Less Is More

Studio 2b

Studio 2b adapts kitchen solutions for today’s European-stye shopping

WORDS: ROB BOWMAN | IMAGES: JENNIFER KOSKINEN

Europeans have been onto something for ages. Visits to the butcher and a single baguette become but a blissful daily routine. We’ll gladly swap that for our preservative-laden, processed bulk purchases. When did buying a 5-pound bottle of ketchup become a good idea?

It seems as though we have something to learn from European-style shopping. Not only are American diets steering toward locally grown and organic food, cutting down at Costco seems to have its perks. Grocery trips become shorter and less daunting, and of course, there’s eating healthier and fresher. But the unexpected benefit is the bottom line. By shopping and cooking same-day, you’ll find discounts on food approaching the sell-by dates. Appliances are shrinking, too, resulting in lower energy bills. After all, who needs an energy-sucking, 30-cubic-foot refrigerator for a day’s worth of vegetables and a carton of milk? There is something satisfying about living simply, and a showroom in Denver is catching on.

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German kitchen manufacturer, Poggenpohl, founded in 1892, has brought that evolution to Studio 2b in the RiNo Arts District. The Euro-influenced micro-kitchen on display in their showroom reflects the urban, minimalist lifestyle, with storage space at a premium. The footprint of the entire kitchen, including the square footage occupied by the island and the cabinetry, is less than 120 square feet. But it feels roomy and easy to work in. The island and counters provide an incredible 30 square feet of working surface. But how do they manage to make everything fit? Poggenpohl has boiled down the new essentials for a current-day household.

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Aimed toward those who visit markets on their way home to cook—and eschew frozen food—there is less need for cabinet space with the Poggenpohl setup when the pantry holds essentials, versus items with indefinite shelf lives. Instead, having pared down to the European way of cooking and dining, everything that a modern home cook needs is concealed along one wall and a small island. The drawers that would normally hold the clutter of a standard kitchen hide meticulously organized refrigerator drawers. The petite dishwasher slides out of another. Each storage drawer has custom, adjustable dividers so that everything is immediately available. And every inch of each surface performs double duty: The Kohler sink turns into a prep station, preserving the counter space. The electrical outlets are hidden behind small panels that pop-out with a gentle press.

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Yet when it comes to aesthetics, it doesn’t resemble a kitchen. It is more sleek, more subtle, and more clever. Samantha Bales of Studio 2b wants people to look at their kitchens differently. “It has changed,” she said. “And the purposes that a kitchen now fulfills are different. I encourage people to look at the components of their kitchens more like very fine furniture.” The show kitchen delivers on this new label. The cabinets resemble upscale furnishings versus something just screwed to the wall. “The breadth of choice is exceptional with more than 100 finishes to choose from, standard colors, and custom colors using a 10-step lacquer process, real wood veneers sourced from Poggenpohl’s home country of Germany, and the three-dimensional wood graining, protected by a melamine resin surface for durability and quality,” said Bales. The surfaces beg to be touched. They have an obvious beauty, but also a tangible richness.

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Bales calls this a “transformable kitchen,” and it is an apt phrase. “We believe in products that are multi-purpose,” she said. It physically transforms to suit the needs of today. When the cabinet is opened, drawers slide out automatically for easy reach, and each drawer’s height is easily adjustable. It transforms from a discreet wall to a kitchen. And it demands a transformation in the understanding of how we use the kitchen.

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The experts at Studio 2b suggest people don’t install garbage disposals, instead use the specially designed composting bins nestled next to designated trash and recycling bins. There is no cooktop range. Instead, an induction set can be pulled from a drawer and set on the counter when needed. There is no microwave buzzing loudly. Instead, a silent smart oven from Gaggenau with steam and convection can precisely achieve anything a discerning home chef needs. “When working with a smaller space, it is important you don’t just fill it. You need to invest in the right things that will achieve what you need and will do so beautifully, ” Bales said.

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It is a dizzying experience. One wonders where the missing things are, but quickly realizes they aren’t needed. Oversized appliances aren’t a necessity—only great meals that sustain and fulfill. Our minds shift to realize that this is more than just a new kitchen; it’s a new take on living where simplicity wins. Bon appétit!