Kiwi kitchen designers knock out the competition in London

Auckland kitchen designer Morgan Cronin is one of three finalists for the International Designer of the Year Award. His sculptural "art" kitchen, which was cast in glass-reinforced concrete, has already won major prizes in New Zealand.

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Auckland kitchen designer Morgan Cronin is one of three finalists for the International Designer of the Year Award. His sculptural “art” kitchen, which was cast in glass-reinforced concrete, has already won major prizes in New Zealand.

What is it with New Zealand kitchen designers that makes them do so well overseas?

Two weeks ago, four of our designers were lauded as finalists in the prestigious SBID awards, based in London. And last year Davinia Sutton of Christchurch won the prestigious International Designer of the Year Award. The year before, she took out three awards in the German Design Awards.

And now, two Auckland kitchen designers – Mal Corboy and Morgan Cronin – are two of the three finalists in this year’s International Designer of the Year awards. Both designers have already taken out major NKBA awards this year, and are two of the SBID finalists for 2020.

There are timber accents on the island and benchtops to match the cabinetry and ceiling in the Mal Corboy kitchen.

KALLAN MACLEOD

There are timber accents on the island and benchtops to match the cabinetry and ceiling in the Mal Corboy kitchen.

“I quipped to Morgan, that at some stage they will probably ban us,” Corboy says.

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Mal Corboy’s kitchen is in a new home in a prominent gated community in Central Otago. It’s the second project completed by the designer for the client, who wanted a “world-class” kitchen suitable for corporate entertaining and day-to-day living.

“Four years from design to completion, everything was made from the ground up,” says Corboy. “Electric doors open up to a large back end, where a complete scullery can be found.”

Mal Corboy's kitchen needed to be suitable for corporate entertaining, as well as day-to-day living.

KALLAN MACLEOD

Mal Corboy’s kitchen needed to be suitable for corporate entertaining, as well as day-to-day living.

Corboy says the owners have told him visitors have been “blown away” with the final result, not having seen anything like it. “After several successful corporate events, the kitchen functions as requested.”

Cronin’s kitchen, which won him the NKBA Designer of the Year Award and four other awards, is a striking, sculptural kitchen where the brief was for the kitchen to look like a piece of art, rather than a kitchen.

The designer says a prototype of the entire island was built in the Cronin Kitchen workshop from MDF for the client’s approval. Concrete fabricators then built formwork around this prototype to copy its exact dimensions, before casting it in glass-reinforced concrete.

With all doors closed, the kitchen has a strong visual impact.

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With all doors closed, the kitchen has a strong visual impact.

Cronin's sculptural kitchen island was designed to look like a piece of art.

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Cronin’s sculptural kitchen island was designed to look like a piece of art.

And it seems it’s the innovation that keeps New Zealand designers in the forefront of international design. Many of the competing kitchens are more classic and traditional.

Designers have previously said it’s this country’s landscape that helps inform their design response – there is invariably a close connection to the natural world.

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