Within London’s iconic Barbican Estate, architect Ana Sutherland paired oak veneer with stainless steel to create a stunning yet highly functional kitchen and dining area for one of the estate’s top floor apartments.
Influenced by the interior spaces and furniture of Les Arcs – a 1960s ski resort designed by French architect Charlotte Perriand – Sutherland’s design centres around solid forms echoing those of the vast concrete structure of the Barbican, interrupted by delicate, tactile detailing.
With a compact space to work with, it was important to provide plenty of storage and maximise the length of the room. The full-height storage unit, fronted with a lattice screen of concealed doors, provides plenty of deep storage space and contributes to an overall sense of calm and spaciousness. The perforations remove the need for handles as the doors can be easily opened by finger.
Bespoke mismatched oak veneer panels were used to create the cabinets. In combination with the stainless-steel worktops, sink and splash-backs, the minimal material palette has a utilitarian quality that picks up on the simple interiors of Les Arc and the original Barbican kitchens.
Although a technically challenging project, the striking simplicity of the results is testament to behind-the-scenes work and close collaboration between client, designer and maker.
Working with Sutherland was designer maker Philip Henderson from bespoke kitchen makers, Standforth. Henderson finetuned the designs, detailing everything to ensure that they were buildable and could be achieved within the constraints of the space.
To build the bespoke cabinets, Henderson used 2.5 millimetre thick European oak constructional timber, bonded to a birch plywood core. The crown cut veneer, supplied by Capital Crispin, was mismatched to create a natural aesthetic – avoiding repetition and mirroring.
Henderson hand selected every piece of timber used for the veneer, ensuring a softly varying aesthetic.