Israeli kitchens grow in sophistication during COVID-19, designer says

Israelis are looking into improving their kitchens in greater numbers than ever before, Avivi Kitchens main designer Shlomi Cohen told The Jerusalem Post. This is because after the first Passover lockdown, families were forced to spend larger amounts of time in their kitchens and things that might not have been noticed before, such as storage shortage or a lack of electric outlets, now became an issue.  With 50 years of experience in the field, Avivi Kitchens, owned by Itzhak Avivi, caters to private clients and works with builders to ensure that each family gets the optimal kitchen for its needs. For example, introducing a kick-space to utilize the base of the kitchen cabinet means families can easily store their Shabbat hot-plates or Chamotte stone [a heated stone used for baking].Smart Kitchens offers a charging pole that is “hidden” inside the kitchen counter and can be extracted with the press of a finger for the times when a parent has to make a sandwich for a child and charge a phone or a laptop at the same time. “People like to see a neat space in which things are easily hidden,” said Avivi Kitchens chief designer Shlomi Cohen, who has 18 years of experience in the field, in an interview available on the company site. This is especially true during lockdown periods, when people bake or cook in large amounts and want a streamlined work process, as well as storage solutions for all the bread and cake they bake.      Due to the government enforcing lockdown during the holiday period, families also need space solutions to store festive foods and snacks for children who are asked to study at home. Some families report they consume more food than usual due to stress and being expected to stay put.   DURING THE early decades of the state, kitchens were usually a small room where the person who cooked in the household, usually the housewife, would work. The food would then be brought to and consumed in the living room. But those days are long gone. In the modern Israeli family, Cohen told the Post, “everybody cooks: men, women, even the children. In the Israeli home today, we see kitchens that have multiple users.”  This introduced the Israeli norm of seeing the kitchen as an “island” in the apartment or home. Meaning, it’s meant to be a large space used for sitting and talking – and of course, eating. It’s almost always big and at the center of the residence.The kitchen is such a vital element in how Israelis imagine their homes that often, Cohen reports, they come to discuss the kitchen before the first building permit is even issued. In some cases, a client has a specific goal in mind – like a special oven that the kitchen must be arranged around. “I always start by realizing what it is that the client wants,” Cohen says: “to see the needs.” The average Israeli family changes kitchens once every decade, when they move houses or when the family increases or decreases in size.  “Now during COVID-19, we saw a surge of interest – and in fact, after the Passover lockdown, we had to put clients in a waiting list because the demand was so great,” Cohen said.  Since kitchen building is part of the larger construction sector, Avivi Kitchens’ factories were allowed to keep on working in two shifts during the lockdown and began using the capsules method to ensure that workers won’t be infected. “People are also looking for work surfaces that you can easily sanitize now,” Cohen added, pointing out this new demand during the pandemic.  “In the past, the designer had to introduce some concepts to the client,” he joked, “today the demands come from the clients themselves.” 

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