Breaking out of the mould – taking a bolder approach to kitchen design

If you've got a kitchen project coming up, you'll want to hear what designer Kim Duffin has to say
Story by: Trends
A kitchen by Kim Duffin architecture, countertop, house, interior design, kitchen, real estate, window, gray
A kitchen by Kim Duffin

Forget pendant lights and waterfall island counters, designer Kim Duffin thinks it’s time people start getting more inventive with their kitchens – and he’s got plenty of ideas for how to do that.He certainly knows his stuff, having won the HIA Queensland Kitchen Designer of the Year award as well as the HIA Australia Kitchen Design of the the Year. Kim’s firm Sublime Architectural Interiors in Queensland has put together some truly innovative kitchens and bathrooms.Here’s what he had to say when we sat down with him for a chat.So what are some of the ways you like to inject creativity into your designs?I like to showcase my creativity through the small details. For example, recessed handles, shadow lines and using traditional materials in non traditional ways. I also combine surfaces to highlight different zones within a kitchen.Movement is another great way to put together a really creative space. This means electronic sliding doors and drawers.How can people stand out from the crowd? Any advice for those wanting to be bold?I think lighting is a great place to really set your kitchen apart. You can use lighting to enhance certain elements of a kitchen, and use single pendants as a strong focal point for the entire space.We like to use red green blue white (RGBW) lights in our spaces as you’ve got more flexibility when lighting the space. For example, you can be boring six days out of the week and keep the kitchen lit with white light, then go crazy on Saturday and turn everything green.My other important point here is to remember that designing a kitchen is a balancing act. It’s quite easy to go overboard, meaning a kitchen can quickly appear overcooked.Let’s talk about current kitchen trends. Are there any you’re interested in?I’m not so much interested in trends as I am materials. I’m always looking for innovative materials, fixtures and appliances. I really like to set the trend by being the first to use a product in a way that enhances the design and functionality of a space.We’re seeing this now with 3D printing and new blended metals, especially in tapware. The industry was quite set on black tapware, but it’s moving back toward bronze and brass.Are there any trends you just don’t like?Waterfall islands in kitchens! We designed the first one back in 2004 before it was mainstream – that should give you an idea of how old this ‘trend’ is! After a few years, it really took off, and now people have this preconception that a good kitchen needs an island with a waterfall end.I think going with a waterfall is just ignoring better options. You can get some really interesting material contrasts with split levels and cantilevers. Why ignore those?There’s also another annoying trend, which is people putting poorly executed copies of iconic designs into kitchens without taking the proportions of the space into account.Form or function: What comes first?Form always follows functions. For me, creating a purposeful space is always on the top of my priority list. The kitchen should always to encourage flow and functionality within the space and with adjoining rooms.That said, everything is up for discussion at the beginning of a project. I’m happy to talk through the different options with people.What’s the first thing you consider when you’re planning a kitchen project?The first thing I think about is how the space will be used. What tasks will be performed in the kitchen, how often and at what time of the day/night. A great kitchen will enhance the owner's day, not prove an annoyance.Where do you go for inspiration?I like to travel and see how people around the world use their homes. Often we do things because that is how it has always been done. But seeing the full spectrum of other cultures, climates, ways of cooking and family relations can really open up your mind to new things when designing kitchens.How important is collaboration with the owner of the kitchen?It’s really important at the start of a project. I need to know their objectives for a space early on so I can put together a kitchen that works for them. I like to start with basic questions and evolve the design from there.I also like to bring in a client’s individuality. I really try to create something that you won’t find anywhere else.If you could give one piece of advice to someone who’s about to start a kitchen project, what would it be?Understand your objectives for the space. Be realistic about the constraints of the project, for example size, relation to other spaces, budget etc. Accept that you might only achieve 80% of your outcomes!Kitchen renovations and new builds alike can be stressful, so take a look at some of our articles if you’re still feeling a little lost.


Aug 30, 2017
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