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  • Hannah Tattersall

Less Is More

Gaggenau’s Essential Induction cooktop is an intuitive evolution — not just in seamless kitchen design, but how we cook, work and play. By Hannah Tattersall
Seamlessly integrated into benches, Gaggenau’s Essential Induction Cooktop is set to transform the way we cook and entertain. Photography courtesy of Gaggenau.

Visitors to Gaggenau’s “Elevation of Gravity” experience during Milan Design Week in April might have been surprised to see a giant boulder propping up a smooth Dekton countertop on the grounds of historic residence Villa Necchi Campiglio. Positioned to ignite discussion and critique, the rock also functioned as a prop to highlight the real showstopper: Gaggenau’s Essential Induction cooktop.

What’s interesting about the brand’s latest innovation is that it’s mostly invisible, seamlessly integrated into the kitchen’s 12-millimetre-deep worktop, designed exclusively with Dekton porcelain. Yet all of the cooktop essentials — the LED “dot” (the smart centre light within the cooking zone), the worktop surface and, in this case, illuminated performance knobs in stainless steel or black — are visible, showing the user where to place their pots and pans.

The high-performance 21-centimetre and 28-centimetre induction modules warn of residual heat once the cooktop has been switched off. But when the cooktop is no longer in use, the dot vanishes, transforming the cooktop island into a large bench space suitable for loading with plates and glasses for entertaining guests, perching on while dining with loved ones or leaning over to finish off some late-night work.

After all, true luxury doesn’t need to be ostentatious, says Sven Baacke, Gaggenau’s head of design. “It’s not about having a prominent logo or making a loud statement,” he says. “It’s about the inside feeling, a subtle recognition for those who know; about the experience and the quality of the product, rather than external displays. It’s a form of luxury that doesn’t need to shout for attention.”

The Gaggenau installation at Milan Design Week showcased the brand’s purity and clarity in product design. Photography courtesy of Gaggenau.

In the kitchen at parties

It was the English singer-songwriter Jona Lewie who sang “You’ll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties” back in 1980, but the words remain true to this day. With the Essential Induction cooktop, parties can remain in the kitchen. “The kitchen is opening up, and the living space is integrating with it,” Baacke says. “That’s nothing new. However, it brings the focus back to the kitchen table or kitchen block, where people gather around like they would around a fire, fostering social interactions.

“I really appreciate the idea of bringing back the kitchen table as a central area where everything happens — a combination of a table and a kitchen block,” Baacke continues.

Gaggenau has even developed removable magnetic surface protectors in four sizes (for pans measuring 10–28 centimetres), which mitigate the noise of a pan moving across the surface and protect the worktop, which is stain- and scratch-resistant. This type of kitchen works especially well in an open-plan design, Baacke says. “It’s about eliminating the boundaries between preparation and living. It offers the ultimate freedom in kitchen planning, which is a revolutionary concept for designers and planners.”

The Gaggenau installation at Milan Design Week showcased the brand’s purity and clarity in product design. Photography courtesy of Gaggenau.

Removing distractions with pure design

Piotr Szpryngwald, chief designer of the Gaggenau Essential Induction cooktop, believes that even with minimal, understated design, there is a distinct design language that is recognisable and memorable. “In the case of the Essential Induction, the design process allowed for external factors to shape its identity in a positive way,” he says. “It finds a place to exist and contribute without getting lost among a sea of other products.”

One of the notable things Szpryngwald discovered during the design process was what happens when people cook on the invisible cooktop. “They immediately, instinctively, started placing their ingredients, spoons and everything they needed for cooking around the pot,” he says. “The way they naturally interacted with the cooktop was different from the rigidity of a 60-centimetre cooktop, a 60-centimetre preparation area and the sink next to it. I have never encountered a product that brings about such a change in behaviour without people consciously thinking about it. It was as if they were waiting for it to change the way they cooked on a cooktop.”

Creating a product like this is about pursuing purity and clarity in design, adds Baacke: “Distilling the essence, removing distractions and focusing on what truly matters. The goal is to create an experience that is pure and beautiful, akin to the sensation of tasting something pure or being in nature without distractions.”  

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our twelfth edition, Page 110 of Winning Magazine with the headline: “Less Is More”. Subscribe to Winning Magazine today.  


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