Jonas Bjerre-poulsen shares his cooking secrets
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.