March 8, 2016
Q&A with Mick De Giulio
One of our favorite kitchen designers, Mick De Giulio, answers our questions on his design projects and his newest book, 'Kitchen.'
by New York Spaces
NYS: We are so excited about your newly published book, Kitchen (Pointed Leaf Press)! How many of your projects does the book feature?
Mick De Giulio: Thank you. The book features nine projects, plus a section focused on the new design details of some of our signature products.
NYS: You have such an extensive portfolio of work. How did you decide which projects to feature? Is there a theme?
Mick De Giulio: Mainly, I wanted the book to reflect designs for different lifestyles. The projects are also geographically distinct—from a bachelor's penthouse on the Las Vegas Strip to a palazzo in Southern Italy.
NYS: When did you begin creating kitchens and what drew you so much to this particular area of the home?
Mick De Giulio: I designed my first kitchen when I was 19. I had no experience and no real training, but just tried to approach it organically and logically—not at all different from how I approach things now.
From that first project onward, I knew this was something that I could see myself doing. I loved the challenges and the idea that there was opportunity for improvement with each design.
NYS: We are big fans of your residential kitchen designs but you also work on many commercial projects. What have been some of your favorites so far and why?
Mick De Giulio: A tough question—they are all so different. I do a lot of work with Sub-Zero/Wolf including most recently, showrooms in New York City, Chicago and Irvine (Los Angeles area). I love working with them—their culture encourages innovation and they always have something new happening.
One of the most unique commercial projects I've designed was the 10,000-square-foot Better Homes and Gardens Test and Demonstration Kitchen at the Meredith Corporation headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. I worked with their recipe testing team, including taking part in taste-testing sessions. It was fascinating to learn that they test every recipe in house before it gets published; I had no idea they went to such detailed degrees to make sure their readers get the best recipes.
NYS: What or where is the most unique kitchen design you have ever created?
Mick De Giulio: Another hard one to answer! I have so many great clients who love to push the edges of design. For a purely magical experience, though, it would be difficult to top the project I did in Bernalda, Italy a couple of years ago. It's in a 200-plus-year-old palazzo in this very small town that sits on a hill. It ended up being only about an hour's drive from my father's birthplace.
NYS: We are so impressed that also have quite a number of kitchen product designs under your belt. Did you begin to design out of a need that was not being filled?
Mick De Giulio: That's exactly why I started designing products—when I couldn't find things that I believed solved some of the issues in a kitchen. The longer I have done this work, the more I have thought to myself that all design is the same—whether a space or a product, it's about identifying the challenges and then trying to overcome them.
The Multiere sink that I designed for Kallista is a good example. It's always been a pet peeve of mine to see a cabinet below the sink without any storage function. The Multiere incorporates an extreme offset drain, which allows for the plumbing to be relegated to a very small space below—freeing up the rest of the cabinet for storage and accessories like trash and recycling pull-outs.
NYS: What are your top three product designs and where can we purchase them?
Mick De Giulio: The BeauxArts/ BeauxArts.02 Collection for SieMatic is one at the top. BeauxArts is sold worldwide through SieMatic dealers.
One of my personal favorites is the Metal Boy cabinet—a polished stainless steel and glass-fronted cabinet with a German silver interior. It stores pots and pans, and displays them as if they were sculpture. It's available exclusively through our company.
NYS: What is the most important aspect of kitchen design and why do you believe craftsmanship is such an important part of any design?
Mick De Giulio: Function is number one. A kitchen needs to work and last for a long time, which means everything from engineering to material choice and craft should be of the highest quality.
As for the space, proportion is very important; I give a lot of consideration to the relationships of all that goes into a space.
Ideally, whether it is a space or a product, it should bring you joy and appreciation, every time you use it.
NYS: You redesigned the Palazzo Appio kitchen in Italy—which was nearly 200 years old. How did the original space inspire you?
Being able to walk through the palazzo with my clients and listening to them talk about its history was the first step. It helped to inform me on everything from proportions to the prevailing architecture.
As for the space, parts of (what was) the existing kitchen had been remodeled over 100 years ago. The family who had owned the property had moved out and the room had not been touched or even used for over 40 years before my clients bought it (it actually gave me goosebumps when I first saw it).
While the overall footprint of the room stayed the same, my design went in a completely opposite direction from the original layout. Like many old kitchens, it was very dark and enclosed, and it had obviously been only used for one function—cooking. We liberated the space by opening up the kitchen to the terrace with a series of French doors, so now the kitchen and terrace function as one livable indoor/outdoor space. It all just seemed like a natural idea.
NYS: Why was it important to you to work the history of the space into the new design? How would you describe the end result and the process
Mick De Giulio: Having the original cast-iron doors and an antique oven to integrate into the new kitchen was a gift—they provide a connection to the old space. In reality, you could not help but feel the history of the palazzo in the design. The fact that it was important to the client to maintain the original structure and not add-on to the footprint spoke to their appreciation for maintaining the palazzo's historic integrity.
NYS: You have often stated: "The best kitchens mirror people's lifestyles." Why do you believe this to be true?
Mick De Giulio: The reality is, people live in their kitchens. The best kitchens are the ones where people want to hang out—where they feel the most comfortable and never want to leave.
NYS: What would your dream kitchen look like?
Mick De Giulio: I have to admit, the kitchen at our house is quite a dream. It has lots of windows, a big island where people can gather around, comfortable chairs and furniture—more of a lounge-like area—and maybe best of all, a fireplace.
NYS: What is some advice you would give someone who would love to re-create one of your kitchen designs but does not have a large budget? Where would you tell them to start?
Mick De Giulio: Make a list of what things are most important to you and the way you live in your kitchen. Use that list to measure all of your decisions. Don't assume you can't do something until you've really tried to make it work.
NYS: What are you working on now?
Mick De Giulio: I'm working on another project with Sub-Zero/Wolf in Madison, Wisconsin—a farm-to-table concept in a structure that is essentially a barn that will be used for their events and for visitors to dine and experience demonstrations.
I'm just completing a project for Abt Electronics in the Chicago area. It's about 10,000-sq. ft. and will have working kitchens, representing about 12 high-end manufacturers. It should be ready in April/May of this year.
We have several exciting residential projects in the US and abroad, and recently finalized on a new project in Guam.
And I'm always working on new product development, including many more things in metals—which are a love of mine.
NYS: What was the most rewarding aspect of writing your book? Can we expect another one soon?
Mick De Giulio: The best part is revisiting each project and seeing how people are living in their kitchens and are enjoying them. There's nothing more rewarding than that.
I'd love to do another book...I already have some projects in mind.
NYS: When can you come design our tiny kitchen?
Mick De Giulio: I love small spaces—give me a call!
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