The designers have succeeded in making something truly joyous, experimental and utterly bespoke without it becoming overwrought. Their enthusiasm is so evident in the final project that it is impossible not to feel happy in the space. Imagine what they can do with a commission for a full house!” — Sarosh Mulla, rōpū
In a 1950s home in Titirangi, Tāmaki Makaurau, the original owners used to manufacture perfume in the basement. “That stayed in the background during the design process,” says Raimana Jones, the founder of multi-disciplinary design studio Atelier Jones. “But I thought a spice station integrated into the steel beams would be a good translation and create a sense of smell and vision.”
That’s a nice, slightly quirky example of the way architecture can respond to context, but it’s certainly not the only good translation in this cleverly reworked kitchen.
When the owners first approached Jones about the project, it was clear they had developed a real attachment to the area, and to the old wood-framed house. His design is something of a response to Titirangi and a mingling of old and new. “It’s one of the strongest projects we’ve done in terms of the story,” he says. “The use of materials communicates a story but they’re also used effectively. They’re all really structural, and there are forms that make sense.”
Jones was also inspired by a famous Frankfurt kitchen by Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, where “everything is built in and really functional”. While this kitchen is slightly less prescriptive, it does aim to make life easier with a built-in sliding chopping board, integrated compost collection and drain grooves on the recycled rimu benchtop.
The most challenging aspect of the renovation was incorporating the structural steel frame to create a better connection with the living room and open up views of the surrounding bush. Jones had to design around that, and borrow from the structure to include elements like a floating bench, pivot lights, a folded steel shelf and the spice station. “It required some coordination with structural engineers so we could make every little component that branches out from it look seamless.”
Jones doesn’t just draw and design, he also likes to get his hands dirty in the workshop, and that was helpful with this project. “That’s one advantage of making. Through the process we usually resolve a lot of the detail and technical issues,” he says.
Aside from the handles, which were crafted by a local woodturner, all of the recycled rimu components were made by Jones. Oiled rimu was chosen to match the flooring in the rest of the house, while terracotta tiles add warmth.
With a mix of textures and a range of “not too vivid” colours that aim to echo the natural features of Auckland’s west coast, Jones has created a vintage industrial delight that’s cohesive, cosy and creative. “It was a lot of hard work. Everything was custom made and really context specific, but I’m really happy with the outcome,” he says. “I’d love to have that spice station in my own kitchen.”