Spring Street – Cucina di Famiglia!
Martina Gemmola is a Melbourne based interiors and lifestyle photographer and longstanding Cantilever collaborator. Stepping out from behind the camera lens, Martina didn’t think twice to engage us for her kitchen renovation.
We caught up with Martina at her Spring Street home to chat about the design process and bold palette selection for her K2 Kitchen.
Tell us how your relationship with Cantilever began.
A few years ago I was commissioned by Cantilever to refresh their imagery, and along with stylist Ruth Welsby, we photographed their projects, bringing their kitchens to a new audience. It was the first time I had heard of them, even though they were in my neighbourhood!
Was there a particular moment when you realised that you had to have a Cantilever kitchen? Perhaps a detail that you’d seen in another fit-out, or something about their approach?
For me, the level of detail and passion that goes into a Cantilever kitchen was evident from the get-go. I remember photographing the process of a Cantilever installation, and watching the team as they scrutinised every millimetre. I loved how calm the spaces felt when you were in them, and the practicality of the fittings and fixtures. Everyone was unique, yet they all had a sense of warmth and individuality. There wasn't one light bulb moment, but rather a feeling of slowly becoming part of the Cantilever family, and so it was a natural progression to welcome one into my own home.
“What I learnt from being in kitchens through my travels was that in order to make it work for you, it has to feel like you.”
Being a widely travelled photographer of interiors and food, I’m sure you’ve visited many amazing kitchens. How did those experiences shape the brief for your own?
The kitchen is probably the most important part of a home for us: a place to gather, eat and reflect on the day. What I learnt from being in kitchens through my travels was that in order to make it work for you, it has to feel like you. If it was anthropomorphised, what kind of person would it be? I feel like the kitchens and homes I visited overseas nailed that concept, and always gave a sense of the inhabitants, being through colour, texture or the collections of wares gracing the benchtops.
Were there any distinct challenges to that vision during the course of the project?
My goodness! Choosing your own kitchen when you see SO many in your work was, at times, overwhelming. I have walked into so many spaces I really love, but wouldn't necessarily reflect us as a family, so it was again, narrowing it down to what feels right for us in the colour and material choices. Our layout was pretty set as it was a modest renovation on a small block. Cantilever brought our ideas into focus and really helped work out what was important to us.
Which parts of the design feel uniquely you?
The colour of the cabinetry was a big decision, as it's so tempting to go with white and keep it minimal and appealing to the masses. We ended up choosing Sage by Haymes Paint – our favourite colour has always been green, complementing our growing jungle of a garden it looks out onto. Also, we often have a crowd around our island bench, so we increased the capacity for seating to accommodate all our coffee drop-ins.
Let’s talk about that gorgeous terrazzo! And more broadly, what inspired your material selection?
Ahhh yes, my pride and joy. Our heritage is a mix of Greek and Italian, so the terrazzo is a little nod to our ancestry! Terrazzo is considered the poor man's marble in Europe - it is literally everywhere. I love the way it wears down and shows signs of the people living amongst it. When I spotted this particular one with its beautiful greens and greys, it's like the kitchen all came together in my brain.
“Working with the team as a client gave me even more appreciation for their skill, patience and drive. They really love what they do, and that shows through their work.”
And aside from the terrazzo, what is your favourite element of the kitchen?
I love the open boxes that allow us to display all our lovely collections of ceramics and books. My husband and I are always jostling for space to put our favourite pieces up there – it gets a little crowded sometimes, and I may or may not sneakily edit his things out....
One of our favourite elements is having the coffee machine built into the spot that gets the first rays of morning light. We worked with Cantilever to make the most of this placement as coffee is a little too important in our house!
Having already worked with Cantilever in a creative capacity, can you reflect on the process of becoming one of their clients, and collaborating with them in a personal way?
Working with the team as a client gave me even more appreciation for their skill, patience and drive. They really love what they do, and that shows through their work. The trust we built up over the years allowed us to push the envelope a bit, and be a bit more daring with our choices. I have stood in their workshop and seen every piece of the kitchen being made with their hands, and feel proud to have such a solid, mindful and absolutely gorgeous design in my own home. It gives me so much joy!
Are there any learnings that you may have taken from the project?
Always trust your gut, but mostly trust the professionals you have commissioned to execute your ideas. Don't get too sidetracked by what everyone else is doing, stay true to your style and go for it. And make sure you triple seal that terrazzo!