Transforming Even the Smallest of Kitchens Into the Heart of the Home

Sydney Franklin Sydney Franklin

While the kitchen has long been considered the heart of the home, many people don’t take advantage of its potential for entertaining guests. Kitchens are more than just utilitarian rooms in today’s modern world; they can be beautiful and multifunctional, as well. But to be beautiful and serve several purposes at once, they must be carefully designed. That’s where the innovation and expertise of Franke comes in.

Franke Kitchen Systems, the Swiss manufacturer leading the world in intelligent kitchen design, has created a sophisticated line of sinks, faucets, waste disposers, ventilation and custom accessories for the 21st-century home. So as part of the NYCxDESIGN festival throughout New York City, Architizer hosted a conversation with Franke to talk about the 100-year-old company’s newest complete sink system, the Chef Center.

Nothing like a traditional sink, the Chef Center is a hub that can transform any home’s kitchen into a hot spot for family, friends and guests to gather. The product itself promotes a seamless work-flow for users by becoming an all-in-one station for meal-prepping, entertaining and cleaning.

“We aren’t programmed to think the sink can be a key to entertaining,” said Renato Di Rubbo, Franke’s Chief Marketing Officer, to the crowd at Architizer’s headquarters in Manhattan. “But a sink can be a piece of art in the kitchen. That’s why we go the extra mile to create products that go further every day.”

The design of the Chef Center comprises a deep sink with integrated storage compartments for composting and holding utensils, or they can be used as an ice bucket to chill wine and other beverages. The wide basin of the Chef Center can fit large pots and pans with ease, while the sleek sink includes grooves for its custom accessories. The system also comes with a tempered-glass cutting board, colander, multilevel sink grid, dish drainer board and Roller Mat. Even more, the Chef Center can completely disappear and become an extension of the countertop, creating additional usable counter space for cheese platters or serving dishes.

Jeffrey Goodman, New York–based designer at GoodmanCharlton, is a large proponent of Franke’s kitchen systems. He’s worked on a wide array of major hotel projects in the region including the renovation of the historic Empire Hotel near Manhattan’s Lincoln Center and The Epic as well as The Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey. His firm also handles interiors for private clients to whom Goodman regularly offers Franke’s kitchen products. Goodman joined Architizer’s own Marc Kushner to discuss the importance of designing for entertaining.

“I really feel the kitchen should be part of the living space,” said Goodman. “It shouldn’t be behind a wall, tucked away. I try to put the kitchen in the center of the apartment so it’s in between the living room and the bedroom and everybody can circulate around it all the time.”

Goodman designs the kitchen to essentially sit at the intersection of public and private space within the home. Along with Franke, he believes that it can be more than a place to cook and clean dishes. It should be shown off, reveled in and ultimately versatile. But according to Kushner, architects don’t see them in the same light, and that’s a problem.

“It’s a fallacy in architecture that when we design spaces, we don’t think of the everyday look of that space,” he said. “When we photograph a job at a project, the space is clean and perfect. We would never take a photo with pots out and a salt shaker on the table because that has no place in architecture.”

“We don’t design for the toaster. But it’s interesting to see that Franke products integrate pieces into their designs that most architects would consider accessories,” Kushner added.

For Franke — and most cooking enthusiasts — accessibility is everything. Especially in New York City kitchens where space is limited, it’s imperative that both architects and interior designers maximize the potential of the kitchen for both its functional and entertainment purposes. With Franke’s simple yet innovatively crafted, complete kitchen systems, it’s easy for the kitchen to be both practical and beautiful all at once. And that’s key because, as Goodman said, “an ugly sink does ruin a kitchen.”

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