'Down boy!' - an adjustable Kitchen Island
Updated: Jun 15
Our latest work surface sinks rapidly to table height at the touch of a button or a voice command and rises again as soon as you need extra height at your elbow. The height of work surfaces is crucial to healthy, enjoyable kitchen use. No one likes stooping while slicing vegetables and feeding a too-high food processor or blender is awkward. Sometimes we need to sit down while working, other times we want to perch, stand or even dance around this 'command position' piece of furniture!
Circular surface slightly raised for evening drinks - kitchen built in conjunction with Roundhouse
Many years ago I pioneered the fixed-elbow measure to determine the right height for a work surface and sink. More recently I've been developing designs for kitchens with multiple users, as cooking becomes widely popular within the family. Most recently of all I've been working on multi-generational kitchens. These call for maximum flexibility as older users prefer to sit down while preparing food and the youngest can only reach lower surfaces.
A rise-and-fall island we installed recently brings a new set of capabilities to the medium-sized kitchen. This is smaller and outwardly simpler than our traditional central island, measuring about 1.2 metres across. Height adjustments turn it from a food preparation surface to a serving bar to a small table to a children's work surface - all at the touch of a button. Its circular shaper allows users to face any part of the room and approach it from any direction. The surface can be divided into heatproof areas, with an end-grain block for chopping.
A light-filled space where the surfaces work in concert
Alternatively, a rise and fall mechanism can be installed as part of a larger central island containing fixed cabinetry. Purchased from the Danish manufacturer LINAK, and powered by linear actuators, the mechanism is used for office desks, hospital beds and in industrial automation. We place sensors around junctions to protect little and not so little fingers.
As our client has found, a rise and fall mechanism is the kitchen refinement you never knew you needed but one that transforms the way you live in the kitchen. It only takes renting a holiday house with a bare-bones kitchen to remind us how important work surface heights are. Once you become used a new life of simple, instant adjustments to meet your needs, the flexible kitchen feels like an offering of real significance.
Here is a video of another one of our recent projects, the multigenerational kitchen in Falmouth.