Charlottes love affair with traditional kitchen décor has sizzled for decades.
That makes the new Hans Krug kitchen showroom, on West Morehead Street near Freedom Drive, a bit of an anomaly. The place is filled with sleek, modern cabinets that are available in 28 finishes, ranging from understated to somewhat exotic.
Hans Krug President Tony Battah believes he has products that can keep the company afloat, especially as more newcomers arrive.
People who move here from other cities Miami, Dallas, Chicago, New York they want a little more of a contemporary look, and theres nowhere at this price level to find it, Battah said.
Battah sold kitchen cabinets and other types of building materials for 22 years before he launched the Hans Krug brand.
The idea came as he was renovating his home in Charlottes Eastover neighborhood.
He couldnt find the contemporary cabinet designs he wanted, so Battah hired a factory in Slovakia two years ago to build some for him. He was happy with the factorys work and thought others would be, too.
That prompted me to make my own showroom here in Charlotte, he said.
He opened the first Hans Krug location in December to work with builders, architects, designers and homeowners. Hed ultimately like to have locations nationally.
The cabinets are built at the Slovakian factory, which helps keep cost down because of moderate labor costs, Battah said. Hes working directly with the factory, rather than buying from a wholesaler. That also keeps his prices down, he said.
Already Battah is brave enough to mention his upstart brand in the same breath with SieMatic and Scavolini, both established, contemporary luxury brands.
He believes hes found a way to attract customers who might also consider buying cabinets from those companies.
Something we would sell for $12,000, they would sell for $50,000 and up, he said.
Hans Krugs arrival is not the first attempt to reimagine the regions kitchens in a way that breaks with Southern customs for kitchen decor.
Scandinavian retailer Ikea has been doing that for a few years, with a competitively priced catalog of kitchen products.
Nolte Home Studio in Pineville is also a seller of contemporary kitchen designs, but the phones were no longer in service last week.
SieMatic, an established, high-end contemporary brand, had a showroom on East Boulevard before the housing boom withered, then crashed in the recession.
Prices in SieMatics contemporary Floating Spaces collection start around $35,000. The companys high-end BeauxArts 02 collection starts at about $100,000 for a small kitchen.
SieMatic now serves the mid-Atlantic market, primarily through its showroom in Charleston and through a partnership with The Kitchen Specialist in Durham, according to CEO Hans Henkes.
Charlotte is an attractive market that has embraced contemporary design, Henkes said.
Keri Henley, a certified kitchen designer and co-owner of Artisan Cabinetry, said new markets continue to emerge for cabinets with simple designs without corbels or etchings on the doors and frames.
As the city gets younger and with a lot of these high-rise projects thats what they put in, more of the contemporary look, Henley said.
The finishes for Hans Krug cabinets are created with high-gloss lacquers, solid wood veneers, laminates, as well as artificial wood grains created through thermal foil heat transfers, sometimes with a gloss or texture on top.
Concealed hinges made by Blum also are a part of the Hans Krug aesthetic. Motorized door lifts can be added as an option on upper cabinets to make it easier to open and close the doors. LED lights are also available.
Along with the clean aesthetic, Battahs products have other features that he expects will appeal to conscientious consumers.
Ninety percent of the materials used to make the boxes inside the decorative frames were recycled, Battah said. The manufacturing process is also greener because the company limits the use of formaldehyde as it makes cabinets in nearly 300 sizes, Battah said.
I had a goal, he said, explaining why sensitivity to the environment became part of his approach to design. I wanted to differentiate myself from other manufactures doing the same thing.