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Smoking hot kitchens
Wine coolers, warming drawers and trophy stoves...bespoke kitchens are putting the wow factor into entertaining at home.
In most Indian homes, the kitchen was a dingy, smoky corner where only the wife - or cook if you could afford one - ventured. But as flats got swankier, kitchen design has become the area of the home on which people are lavishing huge dreams and money. A crore-plus tag isn't uncommon for a bespoke kitchen equipped with trophy appliances and electronics.
A dream kitchen these days will include drawers and cabinets in muted colours, recessed LED lighting, an oven that a modernist chef would be proud and wine coolers for offering cold glasses of cabernet to unexpected visitors.
A real estate dealer in Mumbai recently spent almost Rs 50 lakh on his designer kitchen is fitted with appliances from top-end brands like PoggenPohl, Gaggenau and Miele. "It has made entertaining an experience. " His plush yet minimalist kitchen overlooks a noisy, crowded Mumbai street but the clean lines and soft lighting transport you into another world. Bang in the centre of the open kitchen is a 'cooking island' with seating on one side and an induction cooktop flanked by a teppanyaki on the other. The cooking area is hooded by a sleek vertical stainless steel 'table ventilation' or chimney. So while the host is fussing over the steak of tenderloin that is slowly grilling on the Japanese teppanyaki, guests can enjoy their martinis without choking on smoke. The island can be customised and typically costs Rs 15 to Rs 16 lakh.
Super-luxe kitchens have unleashed a smorgasbord of new sensory experiences - handleless drawers that run on electricity and have motion sensors, warming drawers to keep the dishes and cups warm, lava stones in grills, washing machines that sense the right temperature of water for each fabric and cooktops with 10 cooking modes, like bake, roast, broil, convection bake, convection roast and convection broil. Designer textures - Corian, veneer, lacquer and glass-topped lacquer - have given cooking a whole new dimension.
The bottomline, though, isn't about whipping up a meal but what your kitchen says about your lifestyle. Amanda Hesser, the American food writer, described modern kitchens as 'palaces of aspiration'. She noted that, "There is promise in a second dishwasher - the promise of large parties. "
India's in-built kitchen appliances market is estimated at Rs 500 crore. It pales in comparison with a market like the UK which is about Rs 8, 345 crore but the Indian market is growing at a robust rate of 40 per cent to 50 per cent annually.
Many top-end designer kitchen brands - Sub-Zero Wolf, Gaggenau, Miele and Ewe - are now available in India. These brands have partnered with leading builders who make furnished luxury apartments. Sub-Zero Wolf, the American refrigeration and kitchen appliances firm, for instance, has tied up with the famous Lodha Group for furnishing kitchens in eight villas in World One - a residential tower being built in Mumbai which supposedly will be the world's tallest residential project (442 metres) once completed in 2014. The brand is best known for its refrigerators and wine coolers and finds a proud place in Antilla, the Ambani residence. Berty Tarrab, MD Top Products India - the company that imports Sub-Zero Wolf in India - says, "Luxury projects and development initiatives present a huge opportunity for brands like ours. " Sub-Zero refrigerators cost up to Rs 18 lakh and most Wolf kitchen appliances start at Rs 1 lakh.
Be it a pedigreed south Mumbai family or a newly wealthy one from west Delhi, they're all willing to go the extra mile when it comes to kitchens. And designer kitchen brands are ready to tap into this demand. "A lot of development is taking place in Asia and we want to partner it, " says Dhananjay Chaturvedi, MD of Miele India which has a presence in 10 cities in India. Miele is a German brand of designer kitchenware and is best known for its washing machines and vacuum cleaners in Europe. "Since Indians are passionate about cooking it is our induction cooktops, convection ovens, steam ovens and warming drawers that sell the most, " says Chaturvedi. He adds that Miele is going to invest more than Rs 100 crore in India. Miele induction woks cost Rs 20 lakh approximately and the price of their washing machines goes up to Rs 2. 5 lakh.
But then a kitchen's value is not expressed exclusively in paise and pence. It can transform a room into a celebration of family life and convivial living.
Here's a new toy to flaunt - a couture television designed by Tarun Tahiliani. In perhaps the first of its kind technology-fashion partnership in India, Vu Technologies has teamed up with the master couturier to create a television that's like a work of art. In the West, there have been several such collaborations before. In 2010, New-York based Chinese designer Vivienne Tam created a butterfly-themed "digital clutch" laptop for Hewlett-Packard. Giorgio Armani partnered with Samsung electronics to create a designer mobile phone before that. Devita Saraf, CEO of Vu Tecnologies, says she wanted to create a product that would be about 'detailing'. Tahiliani wedded detail with bling and created a limited edition television that comes for a price tag of Rs 5 lakh. It has a 55-inch screen with a lattice border of Swarovski crystals. "Televisions are such a big part of everyone's lives. We wanted to create a set that was a thing of beauty even when it was turned off. We wanted to create an object of desire rather than something functional, " says Tahiliani.
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