Poggenpohl, a Herford, Germany, company that has been designing avant-garde kitchens for more than 100 years, does not cross the line with its latest innovation; it erases it. The +Integration (pronounced plus Integration) kitchen design, which debuted in the United States in May 2005, is ideal for people whose lives do not fit into tidy boxes.
The name itself is an unsubtle clue that +Integration ignores the walls that demarcate the dining room, the living room, and even the office. “The kitchen has become more than just a room to cook and eat in,” says chief designer Manfred Junker. “It has become one open space that is integrated into the living room. Based on this, we have developed furniture that complements the cabinets while incorporating the latest multimedia technology.”
The kitchens can include a variety of different natural and synthetic materials—exotic-looking woods, matte aluminum, high-gloss acrylics, and glass—and the rooms can extend past the boundaries of a cooking space. In addition to a dining area, a +Integration design might include large flat-panel televisions and so-called smart home technology. The latter allows you to change TV channels, adjust the thermostat, dim the lights, set the alarm system, place phone calls, and answer e-mail, all through a portable touchscreen computer that is anchored in the kitchen, thus making the room the house’s nerve center. As with the appliances and televisions, you select the brand of smart home technology that you want included in the kitchen.
Poggenpohl imparts an uncluttered, seamless appearance to the kitchen by moving the walls forward after the cabinets are installed. “We make them look recessed,” says Poggenpohl U.S. president Lothar Birkenfeld. “It looks very engineered and architecturally correct.
“The philosophy behind [+Integration] is that in many families’ lives, cooking, watching the kids, and relaxation pretty much occur in the same area,” Birkenfeld says, explaining that a loft is the ideal setting for his company’s border-blurring design. “The family can stay together and communicate from the dining room to the kitchen, and [the spaces] are not separated by style and finish. It has to be designed together so it blends.”