Everyday ClassicDiscussing Kitchen Design with Reform
"The initial idea for Reform erupted out of the desire to make the coolest kitchens in the world, and to make them affordable"
For many of us, the kitchen is the hub, which propels and sustains daily life. It feeds us, hosts family and friends, and bears witness to celebrations and trials. We can spend hours there, fluttering between drawers and cupboards, concocting feasts; or just a few quiet minutes making a cup of tea. In an elegant showroom in Aarhus, this is the subject of conversation with Jeppe Christensen and Michael Andersen, cofounders of designer kitchen brand Reform. Excited about the possibilities for this pivotal domestic space, they founded the company in 2014. ‘The initial idea for Reform erupted out of the desire to make the coolest kitchens in the world, and to make them affordable,” Michael tells Cereal. His and Jeppe’s combined energy is palpable, their words always accompanied by broad smiles.
Beneath cloud-grey walls, their showroom is awash with sunshine, pouring through original windows dating back to 1927. As the morning light develops, it casts beautiful angular shadows against cabinet doors, and a soft sheen spreads across metallic countertops. The energising scent of coffee drifts through the space, thanks to resident coffee roasters, La Cabra, who Jeppe and Michael invited to share the unit in the middle of Aarhaus’s main train station.
Reform’s modus operandi is to work with renowned and innovative designers, creating kitchen fronts and countertops, which take IKEA units as the base skeleton. ‘The kitchen industry is old,’ says Jeppe. ‘It’s not innovative. It needed new air, especially from a design perspective. We wanted to rethink the conventional kitchen: What other materials can you use? Do all the lines and surfaces have to be straight? What can you do within the boundaries of the IKEA system, and how far can you push it? All these kinds of questions keep Reform evolving.’
Jeppe and Michael’s motto, ‘Everyday Classic,’ translates as timeless design, reasonably priced. Moreover, they aim to create kitchens with a lifespan of fifty years. Launching the venture with reputable design forerunners such as Bjarke Ingels, Henning Larsen Architects, and Norm Architects, they formed additional collaborations with up and coming designers from the art, fashion and architecture industries. The result is a range of nine unique kitchens, which have won them loyal clients from Berlin to California, and especially in their home country of Denmark.
‘One of our best selling designs is Basis,’ Jeppe says, ‘which has a round cut out handle. It’s the one which gives clients the greatest opportunity to define their own colour palette.’ Reform enthusiastically encourages this creative freedom, helping each client to fashion a kitchen that is a true reflection of his or her life. Conformity is out of the question. Each design is listed in its own range of materials, such as stainless steel, smoked oak and neutral paint colours including conifer, ash and pewter. This degree of scope has produced some awe-inspiring results, most notably, perhaps, from fashion designer, Stine Goya. ‘I never would have imagined a completely brass kitchen,’ Michael says. ‘The design from Meyer Bengtsson was intended to combine colours, but Stine ordered the whole thing in brass. It looks incredible!’ ‘With other clients, it’s not just the about kitchen in isolation, but how it works in relation to the rest of the home,’ Jeppe says. ‘Talking to clients about these things in depth is where we have the most fun. We’re curious to hear how people live; it’s a true source of inspiration for us.’
After four years in business, Jeppe and Michael have finally fitted their own Reform kitchens at home. Whilst Jeppe altered his rented apartment’s IKEA kitchen with Cecilie Manz’s design, Degree, in Oregon pine, Michael favoured the Basis design in blue linoleum.
Never ones to stand still, they have steered away from IKEA altogether with their latest venture, COMMON. Staying true to the Reform mindset, the new brand offers a small collection of ‘radical yet sensible,’ sofas. Each sofa reflects the stylistic traits of its designer, from the flower-strewn Flowerfield sofa by Baum and Pferdgarten, to the angular practicality of Mooner by Studio David Thulstrup. The sofas are crafted in Lithuania, renowned for high quality upholstery work and a long tradition of working with linen. ‘Michael loves sofa factories,’ Jeppe laughs, looking at Michael. ‘It’s a stupid fetish,’ Michael responds, with a sheepish grin. Given their love of detail and design, it’s not surprising that their enthusiasm extends to every stage of the process. Reform still demands most of their time, and they entrust the direction of COMMON to Uffe Jordan, an old friend of Jeppe’s.
While COMMON takes off, Michael and Jeppe are busy developing Reform’s next project. ‘Our next kitchen will be an upcycled design.’ Michael reveals. ‘You’ll be able to see it soon. It’s just beautiful. It’s made from waste, and yet there’s no compromise in design or quality. That’s really important for us. If I go to a supermarket, I’m happy to pay more for an ecologically friendly product, but not if it’s a bad apple. I’ll only buy it if it’s good quality.’ ‘We’re also thinking about making our own cabinets,’ Jeppe says. ‘We will probably only launch that as an option if it can also be renewable or upcycled. At the very least, if a client wants to get rid of the kitchen after a time, we will take it away free of charge and put it back into service. It’s not because we want to save the world; it just makes sense. It respects the integrity of our kitchens.’