the marriage between architect and manufacturer is almost always mutually beneficial: The architect is allowed to push the design and material envelope, and the manufacturer can prove the merits of its product in a high-profile manner. In the case of Z.Island-a futuristic kitchen complete with a wet and dry island and cabinet system-the architect is Zaha Hadid, the company is DuPont, and the stage is global: first an unveiling at the 2006 Milan Furniture Fair, and then inclusion in a retrospective of Hadid's work at New York's Guggenheim Museum (see 'Fluidity and Fragmentation,' above).
The collaboration showcases Corian surfaces, in glacier white, molded to meet the demands of a 3D model created in Hadid's London studio and executed by Italian fabricator Ernesto Meda. The space-age form of the larger dry island-which features a cooktop, a cutting board, aromatherapy dispensers, a flat-screen TV, and an iPod dock-is complemented by an embedded LED display that emphasizes the translucency of the non-porous surface. Controlled by an integrated touch pad, the linear array of red LEDs can be programmed to form four 7-diode-high rows of text, spelling out anything from a greeting to the ingredients of a recipe. A positionable 'light spot' on the vertical arm of the island is comprised of several cool-temperature white LEDs integrated into one housing, which provides tasklighting.
But lest one think that the islands are to be installed in any old kitchen, Hadid has also designed undulating Corian wall panels that front cabinets and appliances to form a quilt-like grid-some backlit by color-changing LED fixtures, creating a warm diffuse glow that plays nicely off the white, glossy surface. katie gerfen
Katie Gerfen is associate editor at Architecture magazine.