When Piero Lissoni develops a new kitchen, he often envisions a refined—if uncommon—atmosphere. "I never consider that the person standing there, cooking in front of the stove, might be wearing a pair of ugly shorts," says Lissoni, who serves as art director for the Italian kitchen-and-bath company Boffi. "I design kitchens for a more gentlemanly way of living."
While Lissoni’s kitchens might appear more like works of art than culinary spaces, his latest designs for Boffi are highly functional. By combining the sleek lines of a modern kitchen with innovative details, including movable work tops and handle-free drawers and doors, Boffi goes beyond the typical. The company, which Piero Boffi founded 75 years ago outside of Milan, has maintained its reputation for cutting-edge style by enlisting high-profile designers such as Alberto Colonello, Norbert Wangen, and Antonio Citterio. Lissoni joined the Boffi team in 1985 and has since spearheaded the company’s embrace of materials like white Corian and unfinished wood.
Boffi’s new Xila 09 kitchen concept, which debuted in April at Milan Design Week, is an update of the first handle-free kitchen, which Luigi Massoni designed for the company in 1972. "The improvements that we’ve made [to the handle-free design] may not be immediately noticeable visually, but once you start to use the kitchen, you will notice how the workspaces are larger and more functional, and how much easier it is to use all four sides of the central workspace," Lissoni says. "It’s a better project both functionally and aesthetically."
Xila 09 also embodies Lissoni’s obsession with clean lines and the merging of man-made and organic materials. The design is available in Corian and stainless steel, as well as several stone (countertops only), wood, and laminate finishes. The kitchen’s lightweight rectangular drawers and doors (which come in wood, Corian, stainless steel, and various colored-lacquer finishes) keep appliances out of plain sight for a streamlined look, and they feature discreet aluminum grooves for easy opening and closing by hand.
Boffi’s latest kitchen lines—four U.S. releases including Xila 09 within the past year—seesaw between two themes: the expansive culinary haven and the pared-down multipurpose unit. Lissoni’s Duemilaotto juxtaposes a selection of wood finishes with ornate tiles. K1, which also debuted at this year’s Milan Design Week, functions as a single island unit with a sliding top layer, available in stainless steel or Corian, that can conceal sinks and cooktops. Once in place, this beveled 5-centimeter-thick sheet becomes a horizontal plane that doubles conveniently as a counter or dining space. Finally, for a modular unit in an entry-level kitchen, the On/Off line, designed by Colonello, features a folding screen that rolls down at the touch of a button to mask appliances with glossy veneer panels.
Boffi’s quartet of kitchen lines caters to an array of culinary lifestyles in ways that build on the company’s past designs and address current needs. "Evolution is important," Lissoni says. "Every project needs to be brought up to date, no matter how close to perfect the original may be."
Boffi, 212.431.8282, www.boffi.com