Magazine article Sunset

Culinary Art

Magazine article Sunset

Culinary Art

Article excerpt

COUNTERS SLICE THROUGH CABINETS AND PUNCH through walls. Cabinet doors wrap around corners and hinge in unexpected places. Branches, wooden fish sliced in half, and rusted metal trivets serve as drawer pulls. Multilevel, cast-concrete counters display inlaid pieces of granite, fossil fragments, strips of metal, or an embossed image of a hand. These are some of the delightful surprises that enrich the kitchens crafted by Berkeley designer Fu Tung Cheng.

Cheng brings an artist's eye and reverence for materials into the kitchen--the busiest room in the house. Though form seems to reign in his designs, function has not been forgotten. Cheng never loses sight of the kitchen's essential purposes: meal preparation, cleanup, and storage.

Cheng's work reflects his diverse educational and professional background. An art major in college, he studied painting, sculpture, and printmaking. As a student of architectural history, he was influenced by the fanciful works of Spain's Antonio Gaudi and the eclectic mixed-media texturing of Watts Towers. Once out of school, faced with the inevitable artist's quandary of finding a way to support himself, he became a contractor, gaining practical experience and insight by building other people's designs before creating his own.

What sets Cheng's work apart is the way elements common to every kitchen--cabinets, counters, sinks, shelves, even appliances--fit together. "I try to create a flow between materials, so that two elements might read as one," he explains. He is also constantly experimenting with new uses of familiar materials: "What else is possible of this material?" he asks when he uses plywood, concrete, plaster, stainless steel, or natural stone in his projects. Something as simple as intentionally varying the direction of the grain of the wood used on adjacent cabinets creates a subtle composition enlivened by the play of light upon the facets of the opposing grain.

A handcrafted aesthetic finds expression in nearly every element of Cheng's kitchens (as well as in other rooms he has designed). He employs no off-the-shelf cabinet systems or countertop materials; virtually everything is custom-made. Designing and fabricating a one-of-a-kind concrete counter or stainless steel vent hood requires a substantial investment of time by Cheng and the tradespeople he employs, and of money by his clients (whom he likes to call patrons). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.