February 4, 2023


Delighting home maniacs

In focus: International kitchens | Architecture Now

In focus: International kitchens | Architecture Now

This year presents such diversity in kitchen design that narrowing down a shortlist of trends proved difficult. But, while it remains the heart of the home, the kitchen has shifted in plan, aesthetic and concept, making some more like a dining or lounge area. It’s no longer a space focused solely on cooking.

Functionality is still a primary design concern and while the best kitchens act as the ‘engine room’ for most households, they also support increasingly flexible ways of living. Bolton Coach House by Kingston Lafferty Design de-centralises the island bench for ease of circulation between the kitchen and other living areas while Colombo & Serboli maintains a simple layout in Klinker Apartment so as not to disrupt the everyday comings and goings of a typical family.

But, as far as aesthetics go, the one thing connecting today’s kitchens is a tendency towards the dramatic. Dark, moody colours are more popular than ever before as are rich, heavily patterned materials and surface finishes, all of which make for impressive interiors. On the other hand, even a kitchen as understated as Mim Design’s NNH Residence boldly impacts with clean lines and its lack of superfluous details.

It may be a while before we see a return to the all-white kitchen yet, in the meantime, architects and designers are having fun with strong expressions driven by bold non-conformist palettes. The outcomes are still sophisticated and it’s testament to their talents that these new kitchens capture the zeitgeist while being timeless.


St Kilda Residence kitchen by Doherty Design Studio. Image: 

Derek Swalwell

Decoration is no longer considered something that’s merely applied at the end of the design process to add visual flair. Now, a kitchen’s decorative elements come in the form of patterned surfaces, such as marble, terrazzo and coloured glass, and are an integral design component that can’t be easily removed and replaced.


Maximalist: A maximalist aesthetic works surprisingly well in this small kitchen in Teorema Apartment in Milan by Marcante Testa. The combination of colour, texture and form is balanced by fine craftsmanship and a rigorous understanding of composition. Image: 

Carola Ripamonti

The new maximalism is still a wonderful mash-up of different patterned surfaces, materials and colours, yet today it’s much more sophisticated. With a deliberate emphasis on subtle colours and exquisite detailing, it works well for anyone averse to an all-white kitchen and not afraid of a little daring eclecticism.


Integrated: In this exquisite renovation of a historic coach house in Dublin, Kingston Lafferty Design has worked with the building’s original structures, carefully creating an integrated kitchen that is discreet in appearance yet strong in functionality. Image: 

Barbara Corsico

This trend could be nicknamed the disappearing kitchen, as the widely regarded heart of the home becomes more a part of the living area, with structures and elements typical of a traditional kitchen seemingly minimised. It also plays into the trend for flexible and multi-functional spaces that aren’t defined by any one activity.


Monochrome: This small historic Barcelona apartment by Colombo & Serboli perfectly exemplifies the monochrome trend without taking it to the extreme. The use of a dusty red hue to colour the kitchen not only brings the interior design firmly into the 21st century but it assists with zoning by providing a visual anchor for the scheme.  Image: 

Roberto Ruiz

Monochrome kitchens are a gentle pushback to all-white schemes and while they introduce colour in a big, singular way, they still retain a sense of minimalism and elegance. Any shade of blue or green is proving popular, as are deep earthy tones. Whatever the choice, it has to be one the client won’t tire of any time soon.


Streamlined: Mim Design’s Sussex Street Residence kitchen in Melbourne is an elegant study of streamlined design and captures the trend’s spirit perfectly. Lines and surfaces are kept clean and simple with a focus on fine detailing and elegant finishes. Image: 

Sharyn Cairns

Perhaps the most timeless of current kitchen trends, this one is characterised by clean lines, minimalist design and hidden fixtures. Surfaces are uninterrupted by door handles and light fittings are slim and unobtrusive, while material and colour palettes are tastefully understated.