By Dan Neil
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 23, 2008
Bring me a sandwich, fool! Hah-hah-hah!
Which means you need a kitchen. May I suggest the Porsche Design Kitchen P'7340 built by Poggenpohl?
If cool, nocturnal and sinister are what you're looking for in kitchen cabinetry, then this suite of modular units and appliances is your ticket: free-standing islands and wall-mounted cabinets, high-tech Miele appliances and black chrome Dornbracht fixtures, all framed in brushed aluminum. Penned and engineered by Porsche Design -- a branch of the company that also makes a certain sports car -- the P'7340 had its West Coast premiere at the Poggenpohl showroom at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood earlier this month.
Porsche Design and Poggenpohl call this the Kitchen for Men, a notion that is as deliberately provocative as it is a fairly clever bit of marketing. The premise seems to be that with male gonads comes a love of the super sleek, the maximally minimal, the rigorously rectangular. This generally describes the Weltanschauung of Porsche Design, whose hugely successful men's accessories business -- sunglasses, clothing, luggage, timepieces -- seems to be aimed at skinny Berliners named Dieter.
I grant that this kitchen would be Martha Stewart's idea of hell. I further grant that it is, in a highly restrictive sense, dude heaven. For example, the cabinets don't have any handles. To open them, you push on the cabinets and the front panels float silently outward; in the case of hinged upper cabinets, there is a spring-loaded assisted-opening feature. As you close the cabinets, an electronic sensor activates a motorized cinch mechanism that pulls the doors for the last centimeters.
Further dude-itude is embodied in the integral appliances -- convection, microwave and steam ovens, glass-top stove, and automatic coffee and espresso machine/death-ray -- all offered in the 8-millimeter aluminum-framed rectangles and black-glass fascia. According to Ted Chappell, chief executive of Poggenpohl U.S., the sample kitchen at the Pacific Design Center would run about $75,000.
Of course, since it's aimed at men, the kitchen has to have a grandiose TV, an LCD-based multimedia center fitted into a black-glass panel. Because this rig is covered in glass, the video display can even be integrated into the back splash area.
Straight or gay, master chef or somebody who eats peanut butter out of the jar, every man digs a big TV. Cool.
And yet, a kitchen for men? Which men? My college roommates? For them, you would have needed one huge cabinet with dividers to organize cereal boxes and a dispenser that would eject cans of beer like kibble for gerbils. As for me, I like to cook, and to do so effectively, I want to be able to leave some appliances, such as my mega KitchenAid mixer, out on the counter. Alas, with the Kitchen for Men, leaving anything other than a tasteful feng shui flower arrangement on the counter makes the whole installation look like a hovel. I don't want a kitchen that requires me to maintain it as if Architectural Digest were coming over at any second. I want to leave the toaster out without worrying about degrading my kitchen's aerodynamics.
Furthermore, is there enough Windex in the world to keep this kitchen shiny? (The countertops come in satinized glass or stone-based materials.) Somebody better check with SC Johnson & Son.
In engineering, there's a phrase: high criticality. The Porsche/Poggenpohl kitchen has it in spades.
As a product line, Poggenpohl's new kitchen caters to an expanding luxury market that splits the difference between bespoke custom cabinetry and prêt-à-porter installs. The pull-outs, overhead cabinets, islands, lighting arches and appliances come in a variety of dimensions, but you can't really order custom sizes unless you are prepared to pay a major premium and wait a long time. Not just any contractor can slam one of these babies in, either. Poggenpohl will send out an engineer to make sure everything is plumbed and plum.
As an addition to the made world, the Porsche Kitchen for Men is exquisite. The fit and finish are gorgeous and the aesthetic -- glowing, minimal, geometric, hovering weightlessly in the future tense of domestic design -- is so sexy I can hardly stand it.
But as a kitchen? Only if you don't cook.
Dan Neil's reviews of new designs for the home will appear occasionally in this section. Please send comments to email@example.com.
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