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Best of the Best 2011: Decor: Kitchen: Argento Vivo

Established in 1969, the Italian kitchen company GD Cucine has worked for years with real estate developers in the United States to outfit high-end condominium complexes and second-home communities. However, only since Nov­ember has the manufacturer had a two-story, 8,000-square-foot showroom in New York. And only since the debut of that Manhattan space have the company’s kitchens been available on the U.S. retail market.

The latest, most compelling kitchen from GD Cucine is Argento Vivo, a sleek, modern design that speaks to the hearthcentric culture of America. "It represents a new direction for us," says GD Cucine co-owner Gianmaria Dolfo. "With this design we have started from scratch to rethink the kitchen and what it can do as a tool for both entertaining and cooking."

Indeed, Argento Vivo integrates preparation, cooking, and entertaining functions into one long, seamless surface. The kitchen’s designer, Roberto Pezzetta, wanted a state-of-the-art space with a hearthlike element for congregating and conversing. To achieve this objective, he included at one end a circular glass countertop embedded with LEDs that invites those in the kitchen to gather around. In the center of this circle is a black, anodized, removable container that serves as a wine cooler or a fruit bowl. A glass counter stretches from the circle to a Corian insert that houses the cooktop and additional work space. The glass surface picks up again after these elements, culminating in a sink and "waterfall" edge.

Argento Vivo’s cabinetry unit, with touch mechanisms for opening and closing doors, provides ample storage. The unit required additional development between its European introduction in 2009 (when it won the Chicago Athenaeum Good Design award) and its American release. The trickiest feat was engineering the curved glass doors at either end. "Although GD has worked with glass before," says Dolfo, "this is the first time we have been able to engineer a curved, full-height glass panel that opens smoothly and easily in spite of its great weight." It is, he believes, the first kitchen to use curved glass in this way.

Argento Vivo can be seen in a vivid orange-red finish at GD Cucine’s Manhattan showroom. The $75,000 kitchen (not including appliances) is also available in yellow, blue, green, black, white, or silver, or in custom colors.

GD Cucine, 646.786.0005, www.gdcucine.com

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