Also known as the Kitchen Workshop, Bulthaup’s new b2 system consists of a workbench and two wooden boxes. At once beautiful and austere—–even monastic—–it melds a Shakerlike simplicity with a rigorous approach to storage calibrated down to the last espresso cup. Opened up, the boxes are the kitchen. Closed, they’re a sculptural installation, more Donald Judd than Julia Child.
The Appliance Cabinet contains the oven, dishwasher, and European-scale fridge (American behemoths may need to chill outside the box). The Tool Cabinet unfolds like a magician’s trunk to reveal deeper and deeper layers for utensils, dishware, and food. The workbench—–a kind of freestanding island—–may be customized with various cooktop and sink modules and with materials such as stone for baking and wood for chopping. Rolling garbage carts reside respectfully below.
Like many things that appear simple on the surface, the b2 may demand too great a level of discipline for some. If you’re the type who leaves no pot unsullied when concocting your signature paella, you may wish to temper utopian dreams of chaos containment with a more forgiving system. (Ditto if you are wont to collect stray bits of crockery.) However, as something to aspire to, the b2—–with its reassuring message that there’s a place for everything and everything has its place—–exists in a league of its own.
Contributing editor Deborah Bishop approached "Kitchen Design 101" with keen interest, as she is currently plotting her own kitchen renovation. "Having read and been told that this is the most important room in the house- and seeing such an array of aesthetic approaches- I am now effectively paralyzed," confesses Bishop, even though her culinary triumphs tend, at best, toward toast and French-press coffee.