Concrete versus Quartz: Are trendy work tops really necessary?

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Do we all have to have trendy work-surfaces? Is using concrete work surfaces, hints of copper or shiny handle-less cupboards an example of good design? Does it all have to be granite or quartz work tops?

There are many talented kitchen designers and architects who understand the ergonomics of form and do not sacrifice practicality for style. Concrete may be perfect for a feature island or a long run of units beautifully lit – they look great and are fabulous to touch. However,the art of the designer is prevent it looking like a solid inert mass or an autopsy table; using varying heights and/or a mix of materials assists this process.

There is no great advantage to concrete as a worktop material so ultimately it is down to lifestyle choice it: it is not superior to granite which has been around for eons, quartz or stainless steel, just different. Although a family kitchen is predominantly a machine for cooking, in our western culture it is also the living heart of the home: a place of meeting, conversing, sharing laughter and occasionally food. It is this multifaceted usage that dictates, as designers, we avoid creating overly brutal and heartless environments: it is not just an engine room.

Like many designers, Patrick Porter at Patrick Porter kitchens believes that the advent of the Quartz work top is the closest to an ideal work surface, so far. It is uniform in consistency and less likely to suffer accidental damage. It is impervious to stain and comes in a variety of colours not found in nature.

Currently we seem to be trending to lighter colours and amongst our clients favourites are the white stones and particularly Silestone lagoon, which is similar to Carrara marble but much better behaved. As always, the deciding factor in kitchen design is the desire for visual appeal versus purpose. Which comes first?

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