Jonas Bjerre-poulsen shares his cook­ing se­crets

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Kitchen Profiles -

Sig­na­ture dish? I’m es­pe­cially fond of Ital­ian food. Be­fore I started study­ing ar­chi­tec­ture, I lived in Rome for a year – I tried to learn all of the cook­ing tricks and now have a large reper­toire of pas­tas, risot­tos and br­uschetta. In the past five years or so, I’ve also taught my­self to make Viet­namese food. Cook­ing sound­track? Usu­ally the only mu­sic to be heard is the busy sounds of siz­zling pans and boiling wa­ter. Favourite recipe book? I have a li­brary with around 100 recipe books. I love to browse through them and look at the food pho­tog­ra­phy. It’s a big pas­sion of mine. For in­stance, I like the first Noma cook­book, which was pho­tographed by Ditte Isager.

Go-to uten­sils? A pot, pan, spoon and knife: with those sim­ple tools I can make al­most any­thing.

Most trea­sured ob­ject? A 1970s teapot made by ce­ram­i­cist Bente Hansen, who has a lot of beau­ti­ful, ex­pen­sive pieces on dis­play in the Dan­ish De­sign Mu­seum. I also col­lect ceram­ics from Japan, Korea and Den­mark – they are used as dec­o­ra­tive ob­jects in my kitchen.

When de­sign­ing our kitchen, the colour came first. At the time, we were test­ing out more ad­ven­tur­ous hues for the Boform ‘Frame’ kitchen, so our cup­boards are painted in Far­row & Ball’s ‘Oval Room Blue’. Very strong colours don’t suit the nat­u­ral, north­ern light we have in Den­mark, so we wanted to cre­ate a kitchen that was still within a sub­tle, muted pal­ette but more in­ter­est­ing than neu­trals. It’s quite un­usual here to use shades like this, but it’s my favourite thing about the kitchen. Each in­di­vid­ual cup­board and drawer has its own crafted frame.

There are no han­dles – these are incorporated as in­dents in the fronts so that they don’t de­tract from the de­sign. The whole thing looks flush and con­tem­po­rary. Our phi­los­o­phy has al­ways been that a kitchen has to be a piece of fur­ni­ture – one that re­ally works as part of a space. The work­tops and splash­back are made of Statuario mar­ble, part of the Car­rara fam­ily. We se­lected this stone be­cause it has the finest lines and veins. It looks slightly more ar­chi­tec­tural. We opened up the stair­case so you can see through the treads and painted it the same colour as the walls. Be­fore, it was

closed off and looked mon­u­men­tal. This ad­just­ment has made the whole in­te­rior much lighter. We also turned the space into a kitchen-diner, which I much pre­fer – we love to en­ter­tain and the din­ing table from Habi­tat can be ex­tended to seat up to 14. Both Kirsten and I like to cook, es­pe­cially Ital­ian food. This is a good season for me, as I can make hearty din­ners, such as the Ital­ian casse­role osso buco – my sig­na­ture dish – as well as risot­tos and beef bour­guignon. The ex­trac­tor fan is built into the work­top. It works us­ing a down­draft, which is more ef­fi­cient at re­mov­ing cook­ing smells than the tra­di­tional models that hang from the ceil­ing above the hob – plus, I al­ways bang my head on those. It makes the overall de­sign of the kitchen look cleaner. The floor­boards are newly laid pine, painted in Far­row & Ball’s

‘Hague Blue’. We chose this colour as a con­trast to the blue kitchen cup­boards and to en­sure that there was more depth to the room. boform.com; cph­square.dk

I de­signed the kitchen to en­hance the del­i­cate ver­ti­cal tex­ture of Fine­line Tilly board, an Aus­trian en­gi­neered tim­ber made from thin pieces of pine glued side by side, which gives a re­ally in­ter­est­ing de­tailed effect to the join­ery.

I had the idea of us­ing white con­crete for the work­top and sink af­ter see­ing it used to cre­ate a stair­case in the RIBA award-win­ning Covert House in Clapham. Nar­row doors in the flat meant that the con­crete had to be cast in-situ. To make sure that the kitchen was strong enough to sup­port it, the ply­wood car­cass had to be built on site too. I wanted the en­tire kitchen to look com­pletely clean with no join lines, so for the splash­back I used cork, which comes on a roll, backed onto ply­wood. Ev­ery­thing was fin­ished with a coat­ing of white Osmo oil. I in­her­ited a lot of fur­ni­ture from my grand­par­ents, in­clud­ing

the Er­col din­ing chairs with Gothic-style de­tail­ing – they were very un­cool dur­ing my child­hood. The din­ing table is by Ilse Craw­ford for Ikea. It’s made from cork, which matches the splash­back. I made the pen­dant light my­self, us­ing a gold-leaf-cov­ered cym­bal and a stack of cop­per pipe re­duc­ers to en­case the plas­tic cord. It is a sur­pris­ingly good kitchen for cook­ing in. Sonja and I usu­ally do all the prep at the table. Next to the hob there are two ver­ti­cal draw­ers, where we keep all the herbs and oils – we leave those open when we cook so that we can dip in for what­ever we need. I’m obsessed with hid­ing all the func­tional el­e­ments of the kitchen, so the cup­board at one end opens up and slides back, housing the ket­tle, toaster, blender and cut­ting boards. It al­lows the kitchen to be a sculp­tural back­drop when not in use. I re­cently did a cook­ing course in Morocco, where I learnt how to make a le­mon chicken tagine and an aubergine dish called Zaalouk salad. I also love slow cook­ing chilli for hours and mak­ing Thai green curry. I used to work at the ar­chi­tec­ture prac­tice DSDHA and, ev­ery Mon­day, two peo­ple would cook lunch for the whole team of around 30 peo­ple. I cooked that green curry a num­ber of times. The orig­i­nal recipe is from a Nigel Slater book, but I have tweaked it for years and now it feels like my ver­sion.

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