solar greenhouse as seen from above
A Barcelona Greenhouse Sets a Precedent for Urban Agriculture
Migrateful kitchen
In London, A Welcoming Community Kitchen for Refugees
Marbled Gray countertops by Formica
4 Stunning Stone-Inspired Kitchen Countertops
Kitchen with red island and backsplash
4 Ranges for the Master Home Cook
Artematica Soft Outline by Valcucine
4 Customizable and Contemporary Modular Kitchen Systems
Spotlight: Kitchens

Muskoka is an Ontario vacation destination synonymous with sparkling freshwater lakes and rocky outcroppings — and the often sprawling, over-the-top cottages nestled alongside them. Paolo Ferrari’s client was after something more understated for his lakeside getaway. The goal was to complement the natural environment, rather than overwhelm it. His Toronto studio delivered with a masterfully pared-back interior that lets the resplendent vistas do the talking. “For us, this project was about the views and minimizing distractions. It’s all about reconnecting with nature,” says Ferrari.

View of the dining area and kitchen space inside Studio Paolo Ferrari's Muskoka Cottage project
Large windows from Bigfoot Door ring the kitchen, strengthening the interior’s connection to the natural environment.
Close-up of the granite kitchen island and whitewashed douglas fir full-height cabinets
Whitewashed Douglas fir clads the cathedral-like ceiling and a wall of full-height cabinets.

Case in point: the bespoke kitchen, which opens to the dining area and main living space and looks out onto a granite escarpment a mere two and a half metres from the large windows that run the length of the countertop. Expertly crafted millwork by the GTA’s BL Woodworking & Design — in the same locally sourced whitewashed Douglas fir that forms the pitched ceiling and clads the rest of the home’s interior — conceals an integrated Miele refrigerator and espresso machine, as well as all storage. 

Cabinets and drawers have integrated pulls rather than hardware, with a subtle change in the wood grain to add dimension while remaining inconspicuous. Further accentuating the sense of seamlessness is the flooring, made in Denmark from limed Douglas fir planks (the only imported product used in the project) to match the cladding and cabinetry. “The kitchen is intended to blend into the architecture, as opposed to serving as something expressive,” says Ferrari. 

View of the kitchen inside Studio Paolo Ferrari's Muskoka Cottage project
A mammoth organically shaped Muskoka granite island is offset by cleanlined Douglas fir cabinets and Cambria quartz countertops.

That restraint is offset by a monumental island — a massive unfinished block of solid granite sourced from a local quarry. About 3.3 metres long by 1.2 metres wide and weighing several tonnes, the stone was roughly shaped using machinery intended for splitting rocks and rolled into place across solid steel rods. While the kitchen quietly blends in with the rest of the floor plan, the island makes an emphatic connection to the escarpment just outside. 

Two seemingly contradictory ideas are at the heart of the communal kitchen and dining room at DuEast condos in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood: togetherness and privacy. “The project is trying to integrate quite a few different communities together, and we wanted to create spaces that people from multiple groups would feel comfortable in,” says Stanley Sun, partner at Toronto’s Mason Studio, which designed the building’s interior spaces. “We wanted it to not just be for groups who all know each other and book out the entire space, but also multiple smaller groups of people at the same time.”

Close-up of the tile inlay flooring in the kitchen at DuEast condos
Tile inlay in the laminate wood flooring under the island has the look of carpeting and helps to define the area.

Sun achieved this goal by subtly delineating zones within the space. A large communal table separates the kitchen from the living area, which lends the impression of physical distance. The island, with sections at both dining- and counter-height, can accommodate various uses simultaneously, so one group could be eating a meal while another mingles, drinks in hand. A dramatically “tiled” portion of the floor helps create visual separation between the kitchen and the living area, which also has a different finish on the ceiling — wood panelling — to further demarcate the space. 

