A unique insight from stainless steel specialists GEC Anderson

Housing Thu, Jan 18, 2018 9:00 AM

As the popularity of stainless steel worktops continues to grow, it is interesting to examine why this should be as well as how and when this trend may have started.

GEC Anderson have been supplying custom-made stainless steel worktops since 1962. So, with such a long experience, built up over more than half a century, GEC Anderson are in a unique position to provide an insight into these questions.

In practice, choice of worktop material reflects a combination of factors, including, aesthetics, versatility, performance and safety. Stainless steel provides the discerning specifier with the ultimate kitchen worktop material. Its initial specification can be traced back to the early post war era, in an age where ‘design’ was really just beginning to emerge.

A prime example, in London, involving the widespread use of stainless steel within a residential development was at the highly prestigious Barbican Centre. Stainless steel worktops were supplied by GEC Anderson to approximately 2000 apartments, specified by the forward thinking architects Chamberlin, Powell & Bon.

(Although construction of the Barbican was carried out during the 1970’s, its planning and design occurred in the 1950’s). The need to maximise use of the limited space available for the kitchens combined with a desire to provide the ultimate in material performance lead, naturally, to the selection of stainless steel worktops.

Since these early days of post war prosperity, coinciding with a new attention to ergonomics and design, increasing numbers of consumers have, gradually, become more discerning and enlightened. It is natural for aspirations to rise towards honest, safe, versatile, attractive and sustainable materials. At the same time, we have witnessed a parallel rise in the popularity of stainless steel appliances, in place of their predecessors - painted or coated mild steel ‘white’ goods. In turn, this has helped to remind consumers of the existence of stainless steel worktops but also stainless steel cabinets, splashbacks and furniture. Use of ‘honest’ materials, such as stainless steel (that are not coated, painted or veneered) is resonating with consumers seeking sustainable and authentic surroundings.

Whilst the underlying product remains fundamentally unaltered over time, some superficial changes have occurred. For instance, sink bowls tend to have tighter corners and edge profiles seem to be getting thinner. GEC Anderson take this in their stride by offering a wide range of standard sink bowl sizes and edge profiles that can be varied in height from 4 to 120mm. Within the general constraints applicable to stainless steel worktops, certain possibilities tend to present themselves. For example, a recent project included a ‘rivets’ edge profile (see picture). These kind of details and possibilities provide a clue to the versatility available with custom stainless steel worktops. In turn, this helps to explain their continued popularity. Their striking appearance and extreme resilience are impossible to ignore.

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