One of the many assumptions that no longer hold true in today's fast-paced world is that we would spend our entire lifetimes in the place where we were born. An increasing number of people change their places of residence to meet the needs of a globalized world. At the same time, the compartmentalized traditional home has been partially transformed by new customs which call for open spaces that can accommodate a variety of activities. This is the new scenario for which kitchens made of mobile, flexible, independent units seek to offer a solution.
Freestanding kitchen elements and lofts
In his memoir Words Without Music, recalling life in New York in the 1970s, composer Philip Glass describes how the old industrial spaces in SoHo started being used as artist's studios. That colonization of manufacturing spaces, after industrial activity had moved to outlying areas, left empty factory buildings in numerous cities—many of which have since been converted into high-end residential spaces.
Glass writes that his first loft was "an unheated square room […]. It had a toilet and a cold water basin." The image of the composer's bohemian surroundings highlights the challenges that kitchens with freestanding units have managed to solve. Because these spaces were not initially conceived for residential use, they lacked traditional home furnishings—the very basics for making them livable spaces.
Freestanding kitchen units for a mobile lifestyle
Another one of the defining features of the transformation brought about by globalization in early 21st-century societies has been people's increasing tendency to move according to the requirements of a constantly changing job market. Many executives and high-level professionals have adapted to a mobile lifestyle that leads them to travel across the globe with their homes packed up in crates and boxes. When these people move, freestanding units allow them to take not only their furniture and personal objects with them, but also their kitchens. As Anatxu Zabalbeascoa mentioned in reference to bulthaup b2, "now [...] the entire kitchen can move with you. And you don't even have to take it unassemble it. Say goodbye to lost investments and hello to a kitchen that will last you a lifetime."
The sources of inspiration for freestanding kitchens go way back to the industrial age and its aesthetics: field stoves and workbenches—utterly practical and, most importantly, portable—and tool cabinets in workshops, where each tool has its place. This is the austere aesthetic that has been carried over to kitchens made of modules and characterized by their functionality and their reduction to the bare essentials.
bulthaup b2, the kitchen workshop
Beyond the kitchen
The functional boundary-blurring that tends to bring the kitchen, the dining room and the living area together into one single, organic whole has been enhanced by the emergence of new ranges of furniture that can be used to tie these different areas into each other, and stands out for its multi-purpose qualities. The range of b Solitaire elements fulfills these new needs for sociability and versatility.
b Solitaire table and bench
The table, made of an aluminum frame and a solid oak top, together with the bench covered in a natural leather cushion, form the perfect ensemble for domestic life and create a seamless connection between the kitchen and the rest of the living space.
b Solitaire stainless steel, glass, or oak
b Solitaire, with its different top layers—stainless steel, glass, and oak—and its shelves, pull-out trays and grids, allows for a wide range of configurations and can adapt to countless functions. This ability makes these elements perfect for creating transitions, separating and connecting spaces.
b Solitaire shelf unit
Given its outstanding versatility, the b Solitaire shelf unit can become the ideal display case for all those objects that make you feel at home: your mother's favorite book, the ceramics from your last vacation, or your stemware.
Vanishing borders in the living space
Both bulthaup b2 and b Solitaire, with their austere, refined aesthetics, address today’s need for multi-purpose spaces that bring together the different pleasures of domestic life.
First photo: Casa Nina, bulthaup Girona.
Second photo: Duplex in Barcelona, bulthaup Barcelona Bach 7.
Seventh photo: B&M house, bulthaup Girona.