Ralf Daab

Ralf Daab has published more than 200 books on art, fashion, design, photography and architecture. Recently he launched a new label for innovative art and design books, which includes ‘High On… Kitchen Design’ featuring projects from some of the world’s best designers. kbbreview went to meet him

Q & A

Q: Who have you focused on for the book? Are the lines blurring between kitchen designers, interior designers and architects? A: I’m featuring 30 people, but it’s not specifi cally kitchen designers. Some do kitchens, others do a kitchen when they do the rest of the house. Everything is blurring and disciplines are becoming more connected. It’s all coming together and mixing. It’s


the same anywhere whether

you’re a in the kitchen

designer, interior designer or architect – it doesn’t matter. Some architects now design interiors. A real kitchen designer is someone who doesn’t just buy from a catalogue, but designs a specifi c space – so it’s very individual.

Q: Tell us more about the book… A: There’s an international fi eld. There are some German designers in there – a.s.h. Interior Design from Cologne, for example. Then a design from Holland, Johnny Grey from England, some from the US, Switzerland – it’s a mix. The book is out in the autumn.

Q: Who is the book aimed at? A: On the one side, it’s for people building a house or an apartment who want ideas on styles and to get

designers can also give the book out to their partners and potential new clients.

It’s aimed at manufacturers, too – maybe small kitchen suppliers with custom-made products.

Q: How did you get talking to Johnny Grey? A: During my research, I was looking at Houzz. I came across Johnny and sent him an e-mail. He’s already sent me fi ve projects and they’re all good. With each designer, we’re going to show four projects over 10 pages. I want to show the variety of kitchen designs that can be produced, not just minimalist or whatever. When I look at projects, I can tell

within a few seconds if it’s a good one, if the aesthetic is there, and the materials. I look at thousands and eventually come across the ones to focus on.


Q: What is good design? A: The fi rst

rule of good kitchen

design is to talk to the people who use the kitchen and ask them specifi cally what they want. If a designer just buys from a catalogue, it’s not personal enough. Does the person cook a lot? Most people who buy a ‘designer’ kitchen never cook. They just want a showroom, somewhere that’s always clean, but they never use it.

Q: Have any kitchen trends stood out for you in your research? A: I’m tall and one thing I’ve realised is that kitchens are too low. When you work and cook, the worktop should be higher. A lot of people always say this and they wonder why brands don’t change things. If you buy a kitchen, you need tell the


Star Eclipse from Frankfurt-based PurPur Interior Concepts, one of the kitchens featured in Daab’s new book

manufacturer to make

the worktop higher, but they don’t. They just have a regular height, but it should be personalised.

Q: So where will kitchen design head in the future? A: It will be more individual. You’ll hire a kitchen designer to build a kitchen, not go to a top brand name and say you want one. It can even be less expensive. There’s more and more of a case for the kitchen designer over the brand.

inspired. On the other hand,

Q: Which designers impress you? A: I like Boffi because I like Piero Lissoni. I like his style. I like his ideas. But then you get the customers that go to Ikea, the young people, which is fi ne. Ikea has good quality now, and it’s affordable.

Q: What do you make of Living Kitchen and Eurocucina? A: The thing is, when you go to a show like Living Kitchen, you maybe see fresh materials and colours, but nothing really new. If an architect has an idea for an individual kitchen, he designs it. But what you see [at the shows] is from the catalogue. That’s what the brands have to do. There’s no other way they can show it.

Q: Who are the more innovative kitchen manufacturers? A: There’s one small brand called Paxmann, a German manufacturer. Very cool, very individual, so this is

I look at thousands of projects. I can tell within a few seconds if it’s a good one, if the aesthetic is there. Eventually I come across the ones to focus on

also going to be part of the book. On one side, it’s very basic, but they use very good materials. What they can also do is build a kitchen in a very small apartment or a big one, whatever you want.

Q: With living spaces becoming smaller, do suppliers and designers need to rethink their approach? A: Yes, it’s interesting to listen to Swiss designer Alfredo Häberli, who did the future kitchen concept at Living Kitchen. He explains that in Asia, for example, they build apartments without a kitchen. The apartments are very small. People only come home to rest and sleep. They eat out, they don’t even have a microwave – nothing, no kitchenette. That’s also a trend in the big cities, the apartments are getting smaller and smaller. It’s more of an Asian thing, but even cities like Cologne will grow. In 20 to 30 years, we’ll have 30% more people. Every city is growing – look at New York, Hong Kong. In New York, they build houses with containers, and skyscrapers with containers.

Q: How should kitchen designers be reacting to these trends? A: For the next generation, I think if you design an apartment, you need

to rethink kitchen eating habits. I saw some interesting designs for small kitchens in Cologne, which were just a table, a small oven, a sink and a fridge and you could move it all around. They have a different approach to how they want to live in the future. In my generation, we’d all want a big house, but the younger generation don’t care about that. They want to be fl exible. They’ll live six months in one place and then move to another.

Q: Why are German brands limited on the traditional side? A: You still have the regional-specifi c style – in the north of Germany and maybe Bavaria. But the rest is based on modern architecture and Bauhaus. The younger generation are looking less at traditional stuff and more into what’s happening now in terms of technology, etc.

Q: What kitchen do you have? A: It’s Bulthaup, but it’s dated – it’s 20 years old. They have different styles – you either like it or hate it. Now I’d buy a Paxmann or ask a designer to make a kitchen for me. If I had a big loft space, I would work in zones and be fl exible, so when I had a party I could move things around.

kbbr kbbreview · June 2019

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