We all know that Hollywood is full of designers who cater to the needs of their clientele, some are even celebrities or movie industry moguls; however, few kitchen designers have the real Hollywood design experience of Elina Katsioula-Beall. Born & raised in Athens, Greece, Elina studied theatrical set design there before moving to Los Angeles, where she became an award-winning Art Director for the Oscars. The energy that surrounded her design work on set translates into incredibly stunning kitchens – she even has created her own kitchen design philosophy, Gestalt Design. From Emmy nominations to receiving ten awards in the last five years from the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Elina is an incredible and vibrant asset to the industry.
NT: You’ve developed an approach to kitchen design, which you call Gestalt Design. Tell us about that.
EKB: It all started when I was creating a set for a comedy. It was about a couple who were running a gourmet restaurant out of their house, cooking their famous dishes in their own kitchen. The design had to allow for a series of hilarious scenes to unfold – scenes of real, inspired cooking, hearty eating, marital fighting, kissing and making up. Designing a kitchen suddenly meant providing the space where life with loved ones happens – life beyond cooking and eating, life exactly the way everyone would want it: with the new kitchen being the arena for a profound transformation of lifestyle.
NT: Tell us about a project where you’ve used this approach.
EKB: Path to Japan is a kitchen I designed for a client who has had a life-long love affair with Japanese art & architecture. We transformed a low ceiling 70’s kitchen into a “Voluminous Height” centuries-old Japanese merchant’s mansion.
NT: What was your source of inspiration?
EKB: The kitchen design is inspired by the time-honored Japanese woodwork, and especially the traditional “Tansu,” a customary Japanese chest or armoire: you see it in the refrigerator assembly, all the lattice wood work, and the look of the cabinetry.
NT: You used two Native Trails hammered copper sinks in Path to Japan: Farmhouse 33 and Cantina. What led you to select our copper sinks for this project?
EKB: Your artisan crafted copper sinks are reminiscent of the antique Japanese metal work, which includes similar hammered metals. I really felt that for this project, copper was the way to go!
NT: Tell us about the unique stove backsplash.
EKB: This is a 400 year old horse-wrapping textile, which we placed in a U.V. protected museum-quality case, inwardly lit.
NT: You’ve said that your signature style is tailoring your designs to your clients’ psyche, which you certainly did with Path to Japan. Do you have any key advice for clients?
EKB: Forget trends! Bring home with you only what you love and what you know for sure you will love for the rest of your life…
Path to Japan photography by Suki Medencevic, Suki Images