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Unveiling a blue plaque for Elizabeth David

Unveiling a blue plaque for Elizabeth David

 

It's no secret to my friends that I had a close relationship with my aunt, who was my mentor. Two weeks ago I was asked by English Heritage to represent the family by unveiling a blue plaque on her house in Halsey Street. I enjoyed many memorable visits, ate delicious meals and carried out creative house repairs there - I was a kind of honorary household 'comptroller' (her word). It was in this Chelsea street that I built my aunt a sink cabinet on the back of my open Land Rover, woodwork shavings blowing down the pavement and neighbours being mostly tolerant, if understandably a little grumpy. Yellow lines were yet to arrive. There was a flex to trip over but even that could start a friendly chat.  This was my entree into kitchen making.

The BBC have picked up on the unveiling story. You can read it here.

There were three other speakers (pic below, left to right): food writer Rosie Hanson, Rosemary Hills, writer and academic from English Heritage, and Jill Norman, food writer and literary executor.  We all told stories about her life for half a rainy hour, revisiting the remarkable, productive life she led for many years just behind the walls, windows, steps and door we stood in front of.

SpeakersRD all

The Essential Kitchen -  getting back to basics

The Essential Kitchen - getting back to basics

But 2

The Dolphin - a casual and unexpected place to perch

What is the essence of a kitchen?  Sociability and living comfortably, and then usable surfaces, storage, and cooking equipment. I have recently been thinking how we could get back to the kitchen’s core and what this might be.

Sociability is created by a) providing plenty of opportunities for eye contact and b) places to perch and relax that are built-in, sometimes in unexpected places and with different types of chairs or stools, for people of all abilities. (see the all aluminium bar above, nicknamed the dolphin) And space for doing hobbies, laptop activity and general all round chilling, reading dancing or repairing a bicycle.

Surfaces – or the planes in the space, the table tops and countertops – matter a lot. They do the basic work organising the space, both directing us around it and structuring it. As well as delineating the room into spatial zones they generate light reflection. My current focus is to think in terms of tables, conjoined or not, replacing solid masses of cabinetry and central islands: this makes for a subtler, lighter variant of the traditional layout. By dispensing with a lot of units you can liberate your kitchen space and it will still work beautifully and leave more room for breathing, more physical space.

The best kind of storage is a large walk-in pantry. It also has the advantage of being cheap to make. Smaller items can be housed in drawers linked to surfaces, small tools hung from a gantry, with the remainder to hand on open shelves.  Family furniture and collected bits and pieces add personal touches to this living kitchen.

Finally we have cooking appliances. Freestanding where possible for lower cost, easy replacement. They can be built into cupboards if this is important to the client for style or practical reasons.

In two of our recent projects, one open plan and the other a smaller integrated, living room kitchen, we used minimal cabinetry (walk-in pantries were embedded into the architecture), hidden but effective ergonomics and the quality of the artisan work gave both a sense of spaciousness and tactile pleasure.

See our new project at East Finchley; UK portfolio page 

http://www.johnnygrey.com/portfolio/uk/east-finchley.html

AMERICAN WEST COAST DESIGN TALKS

AMERICAN WEST COAST DESIGN TALKS

I recently returned from speaking in five US cities to kitchen, interior designers and architects on The Kitchen Instinct.  During my visit I noticed the economies in these cities are thriving, the optimism we associate with America still in evidence. I observed a continuing interest in new ideas, in particular the possibilities offered by digital technology.

I ended my tour talking to the Smart Kitchen Summit, on The Disrupting Kitchen, to an audience of tech experts in Seattle at SODO Park.  The event consisted of informed discussion panels on a wide range of topics, all of which can be found on the website,  www.smartkitchensummit.com; Here's my presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWKf6L6BMQ4

And thank you Seattle, Portland, Houston, LA and Scottsdale, including the team at Bond Events for your generous hospitality, enthusiasm and great feedback.

Recent Media

Recent Media

Financial Times article: 'Home kitchens reliving the 70's swing.' 'Graphic prints, bold colours and unusual textures are back, with a 21st-century twist.

Sunday Times piece on Felix Dennis: 'Pinball and pinups in Felix's house of fun'.

Country Life interior design inside stories released May 6th. Hawkhurst Kitchen featured.

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