With a love of cooking and a job that relies on good quality light, photographer Finn Beales has designed a flexible open-plan room that doubles as his photo studio in a home he and his family have lived in for over 20 years. At the heart of the space sits the Bora Professional 3.0 Cooktop.
"I wanted a large open plan area that could accommodate clients and crew when shooting but also double as a space for entertaining family and friends," says the talented photographer. With a unique ability to tell personal and inspiring stories with a camera, Finn's resonating and cinematic style has seen global brands such as Lufthansa, Food and Wine Magazine, Land Rover, and Omega tap him for his signature look and creative approach.
"The room is double aspect with large windows facing East/West which delivers stunning, soft golden light at each end of the day - great for pictures. We also built a small preparation kitchen across the hallway, which conveniently keeps all the mess out of the main space leaving it uncluttered and considerably easier for shooting finished dishes."
"Although a contemporary build, we didn't want a shiny, modern interior for the extension. I was genuinely terrified of spoiling the beauty of what we already had, which is extremely easy to do when extending a period property. The new needed to respect the old, so we chose natural raw materials throughout - all beautifully imperfect. For example, we have raw plaster walls - there's no paint - it’s sealed with beeswax. All the windows are lined with oak. The gable end of the original house, now an interior wall, was repointed with lime and left exposed. The kitchen is also oak with welsh slate worktops and brushed brass taps from Toni in Copenhagen. All of these materials will age and develop a patina as a result of use - a key design principle. "
Finn tells us that a kitchen island in the open-plan space was a pre-requisite. He describes it as a 'stage' for food, but an extractor hood obstructing the view would have ruined the feel of the room and his imagery, so after some research into alternative approaches, they found Bora's Professional 3.0. He says that a cooktop and extractor in a single product seemed too good to be true, but after attending a demonstration at our London Showroom, they were 100% sold: "Without an extractor hood - we have more space, no obstructions when shooting, an odourless interior, and the gravity-defying effect of steam pouring down into the island is genuinely exciting... it photographs so well!"
After discussing their needs with our team at Bora, Finn opted for a dual extraction system - exhaust and recirculation. The exhaust version channels cooking vapours outside through the BORA's Ecotube ducting. The recirculation version pulls air through an activated charcoal filter (which cleans and removes any odour molecules) before returning it to the room. They use the recirculation version for steamed dishes or boiling water and the exhaust system for more odour-heavy cooking, such as grilling and frying.
Finn says, "The effect of steam and fat defying the laws of physics and disappearing into the cooktop is an instant crowd-pleaser - like a magic show, and surprisingly quiet, the sound of the food cooking is louder than the extractor fans!"
As with all Professional installations, Bora supplied construction drawings which their architect used to incorporate the exhaust system into the floor. Careful consideration was given to optimising the route, ensuring it worked as efficiently as possible. Once the concrete floor was poured, encasing the ducting, Finn worked with his kitchen designer to build a bespoke oak island (the stage) around the extraction system, induction cooktops and teppanyaki grill.
Aside from the aesthetics, Finn says working with the system is a dream. In particular, the Tepan Grill - a 4mm thick stainless joint free steel plate. "It has completely changed the way we cook, eat and shoot! It's incredibly flexible and opens up a whole range of creative possibilities - fish, meat, vegetables, omelettes etc. At 54cm deep, we can also cook multiples of one dish, as opposed to being restricted by the size of a frying pan to one serving at a time."
The family of four maintain an extensive kitchen garden where they grow an abundance of produce - zucchini, aubergine, tomato, peppers, chilli, lemons, peaches etc. They use the Tepan to grill vegetables and fruit and find cooking in this way helps retain taste, vitamins, minerals, and colour - the latter working well for Finn's photography.
The Tepan is split across two grilling zones, controlled independently, making it ideal for simultaneously cooking different ingredients. For example, you can use the back zone for grilling vegetables at a low temperature while searing meat over a higher heat in the front area.
"We are delighted with our new kitchen/studio, especially the Bora Professional 3.0, which has completely changed our relationship with cooking, eating, entertaining, and my job."