‘You never know when you will move on – so let’s make something that is sustainable, affordable and can move along with us. The nature of a test kitchen is that it is flexible. Quick and easy changes alter the feel of the space’.
So, in August 2021 OTK moved on – into a bigger and more suitable space for expanding the test kitchen facility.
We knew that this was a possibility when we originally worked on part of the OTK in 2020, so we designed it in such a way that we could re-use and re-configured all the elements from the old kitchen –and then created additional kitchen elements and storage to meet the needs of the new OTK.
Working closely with the OTK team, our brief was to design the space so it could cater for three basic functions; first was the test kitchen itself – which was to be extended and made suitable for filming cooking in action; second was the library and studio section; lastly, was to design in a way that could transform an area into an event space.
As with our previous design for OTK 2020, the aim was to create a convivial, colourful, vibrant space that that felt homely and inviting to work in; was conducive for creative group dynamics and provided space to think and create and experiment.
The canvas we had to work with was largely rectangular, with a long row of windows facing north-west at one end – providing good light but with fewer windows at the other end. Filming and photography of cookbooks and recipes were key factors in locating kitchen and studio adjacent to the long row of windows providing ample daylight.
A combination of pink, grey and yellow Forbo vinyl flooring was used, as there needs to be anti-slip flooring for professional kitchen use. We set out to create a fluid form of zoning the three different functions with an abstract bespoke floor design. A peachy pink sets out the entrance area and event space; yellow ochre is linked to the studio and library space and lastly, a grey anti-slip vinyl for the test kitchen.
As a test kitchen, there is a fluid connection between the studio space and the cooking area. The team of chefs are not only cooking in the kitchen, but also use the studio space for research and writing recipes. New book concepts are hatched and there is a constant connection between cooking and experimenting one side and research and documenting on the other. The studio space holds a substantial library of cookbooks and when needed, the studio can be closed off with a sliding door.
The conventional nature of a commercial kitchen with a predominance of stainless steel can feel quite cold. We set out to create a commercial test kitchen set up, with all the functions of professional kitchen but aesthetically matching the sensibilities of a domestic kitchen. This was achieved by creating a playful abstract pattern of circular geometry on the back wall, kitchen shelving and under counter cabinets using palette of grey and pink Durat Palace terrazzo in combination with a yellow ochre tone of Valchromat. This provided the colour and warmth so the two stainless steel kitchen islands and the stainless steel countertop running the full length of the kitchen integrates visually into the scheme so there is the function but not the feel of a commercial kitchen. The test kitchen was expanded with three kitchen islands so multiple chefs can cook and interact simultaneously. The long backlit double shelf units make it easy to access ingredients and also creates a a striking visual display.
As a way of connecting the test kitchen with the studio we designed a long span of storage units in a deep terracotta colour; Valchromat with a warm cream tone of Durat Palace terrazzo for countertop positioned at worktop height.
We positioned this storage/work counter along the long row of windows. This unit provides a bridge between the two zones whilst providing a considerable amount of under-counter storage space. It works as a generous work bench area for studio work, as well as standing space for prepping food for the test kitchen.
In contrast to the test kitchen, for the studio space we used ply in combination with curry coloured Valchromat floor to ceiling shelving unit. The wall of the studio is flanked in by library shelving in ply – a section of which was re-purposed from the previous test kitchen, minimising waste. The library shelving is punctuated with large two holes which are stained in and orange and terracotta hues to compliment the ochre floor and curry coloured Valchromat shelving unit. The studio tables were also re-purposed and reused in this new setting. The movable material library used for photoshoots was integrated into studio space and we also covered a section of wall to create a coloured pin board.
Tranformative Space/ Event Space Sliding Door
The curry coloured Valchromat floor to ceiling shelving unit acts as a partial barrier between the studio and the test kitchen. When there is an event the studio space can be sealed off easily by pulling out the sliding door concealed in the Valchromat floor to ceiling shelving unit. The sliding door has a large circular cutout filled with vertical slats, providing a level of transparency in its opened and closed positions. The sides have an inlay of chopping board inspired shapes made with Ottan Studio’s panels made with out-of-date orange juice and peel.
As the ceiling height was relatively low, we used large recessed circular lighting panels that were flush with the ceiling to provide ample light for the kitchen and event space. The effect of these circular lighting panels is like that of a skylight punctuating into to space. We added wall mounted Anglepoise lamps along the ‘window work counter’ providing task light where needed. In the studio space we specified a long ceiling hung LED strip light that is situated above the studio worktable that spans the length of it.
The interaction between these considered design elements within the space, makes for a pleasing and joyful space that is flexible and adaptable for further expansion.
Sustainable Material Choice
The Kitchen has a feature wall made with recycled solid surface material Durat Palace terrazzo. The Material is hardwearing, food safe, easy to maintain and 100% recyclable. It contains 30% post industrial waste plastic and natural pigments. Durat Palace is produced with 100% renewable electricity in Finland.
For the storage units we used Valchromate as a FSC certified sheet material that is moisture and flame retardant and claims to eco friendly. It is manufactured from recycled pine wood, ranches and chips for softwood forest.
Valchromat is FSC certified evolution of MDF wood, it is stronger, more resilient to bending, moisture and flame retardant and comes in beautiful organic colours. Most importantly, it is eco friendly, as it is manufactured from recycled pine wood, branches. mill waste and chips from softwood forests. In using waste wood Valchromat helps to sustain forests and minimize carbon emissions given off from felling machinery. Valchromat where a special organic non- toxic wood fibre bonding resin is used the dye is organic and non-toxic. Using Valchromate for the under counter doors made it possible to make a patten and handles subtracting from the material.
As inlay elements in the big storage unit we have used Ottan’s panels made from food waste. The Forbo Vinyl flooring is manufactured using 100% electricity made from renewable sources. The backing contains up to 70% recycled material and meets the Ska rating criteria for M12 soft floor coverings.
Quote from Yotam Ottolenghi:
Nina and her Studiomama team managed to transform our test kitchen from a nondescript industrial unit under a grubby railway arch line into a sunny, happy space, where the functionality is perfectly adjusted to our needs: recipes testing, food photography and office work. Simply being in the room is now a joy. Top professionalism!
Photography: Billy Bolton