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Doherty Design Studio On Achieving A Statement Kitchen

Mardi Doherty, director of the Melbourne-based multi-disciplinary design practice Doherty Design Studio, is at the forefront of contemporary kitchen design and knows exactly what it takes to make a statement kitchen.

What are the current trends for dramatic kitchens? And how do material and colour palettes come in to play? Mardi Doherty, director of Doherty Design Studio sheds some light on how a strong material palette, unexpected finishes, and fine detailing are key to achieving a statement kitchen.

Leanne Amodeo: What elements are important in creating a statement kitchen?

Mardi Doherty: The kitchen’s position within the house is a key consideration. We’re always thinking of the big picture when designing kitchens and thinking of how they fit with the rest of the home; the geometry, lighting and natural light, as well as the scale of the house itself. The kitchen’s surrounding spaces are important and so is working out what the essence of the house is and how we can embellish that through the kitchen’s joinery.

What’s driving the current trend for a dramatic or statement kitchen?

There’s been a gradual shift from kitchens looking like kitchens to kitchens now looking like beautiful pieces of bespoke joinery. The idea is that kitchens are considered just as beautiful as a walk-in robe or feature joinery element. A lot of suppliers are also designing appliances that are integrated, so exposed fridges and ovens are gradually being replaced with hidden ones and we’re seeing this continuation of streamlined joinery, where the kitchen doesn’t necessarily look like a kitchen any more.

Elwood Residence by Doherty Design Studio

What was the concept behind the kitchen in Elwood Residence?

We wanted to use the material palette to create a really simple scheme that was monochromatic yet quite dramatic. The drama of this kitchen lies with its materiality and so we wrapped the island’s stone benchtop towards the floor. But rather than connect with the ground like a traditional waterfall edge, we kept the stone floating and continued the flooring up the island bench instead. There’s a real play on geometry and form that places a dynamic and sculptural element at the heart of this kitchen.

How did you arrive at the material palette for Beechworth Residence’s kitchen?

This home was supposed to be a temporary residence for the clients while they built the main house on their holiday property. They had a local draughtsperson draw up the plans and after we got involved they told us about their time spent living in Japan and how they go back there every year. We spoke of the simplicity of Japanese living and the idea of a small footprint and how in Japan there’s an emphasis on quality rather than quantity. So we integrated these ideas into our design to better reflect a Japanese lifestyle. The kitchen features a lot of handmade elements, including the Japanese tiles and poured concrete benchtops, and where possible we tried to use local materials. The most interesting thing about this project is that the clients are now so happy with the outcome that they’re not going to build the other house anymore.

Beechworth Residence by Doherty Design Studio

Do you have strengths as a practice that are particularly useful when designing a statement kitchen?

We’re always thinking about that sense of drama in a space and we make sure to choose our moments. Generally, our palette is quite pared back and refined, however, we’ll add a pop of colour or a material that will stand out. We always consider the addition of some sort of visual drama to every space we design.

What is the next big trend in kitchen design?

I think this idea of the kitchen as a seamless extension of the rest of the home’s joinery, rather than some isolated, utilitarian workplace, will continue to grow. And I also think designers are going to push the notion of the dramatic kitchen much further.

Doherty Design Studio

Photography by Derek Swalwell

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