Kitchens are not only places to cook, but most of all are rooms for conversation. The kitchen is the space in the house where the communication happens. It can be an intimate revelation, a big announcement, a fight, a moment of laugh and joy. It is a place that marks our lives.
We met Marc O. Eckert, CEO of Bulthaup, award-winning kitchen manufacturer based in Germany. He shared with us the process of creating a good kitchen, the importance of functionality, design and comfort and how nowadays we live and experience our kitchens.
D: When you start working on a new kitchen project, what are you looking for?
MOE: Bulthaup is and has always been a company thinking about kitchen as a socio-cultural environment. Thus, sociocultural changes guide our product developments. We say “form follows function that serves the people”, which means that the key priority we start with are people, their needs and habits. As people´s needs change, nowadays multifunctional concepts of space become increasingly important, like our new systems b3, b+ and b1 presented in Milan 2016 show.
D: Where do you find your inspiration?
MOE: My inspiration comes from many sources, like meeting and talking to interesting people or reading. Even though, my main inspiration comes from traveling and getting to know different cultures, philosophies, ways of living and cooking. Japan has always been a very inspiring experience for me. You can learn a lot there about perfect craftsmanship, perfect harmony with regard to spaces and objects. Whether it is a restaurant in the heart of Tokyo or a Ryokan in Kyoto, the Japanese culture with its architecture can really create rooms which are a perfect combination of rhythm and balance. The result is a human perception of a profound atmosphere.
D: How do you create a kitchen?
MOE: When we create a kitchen, for us it is more important to think about what people really need today. How do we live today? What does this mean for a kitchen? Does our current idea of kitchen still give an answer to the people’ s needs? Therefore, we are a team of a few engineers and designers in which the development of a new product or system is a constant flow of energy. You cannot really verbalize or rationalize this process. Product Innovation is always the result of an emotional process based on values and convictions.
D: Why do people spend the majority of their time, especially during dinner parties, in the kitchen?
MOE: When you prepare food in your kitchen, you like talking to your family and guests. A dinner party is for communication - we will probably forget what we have eaten, but we never forget the people we spend our time with, what we were talking about and our emotions and feelings. The kitchen fulfills a social function nearly everywhere in the world. Even hundreds of years ago the Bedouins living in tents used to get together around the fireplace, which was not just a place for cooking, but also for conversation and sharing time with friends and family. Sharing food and good stories is transcultural and it mainly happens around the kitchen table.
D: How did the use of the kitchen change in the last 10 years?
In the past a kitchen has been a kitchen, a place for storing, preparing and cooking your daily food – a place for the workflow “cooking”. Today most of us only spend about 40 % of our time in the kitchen for the preparation of the food, the rest of the time is for communication and enjoyment. Values such as family and friendship are rediscovered. We wish to shift away from a hectic world and long for a world of moments where we feel connected to ourselves, where we feel at home. The center of where we live is the kitchen table, here we come together with family and friends to enjoy precious time.
D: What kind of kitchen do you have at home?
MOE: At home I have a Bulthaup b3 laminate kitchen with laser edges – traditionally classic and simple. Of course, I love all Bulthaup products. You will never experience that we launch any product that I am not absolutely convinced of. As an entrepreneur I love each single Bulthaup product.
D: Do you cook? If so, what’s your favorite recipe?
MOE: Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of time for cooking. However, one of my favorite recipes is for sure Caprese, a salad with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Most of the time I spend in my kitchen is for enjoying an espresso and reading the newspaper.