Philip Richards on modern kitchen design and the importance of creating “relational living” spaces

As the brand director of blu_line Kitchens in South Africa, Philip Richards is becoming increasingly intrigued by creating revolutionary, functional kitchens. Relational spaces, as he puts it. Founded in Johannesburg in 2002 by Philip and his brother, blu_line specialises in kitchen architecture, providing locally-designed and manufactured bespoke kitchens to a very niche clientele.

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Since its establishment, the company’s philosophy is to produce custom designed kitchens that would meet the practical demands of modern households. All this while endeavouring to create an experience that would be born and maintained through consistent communication and professional interaction. In other words, blu_line represents an all-encompassing kitchen design experience.

So the way that we basically approach kitchen design is that we, first of all, assess the space and need to ensure there’s a functional space. That really means is that we consider where the client will be cooking where they’ll be prepping, sort of various storage, other activities that may be going on in the kitchen space. So that’s sort of gives us the foundation of a blu_line kitchen.

This approach has stood as the foundation of blu_line’s business for more than 15 years. The company’s vision back then was to offer a different approach to the then standard perspective on local South African kitchen design. Philip chose to ensure that each design was first and foremost functional. That means making sure that the demands of modern living are met, and that every aspect of the kitchen can be customised and tailored to each client’s needs.

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In the years that followed, their focus on human-centred design gratified through the importance and demands that modern architecture places on kitchens as a whole. blu_line has always had a strong focus on design. Their aesthetic is to craft a true interpretation of each and every living space. And over the last decade, as the world slowly moved toward open-plan living, modern design, created by companies like blu_line, have prevailed. It’s because of this history that, today, blu_line is perfectly poised to continue creating premium kitchens, and marking their mark in the kitchen design world.

So I say my favourite materials to use in a blu_line kitchen is definitely materials that have a touch element. There’s actually a texture involved with the material.

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From their inception in the early 2000’s blu_line has operated in a unique, boutique fashion. They’ve slowly gained momentum as a company capable of developing a customised product that is equally as good, if not better, than many other international kitchen designers. A lot of blu_line’s value has come from the fact that they are a local company capable of offering the South African public imported materials, yet locally manufactured and customised.

At the start of 2016, blu_line launched an entirely new factory that houses the latest machinery to produce the entire company product line. Then, in 2017, they completed what would be the culmination of over 15 years of research, experience and passion by opening a shiny new Johannesburg showroom. With 600 square metres of space, the two-storey building boasts sophisticated lines and a chic array of textures, all working together to form a space that asserts class and distinction.

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The vastness of the architecture frames each section of the blu_line designs, ensuring the space is enduring while remaining dramatic in scope. But, as ever, it’s functionality that comes first, says Philip: “For us, it’s critical that we ensure that everyone who is going to be using the kitchen is able to relate in a very comfortable and easy way. Then after that then it’s got to be a space that interesting, that adds to the home.”

The sky is the limit for blu_line. Their focus will continue to be its unique customised approach while ensuring that a personal touch runs through every part of the blu_line process. It’s worked up till now.