G4.2 a new generation of Loft kitchens
Original Manhattan lofts often had kitchens that matched the authentic industrial feel of the space: they were open to the rest of the space and more functional than stylish; perhaps an industrial sink, more likely to have shelves rather than cabinets, “basic” appliances. Call those G1 loft kitchens.
Fast forward to a (developing?) new style loft kitchens, which I will dub G4.2 loft kitchens but the NY Times calls “guy décor”: closed kitchens that have more in common with grand prewar apartments than with classic lofts, or even with modern luxury lofts.
“Cozy” in a loft kitchen??
Rick Marin in the Times talks about (nearly) returning to the closed kitchen of his youth when he renovated his kitchen to suit his new lifestyle (ten years earlier, “open kitchens were integral to the cool, sophisticated loft lifestyle to which I aspired”.)
He implicitly blames Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and other TV super-chefs for the trend toward high-end open kitchen, the kind of kitchen his wife hates:
“the arrival of the husband in the kitchen, roughly concomitant with the advent of the Food Network, was a major event. He demanded huge, manly appliances with Teutonic names like Viking and Wolf. Not only did the act of cooking become a part of the culture of American society, but watching people cook became a desirable activity. And helping to cook became a matter of etiquette, as the line between guest and host blurred. Dinner parties took on that vaguely tacky potluck quality that makes my wife, a hostess who values old-school niceties, insane.”
Since kitchens are such a “lifestyle” feature of apartment living, Marin’s new family structure called for “cozy” (when they eat in the kitchen) and “old-school”, when they entertain (presumably, they have a dining area – though he never says so).
If this is a trend for loft kitchens, it will be G4.2.
Kitchen Darwinism in Manhattan lofts
G2 loft kitchens were the upgraded kitchens in original lofts, or the newly built kitchens in loft conversions of the 1970s and 1980s: stylish appliances, higher-end cabinets, butcher block kitchen islands and expensive pots and pans hanging pretty much everywhere.
G3 loft kitchens reflect the arms war, especially in recent developments. As Marin says, the kitchen as fashion accessory: The “open kitchen has become a fashion accessory, the shoes or handbag of the new Manhattan apartment” and he uses the Altair condos at 15 West 20 Street and 32 West 18 Street as the archetypes, with an ad featuring a “youngish couple in matching aprons stand by an open kitchen island — more of a peninsula, really — giddily preparing dinner with five female friends who look as if they might consider spaghetti straps a food group. ‘In a 23-foot kitchen,’ the copy reads, ‘there can never be too many cooks.’”
I can’t put a cursor on that ad at the moment, but two examples of the open kitchens at Altair 20 can be seen in the listing data for the “A” line here and the “B” line here. (If you think my usage of the term “arms race” is a bit over the top, check out the description of these kitchens as “beyond state of the art”, then reconsider.)
Metaphysics for dummies: How do you get beyond state of the art?
If the Altairs (and their similarly breathless competition) represent the G3 loft kitchen, why is Marin’s closed kitchen G4.2 rather than G4? Because the (other) newest loft kitchen style may be coming our way from Milwaukee – of all places.
This G4.1 is the "inside-out" kitchen pictured in the Marin article:
“Diana Murphy, editor in chief of Kitchen & Bath Portfolio, sees a trend toward the inside-out kitchen, citing a loft in Milwaukee, featured in her magazine, in which the customary L shape of the open kitchen is reversed. Instead of being tucked in a corner, its corner juts out into the apartment. Sort of an extreme open kitchen.”
Visually stunning? Of course. But a long way from Point A to Point B in that kitchen.
So maybe G4.1 isn’t likely to catch on … but Marin’s G4.1 may….
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