In November, the Italian kitchen manufacturer Minotti Cucine was preparing to celebrate the grand opening of its first New York City showroom, which is housed in a stylishly renovated former ironworks. Grandly displayed were the kitchen designs’ monolithic slabs of marble and wood, shined and carved to perfection. Largely missing from plain sight, however, was virtually anything functional—no fixtures, no sinks, and very few appliances. One could not help but ask the question: Where are the kitchens?
That is the idea, according to Fabrizio Senatore, Minotti Cucine’s North American manager. "I can be standing in the middle of the kitchen, but it doesn’t feel like a kitchen," he says. "Clean and simple design is a luxury, and by hiding all of the complications and technology, we allow the purity of the design and the quality of the materials to speak for themselves."
This approach is evident in Minotti Cucine’s newest kitchens (priced from $29,300 to $158,000 without appliances), which debuted at Salone del Mobile in Milan before arriving last fall at the Manhattan showroom. The Velia and Era designs, for instance, feature solid slabs of wood, marble, or stone, rather than segments of the materials pieced together. Faucets sit inside sinks and down low, so as not to interrupt a countertop’s clean line, and pull-open or push-button drawers and cabinets are handle free. Velia takes this minimalism a step further, employing as appliance covers what the company calls worktop "flaps"—cuts of the same counter, placed just so to ensure that the grain or pattern stays continuous.
Also new from Minotti Cucine is the Vesta kitchen, which incorporates cabinets of varying thicknesses in a design inspired by 1930s-era architecture. Then there are the kitchens that evoke the neominimalism of such artists as Donald Judd and Richard Serra: Tola, a cubist design in which a hollow structure is formed by the intersection of four heavy planes that conceal all appliances and plumbing, and Aura, a modular outdoor kitchen covered by a sliding oxidized-copper cover.
All of Minotti Cucine’s kitchens are customizable. Clients specify everything from layout and materials to oft-overlooked details such as lighting style and even the force of water flow. Those who wish to source a stone or wood from outside of the company’s regular offerings can expect extensive tests of the materials prior to construction to determine resistance to heat, water, and fire. Once a kitchen is complete—a process that generally takes eight weeks—the client can visit the company’s headquarters in Verona to approve the final product before it ships.
Though open-minded where customization is concerned, Minotti Cucine prefers not to work with man-made or aggregate materials, such as Corian or concrete. "If we have to build a material, it is not simple and it is not minimal," Senatore says. "The aesthetic and the materials are just as important as the functionality. It’s like a Le Corbusier chair; you enjoy it first by looking at it, and then you sit on it. In our kitchens, visual pleasure comes first. Then comes the pleasure of cooking."
Minotti Cucine, 212.775.8011, www.minotticucine.it