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Kitchen of the Week: An Open Kitchen in Kiev with a Touch of Subtle Glamour

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Kitchen of the Week: An Open Kitchen in Kiev with a Touch of Subtle Glamour

January 17, 2019

Last month we visited an apartment called Birdsnest remodeled by 28-year-old architect Emil Dervish. It was the first project we’ve ever featured in the Ukrainian city of Kiev. But more than the location, what interested most readers was Dervish’s custom approach to storage. That’s especially the case in the kitchen, where the focal point is an outsized cabinet of untreated brass patinated from use. To some it looks like an abstract canvas, others see a mess of fingerprints. To us, it’s an unexpected and inspired choice for open-plan quarters. What do you think?

Photography by Mikhail Loskutov, courtesy of Emil Dervish.

Set in the back of the living space, the kitchen is divided from the rest of the room by a small island that rests on a brass plinth. The brass over the range serves as a vent cover with cabinets flanking it. The fridge and freezer are concealed at the end of the oak cabinet on the left.
Above: Set in the back of the living space, the kitchen is divided from the rest of the room by a small island that rests on a brass plinth. The brass over the range serves as a vent cover with cabinets flanking it. The fridge and freezer are concealed at the end of the oak cabinet on the left.

The apartment belongs to Swiss-British filmmaker Marc Wilkins, who works all over the world, which is how he fell in love with the Kiev. On a recent Sunday, Wilkins was chopping ingredients for a stew—friends were coming to watch Dr. Zhivago on a screen just off the kitchen.

Wilkins moved to Kiev from Berlin and shipped his favorite belongings by moving truck, including this 1950s Swiss porcelain double sink. It had come out of his great grandfather’s townhouse, where at one point it had been used in a darkroom. He found it languishing in the basement, and his family thought he was crazy for keeping it. “I had it in my last apartment but it needed more breathing room. Emil designed the kitchen around it.”
Above: Wilkins moved to Kiev from Berlin and shipped his favorite belongings by moving truck, including this 1950s Swiss porcelain double sink. It had come out of his great grandfather’s townhouse, where at one point it had been used in a darkroom. He found it languishing in the basement, and his family thought he was crazy for keeping it. “I had it in my last apartment but it needed more breathing room. Emil designed the kitchen around it.”

The brass faucet is by Nicolazzi of Italy and the vintage wall sconce traveled with Wilkins from Berlin.

The counters are oak and the back lower cabinets are faced with laminated plywood. The island is made of micro-cement-covered plywood; it measures 3.9 by 1.9 feet—”the scale works here,” says Wilkins, “and it holds a lot of dishes and cookware.”
Above: The counters are oak and the back lower cabinets are faced with laminated plywood. The island is made of micro-cement-covered plywood; it measures 3.9 by 1.9 feet—”the scale works here,” says Wilkins, “and it holds a lot of dishes and cookware.”
The black bakelite electrical outlets and light switches are from Berker of Germany’s Bauhaus-inspired Serie 1930 line.
Above: The black bakelite electrical outlets and light switches are from Berker of Germany’s Bauhaus-inspired Serie 1930 line.
The apartment is set on the top floor of an early 20th century building with a turret that serves as the dining room. Wilkins has since replaced the cafe table with a bigger one. He brought the hanging light and chairs from Berlin. The wall-hung radiators are original to the apartment: Dervish had them removed, sandblasted, and repainted.
Above: The apartment is set on the top floor of an early 20th century building with a turret that serves as the dining room. Wilkins has since replaced the cafe table with a bigger one. He brought the hanging light and chairs from Berlin. The wall-hung radiators are original to the apartment: Dervish had them removed, sandblasted, and repainted.
The kitchen in context. See more in A Kiev Architect’s Well-Planned Lair for a Friend.
Above: The kitchen in context. See more in A Kiev Architect’s Well-Planned Lair for a Friend.

Before

Though not without a certain charm, the existing kitchen was tiny and set in what is now the bathroom.
Above: Though not without a certain charm, the existing kitchen was tiny and set in what is now the bathroom.
The sink was no rival to Wilkins’s great grandfather’s hand-me-down.
Above: The sink was no rival to Wilkins’s great grandfather’s hand-me-down.

Planning your own open-plan kitchen? Here are three more inspired designs with homemade elements:

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