Designing the perfect kitchen

© JOA interiors

Robert Holton visits a doyen of kitchen design Sebastian Boucquey to learn about how a well-designed kitchen can transform your home. 

The term ‘ergonomics’ might sound like a rather dry topic, but don’t be fooled by this! As so happens, ergonomics –  the study of how people interact with their environment – is fascinating and has little or nothing to do with economics (thank God for that). 

When it comes to optimizing the workings of your home however, getting it right is a whole other story, and one that leaves most in a state of panic, confusion or at the very worst – in a state of irritated ignorance! Never is the challenge greater, than in the kitchen.

“The kitchen is the heart of the home – a room that sees more footfall than anywhere else”

The kitchen is the heart of the home – a room that sees more footfall than anywhere else because of necessity and if you’re lucky – the gravitational lure of delicious cooking. How this space and others are designed – for better, or worse – has a major impact on how you live. To find out more about this tricky field, I met with renowned Belgian-based kitchen designer, Sebastian Boucquey of JOA.

JOA works with all living spaces, but is particularly renowned for its kitchens. JOA’s mission is to create spaces that enchant, meet needs that are adapted to actual use as well as bringing extra soul to your surroundings. That extra something which provides a unique signature. Sebastian and his team visit clients in their homes to observe how they use their kitchen and wider living space. According to Sebastian, the crucial observations that he and his team make at this early stage are the bedrock of the design journey. In the second stage the JOA team really gets to work developing concepts and concrete proposals with a meticulous eye for detail which leans upon years of dedication and experience, all of which are firmly rooted in the principle that “form follows function”. 

For JOA, kitchens are spaces which should work – quite literally – around you and your lifestyle like a well-tailored suit. Given this, perhaps it’s no surprise that curvilinear forms dominate every aspect of their designs. From crescent shaped island units to marble-veined serpentine countertops, almost anything is possible here in the realm of bespoke kitchens and the results are often life-altering for the clients. 

Sebastian says: “For us, a kitchen is a space where all the life of the house is mixed. It’s a place where you can escape, learn and exchange ideas, and it should be able to accommodate all these experiences.”

JOA’s philosophy is a combination of aesthetics and ergonomics. The design process can unlock unidentified needs and is designed with such a conscientious understanding of the client that once built, you will wonder how you lived without it. JOA work with only the best materials. Solid wood gives warmth, character and durability to each piece. The  steel parts are cut, bent, milled and welded in Willebroek. The wooden parts are directly processed by the JOA workshop in Braine-l’Alleud. There is an entire local ecosystem at the service of each project. The result is furniture with the lowest possible environmental impact. It is also a high-quality product that will last for years without going out of style or deteriorating.

“A well-executed kitchen can be a place of joy, creativity, and set the stage for culinary flourish”

Thinking beyond aesthetics and focusing on ergonomic principles when it comes to kitchen design has proved to yield the best results. A well-executed kitchen can be a place of joy, creativity, and set the stage for culinary flourish. You have the capacity to change it and it has the capacity to change you; a great kitchen is a sound investment.