How To Create The Kitchen Of Your Dreams

Art & Design

May 22, 2018 | BY Grace Ma

Design a truly bespoke kitchen that reflect your needs and personal taste—Mk-tre shares more about the details that matter.

In the competitive field of luxury kitchen design, Mk-tre distinguishes itself by defying run-of-the mill solutions to give clients a personalised kitchen that truly meets their needs. Mk-tre was founded in 2016 by director Mahmud Karim, who has more than two decades of experience in the industry and currently oversees a pair of offices in Singapore and Malaysia.

Over the years, Mahmud has developed a strong understanding of what it takes to craft a bespoke kitchen that stands the test of time—a savoir faire that he has deepened by working closely with renowned European kitchen brands including Bulthaup, Effeti Cucine, Eggersmann, Poggenpohl, Rational and Schiffini.

After working as a general manager for a kitchen purveyor, Mahmud decided to open a firm of his own after observing a repeated scenario: clients he had served would contact him personally for a new kitchen design, instead of reaching out to the showroom. “They didn’t just want a ready-made solution; they wanted someone who could personally realise what they liked and needed,” shares Mahmud. He has built a loyal following throughout the years, with socialites, high-flying executives and members of royalty amongst his regular clientele.

(Related: Tatler How-To: A Guide To Kitchen Surfaces)

To craft the dream kitchens he envisions for his clients, Mahmud is particular about the brands he works with. He’s currently partnering with Italian brand Binova, a family-owned brand with more than 50 years of research and design history. He also works closely with Arclinea, an Italian kitchen manufacturer that specialises in wood kitchen cabinetry. “Some brands appear visually impressive in catalogues, but don’t necessary deliver on quality,” he explains—thus his preference in working with family-run manufacturers with specialised skills and kitchen know-how that have been fine-tuned across the generations.

Mahmud adds that his team does their due diligence to ensure that the European kitchen products are suitable for Singapore’s hot and humid climate before they’re imported into Asia. The team runs localised tests to discover how well the veneer and finishes fare, which ensures that these products are able to last in a tropical environment, where heat and humidity may cause cracks in the laminates or cause the colour to fade over time. “What’s most important is having a very good understanding of each client’s needs.”

Let your and your family’s culinary habits and needs take precedence in the design process. Wet kitchens, for instance, are more suitable for Asian cooking where deep-frying may be required, while dry kitchens cater to European cuisines, which typically include light cooking and baking. If your kitchen doubles up as an entertainment space, consider opting for a kitchen island equipped with wine chillers, coffee machines and bar seats to create a gathering space.

(Related: 6 Chic Ways To Create A Kitchen For Entertaining)

Based on his experience, most customers feel overwhelmed by the sight of myriad options for their kitchen. So Mahmud has kept the design of the Mk-tre showroom simple and sleek, with a few freestanding kitchens on display, rather than multiple designs propped against the walls.

“The layman usually cannot visualise how the kitchen will look as a whole if there’s more than one design within sight,” he says. “While you’re explaining one kitchen concept, they might be looking at another design out of the corner of their eye, which distracts them and makes it difficult for them to come to a decision.”

Whenever Mahmud meets a client for the first time, he listens carefully to their concerns to truly understand what the homeowners need in their kitchen. This starts with questions about the ways that the kitchen will be used and the specific needs of each of its users. During the consultation, the affable designer also learns more about the client’s aesthetic sense and personal preferences to help realise their dream kitchen. 

According to Mahmud, a kitchen island for instance, can be a statement piece in an open-concept kitchen, but it should also complement the rest of the house in terms of texture and colour. “An open kitchen should not be too trend-focused to stand the test of time,” explains Mahmud.

He adds that dark colours are preferable if a matte lacquer finish is used for the kitchen cabinetry, so as to minimise the appearance of fingerprints. Alternatively, handles can be included on cabinetry with a light finish to avoid leaving fingerprints on the cabinet doors. 

(Related: How To Decorate Like An Italian)

Far from having ambitious plans to expand his showroom, Mahmud believes in prioritising the bespoke kitchen experience—he feels a boutique-sized firm is better able to work closely with each client to create truly personalised kitchens. “What’s most important is having a very good understanding of each client’s needs,” he shares.

Mk-tre is located at 201 Henderson Road, #04-11/12 Apex@Henderson (by appointment only), Tel: 6358 2086

This story is adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes April-May 2018

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