Bakke Center Living Kitchen

Madison, Wisconsin
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  • 2023 • IIDA Wisconsin
    First Place

Found in the world’s most luxurious homes, the Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove brands are synonymous with iconic design and incomparable performance. Twenty years after the Madison-based appliance company’s first Living Kitchen opened in its Bakke Center headquarters, the showpiece space no longer represented the brands’ products or reputation for excellence.

A renovation of the Bakke Center Living Kitchen transformed a dated and dark showroom. A luxurious finish palette and reconfigured layout both integrate and highlight the company’s products. Designed to inspire, the space is both a training tool and a prototype for other living kitchens in showrooms across the country.

The space was reorganized to create clean sightlines into and through the showroom. Two narrow entries were replaced by a single opening. Instead of island-heavy displays arranged at angles throughout the space, obscuring views and blocking flow, vignettes with integrated appliances grouped by product line are now arranged in groupings at the front of the showroom. At the back, appliances are arranged side-by-side to allow shoppers to compare features.

The vignette placed at the space’s opening is figuratively central to the design concept and literally central to the overall layout. A large custom-fabricated island doubles as an art piece. Each stone slab that makes up the island’s folded planes was hand-picked and positioned first using augmented reality design tools and then again during the final installation. Each of the stone faces was mitered on-site during assembly.

The island’s faceted folding planes are reflected in the natural wood ceiling. Like the island, the planes, lit around the edges, form a variety of obtuse and acute angles. The organic shape of a handmade leaf-shaped chandelier contrasts with the angular ceiling above.

Lights and wallcoverings bring color, texture, and whimsy to each space. A wine room with champagne lotus lights and tile floors in an art deco pattern is opulent.

The simplified palette complements the company’s three product lines: contemporary, transitional, and professional. The contemporary lines’ black glass appliances are ingeniously integrated into custom millwork. Decorative doors and inlays disguise the transitional line, while the more substantial professional line in stainless steel intentionally stands out. In each vignette, the natural grains and hues of walnut, black-stained oak, bleached walnut, and painted woods intentionally offer counterpoints to the appliance’s sleek glass and stainless steel.

The new Living Kitchen inhabits the inspiration the brand seeks to evoke in its customers.

Digital tools have released our designs from two-dimensional drawings into new, multi-faceted dimensions, both physical and virtual, where ideas can be brought into being in real time. In the design of the Bakke Center’s custom fabricated island, we used both three-dimensional printing to study a tangible model and augmented reality to ensure installation followed design intent.

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