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What’s Cooking?

Innovations in modular kitchens include customised products to suit Indian homes

Written by Shiny Varghese |
October 13, 2012 2:54:35 am

Kitchens haven’t changed much over the years,these are still spaces where stories are told and the senses come alive. What has dissolved are the walls,making open plans a reality and kitchens communal. Since everything and everybody we know are going modular,from desktop tiles on your smart phones to people who live by excel sheets,homes too have reached that stage where it isn’t uber enough if you don’t have a modular kitchen.

Initially,international modular kitchen companies anchored on Indian shores without a thought on how Indian cooking functions,our climate,how we move about our spaces,or simply,how we open and close shelves. Today though,these companies are customising their fittings to suit our way of life,with stainless steel counters,wet and dry areas for cooking,water-proof marine plywood for humid conditions.

A New Zealand-based appliances company,Fisher & Paykel,had conducted ethnographic studies to adapt their products to Indian homes. “Feedback from customers in New Delhi and Ahmedabad,helped us understand consumer habits and usage. We brought it changes such that now the power modules in our products can withstand irregular power surge,our appliances can handle dust and high humidity levels. Our dishwashers come with water softeners because of the hard water in taps,” says Sanjeev Wadhwa,country manager,Fisher & Paykel.

Indian companies too are entering the ready made kitchens market. Modular kitchens by most Indian manufacturers are growingly easy to maintain,pest-resistant and corrosion-free. They are designed to be flexible and adaptable for intelligent space utilisation. Most branded modular kitchens begin at Rs 10 lakh and based on the fittings one requires,can go up to Rs 1 crore.

Materials: While wood and glass are cake and cream,the shift is towards sustainability. From reclaimed wood and bamboo to engineered stone,companies are exploring options that are relevant to the environment-conscious customer. This also means there are multiple colour options available. It doesn’t need to be restricted to whites,beige or black. Ever thought of teal or green in your kitchen? Textures too are played up,so nothing stops modular settings within a kitchen to change from wood to stone to stainless steel. Meanwhile,copper sinks are adding that quaint touch too,costing R7,000-12,000. Though this is only for the asking,few companies have this option.

His & Her: If ‘his’ and ‘her’ bathrooms are common,can kitchens be far behind? With single pads on the rise,companies are now wooing bachelors with their unique designs that focus on the “maleness” of their design. Anodised coating over metal renders a tough yet masculine look to the space and they are pulling out all stops when it comes to audio-video systems to fully automatic coffee machines that come in-built. Then,there are kitchens where couples can work together without getting in each other’s way,so while that may require space,nobody is complaining when food is put out there as a joint effort. Two islands with sinks each,now why didn’t somebody think of it earlier?

Gadgets: Technology has made it possible to not feel short-changed in a small kitchen. Appliances that are energy efficient and resource-friendly are in-built into the modules. Under-counter and flushed-in gadgets offer a clean,minimal yet efficient work ambience. Smart refrigerators with multiple-temperature control (freezer,chiller,wine options) that can be placed anywhere in your kitchen is a dream that’s actually available in the Indian market. The latest entrant to kitchen chimneys are downdraft fans. While these are not as effective as overheard hoods,they still absorb odours and water vapour during cooking. They are flushed with the counter and are usually located to the side. They pop up (about eight inches) when the gas is turned on and work with pots and pans that are not too tall. Then there are minimalist black glass cook tops with graphics and controls that disappear when the product is turned off,and light up when the product is turned on.

“There are no dearth of options today. Since people are on the move,ready made kitchens are quite the norm,though homes that I design,which are private residences,have multiple kitchens. It really depends on the lady of the house,if she has a large staff,then chances are she’ll have a traditional kitchen made. For entertaining and minimal cooking she would have a ‘front’ modular kitchen. And these days it’s perfectly possible to get good wood work and hardware from ace fittings manufacturers and build yourself a kitchen which is durable and stable,” says Mumbai-based architect Rajiv Saini of Rajiv Saini and Associates.

—shiny.varghese@expressindia.com

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