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Soul Kitchen, With A Price Tag

In India, a luxury kitchen can cost up to Rs 1 crore or more, and makes for nearly 40 per cent of the total cost of a home

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

Slated to be India’s most exclusive urban residential address, the Four Seasons Private Residences will have just 26 homes in a 55-storey building. The landmark private residential property by the iconic hotel brand is coming up in Worli, Mumbai, in collaboration with Provenance Land, one of India’s oldest hospitality development groups and asset owners of the 202-room Four Seasons hotel. The project is expected to be ready for occupancy by December 2018.

To cost between Rs 30 crore and Rs 100 crore, everything in these homes matches its luxe quotient. Thus, from world-class architects of Gensler and interior designers YabuPushelberg, to contemporary art being sourced by Shireen Gandhy of Chemould Prescott Road art gallery, everything is top-notch, including the kitchens that are being done by German luxury kitchen brand Eggersmann.

It isn’t just Four Seasons Residences that has opted for an international luxury kitchen brand. Neither is Trump Towers in Mumbai the only one to favour Poggenpohl, the world’s oldest brand when it comes to defining luxury kitchens. A growing tribe of discerning house-proud Indians is developing an appetite for the best the market has to offer when it comes to kitchen spaces.

A Cut Above
In India, a luxury kitchen can cost up to Rs 1 crore or more, and makes for nearly 40 per cent of the total cost of a home. People are spending anywhere between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 50 lakh on appliances; and it’s not just about dishwashers, built-in refrigerators and hobs but also, wine conditioners, Japanese Teppanyaki grills, barbeque grills, customised cooling in refrigerators, steam cookers, and so on. Brands such as Miele, Weber, Siemens, Häfele, Friuli Cucine and Veneta Cucine have marked their presence in the Indian market.

There are so many options for countertops today, starting from granite, to quartz and corian. You can have backlit glass panels, glass chopping boards, vacuum sealing drawers, touch control on appliances, mechanical touch latch for doors, screens built into the backsplash, and so on. Brands such as Poggenpohl, Bulthaup (called the Rolls-Royce of kitchens), Eggersmann and others are carving a niche for themselves in the Indian luxury segment.

Says Mumbai-based interior designer Minnie Bhatt, “People now see the kitchen not just as a space of utility but take pride in giving it as much emphasis as any other part of the house.” Well-travelled business executives and entrepreneurs who have experienced luxurious kitchen spaces in the western world, are asking for the same back home. Moreover, a number of people in urban India are considering western food habits and opting for dry kitchens, while also maintaining a wet kitchen where the usual tempering, onion chopping, boiling and frying is done.

“Apart from the young, upwardly mobile, there’s also demand from those in their post-retirement phase, who want a good life,” says Manjeet Bullar of Manjeet Bullar Design, which offers services such as bespoke design and manufacturing, architecture and space planning, interior design and art consultancy. Gurgaon-based Bullar feels aesthetic sensibilities are cutting through the clutter and are leaning towards a concept that is world-class, basic, and authentic. “MDF (medium density fibreboard) kitchens are a thing of the past. People are looking at kitchens done in granite, corian, quartz, stone — you name it. And they are willing to pay for quality, no questions asked,” he says.

Says Sukriti Sharrma, director, Business Development, Plusch, “The demand for luxury kitchens has grown considerably since we started in India in 1998. Today kitchens are a central part of the house. People are gladly opening up their living-cum-kitchen space for social entertaining.” Plusch represents Eggersmann and Goldreif, and German appliance brands such as Gutmann and Gaggenau.

Designs On Cooking
“People today want to invest in the design of things,” says Rana Pratap Singh, managing director, Miele India, adding that customers are looking at overall convenience, be it drawers, platforms, or appliances. Singh also feels the luxury kitchens market will grow more with increasing awareness among target customers. Globally, the German brand sells products in three categories — cooking, laundry and cooling. In India, 55 per cent of its sales comes from cooking appliances, 30 per cent from cooling, and the rest from laundry.

Sensing the growing excitement, Weber-Stephen products made a foray into the Indian market in 2012, and reached out to top 10 Indian cities through flagship stores and authorised retail dealer partners in Delhi NCR, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kochi. Its portable gas grills have become particularly popular among those who like to organise cookouts in the cold north Indian winters. Its gas grills can cost anywhere between Rs 59,000 to Rs 5 lakh.

Making A Statement & More
With kitchen spaces becoming popular as socialising hubs, people are looking at in-built gadgets hidden behind a clean fascia, and appliances that stand out. Says designer Bhatt, “The most popular hardware for the kitchen are the drawers and storage systems that optimise utility and storage space,” adding how even kitchen faucets are available with a jet feature as well as a pull-out pipe for cleaning kitchen tops. There is also a demand for white and neutral colours over bright, wooden hues, for that catalogue picture-perfect look. So all you see is a vibration-free wine conditioner in a corner, with a series of commissioned photographs of the local vegetable market lined above the lacquered counter.

It isn’t just about making a statement, however. While kitchen spaces by those such as Poggenpohl, Eggersmann, and Bulthaup last for years and are really hardy. “People usually take granite for just the counter. But with a Poggenpohl, you are doing the entire kitchen in granite — from the space, to the shutter to the counter, you need top-quality material for that,” says Plusch’s Sharrma. Miele’s Singh talks about value-for-money products and promises his company’s offerings are tested to give unbeatable performance for minimum 20 years. “Our dishwasher uses only 7 litres of water compared to maids who may use up at least 50 litres of water for doing as many dishes,” he says.

This exclusivity tag combined with value-for-money is attracting not only high networth individuals in metros and cities, but also tier-II and tier-III towns. Sharrma of Plusch says the brand gets a lot of queries from Pune, in and around Hyderabad, as well as Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Miele’s Singh claims it is because of value-for-money that even middle class Indians have bought the company’s dishwashers and refrigerators. “They come in their humble Maruti cars and drive away with a Miele product,” he says.

Clearly, luxury for the Indian consumer is as much about opulence as it is about value for money.

The author is a freelance writer

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Prerna Raturi

The author is a freelance writer

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