“In cooking as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection” wrote Curnonsky, the Parisian ‘Prince of Gastronomy’. Certainly this is true in product design for kitchenwares, and the new Kitchen Collection from Zara Home is distilled, concentrated simplicity.
If it’s true, as Zara claims, that “the kitchen is a reflection of its owners”, then the Zara Home customer is surely the same as that of the Spanish brand’s fashion house: elegant, continental, minimalist, and inexplicably drawn to linen despite its obvious impracticalities.
Spanning textiles, utensils, cookware, accessories and a small selection of Smeg appliances, the collection breathes a Spanish simplicity so vivid you can practically feel the warm terracotta walls. A neutral palette, course textiles and liberal application of acacia wood means you can bring a little of the Basque Country into your kitchen, without standing over a paella for three hours.
Stoneware Oven Serving Dish, £19.99 – £49.99
In several shapes and sizes, the stoneware oven dishes are charmingly rustic with their irregular edges, off-white glaze and hand-painted black edges. Somewhat surprisingly but very pleasingly, they’re not just fine for the oven and freezer, but also microwave- and dishwasher-safe.
Cutting Boards, £19.99 – £49.99
These cutting boards in three sizes elegantly contrast the teak’s warm tones with the sleek powder-coated black handles. They look fantastic propped against a tiled backdrop and even better hung on a wall. Annoyingly, they’re not dishwasher-safe, so more practical as ornamental or serving boards than for real chopping purposes.
Kitchen Timer, £19.99
There are undoubtedly pieces among the collection that have prioritised style over substance. This kitchen timer is surely one – it’s difficult to believe anyone would use this to actually time the cooking of their eggs when clearly a phone or watch is far, far more convenient. But it’s a very beautiful thing nonetheless, and why shouldn’t our kitchens be home to things that are beautiful albeit impractical?
Stoneware Colander, £29.99
…That said, there are also some excellent examples of design in this collection – both form and function. This beautiful stoneware colander doesn’t just exude sun-drenched villa vibes with its satin white glaze, it’s suggested to double up as a fruit bowl, upon which the holes allow the circulation required to keep your fruit fresh and firm.
Smeg Toaster, £129.95
Am I suggesting, even for a moment, that you should drop £129.99 on this toaster? No. For one, it’s clearly an obscene amount for a toaster, but more importantly, two-slice toasters are ludicrous. When has one toasted hot cross bun ever been the correct number of toasted hot cross buns? But it’s undeniable that Smeg’s Italian aesthetic, retro styling and skilful use of curves is unthreatened by the ‘Smeg-esque’ (Smeg-ish?) affordable competitors who have tried to de-crown them in recent years.
Storage Basket, £15.99 – £17.99
These wire baskets with detachable (and washable) linen linings are perfect for storing bulky vegetables like potatoes or onions. But I’m planning to use them for those bags and packets that perpetually leak into hard-to-clean drawer corners. I’m looking at you, self-raising flour – you know how you be. So instead of having to empty an entire shelf or drawer to wipe it down, you can just unbutton the lining, lift it out in one go, flatten to easily move the contents and wash.
Japan: The Cookbook, £59.99
With its inlaid bamboo cover, this Nancy Singleton Hachisu cook book is as much work of art as it is comprehensive guide to Japanese cookery. Bon Appetit described it as “an essential, authoritative, approachable guide”. It’s also a third of the price on Amazon…
Terracotta Oven Casserole Dish, £17.99 – £19.99
These cream terracotta casserole dishes are crying out for an ever-so-slowly reduced stew, the kind that goes caramel-sweet at the edges where tomato meets dish and starts to blacken. They’re safe for the oven, freezer, microwave and dishwasher, but not for direct heat. And you don’t want to make that mistake – I’ve been there with some bargain stoneware from TK Maxx that was not hob-safe and once you’ve fished tiny pieces of diced onion out of hob rings for forty minutes, you don’t repeat the mistake.
The off-white glazed stoneware salt shaker with its satin sheen and naturally distressed rim contrasts in both colour and texture with its matte black pepper counterpart. They’d look great on a natural linen tablecloth.
Grater with Wooden Base, £11.99
This smartly designed cheese grater is aesthetic leaps and bounds beyond the plastic versions. The elegantly rounded acacia wood frame and pleasingly stubby handle make it a thing of beauty, while the removable and dishwasher-safe metal plate is practical with a happy absence of awkward or hard-to-clean parts.