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In Conversation With: Award-winning Kitchen Designer Stefan Sonntag

UnserHaus chats to Masterwood Joinery’s Stefan Sonntag, who recently won the 2019 Supreme Kitchen design award for an incredible local alpine retreat located in Lake Hayes, Queenstown.

Well done with winning the 2019 NKBA Supreme Kitchen design award. When collaborating with the client, what were the key design aspects you both wanted to achieve from the outset?

Thank you very much, it certainly means a lot. The owners are passionate cooks, so the kitchen had to reflect this while being practical. The other challenge was to ensure the kitchen integrated seamlessly with the interior design of the house – working closely with the interior designer Stuart Bateman was the key to achieving this.

Often kitchens try to hide the pantry and other common elements. However, this kitchen features glass cabinetry that exposes kitchenware. What was the interior motive behind this?

The clients’ crockery is a collection of beautifully selected pieces, so we wanted to showcase them rather than hide them behind cupboard doors. The glass cabinets also give another dimension to the space as well as the sliding doors between the lounge and the kitchen.

Lake Hayes is such a beautiful location. What were some key inspirations for this project?

The landscape is stunning and the key inspiration when designing here is always the light and contrast of the surroundings. The space features large windows on one side, which allows for ample light to enter the space. The cabinetry is predominantly dark, showcasing a beautiful contrast between the interior and the outside landscape.

When it came to selecting appliances for this project, what did you need to consider? How did the Gaggenau appliances you chose adhere to your requirements?

With the owners being passionate cooks and perfectionists, it was quite clear from the start that Gaggenau would need to feature in this kitchen. They were the only match to the clients’ desire for equal parts function and stunning design. The minimal and elegant design of the Gaggenau appliances that have been used blend seamlessly with the overall style of the kitchen. The central area of the kitchen features a Gaggenau teppanyaki plate, while the 400 series ovens sit beautifully flush against the cabinetry. While we integrated the fridge and freezer, the Gaggenau wine fridge has been left open with the wines on display.

Is there anything in this particular kitchen that differs from other kitchens you have designed?

This German kitchen is one of a kind. It was the teamwork of the client, interior designer, and myself to achieve the final result. It took two years from the start of my involvement to the finished product, every small part in the kitchen went through numerous changes and alterations, every detail was designed, rethought, and further developed. This attention to even the smallest details resulted in many truly unique features and solutions.

In your opinion, what are the key characteristics/aspects that every kitchen needs?

First of all, every kitchen needs to function well. If you enjoy working in your kitchen, you will cook good food. It also needs to look fantastic and tie in with the interior of the house. Contemporary kitchens should combine stylish aesthetics with durable, functional finishes and material choices. The main goal should be to achieve both with the clients’ requirements and aspirations met.

Can you explain how your interior design flows on from your architectural decisions, and why the kitchen is so important?

The kitchen is the central part of the house were preparing food is just as important as family interaction. It’s also an entertainment area for friends and visitors so it needs to feel evenly balanced between practicality, form, and function.

Lastly, what kitchen trends do you see upon the horizon?

When it comes to materials, I think we will see the porcelain surfaces getting more and more popular due to their excellent properties, but also timber will be used more. I personally like darker colors in kitchen design, but I think the trend is moving back towards lighter and softer tones again.

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