Plumbing for the changing open kitchen

Modern kitchen design requires manufacturers to combine aesthetics with functionality

Open kitchen designs continue to be highly desirable in many styles of restaurants, from fast casual to fine dining, but the nature of them is changing. Owners realize not everything that happens in a kitchen is ideal — or even appropriate — for being showcased to patrons. Modern designers are more carefully considering what and how to turn the kitchen into a theatrical stage.

Designing for modern open kitchens involves careful consideration of how the kitchen will function, what activities are best left behind closed doors, and what is necessary to support both the visible and hidden sides of the operation without sacrificing aesthetics or function.

To see or not to see

Owners and designers must first decide what activities will be on display in the open kitchen. Will it be everything from prep to clean up? Or just the sauté line and plating? If it’s the former, are there ways to make the functional and necessary — but less “cooking show glamourous” — aspects of a kitchen more appealing?

When equipment is part of the décor, designers must look for alternatives that are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Manufacturers have been heeding the call and rolling out equipment in recent years that offers sleek lines and other touches that make them more visually appealing.

T&S Brass, for example, recently released a new pre-rinse unit design with the open kitchen in mind, the T&S DuraPull.

“People are now seeing what’s happening behind the wall, and a pre-rinse system wasn’t exactly eye-catching,” said David Scelsi, T&S product marketing manager. “There was an opportunity to make this important kitchen tool both more appealing, with sleek lines and modern styling, and more durable for high-volume kitchens.”

Maintaining functionality

All the good looks in the world aren’t valuable if the kitchen doesn’t function effectively. That means not only selecting equipment that’s appropriate for the job but also designing a workflow that minimizes unnecessary labor, safeguards against contamination and prevents inefficiencies.

A hand sink may not be the most visually pleasing element in a kitchen, but does it impact functionality — or, worse, discourage regular use — if it’s placed around the corner, away from the public eye?

Some equipment choices can surreptitiously add functionality without detracting from aesthetics by hiding in plain sight. Using partial partitions or shields between the kitchen and dining area is not only an important safety (and typically code-driven) separation, it can offer the opportunity to tuck some functions out of sight.

Or designers can use commonly disregarded space to store necessary materials and equipment. For example, a T&S hose reel can be installed on a table leg with a swing bracket, allowing it to be tucked under the tabletop when not in use. Even if that particular area is visible from the dining room, few people are gazing at the chef’s knees to look for stowed equipment. In that way, the powerful cleaning that’s important in kitchens is out of view of diners during serving hours.

To learn more about how T&S plumbing products can help kitchens of every style operate more smoothly and efficiently, visit

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