How male cooks are influencing the way today’s kitchens are designed

We asked Atlanta-based designer Mark Williams about the growing masculine influence on kitchen design
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Concept kitchen by Mark Williams for Silestone, Benjamin Moore, and Kohler
Concept kitchen by Mark Williams for Silestone, Benjamin Moore, and Kohler

Photograph courtesy of Kohler

As one of Silestone’s appointed “Trendspotters,” Atlanta-based designer Mark Williams keeps a close watch on changing tastes. Recently, at Kohler headquarters in Wisconsin, he created a concept kitchen that reflects a growing masculine influence on kitchen design. We talked with him about how guys are influencing today’s trends:

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal asked if the kitchen is the new “man cave.” What do you think?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the new man cave, but it’s definitely becoming part of the man’s recreational space. Looking back on the last several years, I would have to say that more than half of the kitchens we’ve done were largely influenced by the men in the family. The idea that men go to work and women stay home in the kitchen is long gone.

Do you adjust work flow at all for male cooks?
When we know that men will be cooking, we generally try to allow a little more circulation space. We also try to provide two prep areas instead of just one, with a little elbow room between them. Men tend to cook with their partner or spouse, or at least with family and friends. This usually creates more traffic.

Do you find men prefer a more streamlined look?
Yes. Men seem to be a lot less interested in decorative flourishes and more interested in raw function. We have such a wide variety of integrated appliance options now that it’s becoming easier to create that streamlined look. The design challenge is taking a collection of very simple gestures and assembling them into a beautifully composed whole. Sometimes “simple” just looks simple. Our goal is to elevate simplicity to the level of beauty without becoming too decorative.

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Photograph courtesy of Kohler

How did you incorporate more “manly” features in your concept kitchen?
There are a lot of elements in this kitchen that I think are decidedly masculine, beginning with the massive AGA range. The dark pewter color and the range hood, along with the lighting selections, are heavier than I might normally choose, but my imaginary client was a successful guy in his 30s living in a very upscale loft in a downtown area. I wanted to warm up the room with lots of wood grain, which is complemented by the texture of the hand-cut, glazed-brick backsplash. Probably the most masculine element is scale. An oversized, integrated refrigerator and freezer in a wood-clad pantry wall to the right, the large range and hood, the dramatic Silestone backsplash—all of these elements come together to create a smoky, sexy, masculine space.

Did this come into play when you designed Nymbus for Silestone?
I don’t feel that Nymbus is specifically masculine or feminine. This quartz is a kind of chameleon that takes on the character of its environment and adjacent compositional elements. We work with so many different clients, each with a different sense of personal style, so I wanted to create something that was ultimately very versatile.

Pro Resources
Nymbus quartz: Silestone, silestone.com. HiRise wall-mount faucet and Stages sink: Kohler, kohler.com. Benjamin Moore paints Beams: “Simply White OC-117,” Advance, satin. Accent wall: “Luxe AF-580,” Aura, matte. Walls: “Weimaraner AF-155,” Aura, matte. benjaminmoore.com.

This article originally appeared in our Fall 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

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