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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Cooking in style

With dinner parties on the rise, homeowners are spending more time sprucing up their kitchens.
The Business Times - September 29, 2012
By: Tay Suan Chiang
| More
Cooking in style NEW AGErnfully customisable La Cornue kitchens from the size of the stove, number of ovens, down to the colour of the cabinets and even to the trimmings - PHOTO: LA CORNUE

A PRIME location and a 360-degree view of the surroundings are two desirable factors to have in a home. Now add a quality kitchen to that list. With homeowners doing more entertaining at home, kitchen distributors say consumers are paying more attention to doing up the kitchen.

"Kitchens are now showcased as adjacent areas to the living room," says Syddal Wee, Space Furniture's general manager for Asia, which carries Varenna by Poliform kitchens. "With an increase in the level of interest for home entertaining, the kitchen area is now seen more than ever."

To give consumers more choices, Italian brand Boffi is opening a studio at Regency House next month, and two new brands have entered the Singapore market.

The first is La Cornue, a high-end kitchen maker from France. Its president Xavier Dupuy unabashedly declares: "A La Cornue kitchen is a good asset for a property, it is a strong selling point.".

He was unable to put a figure on how much a La Cornue kitchen would add to a home's value, but says that there are house hunters who buy a particular home because it came with a La Cornue kitchen.

The brand prides itself on being fully customisable, from the size of the stove, number of ovens, down to the colour of the cabinets (sky blue is an available option, so is having an emblem embossed on them), and even to the trimmings. You can have the fridge handle cladded in leather, "it is the Hermes touch", says Mr Dupuy.

La Cornue is known for its Chateau range of cookers which has a classic design that has been in production since 1964. The design has not changed, but the technology has. It no longer offers only gas stoves, but also electric and induction hobs. Mr Dupuy believes that the brand will be popular for those who have a keen interest in French cuisine, but he is quick to point out that the stoves are "good for all kinds of cooking. It is a question of the right chef".

For those who prefer a more contemporary look for their kitchen, there is Ernestomeda. The Italian brand sells itself on "quality and innovative kitchens but at an affordable price", says its export manager Alessandro Del Prete.

It offers about 10 different kitchen designs but a more innovative design is the Barrique by designer Rodolfo Dordoni. The kitchen is inspired by wine, and comes with built-in wine racks on the wall. Regardless of which kitchen range, all kitchen systems are fully customisable from the choice of colours for the countertops to the finishings.

Mr Del Prete says that the kitchen is no longer "separated from the rest of the home, but has become the 'living room' of the home, so homeowners want kitchens that are good looking and highly functional".

He adds that in Italy, it is now very popular to have white kitchens that look minimalist.

In Singapore, "consumers want solutions that make it easier to work in the kitchen", says Rene Maan, managing director of Interior Affairs and Hydro Style, which distributes kitchen and bathroom brands.

This explains the popularity of its Pronorm range of kitchens from Germany, which have cabinets that are completely handleless, and which makes for a sleek design and ergonomic kitchen experience. Pronorm cabinets open and close with a push.

Italian brand Schiffini, available at Xtra, offers sleek looking cabinets, where there is a slit in the wood surface, instead of the conventional handle.

Drawers are also getting increasingly popular among homeowners who see "drawers as much more friendly than hinge doors", says Erricson Wong, marketing and communications manager for Xtra. Schiffini is the only brand that uses its own drawer system which goes up to 2.1m in length.

Customising the choice of colours and finishing for the cabinets is just the tip of the iceberg. Why not go a step further and customise the insides of drawers too?

German kitchen systems maker, Bulthaup, is letting consumers "design drawers as they see fit and change the storage structure in an instant. It has redefined how the user interacts with their kitchen system", says its director of sales, Jack Lee.

Moveable prisms allow spaces to be created as needed, rather than cramming cooking utensils and cutlery into boxy trays.

On the appliance front, consumers are no longer satisfied with entry model offerings.

Serene Kwok, regional marketing manager for De Dietrich says "consumers are spending more on high-end appliances for its durability and for the materials or colour schemes which blend seamlessly with the design of their kitchen".

Denise Tan, head of Gaggenau, adds that "buyers are also impressed by technological advances that provide clever solutions to inconveniences".

De Dietrich and Gaggenau both offer induction hobs that allow cooking to be done on the entire surface rather than at designated spots. The hobs are so clever that they can detect when a pot has been moved.

For a growing number of consumers, having a stove and oven no longer cuts it. At Miele, its salamander is becoming one of its most requested item. The salamander allows for caramelising sugar on a crème brûlée or to keep dishes warm. Its tepan and BBQ grills are popular additions to install on a stove.

Miele's marketing manager Cheryl Yuen believes that increasing food shows on television and gourmet travel experiences have inspired consumers to cook and entertain more in their homes. "It becomes natural for them to seek out sophisticated appliances that may be previously reserved for professional chefs," says Ms Yuen.

Boffi Studio (open from Oct 6)
123 Penang Road, #01-13, Regency House
Tel 6836-5088

Bulthaup
Madison & Associates (Singapore),
36 Armenian Street #01-02
Tel 6733-1171

De Dietrich
120 Lower Delta Road, #01-04,
The Cendex
Tel 6508-4600

Ernestomeda
Marquis Qsquare, 16 Tai Seng Street,
Level 1
Tel 6383-0119

Gaggenau
11 Bishan Street 21, #04-01
Tel 6751-5022

La Cornue
Kitchen Culture, 2 Leng Kee Road,
#01-02, Thye Hong Centre
Tel 6473-6776

Miele
167 Penang Road, #B1-01
Winsland House II
Tel 6738-6286

Pronorm
Interior Affairs, 29 Tai Seng Avenue,
Level 1 & 2, Natural Cool Lifestyle Hub
Tel 6632-7471

Schiffini
Xtra 3 Killiney Road, #01-01,
Winsland House I
Tel 6836-0288

Varenna by Poliform
Space Furniture, 77 Bencoolen Street
Tel 6415-0000

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