Kitchen Closeup | Braelin by Don Cameron

  • Kitchen Closeup | Braelin by Don Cameron

    We go behind the design of the Boffi Xila kitchen in Don Cameron’s Braelin project, home to Dr Gene Sherman AM and her husband Brian Sherman AM.

    Since it was first manufactured in 1972, the Boffi Xila has set a benchmark for kitchen design. Designed by esteemed Italian architect and designer Luigi Massoni, the Boffi Xila is among the earliest kitchens ever to feature cabinetry without handles, making it a pioneer in kitchen innovation and craftsmanship.

    Don Cameron specified a custom Boffi Xila kitchen inside Braelin, an exclusive home in Sydney designed for Dr Gene Sherman AM, a philanthropist, academic and an expert on art, fashion and architecture, and her husband Brian Sherman AM.

    We spoke with Boffi Studio Sydney and Melbourne director Edwina Withers to dissect the details of this collaboration and why she believes the Boffi Xila was a natural extension of Don Cameron’s design intent.

    Produced in partnership with Boffi

    Braelin, home to Dr Gene Sherman AM and her husband Brian Sherman AM, has been described as one of Sydney’s most exceptional homes. What was it like to collaborate with Don Cameron on this special project?

    Edwina Withers: Boffi has partnered with Don Cameron on some other wonderful projects in the past. Don’s ability to create unique interiors through blending historic, collectable and contemporary design is no more evident than in the Braelin project. His knowledge and approach are truly inspiring. It was such a privilege to collaborate with him on the Sherman’s residence, which combines many atmospheres supporting their extraordinary art collection.

    When Don Cameron approached Boffi, what were his specific design requests; what requirements did the Boffi kitchen meet?

    Edwina Withers: As the kitchen lives in an open plan space that becomes a form of ‘borrowed landscape’ from the dining area, Don wanted to de-materialize the kitchen in a way that freed wall space for art to be integrated into this area. From the outset, art was to be the home’s main feature in terms of visual hierarchy. By deleting all overhead joinery and using downdraft extraction, the kitchen exists at waist level with the eye drawn to significant artworks occupying the walls above and adjacent the work surfaces. It’s as though the Boffi kitchen has been inserted among the collection – not the other way around.

    Fundamentally, why do you believe Don Cameron specified a Boffi kitchen in Braelin? And how does the Boffi Xila kitchen align with Don Cameron’s overall design intent?

    Edwina Withers: Don has always chosen to work with Boffi for his kitchen designs because he deeply believes in the quality and design acumen that Boffi is renowned for worldwide – its history and pedigree. He particularly likes working with our Xila Collection; it’s his go tokitchen because of its clean lines and adaptability. The Xila, designed by Luigi Massoni, is one of our most customisable products within the Boffi collection.

    We’re interested in Boffi Xila’s customisable details – from its form and function – to its De Castelli’s Delabré Iron finish. How has the Boffi Xila kitchen been customised for Dr Gene Sherman AM and her husband Brian Sherman AM?

    Edwina Withers: The customisations for this Xila kitchen include DeCastelli Delabre Iron clad doors, fully wrapped on all four surfaces. This was the first time Boffi had produced this detail on a project. In addition, the tall units have a beautiful hand applied cement finish – also a first. This extensive artisan and handcrafted finish is evident on the rear elevations’ vertical surfaces and is intended to merge these volumes with the base architecture.

    The Boffi Xila kitchen was first designed in the early 1970s by late Italian architect Luigi Massoni. Why do you believe it remains a timeless kitchen today, and how does it capture Luigi Massoni’s approach to design?

    Edwina Withers: Luigi Massoni was a top figure in design. He worked with many famous names in Italian architecture. In the sixties, he worked for Boffi as a designer and art director, creating some of the first modular systems for the home and kitchen. The innovations introduced by Luigi Massoni leave a legacy in the kitchen, which has changed meaning and contents.

    The Xila was the first to showcase wall and base units without handles and subtle recess. This revolution has made Xila unique and timeless. Truly ahead of its time, the Xila is an innovative design at its finest. The kitchen can completely transform depending on the materials used.

    Don Cameron also specified Boffi’s Garden tap set designed by Piero Lissoni and the Onsen bath in Salvatori Gris du Marais stone designed by Rodolfo Dordoni in the bathroom. Why do you believe this continuity of Boffi product in the home is important to the design resolution? 

    Edwina Withers: Boffi and Salvatori are worldwide partners, and we have exclusive rights to Salvatori in Australia. Salvatori and Boffi share the same design philosophy and high level of quality craftsmanship. Don’s approach to the ensuites and bathrooms was to create spaces that were nurturing. This was achieved using raw, warm and natural materials that moved intentionally away from cold surfaces that look overly sanitary – such as stainless steel. Instead, the approach celebrates a raw and textural luxury –wooden floors, stone walls, linen curtains; that describe a more oriental and zen atmosphere. Both in name and design, the Onsen bath speaks to the concept. With their play on old outdoor taps, the Garden faucets are both visually honest and operationally the perfect solution. Everything is present, yet no single object shouts too loud. All tapware, designed joinery and fixtures work together to create a unique sanctuary and overall sense of harmony.

    “The Xila was the first to showcase wall and base units without handles and subtle recess. This revolution has made Xila unique and timeless. Truly ahead of its time, the Xila is an innovative design at its finest. The kitchen can completely transform depending on the materials used.”


    – Edwina Withers

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