Robustness was also top of mind. The grey-hued cabinetry is laminate, while the base of the island is a hard-wearing yet elegant brushed bronze. Slabs of dark marble on the island and back wall anchor the space — but, Sun says, also have a leathered finish for durability (an important factor in a space used by many) and a slightly weathered feel to contrast the otherwise modern aesthetic. “We didn’t necessarily want everything to feel as though it’s perfect and pristine,” Sun says.

People in the kitchen at Mason Studio's DuEast Condominium residence
Photo by Yasin Osman

Similarly, leather-upholstered bar stools will acquire a rich patina over time, and, overhead, Rich Brilliant Willing’s geometric Witt chandelier adds a sense of playfulness. “We selected it because the overall form of the space is quite rigid,” Sun adds. “It threw in the misalignment and irregularity that we felt the room needed.”

Close-up of the dark marble island showing both sections at dining- and counter-height
The large island was designed for accessibility: The open section of the lower portion accommodates wheelchair access.

The end result is a design that can hold up to heavy use but still feels connected to the building’s private living spaces. “We recognize that, in a condo, the units are quite minimal for entertaining. We want people to feel as though they could walk out of their unit, come down here and still feel comfortable,” Sun says. “It’s an extension of home.” 

IAAC Valldaura Labs solar greenhouse as seen from above

Relatively small in stature, the Solar Greenhouse aims to tackle a massive problem: the deepening and devastating global food crisis, a catastrophe that is only worsening under the effects of climate change, ongoing wars and supply chain disruptions. “We should be producing food and energy at both a communal and individual level,” says Spanish architect, educator and urbanist Vicente Guallart. Along with architect and co-director Daniel Ibañez, Guallart led the team of students and researchers from their master’s programme in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia’s (IAAC) Valldaura Labs, which is responsible for developing the prototype. 

The exterior of IAAC Valldaura Labs solar greenhouse in Barcelona
Angled 32 degrees and facing south, the glass- and solar-panelled roof is in an ideal position for maximum sun exposure — and energy production — in this region of Barcelona.

Set on a hillside in the Collserola natural park near Barcelona, the two-level greenhouse proposal was built by the students over the course of two months, and adheres to a “zero-kilometre philosophy” to reduce its ecological footprint: The structure’s local pine timber was sustainably harvested and processed nearby, and its diamond-shaped roof is composed of glass tiles (which ensure maximum exposure to and capture of sunlight) and solar panels (which power the entire operation). Operable windows at either end can be opened to create natural cross-ventilation. 

View of the germination and cultivation areas inside the solar greenhouse by IAAC Valldaura Labs
With both germination and cultivation areas, the greenhouse allows food to move directly from production to consumption, eliminating parts of the supply chain.

Inside, germination takes place on the lower level and cultivation on the upper one, resulting in reliable and continuous food production. The internal climate is calibrated through a matrix of LEDs and black lights, while a technologically advanced hydroponic set-up allows the plantings (which can include tomatoes, lettuces, leafy greens and more) to grow without  agricultural soil. Instead, recycled sawdust serves as the planting substrate. 

This Solar Greenhouse resides in a picturesque countryside, but it could just as easily be used as a means for food self-sufficiency in busy urban settings — and that is Guallart’s ultimate goal. He hopes to develop an open-source format that can be followed to build similar structures wherever they are needed.

While impractical for skyscrapers, it’s a feasible option for the rooftops of mid-rise buildings and vacant lots, or even as a replacement for a private home’s garage. “It can give people the methods to produce the basic necessities needed to live,” he says. “It’s a new and more resilient way to look at capitalism that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels. It puts the people in power and gives them some of the basic things you need to survive.” 

Migrateful kitchen

After years holding temporary pop-ups in spaces all over London and the South East, Migrateful was looking for a permanent home. When the U.K. charity (which has been offering culinary training to and classes led by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants since 2017) found a former classroom in a community centre in leafy Clerkenwell, it turned to London architecture practice Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) for a hand in developing its new Migrateful Kitchen.

