WALLPAPER*: OTOMOTO rethinks the domestic kitchen

WALLPAPER*: OTOMOTO rethinks the domestic kitchen

This article originally appeared in Wallpaper* Handmade X, published on 23 Jul 2019. To read the original article, click here. Words by Alyn Griffiths.

A few years ago, British artist Ryan Gander was looking to install a new kitchen at his home in Suffolk when he realised how uninspiring the kitchen sinks on offer were. ‘Why doesn’t someone make one that’s really good?’ he wondered – and that’s exactly what he’s set to do now, with the help of creative director and former Wallpaper* editor-in-chief Tony Chambers.

The result is the OTOMOTO kitchen sink system, which embodies key principles that appeal to both collaborators: utility, luxury, ergonomics and sustainability. It’s a passion project for Gander, who has established an international reputation for his creative output, which includes sculpture, graphic design, performance and film-making.

The design of the kitchen sink system is informed by ideas and philosophies Gander encountered during his regular visits to Japan, where he exhibits with Tokyo gallery Taro Nasu. The name OTOMOTO is derived from a Japanese word that roughly translates as ‘close at hand’, and its creators sought to develop a product that ‘moves around the chef rather than the chef needing to move around the kitchen’. As Chambers explains, ‘the current trend for kitchens that are the size of a ballroom is ridiculous. Cooking should be a pleasure, it should be very functional and ergonomic, and if things are close at hand, it becomes a much easier task.’

The OTOMOTO system condenses several functions into a single multipurpose unit. The full-length sink has an upper lip that holds up to six chopping boards, while a lower inset lip supports a series of modular Gastronorm containers, a staple of industrial kitchens. According to Gander, who uses an early stainless-steel prototype, it encourages the user to behave more efficiently. ‘The idea that the kitchen is the kitchen sink means that washing up just becomes part of the process of preparing food,’ he says. ‘You no longer notice you are doing it.’

The version shown here was developed in collaboration with London architecture office Matheson Whiteley, using Cosentino’s quartz-based Silestone. The sink’s dimensions are informed by the standardised Gastronorm containers, which are easy to purchase and replace. There are also plans to develop an even more premium version in collaboration with a renowned Danish cabinetmaker.

OTOMOTO’s founders are preparing for the system’s official launch next year. The date they have chosen, 02.02.2020, is the only day in the 21st century that will work as a palindrome in both English and American date formats. The brand’s name is also a palindrome, which appealed to Chambers’ aesthetic sensibilities as a graphic designer.

The system, which was several years in development, is the starting point for a larger project: there are plans for the OTOMOTO concept to include other objects, as well as events, books, films and anything else that follows ‘the same 'close at hand' principles of utility, ergonomics, luxury, sustainability and making mundane tasks more pleasurable’, says Chambers. What started out as a simple quest to create a better kitchen looks set to evolve into a world of creative opportunity that Chambers and Gander already refer to as ‘everything and the kitchen sink’.

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