Designer    Case Study 31 Jul 2013

Davy Swanenberg snatches top prize at Sub-Zero & Wolf Design Contest

Dutch designer’s cutting-edge design wins global acclaim, scooping one of the top prizes in the Sub-Zero & Wolf Design Contest

Ultra-modern and feature-packed, this contemporary kitchen design by Dutch designer Davy Swanenberg has created ripples right across the Atlantic, winning the top prize in the Sub-Zero & Wolf Kitchen Design Contest, the global final of which was held recently in Madison, Wisconsin, US.

Swanenberg of Culimaat Kitchens in the Netherlands, was named the grand-prize winner and receives a $40,000 prize. The kitchen is situated in an old furniture factory, located in a picturesque village near s’Hertogenbosch, the capital of the southern province of Brabant.

“I started with an empty space, which featured prominent old wooden beams,” explains Swanenberg. “That was the stage for what had to be a semi-professional kitchen. The client’s requirements with respect to the appliances were very clear – they had to be as professional as possible, so we chose the Wolf range for its iconic red controls and the heavy cast iron grates.”

The kitchen measurements are based on the dimensions of the range, hence the shape of the worktop’s edge. The warming drawer dictated the size of the drawers in the island, and led to the choice of using matt marble. “Matt marble is easily cut in different thicknesses and perfect to create a uniform and robust look between the warming drawer and furniture fronts,” Swanenberg explains.

“The Sub-Zero fridges finish the semi-professional atmosphere, thanks to their stainless steel counterpoint to the rough materials. I searched for contrasting materials on purpose, making sure they share the same colour palette. The result is this kitchen, a sleek industrial look with plenty of light and spaciousness.”

As well as the Sub-Zero & Wolf appliances, the rest of the kitchen was specified with a Gaggenau dishwasher, coffee machine and extractor hood, while the sink and tap are by Dornbracht. Material-wise, the design was all about contrasts, for example combining the extremely smooth laquered fronts with the rough woodgrain structure on the sides of the marble worktop. The waxed leather framed in blue steel gives a similar effect, whilst the wall behind the cooking section was treated with Concrete-Ciré, which gives a stone-like effect after drying and finishing.

“A nice detail is that we wanted to bring a bit of nature inside and chose to decorate the space behind the beech chopping board with a cow hide framed behind anti-reflective glass,” says Swanenberg.

The simplicity of the design is a neat fit with the subdued and well-considered colour scheme. Robust, pure materials like cement, marble and leather fall into place in a modern styling with  a play of lines that was thought out down to the millimetre.

Despite its effortless appearance, this was a challenging project. Swanenberg says: “It was tricky to combine so many different materials and appliances in such a way that they form a unity. But bringing them together successfully allows you to discover more and more detail within the kitchen the longer you look at it. It has to radiate calm – when the homeowner returns from a long day at work, he has to feel the calmness and feel at home.”

Given the highly detailed nature of the scheme, the designer admits that he finds it hard to pick his favourite aspect of the scheme. There is the marble worktop with cutouts, finished with matt on the top, and a woodgrain structure on the front. The fact that everything is glued together with mitred joints also appeals to his craftsmanship side.

But, he adds: “The leather doors with steel frames really stole my heart. We went to select the leather at a tanner’s, coloured it and treated it with a coating.”

This striking kitchen is characteristic of the type of projects Culimaat Kitchens has become known for. “This style is our signature style,” Swanenberg explains, “in terms of the details,  height differences in the worktop, the grips that run through, the use of contrasting materials (in matt, gloss or both), and the atmosphere in general.

“We also enjoy pushing the limits, for example by making a kitchen completely out of thermoformed solid surface. We also often work with blocks of stainless steel, inlaid with marble or solid surface.”

This unique project captured the imagination of the Kitchen Design Contest judges however. One of the judges, architect E.J. Meade, said that the panel looked for a great level of innovation in the contemporary-style kitchens and that they unanimously agreed on the excellence of Swanenberg’s design. Meade described the project as “a kitchen of contrasts” that was “tempered with a playful use of materials and surfaces,” “rigorously detailed,” and one that the judges deemed a work of art.

Culimaat Kitchens |

Sub-Zero & Wolf Kitchen Design Contest |

Published in Designer Kitchen & Bathroom Magazine