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Appliances: Continental Connect

Linda C. Lentz

Long before expanding from Europe into North America, SieMatic was creating kitchen designs with international appeal. Founded as August Siekmann Möbelwerke by August Siekmann in 1929 in Löhne, Germany, the kitchen cabinetmaker made its world debut at the Cologne Furniture Fair in 1960 under the guidance of Siekmann’s son, August-Wilhelm, who served as company chairman for 49 years until his death last year.

At Cologne, August-Wilhelm introduced the first “fitted” kitchen and branded it the SieMatic, for which the company then was renamed. The cabinets were an integrated unit made to line a kitchen wall, as opposed to separate pieces for positioning about a kitchen—a groundbreaking concept at the time. This design, still in production today as SieMatic’s 6006 Series, also introduced spring-loaded hinges, strip handles, and other features that set the standard for what eventually would be dubbed “Eurostyle” in the United States. Thus Siekmann established a presence in North America, laying the foundation for the U.S. base of operations that opened at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles in 1979 and then relocated to Bensalem, Pa., a decade later.

“We were one of the first European cabinet companies in the United States,” says Frank Siekmann, August-Wilhelm’s son and chairman and CEO of the SieMatic America Group. “And we were the only one, as far as I know, that invested in manufacturing facilities in North America, which we did in 1990.”

Today, a third generation of Siekmanns oversees factories in Canada and Germany and showrooms worldwide. Frank supervises production and sales in the Americas, while his younger brother, Ulrich, handles Europe and Asia. This sibling arrangement has enhanced the company’s global perspective and yielded an extensive product line with broad appeal. “My brother and I listen to our customers; then we talk about products,” says Frank. “I share what Americans are looking for, and he discusses what the others want. Sometimes we come up with interesting ideas that work for everybody.”
 
Those ideas include the new Exotic Woods collection, a minimalist tour de force with recessed pulls, sliding doors, and built-in backsplash storage. It is available in a variety of textural veneers: walnut, bamboo, elm, teak, and pine, among others. Frank points to a personal favorite, a Truffle finish on pine. “It’s a very warm brown,” he says, noting the pine’s distinctive brushed horizontal grain, which complements the company’s natural Jura Yellow Limestone countertop.

Like the Exotic Woods, the Country Farmhouse collection, with its classic country motif, also exhibits what Siekmann calls a “warm contemporary” approach. The line is available in Magnolia White and a Nordic Blue matte finish, presenting lighter, au courant alternatives to more traditional country designs—whether that country is in Europe or North America.

SieMatic Corp., 800.765.5266, www.siematic.com

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