Designing for Longevity with Cantilever

  • A kitchen lives by its practical details; the touch of a handle, the comfort of a communal benchtop, the satisfaction of a storage system where everything has its rightful place. Beyond style or space, the daily unison of form and function within a kitchen is what guarantees its longevity.

    Australian design-focused kitchen manufacturer Cantilever live and breathe this approach, having steadily built a collection of tailored kitchen systems revered for their quality, function and style. As the company unveil their much-anticipated Tableau tailored kitchen system (their first product release in four years) we took a look through their product collection to understand how their background and deep industry expertise continues to inform the evolution of Cantilever kitchen systems.

    PHOTOGRAPHY Haydn Cattach | STYLING Nat Turnbull 

    Founded in 2006 by Charlie Wilde and Travis Dean, Cantilever was born in a workshop cohabited by many other local makers; ceramicists, artists, painters and furniture makers. Early collaborations between the company and its neighbours led to Cantilever’s natural evolution into architectural joinery, specifically through products that could be repeated and adjusted.

    The emphasis on handcrafted yet replicable elements and an appreciation for sustainable and highly functional materials was evident from Cantilever’s first product, the K1. Launched in 2010, the system is defined by its Laminate with ply trim benchtops, and laminate fronts, and continues to prove popular as an entry level product for the company. While its material palette may differ from later systems from Cantilever, it’s clear from their earliest system that the company had customisation and user-centric design at the forefront of their approach. “There’s an inherent systemisation behind the systems across our ranges,” says Kylie Forbes, Business Manager at Cantilever, “but there’s also inbuilt moderation, so we have the capacity to design for any space using the knowledge of our system.”

    The success of K1 led to the release of K2 in 2012, again drawing on sustainable and local producers to create the new system and palette. But while Cantilever had built a distinct reputation as a sustainable joinery producer, this system re-examined this status through the use of broader materials. Laminate and ply again feature, but instead they are integrated within the carcass of the system for their high durability. Reconstituted stone is used in the benchtops, and Blackbutt veneer and a two-part paint finish are combined for the fronts. The K2 also offered the opportunity for Cantilever to partner with fellow Melbourne-based producer Sussex Taps, pairing the Voda tap range from Sussex with a custom Cantilever sink for an exclusive combination. “We wanted to offer a higher quality alternative to imported sinks – so there’s a sustainability piece – but we also wanted to offer our clients something that is distinctly unique in our product range,” says Kylie. “It’s something that’s unique about the kitchen system model, but it’s also absolutely necessary in the Australian market – people want the opportunity to feel that things are personalised for them.”

    The pursuit of personalisation continued in Cantilever’s K3 system, their third release. Anchored by the white laminate on ply that adds a slightly mid-century aesthetic, the K3 also offered an opportunity for Cantilever to explore cut-out handles as part of the range – a feature that would be further refined in their Tableau system. While we at est were quite taken with the Mutina tiles on show in the K3 splash back, Cantilever refrain from specifying splash backs or appliances in this and their other kitchen systems, instead building in opportunities for the owner to add their own preferences and imbue their personality to the space.

    “Each of the ranges is a progression of our design intent, the skills we’re picking up, things we’re experimenting with”

    Kylie Forbes, Cantilever

    Nowhere is the combination of design intent and the company’s ever-growing skillset more clear than their newly-released Tableau system. Developed in collaboration with architecture and interior design practice DesignOffice, the system weaves together the expertise Cantilever have built over their previous three systems and countless project builds, while celebrating the enduring elements of their prior designs in a progressive manner.

    The project was born from a multi-residential project both businesses worked on in 2014, where Cantilever were engaged to rationalise a kitchen design by DesignOffice, refine it and produce it. Kylie says it was clear there was an opportunity from the start. “It was a standout conceptual kitchen for us, we were really impressed by DesignOffice’s ability and how they had thought about the utility of space, so from the beginning we felt like it was such a strong piece that we could see the value in picking it back up and releasing it as a product”. Four years and an extensive design process later, Tableau is undoubtedly the jewel in Cantilever’s crown, encompassing the high level of craftsmanship the company are known for with a refreshing palette developed by DesignOffice. Every element of Tableau was scrutinised in the process.  “The handle was case in point” Kylie explains, “there were maybe 10 designs before we settled on the one. It was part of the design brief to have a distinct handle as part of the system, and because the handle is really a touchpoint of the whole system, it has to meet so many more functions beside aesthetics; it has to work, work in complement to the cabinetry and be part of working hardware and integrated appliances that can be manufactured at a repeatable price point.” The end result is testament to all the team’s hard work – a beautiful yet highly functional piece of hardware that is confidently unique while expanding on Cantilever’s continued commitment to detail.

    Comprised of four components, Tableau’s core is defined by functional elements titled ‘Block’ and ‘Bench’; ‘Shelf’ and ‘Store’ elements work in harmony to complete the system. The modular system allows for flexibility and adaptability to diverse spaces, functioning like high-end furniture to shape and define the habitat surrounding it, rather than the other way around. “There’s huge potential for Tableau to be used in different kinds of spaces” says Kylie, pointing out how its block or bench elements could work well in spaces varying from a shared office to family home.  

    Just as Cantilever built in opportunities for customisation in previous systems, the Tableau can be personalised through its unique palettes, component sizing, splash back and benchtops materials and appliance choice. By building personalisation off the back of their expertise, Cantilever are helping to reshape what a modern kitchen looks like – and how it comes together.

    Find out more about Tableau on the Cantilever website or see more on est here.

    Cantilever Directors Charlie Wilde and Travis Dean with Mark Simpson and Damien Mulvihill from DesignOffice

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