Architect: Brad Swartz Architects | Photographer: Katherine Lu

Verve Voices: Simone Stephens | Chief Designer at Fisher & Paykel

As the square footage of the spaces we live in reduces, the homes and the items within them have had to evolve to suit this new way of living. We spoke to Fisher & Paykel’s chief designer, Simone Stephens, who has worked alongside leading architects across the globe, to understand how New Zealanders have responded to compact living and how this has translated into kitchen and appliance design.

How have you seen kitchen design evolve over the years?

It’s important to note that kitchen design trends are usually symptomatic of wider societal shifts and changes in how we live – and while urbanisation is challenging all things construction, this also influences kitchen design. People’s expectations of the kitchen have changed and now we often talk about it as a multi-purpose space, which is becoming increasingly common as the footprint of the house reduces. A space that is not only functional as a kitchen but works as a family room, a dining space and a study, is something which has been quite prevalent in European design for some time, but we’re now seeing this design trend have local impact.


How has New Zealand responded to living more compactly?

New Zealanders are very much in a transition stage. Whilst some people are comfortable with the idea of living with less and in a smaller space, others are still coming to terms with the fact that it may not be possible to buy a large family home – maybe something similar to what they grew up in – especially in the larger cities where space is a luxury. It’s a slow process of change, but a necessary one.


Architect: Brad Swartz Architects | Photographer: Katherine Lu

Have you noticed that people are focusing more on style rather than personal objects and clutter?

Generally, we are thinking about the house as a whole, rather than the individual items that we collect throughout our lives and we are becoming more considered about what goes into our home. This is partly due to style and aesthetic but is also a consideration for the space that we have to play with. However, what we are seeing is the desire for high-end, no matter the size of the space. Looking abroad, many tiny kitchens in Europe comprise luxury marble pieces or beautiful lighting pendants, which prove that you don’t need to compromise on style or quality if you’re limited to a small space.


How does compact living impact the design of appliances?

While the ways in which we use our kitchen have evolved, increasingly people aren’t letting space dictate their appliance choices. Even when space is tight, people are still choosing the right appliances to match their lifestyle and cooking preferences. This level of consideration indicates that people are analysing how they live and how to maximise the use from what goes into their kitchen.


Designer: Nicholas Gurney | Photographer: Terence Chin

What features are people looking for in their appliances when living in compact spaces?

It really varies depending on lifestyle. For example, often we see New Yorkers enjoying a lifestyle surrounded by great dining options so for them the kitchen is primarily used to store beverages, therefore a decent-sized refrigerator is essential. For those more passionate about cooking or who have an interest in international cuisine, options such as Fisher & Paykel’s Induction Cooktop paired with a gas wok burner, provide cooking flexibility.


How do you design Fisher & Paykel’s appliances to fit individual styles?

We talk about design flexibility a lot, which is all about ensuring we design appliances to fit a multitude of design styles and solutions. With more people than ever living in high-density areas, we have to prioritise customisation in appliance design. No matter the size of the home, we hope that the appliances are either beautifully displayed or integrated seamlessly and discreetly. Having multiple options to play with allows people to make considered decisions, no matter the style or size of their home.


What are your top tips for designing a functional compact kitchen space?

  1. Think about the usable space above and below your appliances and how this can be used to add functionality. For example, add a storage drawer below your oven for baking trays and racks.
  2. Installing an induction cooktop means it can serve as a stovetop and surface space.
  3. Look at ways to maximise space, like installing a single Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer below your oven.


We have have teamed up with Fisher & Paykel  to giveaway a Fisher & Paykel Single DishDrawer™ Dishwasher. Click the red button to enter!