Having hosted the charity in its own offices before, the firm didn’t hesitate and, in fact, offered to do the work pro bono. “It’s hard for people to get involved in a meaningful way with refugees and the refugee crisis,” says AHMM associate Dermot Reynolds, whose team also managed to get several suppliers on board to provide products for free. Construction was done at cost.

People cooking in the Migrateful kitchen
The 12 mobile workstations in AHMM’s Migrateful Kitchen are sized to be used by two people each, accommodating classes of up to 24 students.

Now a cookery, teaching and hosting space, the room was a bit “unloved” when they first found it, says Reynolds. It did, however, have two light wells and several transom-style windows that brought in some light (but no views). Also, it was wrapped in attractive and warm plywood panelling that the architects kept and added to with additional plywood storage units and workbenches. The first thing the architects did was knock out space for a large glazed door to establish a dedicated entrance for the organization and to open views inside and out, creating a welcoming street presence within the purpose-built community building.

Dining area at Migrateful kitchen

Inside, the focal point is a large kitchen workbench and 12 mobile cooking stations (two of which are wheelchair accessible) that can be moved out of the way for events. Once the cooking classes have finished, attendees and tutors can sit down at two large handmade silver maple tables at one end of the room to talk and share the food they have prepared.

These tables rest on what is the undeniable showstopper of the project: a graphically tiled surface inspired by traditional rugs from the Middle East and North Africa. Divided into two zones — red, black and orange in one and blue, white and red in the other — the geometric patterns are part of Nathalie Du Pasquier’s vivid Mattonelle Margherita glazed porcelain collection for Mutina (donated by Domus Tiles).

Close-up of kitchen backsplash showing colourful tiles inspired by Middle Eastern and North African motifs
Bold blue lower cabinets are topped with a graphic tile backsplash, whose pattern was influenced by traditional Middle Eastern and North African motifs.

The same combinations are replicated on the kitchen backsplashes, providing colour and a sense of celebration and warmth. A strip of tiles featuring thin black and white lines at the end of the dining area represents “the end of the rug,” Reynolds explains. It’s a thoughtful touch to what is a thoughtful and, despite a modest budget, very rich space — one that makes you happy just being in it.

Marbled Gray countertops by Formica

While stone surfaces bring an undeniable sophistication to any kitchen, they come with a hefty price tag and can be challenging to maintain. These stone-inspired kitchen countertops by Formica, ABK Stone, Cosentino and Hari Stones offer a cost-effective and durable alternative to their stone counterparts.

Marbled Gray by Formica
Marbled Gray kitchen countertops by Formica

Artist Kathleen (Fred) Streitenberger created the Marbled Gray 180fx laminate surface by adding a pouring medium to shades of grey paint for swirls and elaborate veining patterns similar to its inspirational material. The unique handcrafted effect has a sense of texture and visual depth that takes marble in a new artistic direction. It’s part of Formica’s Living Impressions collection.

Cooking Surface Prime by ABK Stone
Cooking Surface Prime countertops by ABK Stone

Invisibly integrated within this porcelain surface is a three- or four-element induction hob, effectively turning countertop into cooktop and freeing up space without compromising function. Each cook zone has its own power level — all controlled via an app — and, when turned off, the material instantly becomes safe to touch. Available in large-format sizes (up to 1.6 by 3.2 metres) and a range of colourways.

Dekton Onirika by Cosentino
Dekton Onirika kitchen countertops by Cosentino

A collaboration with Houston-based interior designer Nina Magon, Cosentino‘s marble-inspired Dekton Onirika collection features six patterns that bring the beauty of natural stone to the brand’s high-performance surfacing. Just one of the colourways in the entirely carbon-neutral series, Trance (shown) is a creamy grey ground accented by fine streaks that range from warm grey to reddish gold.

Ceppo Di Gre by Hari Stones
Ceppo di Gre kitchen countertops by Hari Stones

Vancouver interior design studio Falken Reynolds used Ceppo Di Gre on the countertop and backsplash (and island) of this local kitchen renovation, delivering an undeniable hit of rugged sophistication that nods to the house’s West Coast locale. Imported by Hari Stones, the captivating surface is defined by fragments of embedded minerals in irregular shapes and sizes and various shades of black and grey.

