| Simone Andrea Mayer |
COLOGNE (dpa) – Concrete can be a rough material that looks and feels cold. But fitted-kitchen designers are aiming to change that image by creating bench and cupboard units with concrete surfaces.
Several big name German makers have chosen to integrate concrete into their latest designs.
One maker, Leicht, names its new range simply Concrete. The cupboard doors are MDF boards that have been very finely polished. A layer of concrete no more than one millimetre thick is then spread across each board.
Concrete kitchens are possible thanks to the development of high-performance concrete, which can be laid thinly but remains strong.
“The cement is ground to a very fine powder and mixed with special additives,” says Ulrich Nolting from the information portal Beton, a website run by Germany’s association of cement makers.
The additives make it possible to use this new type of concrete in ways never before thought possible.
High performance concrete is also being used to make furniture. Thanks to flatter surfaces, sanding machines are no longer needed to rework and smooth the concrete.
“Self-thickening concrete has the same consistency as honey,” says Nolting. “It flows slowly into every nook and cranny.”
According to Nolting, concrete is an excellent material for use in the kitchen and as a surface for preparing food – with just one exception. If concrete comes into contact with food acids such as citrus juice, the surface will not break apart but it will develop spots, according to Nolting.
“Some people love that kind of patina and think it looks great.”
If you don’t want to have spots, you can get a special coating put on the concrete similar to wood varnish.
Zeyko’s concrete kitchen unit is called Horizon Forum Stucco. Its concrete cupboard doors are double coated with a special varnish. Zeyko’s marketing chief Tobias Hollerbach says that makes concrete a perfect material for the kitchen.
Along with concrete Zeyko’s kitchen also uses elements of walnut-wood and glass.
Concrete is not the only material designers are using more in kitchens; natural stone is also becoming a favourite material, and not just for use on counter-tops. New on the market are kitchens with thin-cut stone cupboard doors.
Strasser Steine has made a stone kitchen unit called ST-ONE, which comes in four colours.
But high-grade concrete and time-consuming production techniques make this type of kitchen an expensive choice to import from Germany.
That means kitchen units with veneer are set to remain popular. Just like wood veneer, manufacturers are now producing kitchens where a very thin layer of stone is glued to the MDF.
Ballerina Kuechen, a German company, has chosen slate for its new kitchen, while Rempp Kuechen has gone for the full stone veneer style.