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  • Jessica Matthews

World of Difference

Gaggenau’s new Sydney showroom draws on the brand’s 340-year heritage while offering a distinctive — and thoroughly luxurious — vision of the modern kitchen. By Jessica Matthews.

Gaggenau’s Surry Hills showroom was created with the Munich-based architecture studio 1zu33. Photography courtesy of Gaggenau.

In the heart of the new Gaggenau Sydney showroom — amid vast architectural spaces that house the brand’s renowned luxury appliances — is a small, dimly lit room in which an anvil (a traditional metalworking tool) sits on a plinth. Nearby, pieces of iron ore, cobalt and silicium are also on display. It’s hardly a conventional retail environment, but that’s the point.

Gaggenau’s Surry Hills showroom was created with the Munich-based architecture studio 1zu33. Photography courtesy of Gaggenau.

The German brand, with a history spanning more than three centuries, refers to this chamber as “The Difference”. “It’s a nod to our heritage,” explains the general manager of retail sales Gaggenau Australia, Robert Warner. “Those items represent our evolution as a brand. We started about 340 years ago as a nail-forging company, and that concept of craftsmanship is something that’s stayed with us throughout our journey.”

Indeed, there are few modern appliance makers that can boast of producing pieces that are largely handmade. (The creation of a Gaggenau fridge, for example, involves up to 80 per cent of its production processes being delivered by hand.) The brand’s extensive partnerships with creative luminaries, from Danish furniture designer Søren Rose to German architect Hendrik Müller (whose studio, 1zu33, worked on the Sydney space), also reflect its commitment to the artisanal. “What Gaggenau is designed to do, on a functional level, is to bring professional cooking into the home,” Warner says. “But on a design level, the beauty of these pieces is that they can either be the feature of the kitchen or they can really integrate with the overall design and be quite subliminal. And there is an avant-garde quality to them that has a real longevity. It is quite timeless.”

The Home of Gaggenau section evokes a modern kitchen space. Photography courtesy of Gaggenau.

These attributes informed the creation of the Sydney showroom, which was conceived of as a space where “customers could be fully immersed in the brand and experience something a little bit different to an ordinary showroom”, Warner says. “What we wanted was to have a home in Sydney that could really connect like-minded customers, brands and services; a place that could sit comfortably in the luxury space.”

It took several years to find the right site: a heritage building and former post office in Surry Hills, which is nestled among local stores, cafes and restaurants. The discreet street entrance — marked by a small sign on the exterior (the brand’s logo, developed in the ’60s, was inspired by the Bauhaus movement and its edict: “Form follows function”) — would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it. Not that this is a concern for the company. “We knew our customers would find us,” Warner says, hinting at a refined aesthetic that influences all aspects of the business. “It was more important to find a space where we could generously demonstrate and showcase our product — but not ‘over-showcase’ it. We wanted to let it sit naturally in the kitchen environment, to let it sit naturally in a more inviting environment.”

Which explains why Gaggenau Sydney feels more like an upscale residential space than a showroom. The 260-square-metre space is divided into two distinct areas: a gathering place at the entrance, called The Social Hub, which features dark plaster, blackened steel and concrete flooring; and The Home of Gaggenau, at the rear, which features a fully functional kitchen and dining area, a bright internal courtyard and a soft, earthy palette, with oak floorboards and walnut cabinetry. Gaggenau products — including the famous EB 333 oven and items from the brand’s professional-level 400 series — are sprinkled throughout, blending effortlessly amid the modern furnishings and expertly crafted joinery.

400 series and other appliances are visible, but not “over-showcased”. Photography courtesy of Gaggenau.

The result is an environment that lends itself not only to appointments and viewings but to a range of social gatherings, which provide further opportunities to highlight the products’ culinary expertise. “It’s a facility that will be housing a lot of collaborative events, and that’s an exciting thing,” Warner says, “because people who might not have been exposed to the brand or who may not even be looking at their kitchen will, all of a sudden, have a chance to see, feel and taste what Gaggenau is all about.” 

Looking to the future, Warner says Gaggenau will continue, in the tradition of good design, to interrogate the conceptual limits of its products. “We often talk about the kitchen being the heart of the home, as being less a kitchen and more a living space, and I think that trend will continue,” he says. “I think the kitchen is this wonderful mingling point. It’s a hub. But we’re increasingly seeing it integrated into the broader home. We’ve asked the question: does the kitchen even exist in 10 or 15 years? Or will it just be a wall in a living space? Now that’s a bit radical, but we certainly see that trend continuing.” 

Given the evolution of this historic brand, it certainly seems possible. 

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our tenth edition, Page 116 of Winning Magazine with the headline: “World of Difference”. Subscribe to Winning Magazine today.  


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