Neuschwanstein Castle’s servants’ kitchen inspire new utilitarian Belgian design

Utilitarian Belgian design kitchen
Designer Michaël Verheyden, interior builder Koen Roux, and architect Bart America reveal a highly functional kitchen modelled after the rudimentary service kitchen of Neuschwanstein Castle. Photography: Piet Albert Goethals
(Image credit: Piet Albert Goethals)

At Interieur Kortrijk, a trio hailing from the eastern Belgian province presented their very first collaboration: a kitchen that, despite the grandeur of its conceptual origins, is reassuringly utilitarian. Interior builder Koen Roux, designer Michaël Verheyden and architect Bart America looked to the highly functional yet rudimentary service kitchen of Neuschwanstein Castle in order to create a model that’s simply built to last – and function.

Neuschwanstein Castle, now a popular Bavarian tourist destination, was completed in the late 19th century. The brainchild of the extravagant recluse King Ludwig II, it’s Romanesque and ornate, but its kitchen, meant only for the use of his servants, was not designed to please aesthetically.

Interieur Kortrijk kitchen

The kitchen is a poignant example of the ‘form follows function’ principle

(Image credit: TBC)

It was exactly this contrast in aesthetics which attracted the creators: Roux, Verheyden and America. ‘Most luxury kitchens are too sophisticated and sleek’, Verheyden explains. ‘We wanted to react against that.’

The trio’s kitchen is luxurious as well, though not in the sense to which we have become accustomed. ‘I realise that times have changed’, admits Verheyden, ‘and that a lot of people no longer cook at home all that much. But some people still enjoy it. Those are the people we created this robust kitchen for.’

Interieur Kortrijk kitchen

Elm wood cabinets are topped with hygienic stainless steel, and gris d’Ardennes, a hard natural stone, is used for the sink

(Image credit: TBC)

Roux, a fourth-generation furniture-making company that Verheyden collaborates with frequently for his wooden furniture and stone objects, lent its craftsmanship and expertise to this unique project, without reverting to a design that’s overly romantic, traditional or old-fashioned. Just like the King Ludwig II’s service kitchen, the design is a poignant example of the ‘form follows function’ principle, where logic and convenience rule.

The kitchen’s materials were chosen based on functionality, and local availability – as was the case with the castle kitchens, which helps to retain a simplicity of manufacture. Elm wood cabinets are topped with hygienic stainless steel; gris des’Ardennes, a hard natural stone is used for the sink. The Neuschwanstein kitchen paved the way, says America. ‘Proven methods do not always need to be reinterpreted, and patina and quality can go hand in hand perfectly.’

Utilitarian kitchen by Koen Roux, Michaël Verheyden and Bart America

The robust kitchen is designed for those that enjoy cooking at home

(Image credit: TBC)

Interieur Kortrijk kitchen counters

Materials were chosen based on their functionality, and on their local availability

(Image credit: TBC)


Biennale Interieur is open until 22 November. For more information, visit the Biennale Interieur website, the Roux website, Michaël Verheyden’s website and Bart America’s website

Siska Lyssens has contributed to Wallpaper* since 2014, covering design in all its forms – from interiors to architecture and fashion. Now living in the U.S. after spending almost a decade in London, the Belgian journalist puts her creative branding cap on for various clients when not contributing to Wallpaper* or T Magazine.