Conversations in Design: Kitchen Islands

Conversations in Design: Kitchen Islands


By Giles Slater Creative Director of Figura

Conversations in Design is our regular snapshot on a specific design topic. If it strikes a chord and you feel inspired, I would love you to get in touch so we can discuss the project you have in mind.

Giles has worked in kitchen design for over 27 years, and is passionate about helping clients to enhance and optimise their living spaces. He believes in adding lasting value and integrity to clients property, by creating thoughtful, clever and stimulating designs which are functional, beautiful and timeless.

At Figura we individually design each project to give clients the very best in beautiful hand crafted furniture. We understand how to create both inspiring and functional living spaces. 

"Giles, what do you consider when designing kitchen islands?"

My love of cooking and entertaining with family and friends is central to how I design for the kitchen. Our clients are overwhelmingly in favour of large informal spaces in which they will spend a great deal of time. Communication has become an important factor in the process of design and none more so than when designing an island.  It’s worth considering some of the advantages of a kitchen island:    

The main benefit is the additional work surface an island offers for food preparation, as an informal space to sit, drink coffee or chat to the cook. We have designed islands large enough to accommodate eight people for kitchen suppers and informal dining.  A current client has just popped into the showroom and described her new island as 'a continent' it is so large...."it's like the British Isles" she exclaimed with delight!

A dedicated cooking zone
An island can be imaginatively designed to create a cooking zone which subtly guides family and friends to relax on the one side leaving the cook to work freely and safely on the other.

Enhanced communication
An island enables the cook to work centrally, facing the room and engaging with family and friends whilst remaining close enough to the cooker or hob to keep an eye on boiling pots. 

Useful storage
With range cookers more popular than ever, the traditional position of pan drawers below the hob is lost. An island provides additional storage and drawers for utensils, a knife block, oven and serving dishes; a veg peelings bin; crockery and cutlery storage; a main waste bin and even recycling bins.

I advocate keeping the island surface free from hobs and sinks, however if you need to position them in the middle of the room allow for adequate surfaces on either side of the appliances and I recommend using an up-stand to hide them from the dining area of the room.
An island can be a useful position for a second oven as it can be usefully yet subtly positioned within the cooking zone or a glass fronted wine fridge which can be designed to form a focal point.