JAG Kitchens

A New York state of mind

This display kitchen encapsulates emerging international trends, combining a relaxed industrial aesthetic with a focus on ergonomics.


Gabrielle Chariton

Since the late 1980s, JAG Kitchens has led the way in kitchen design and manufacture within the South Australian market. The company combines design flair with uncompromising workmanship; reinterpreting international design trends to suit the particular needs and lifestyles of their customers. A swathe of more than 50 regional and national HIA awards cements their status as one of the most in-demand kitchen firms in the state.

JAG Kitchens’ Keswick showroom features a range of display kitchens that showcase the talent of its designers and in-house cabinetmakers, who together create, produce and install between 16 and 24 kitchens per week across all market price points.

Last year, two of the company’s senior joinery designers, Tania Nikolitsis and Stefan Vignogna, put their heads together to create a display kitchen that steps just outside the current mainstream trends. Stefan says the Adelaide market errs on the conservative side, and the kitchens within the JAG showroom, by and large, reflect that. So the priority for this particular display was to ‘incorporate the most forward-looking trends coming out of Europe’.

The result is the stunning ‘New York Loft’ kitchen – a rich blend of raw and stained timber, concrete, brick, and moody dark porcelain. It’s industrial yet urbane; a refined, elegant version of a kitchen you might see in an inner-city factory loft conversion.

JAG Kitchens
Black-stained oak door fronts intersect with striking walnut veneer fins
JAG Kitchens
A kitchen designed for ‘passionate cooks’

Tania describes the look as ‘futuristic’ and ‘inspirational’ – adding that the inclusion of planter boxes for herbs and display shelves for jars leans into the global emphasis on healthy living and getting back to nature. ‘We’ve brought things out of the cupboards and onto the shelves … At its core, this is a hard-working, environmental kitchen, where food can be grown as well as prepared and enjoyed.’

This is the first kitchen that Tania and Stefan have collaborated on, and they found their skill sets complementary: ‘We were both quite involved with the initial concept,’ Stefan says. ‘We went away and gathered inspiration … Tania did a lot of research into materials while I was drawing up and then at the end we came together, refined it and got it all happening.’

The kitchen features a range of earthy, raw surfaces, including brick-clad pillars, a concrete-look wall, and perforated steel panels. However the sophistication of the timber joinery components counterbalances these rustic finishes with a polished elegance. The main wall shelving and cabinetry unit – designed to look more like furniture than a kitchen – features black-stained oak door fronts intersected with striking walnut veneer fins. ‘It’s very elegant in design, but it’s also quite robust,’ Tania says. The greenery-laden open shelves feature a perforated metal lining, backlit for soft illumination.

‘I think people feel quite calm in there, which is how it makes me feel’

The highly ergonomic layout of the New York kitchen is underpinned by the central island. Constructed from solid American walnut, with feature panels of perforated metal, and topped with a Maximum Marmi 6mm porcelain sheet in Pietra Grey, it’s as glamorous as it is practical. ‘We wanted to be able to have the island servicing everything, so you’ve got your cooktop, sink and fridge all located in that island. That’s enabled a simple, circular movement around the kitchen where you can prepare, cook and clean up – all on the island,’ Stefan says.

Aesthetically, every aspect of the island was carefully considered. The German-engineered Bora induction cooktop features an integrated in-bench extractor which Tania says opens and streamlines the space. The gunmetal sink and tap showcase a look fresh out of Europe that Stefan predicts will soon overshadow the black and brass tapware that’s currently in favour. And the aproned benchtop profile visually mimics the weight and thickness of a stone slab. ‘We wanted the island bench to look and function like an industrial worktop,’ Tania says. ‘But at the same time, Stefan’s unique frame design gives the piece a lightness; it looks more like freestanding furniture.’

JAG Kitchens
A range of earthy, raw surfaces
JAG Kitchens
This kitchen is equal parts aspirational & inspirational

From an aesthetic and functional perspective, the kitchen was designed for ‘passionate cooks’, Tania adds. While at first glance, the room appears simple and uncluttered, the sleek cabinetry conceals some impressive inclusions designed to enhance the end-user’s experience, from quick access internal drawers, pull-out spice and tea-towel racks, to the pantry fitted with adjustable drawers. Off to one side is a dedicated coffee nook, enclosed behind a custom-designed door that swings open to reveal a cleverly integrated coffee pod storage system. The nook includes a pull-out shelf for a kettle and coffee machine, plus compartmentalised drawers for mugs, teaspoons, teabags and sugar. ‘It’s all been designed to make life easier,’ Tania says.

Ultimately, this kitchen is equal parts aspirational and inspirational. ‘For me the design is a tribute to a trendy New York loft and apartment-style living, and who doesn’t want that?’ Tania says. Unique in that it was designed entirely without the compromises that inevitably occur when designing ‘real life’ kitchens for ‘real life’ clients, the kitchen showcases the pinnacle of ergonomic functionality and trend adaptation. It can be tailored to new builds or renovations, replicated in whole, or used as a springboard for ideas.

Since the New York kitchen has been built, Stefan says visitors to the showroom are ‘spending quite a bit of time in there, it’s really drawing them in. I think people feel quite calm in there, which is how it makes me feel.’

‘It’s very tranquil,’ Tania adds. ‘It’s all about the New York State of Mind!’

Tania Nikolitsis and Stefan Vignogna

Trends on display

The New York Loft kitchen was designed by Tania Nikolitsis and Stefan Vignogna of JAG Kitchens specifically to demonstrate some of the newest products and emerging international design trends. Looking ahead to 2018, Stefan and Tania say some of the key directions in kitchens will include:

• Gunmetal-coloured tapware
• Accents of interest, bold colours that create excitement, complex combinations of finishes
• Black-painted cabinetry
• Design that incorporates botanics and greenery to support a healthy lifestyle: ‘The notion of growing and harvesting your own herbs, for example’, Tania says.
• Natural and raw-looking finishes such as concrete, timber, stone. These looks can be replicated using increasingly sophisticated special-effect paints and porcelain sheets.

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