Small is Mighty – The Studio Kitchen by Kennedy Nolan
Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Photography Derek Swalwell
Architecture Kennedy Nolan
Interior Design Kennedy Nolan
Words Rose Onans
Art Direction Ortolan
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Combining rich colour and bold gestures with the soft tactile, visually gentle qualities of Laminex Absolute Matte laminate, the Studio Kitchen by Kennedy Nolan is a design whose small size belies its unexpected generosity and high degree of functionality.

With the kitchen becoming the social and practical heart of the contemporary home at a time when growing urban density means that apartment living is on the rise, Kennedy Nolan was naturally familiar with the challenge posed by the brief for a kitchen that fulfils its key role when space is at a premium. With characteristic enthusiasm, the studio focused on the positive characteristics of an ideal kitchen – considered details, integrated storage, easy to clean surfaces, tactile materiality, an element of surprise, and a sense of joy and sociability. These were then interpreted within the context of a small space, working within its constraints without allowing them to limit the final result.

Playing with scale, materiality, texture and colour, the Studio Kitchen creates a sense of spaciousness and generosity while also delivering a maximum of functionality within its small footprint.

Playing with scale, materiality, texture and colour, the Studio Kitchen creates a sense of spaciousness and generosity while also delivering a maximum of functionality within its small footprint. Simple yet effective design moves make the most of the available space. Without room for an island, the bench was made 200mm deeper than standard to offer provision for appliances and kitchen staples to be set to the back of the bench, leaving ample workspace to the front. And while there are no overhead cupboards, leaving a sense of openness at eye-level, there is plenty of storage in the floor-to-ceiling tower cabinetry and substantial pull-out pantry beneath the benchtop. “A small kitchen needs to work very hard: there are many jobs to be done in limited space,” says Rachel Nolan, co-founding director of Kennedy Nolan. “This kitchen has an 800mm deep benchtop and generous proportions – a small fridge and decent pantry are concealed behind the vertical column – everything else is under bench.”

But perhaps the most striking aspect of the design lies in how Kennedy Nolan has embraced unexpected form, colour and materiality to create a statement worthy of a far larger kitchen. “There’s not much space, so when you make a gesture, make it generous!” says Rachel. “We were conscious of making sure this studio kitchen was also a handsome backdrop to a living area – which is an inevitable requirement in studio sized apartments.” To achieve this, Kennedy Nolan worked with the unique qualities of Laminex Absolute Matte laminate and panels. Both the products’ strong colours and softer tones are brought into play, with Laminex French Navy adding depth and Laminex Green Sage a gentle organic quality, while a splash of Laminex Pillarbox is discovered on opening the drawers, making the everyday use of the kitchen a delight. The ability to create curves is employed to form the distinctive rangehood cover, and the large sheet sizes available allowed the material to be drawn up the wall to create a sense of continuity.

A small kitchen needs to work very hard: there are many jobs to be done in limited space,” says Rachel Nolan, co-founding director of Kennedy Nolan.

Most significantly of all, the matte finish’s gentle visual sensibility and soft tactility were key to the overall inviting and spacious feel of the kitchen, its light-absorbing qualities ensuring the kitchen subtly recedes to make the overall space feel bigger. “We have really enjoyed working with Absolute Matte – a terrific new product by Laminex,” says Rachel. “It is not unusual for us to design joinery with recessed finger pulls and overhead cupboards with no face-fixed handles – consequently the user needs to touch the surface. Having a surface that doesn’t show any fingerprints is important, particularly when the colour is dark like the two we have used in this kitchen.” Additionally, the product is manufactured locally in Ballarat, Victoria, reducing the energy associated with transportation and supporting local manufacturing – two causes Kennedy Nolan is keen to champion.

To complement the matte finish, soft curves and colour palette of the Laminex laminate, Kennedy Nolan introduced select furniture, fixtures, lighting and materials – “considered collaborations [that] also elevate the mood and quality of this space,” says Rachel. Contrasting texture is employed through Artedomus terracotta tiles. Here too is another simple yet unexpected detail – where typical a regulation 100mm kicker would be found, the terracotta is brought up from the floor under the cabinetry in the precise size of a single whole tile, adding a sense of intentionality to the space. The tile recurs as the heat-proof splashback behind the stove, its colour and texture contrasting deliberately with the smooth, dark Laminex French Navy splashback and curved rangehood cover beside and above. A custom-coloured Volker Haug wall light was introduced, complementing the Pillarbox drawer lining, and the adjoining wall finished with blackboard paint, adding an interactive element.

“We have really enjoyed working with Absolute Matte – a terrific new product by Laminex,” says Rachel.

“Like the other spaces we have worked on with Laminex, we have continued our interrogation of an overall design palette that celebrates the flexibility of Laminex products with more rustic, natural products,” reflects Rachel. It is a combination that sees the kitchen embody a pleasing approachability even while it is pushing design boundaries, emphasising the exciting design possibilities of small spaces.

Small is Mighty – The Studio Kitchen By Kennedy Nolan – Project Feature – The Local Project Image 06
Published 15 March, 2021
Photography  Derek Swalwell
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