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When the design brief calls for it, kitchen cabinets can be incredibly stealthy. In fact, they can be almost invisible, effortlessly blending with the surrounding architectural elements of contemporary apartments. However, composing such details is no easy feat: The design challenge inherent within Minimalist kitchen storage systems pertains to an unavoidable conflict between aesthetic quality and necessary functionality. They must look sleek and integrate with the barely there style of many modern residences while simultaneously providing ample storage space for implements and appliances that are used every single day.
Arhitektura d.o.o. is a Slovenian architecture firm that not only expertly designs chic interior spaces, but also crafts cabinetry in partnership with specialist manufacturers. The firm is renowned for simple minimalist styles in the kitchen that extend throughout entire projects. Many of their contemporary apartment designs, such as Life After Madrid, Black Line Apartment and Folding Wall Apartment, successfully blend the kitchen into the overall layout of the project while maintaining total functionality. The team at Arhitektura do.o. spoke with Architizer about why they view an interior detail like cabinetry as a key element of a thoughtfully designed space and how they go about bringing it to reality.
The kitchen in Folding Wall Apartment features warm oak and a sterile white finish.
Sydney Franklin: What made your firm interested in creating minimalist living environments that maximize space and provide multiple levels of functionality?
Arhitektura d.o.o.: The complexity and multiple levels of functionality of our furniture stems from the situations where our clients would like to enjoy all of the commodities of big-space living, but they’re usually met with a rather small living quarters.
We were obliged to negotiate these given facts, thus the idea of functional niches carved in the storage units was introduced. This “leitmotif” can be found in all of our interior projects but is featured prominently in the Black Line Apartment. The combination of black painted furniture elements with oak and wooden flooring gives us a feeling of elegance and openness, which is exactly what we were looking for in that small apartment.
In Black Line Apartment, Arhitektura d.o.o. placed library shelving and an 18-foot kitchen unit along the two longitudinal walls of the living room.
In Life After Madrid, you also feature a concealed kitchen design. What inspired you for this project? Why do you think it’s important to hide kitchen hardware such as handles?
It’s our belief that by concealing some of the kitchen or furniture elements, we contribute to the abstract image of our projects. We always begin with a reference. For instance, in the Life After Madrid Apartment, the reference was a stainless steel countertop usually found in bars and restaurants, and then we simplified that image to its pure abstraction. When the form isn’t overshadowed by other elements, the most basic and abstract idea is cognitively clear.
Arhitektura d.o.o. introduces stainless steel as the main material of the light-filled kitchen in Life After Madrid.
Many of your residential projects also include movable or concealed doors, walls and other elements. What are the challenges of designing such spaces?
The challenges in our interior projects are usually presented in the form of preexisting building elements, which have to be overcome and incorporated in the overall design. The details are being designed in our office but usually in collaboration with manufacturers, who can guide us between specifics of different materials and their limitations. We are always keen to use well-known materials in unexpected ways.
The unusually elongated layout of Folding Wall Apartment called for a unique design intervention. The architects created a movable wall unit that opens and closes as a series of cabinetry, closets and doors.
Can you speak more about your firm’s processes when getting a commission? Do you cater entirely to the client’s vision for the project or do you find that they want your influence to drive the design?
Arhitektura d.o.o. is a family company, where the experience and ideas of two generations converge in a common cultural motive: making good architecture. Architecture that is both rational and poetic. Architecture which is the result of a wider spatial, historical, technological and social context.
Therefore we always listen to the vision of our clients, which we later try to implement in our own design. Compromises always have to be made; however, we often find that at the first glance what appears to be a very unsuitable compromise is sometimes the most prominent feature of the design.
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