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Arent&Pyke on designing kitchens with vibrant heart to transcend trends

Arent&Pyke on designing kitchens with vibrant heart to transcend trends


Sydney-based interior design practice Arent&Pyke needs no introduction. Over the past 17 years, Sarah-Jane Pyke and Juliette Arent have pushed the boundaries of interior design. Eschewing banality in favour of crafting an aesthetic infused with personality, creativity and genuine heart, they’ve become vanguards of the new modern Australian style.  

Sarah-Jane Pyke (left) and Juliette Arent (right). Photographed by Julie Adams.

Identifying the bold, maximalist kitchen as one of the key trends in kitchen design today, Australian Design Review (ADR) picked Juliette Arent’s creative brain to discover how Arent&Pyke approach kitchen design and reveal how leaning into spaces that transcend different styles results in emotive timelessness.  

ADR: What do you perceive as the role of the kitchen in the home? 

Juliette Arent: The kitchen is still considered the hub of the home; the conduit for gatherings and bringing people together. It is the backdrop for daily rituals and a sanctuary that enhances interaction with family, friends and/or nature. The kitchen is one of those spaces where a lot of a project’s ammunition comes together and causes the real magic to happen. 

‘Hearth House’. Photographed by Prue Ruscoe.
In your view, what makes a kitchen successful? 

A successful kitchen achieves form and function in harmony and balance. It is warm and inviting, bringing joy and comfort to its inhabitants, who, in turn, love spending time there. A happy kitchen inspires memorable moments and meals imbued with this sense of love, connection and nurturing. 

All of our residential projects involve kitchen design, so we spend a lot of time thinking and dreaming about kitchens! Each brief is individual and responds to the lifestyles and desires of each client. 

Recent projects include kitchens that are integral to their surrounds, ensuring the interior scheme integrates seamlessly with textures and tones beyond the kitchen. For example, hard-working kitchens need to weather the wear and tear of life. Non-precious and sturdy kitchens cater to lots of mouths to feed. Butler’s kitchens can ably store produce sourced from adjacent vegetable gardens and orchards.  Kitchens capture sunlight through all seasons, or introduce sculptural nuances. In all cases, we endeavour to create kitchens that are beautifully designed with special materials without being overly formal. 

‘Garden House’. Photographed by Anson Smart.
How do you balance a client’s potential desire to have a design that is ‘on trend’ versus infusing your own style as a designer? 

We lean away from trends to create custom spaces that transcend different styles, elevate personal experiences and have a timeless longevity to bolster the financial and emotional investment. We consider what works with the architecture of the home, how we fit a client’s wish list into the space, and find that beautiful balance between form and function.

 Can you distil your design style into a couple of sentences? 

The Arent&Pyke style has evolved and matured over the 17 years in business. It is our desire to create spaces that are uplifting, enduring, purposeful, comfortable and beautiful. 

Experimenting with unexpected materials, non-traditional and sculptural forms, and bravery within the realms of colour and lighting. 

‘Salsa Verde’. Photographed by Anson Smart.

Unusual and vibrant natural stones, custom hardware, non-traditional cabinetry and statement upright cookers, such as Lacanche and La Cornue.

Typically, kitchen colour schemes are variations of neutrals. The use of colour in kitchens can be challenging. Where do you start when designing a kitchen that incorporates colour and unexpected materials or details? 

We look at the palette of the home in a holistic sense, and the kitchen has to fit within that overall narrative. We will often start with the stone selection or floor finish as it inspires and informs the colour choices, and we branch outwards from there. 

Cooler finishes are becoming more popular again such as brushed nickel. Good quality is always in. 

Different levels of lighting are key. Task lighting of course, but modulating lighting is key to changing the ambience and mood of the space, from sculptural sconces and vintage pendants to create a moment or add a touch of the unexpected. 

Sculptural lighting with graphic lines at ‘Hearth House’. Photographed by Prue Ruscoe.
Are you seeing much interest from clients to integrate additional spaces such as butler’s pantries or bar/coffee stations into the kitchen? 

Where space allows, the butler’s pantry is a great opportunity to store appliances and everyday items out of sight, enhancing a sense of space, order and calm. 

Walk-in temperature-controlled wine rooms, walk-in cool rooms, top-range coffee machines and custom breakfast bar/coffee stations.

The Wine Room at ‘Bay House’. Photographed by Anson Smart

We are currently enjoying using materials with high reflectivity and combining them in an unexpected way with raw, earthy materials. A very neutral palette is a trend by and large that we don’t adhere to. 

What do you enjoy about designing kitchens?

Exploring all of the new and interesting materials and orchestrating the relationship between them so it sings. Being able to tick all of a client’s boxes in a functional sense whilst transforming their lives by elevating their everyday experiences, fostering rituals and harnessing connections to family, friends and a sense of place. 

Lead image: ‘Salsa Verde’. Photographed by Anson Smart. All images courtesy of Arent&Pyke

Check out a counterpoint to bold maximalism with Smart Designs contemporary minimalist kitchen


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