Reinventing The Indoor Kitchen Industry
The path to reinventing the indoor kitchen industry began with a simple challenge.
“While we make the best outdoor kitchens available today, we always had indoor environments in mind,” said Michael Sloan, owner and founder of John Michael. “We just needed a platform to showcase what we could do. And then we were approached by our first indoor kitchen client.”
Founders Craig and Michael Sloan
The client was Marcus Wainwright, founder of trendsetting clothier Rag & Bone. A cabinetry connoisseur himself, Wainwright approached John Michael after being impressed with their outdoor offerings. Wainwright’s other two residences were furnished by Vipp and Poggenpohl, two of the finest indoor kitchen makers in the world. The John Michael project was intended for Wainwright’s farm house in the Catskill Mountains.
“He was really into the indoor kitchen world, and what was possible,” Sloan said. “As a fashion designer, Marcus favored clean lines and had a clear vision in mind. He wanted to control how the end product would look, and trusted us to handle the rest.”
To accommodate Wainwright’s creative inspiration, John Michael acquired best-in-class woodworking equipment to match their cutting-edge metallic technology. John Michael then leveraged its already proven craftsmanship to bring their very first indoor kitchen to life.
The result? A modern yet rustic flat panel kitchen with a John Michael signature charcoal powder coat finish. Also on display was another feature unique to John Michael, a full panel overlay adorning a Viking refrigerator that seamlessly integrated the appliance into the stainless-steel cabinetry.
One final request from Wainwright provided the spark needed to truly create an unprecedented indoor space.
“When I gave him the option between wood or metal drawers, Marcus wanted to do wood interiors to contrast the metal cabinet boxes and faces,” Sloan said. “He wanted to balance durability with indoor functionality for everyday use. We had to adapt accordingly, and this was the catalyst for our first competition indoor kitchen.”
The very first indoor kitchen designed by John Michael was completed and installed in late 2019. Mere months later, John Michael parlayed these pioneering concepts into their first Kitchen Bath Industry Show (KBIS) indoor entry in February 2020.
The kitchen was a matte black design with Alta trim and stainless strapping, boasting half walnut, half stainless-steel interiors and a La Cornue CornuFe 110 range. The Alta trim was engineered specifically with the CornuFe appliance in mind, and has since become the most requested trim at John Michael.
Black Alta outdoor custom kitchen design was a finalist for Best of KBIS
“The buzz this kitchen created at KBIS 2020 let us all know that we are absolutely on the right track,” Sloan said. “This was extremely meaningful to not just our creative minds at John Michael, but all of our employees as well.”
KBIS 2021 was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic that gripped the world for the better part of two years. In the subsequent gap between industry shows, John Michael continued pushing the creative envelope as demand for their indoor kitchens began almost immediately.
“While we were initially shell-shocked by the pandemic like everyone else, it also accelerated our indoor menu as a result,” Sloan said. “It seemed that household budgets were going away from vacations when it became apparent that people wouldn’t be leaving their homes. Instead, those vacation budgets went towards improving homes and spaces.”
When it was announced that KBIS 2022 in Orlando would proceed as normal, Sloan knew what he wanted to accomplish with his next official indoor entry.
“We went into it with aspirations of winning the whole thing,” Sloan said. “After KBIS 2020, we were laser focused on honing our craft, and wanted the finished product to be reflective of all that hard work.”
The ‘finished product’ became the honey gold indoor kitchen, which also debuted two new entrees into the John Michael indoor menu. The first was the honey gold powder coat itself, which is now a mainstay in John Michael’s color repertoire. The second was a 10’ vent hood custom built by John Michael, which also incorporated Bluetooth speakers. Sloan plans on introducing a line of custom vent hoods in early 2023.
Honey Gold custom kitchen design won Best of KBIS 2022
The kitchen itself incorporated an all-metal chassis with honey gold interiors. Glass front uppers also showcased how John Michael was bucking the particle board and flashy veneer trends of traditional cabinet makers.
The final touch was a clear coat finish on the faces, a process that took years of research and development to perfect. The clear coating mutes the reflective surfaces of typical raw stainless-steel, and, most importantly, eliminates finger printing.
In the face of heavy competition from household establishment brands such as LG, Samsung and Miele, the John Michael honey gold kitchen won the “Best of KBIS – Kitchen Silver” award in February 2022.
“We squared off against major, major corporations that gross billions of dollars annually,” Sloan said. “These companies provide tons of financial support for these institutions and events. Because of this, award winners usually come from these companies. The judges felt compelled to go to bat for us, as they made it clear that we deserved national recognition for our work.”
What began as a challenge to create an indoor metal kitchen nearly three years ago has come full circle for John Michael. But for Sloan, the challenge is just beginning.
“We provide something different, and of extremely high quality,” Sloan said. “Once people outside of the design world realize that what we do is a feasible option, the future is absolutely unlimited."