When the regional winners representing Northern California and Hawaii for the 2013-14 Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest were announced in the spring of 2015, all of us at Riggs Distributing Inc. were thrilled as our region had not one but two regional winners. Over 1,400 designs were submitted globally with each entry featuring one major Sub-Zero and one major Wolf appliance, the competition was fierce among the best of the best. We are thrilled to share the inspiring designs from our regional winners.

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One of our winners, Arthur Krikor Halajian, CKD, founder of Kitchens & More in San Rafael earned his degree in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. To pay for his education, he worked as a journeyman carpenter for construction firms Swinerton-Walberg and Ireland-Robinson Hadley and, after graduation, worked for Fluor Corporation, a global engineering firm, in Japan and Saudi Arabia. Halajian spent a year traveling the world before returning to California to work with in his family’s kitchen-and-bath remodeling firm and for another local builder. In 1988, he launched a successful residential construction firm with a business partner until 1992, when he formed Kitchens & More, a design-build company specializing in kitchens and baths with his wife and business partner, Rosemarie Halajian, a LEED AP.

We asked Arthur Kirkor as few questions about his design style and thoughts on the future of kitchen design.

Riggs: Where do you find inspiration?

AKH: Inspiration comes from our unending commitment to family and to make a difference in the lives of our clients on every project no matter how simple. It inspires us to be part of a team that builds a space that supports life aesthetically, physically, and emotionally.

Riggs: How do you approach the design process?

AKH: We begin with conversations. We listen to the words and body language of our clients and make sure they understand that they’re being heard. We find out what kind of cooking they do and how often. What kind of cooking they would like to do. We like to know how much entertaining they do and would like to do. Knowing how they entertain is important, too. We build the space visually while listening and watching for what feels right to our clients. We imagine the space working for them when they are at home with their family or when they’re entertaining.

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Riggs: What makes your aesthetic stand out amongst other designers/architects?

AKH: We like to think that it isn’t necessarily our aesthetic that we bring to a project, but the client’s. And, because each client is unique, each project is naturally unique. We do believe in quality, in excellent products that function well and look beautiful, in seamless design and effortless traffic flow.

For this kitchen our client wanted a tranquil, uncluttered contemporary space with kitchen equipment ready to cook weekend meals for family staying together at their two neighboring oceanside homes. The kitchen was designed to blend into the space without dominating it, or taking any focus off the magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean beach right outside the living room.

Riggs: What is the greatest value you provide your clients?

Being able to listen, understand, and think about what could work for a particular space. Being willing to dig deeper, to work through details to find solutions that were not immediately obvious, but when found, seem like a clear and pure expression of our client’s vision, is our greatest value.

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Riggs: What is your biggest challenge as a designer/architect?

AKH: The design process takes patience, and while our years of experience has made it easier for us to arrive at an innovative solution, it can occasionally take a little longer for a client to understand or visualize the end result. But, we find that patience and additional explanations go a long way toward building client confidence and, ultimately, their happiness.

Riggs: What does the Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest mean to you?

AKH: When we started out nearly 25 years ago, we used to look at kitchen photos constantly. The best kitchens were those with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances. The creativity behind each of those kitchens inspired us. We were honored that our client, a woman who owns multiple homes, selected our firm to build this Sub-Zero and Wolf kitchen based on our portfolio of completed projects.

This was not her first kitchen remodel and she came to the project with a very clear vision of how she wanted this kitchen to look, feel and function. Our twenty-five years of experience, dedication and determination prepared us for this wonderful opportunity to help her achieve her dream kitchen.

Being recognized for Excellence in Design by the panel of esteemed judges for the Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest affirms our strongly-held company belief that excellence must be built into every project we undertake. This award is one of the greatest accolades we ever hoped to achieve.

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Riggs: What are some of the current design trends?

AKH: We see kitchens becoming more clean-lined and uncluttered, where comfort and efficiency are maximized but ornamentation is minimized. Another trend we’ve observed is that appliances are the kitchen components upon which people will happily splurge. Having high quality, thoughtfully designed appliances help people cook and entertain more easily and creatively. And, that makes the kitchen a fun space for family and friends to gather.

Riggs: Where do you see kitchen design going in the next five years?

AKH: We see kitchen design moving in the direction of this kitchen: clean lines, tranquil, easy to be in, easy to work in. It’s luxurious, but not overly decorated. We also see a continued appreciation of gorgeous, smart, professional-style appliances that allow people to function easily in the kitchen.

Schedule and appointment at Riggs Distributing Inc. to learn how Sub-Zero and Wolf appliance can be the perfect fit in your own kitchen. See our list of events to learn more about Sub-Zero and Wolf. Want to see more designs, see them all on our Facebook page and give us a like!