Kitchen with red island and backsplash

With the right kitchen appliances, staying in can feel just as luxurious as eating out. These professional ranges and ovens by Fisher & Paykel, Miele, Fulgor Milano and Bosch are equipped with state-of-the-art features to make home cooking a breeze.

36″ Induction Cooktop by Fisher & Paykel
Professional range by Fisher & Paykel

No need for overhead ventilation: This induction cooktop features an integrated nine-speed (plus boost) extraction fan and can be installed raised or flush. Finished in black glass with matte black detailing, the surface includes four cook zones (two can be paired to create a larger SmartZone) and offers precise temperature adjustments through reactive Touch&Slide controls.

Generation 7000 48″ ContourLine Range by Miele
Professional oven range by Miele

With six burners and a griddle, the ContourLine range holds multiple items on the same surface at the same time. A Moisture Plus feature ensures perfect baking and roasting by increasing internal humidity to optimize everything from rolls and cakes to tender meats; a speed oven handles various uses, and the appliance can be controlled using the brand’s wireless app.

30″ Sofia Dual Fuel Pro Range by Fulgor Milano
Professional oven range by Fulgor Milano

The four gas elements on this dual convection range feature a 5-in-1 Crescendo burner for precise heat control and cast-iron grates that form a continuous surface. Shown in this kitchen by Vancouver designer Madeleine Sloback in a stainless-steel finish, Sofia is also offered in six matte and glossy door colours.

36″ Industrial Style Induction Range by Bosch
Professional range by Bosch

This range’s end-to-end glass surface includes a CombiZone feature that links two hobs into one; inside, three heating elements and a fan circulate heat. Details like a soft-close door and extendable rack enhance the overall experience.

Artematica Soft Outline by Valcucine

Aside from their primary function as storage, kitchen cabinetry is the backdrop that sets the tone for the space. These modular kitchen systems by Valcucine, Boffi, Falper and Coquo are versatile enough to suit any style.

Artematica Soft Outline by Valcucine
Artematica Soft Outline kitchen system by Valcucine

With handle-free fronts and thin aluminum profile frames (finished in black, copper or bronze), the Artematica Soft Outline is a continuous volume with a seamless surface. A bamboo counter adds functionality, while a transparent glass screen running its length separates cooking and eating without compromising visibility; shelves, sliding containers and other accessories can be hung on the divider within arm’s reach. The entire system can be finished in glossy or matte glass, ceramic, marble or sintered stone.

Case 5.0 by Boffi
Case 5.0 by Boffi

Twenty years after it was introduced, Case 5.0 by Piero Lissoni has been updated to reflect advancements in technology and design. Cantilevered peninsulas have been added, as have new materials for doors and countertops, including MDi porcelain, Lost Woods in exclusive colours selected by Lissoni, metal-like lacquers and glossy polyesters. A new integrated Inside System Track places cutlery, utensils, spices, cutting boards and more right in the countertop.

Small Living Kitchens by Falper
Small Living Kitchens by Falper

Extending its expertise to the kitchen for the first time, bathroom manufacturer Falper partnered with Italian designer Andrea Federici to create a system specifically for small-space living. The series includes three island sizes, a storage unit and tall cabinets, all with simple designs and refined finishes (stainless steel, marble, wood, and matte and glossy lacquers). Its components, including sinks, gas or induction hobs and other accessories, can be combined in multiple ways.

Freestanding Modular Kitchen by Coquo
Freestanding Modular Kitchen by Coquo

Montreal-based Coquo offers freedom and flexibility through a wide selection of mostly pre-assembled mix-and-match islands, cabinets (with open and closed storage) and wall units. Made from white oak in natural or midnight black stains with powder-coated matte bronze, matte midnight black or high-gloss off-white steel, the freestanding units are offered in multiple sizes. The modular approach means configurations can be easily adapted to suit changing needs or even moved to other rooms in the house.