Styling and photography by Michelle Halford/Studio TDC
Read the interview here.
The pink kitchen is the only colorful spot and the main accent in the design of this calm small Swedish apartment. It is important to note that the kitchen here is so tiny – it appeared as a result of dividing one living room into two spaces. But the designer managed to make it look stylish and attractive – the combination of plywood and black top cabinets against a pink wall looks really cool. In general, the limited space is used as efficiently and beautifully as possible. Great job!
Запись Small apartment with pink kitchen in Sweden (42 sqm) впервые появилась PUFIK. Beautiful Interiors. Online Magazine.
In design of Nicholas Gurtler’s apartment in Melbourne, everything is as it should be in a designer’s home – unusual furniture and original decor items. If chairs, then the original angular forms; if paintings, then necessarily abstraction or contemporary art; if decor, then amazing forms and functions. And, of course, dark accents are everywhere, because the owner is a modern young man with good taste and strong character. Let’s have a look!
Запись Stylish Australian designer apartment in Melbourne впервые появилась PUFIK. Beautiful Interiors. Online Magazine.
L’Ovella Negra is a small and cozy hotel in the mountains of Andorra. Previously, the building served as a private home, so the hotel has only four rooms, but this creates a special atmosphere of comfort and hospitality. The interiors are designed in the style of mountain chalet: a lot of wood, stone, natural fabrics. Metal and leather furnishings are balanced with boho decor and wickerwork. But, perhaps, the two main advantages of this place are nature and solitude. You can go for a mountain hike, grill with the hosts, or just read a book by the fireplace – as if you were staying at someone’s place!
Запись Cozy mini hotel L’Ovella Negra in the mountains of Andorra впервые появилась PUFIK. Beautiful Interiors. Online Magazine.
Located on Ny Østergade in the city’s old town, the flagship store belongs to jewellery brand Dulong and features an open-plan layout broken only by a few existing cast-iron columns.
Its “serene, soft and welcoming” interior is arranged much like a living room, with a curved sofa and round coffee table at its centre.
To enhance the sense of homeliness, the local firm opted for natural materials such as oak flooring, clay walls, travertine display tables and caramel-coloured suede and linen curtains.
According to Norm Architects, the selection is intended to reflect the jewellery brand’s “timeless and exclusive” pieces but was also inspired by the studios of great modernist artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși.
The oak parquet flooring is original, while everything else, including the clay walls, has been added.
Burnished brass, glass and walnut feature as material accents across the store’s lighting, as well as in the bespoke furniture pieces that were designed for the space by Norm Architects.
A colonnade stretches across the entire back wall of the store in a nod to the neoclassical architecture of Copenhagen. Within each of its recesses sits a travertine plinth with a glass vitrine displaying an individual piece of jewellery or artwork.
At the back of the store is a private room where customers can try on jewellery, alongside a separate kitchen space and restroom.
“The quality craftsmanship with which the jewellery has been designed is reflected in the carefully selected choice of finishes and elegantly feminine, balanced tonal palette,” said the Danish practice.
Founded in 2008 by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen and Kasper Rønn Von Lotzbeck, Norm Architects is renowned for its understated design and sensitive use of natural colours and materials.
In Tokyo, the studio renovated a pair of formerly light-starved apartments to create “transparent” living spaces with concrete walls, wooden floors and simple furnishings.
Meanwhile in Hamburg, the practice used oak, grey stone and yellow-tinted glass in a minimal makeover of a department store’s menswear section.
Photography is by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen.
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Designers including Es Devlin and Tom Dixon customise wooden furniture for lockdown project 19 Chairs
Organised by London designers Tom and Will Butterfield, the project began during the coronavirus lockdown last spring when the two brothers created 19 different versions of the “gloriously common furniture piece” using only 27-by 27-millimetre square section timber and wood screws.
In phase two of the project these chairs were sent off to be adapted by creatives from different disciplines around the world, with each receiving a different seat. The resulting designs will be auctioned off to raise money for Age UK, a charity dedicated to helping the elderly.
“We asked them to reinvent, reimagine or redesign their chair with an older person in mind,” Tom Butterfield told Dezeen.
“The brief was a nod to the outstanding work of Age UK, connecting our collaborators with those experiencing the isolating effects of the pandemic most deeply.”
He used the caramel’s golden-brown wrappers to cover the frame and glued rows and rows of the actual candy along the seat and backrest to create a textured finish reminiscent of a wood-beaded car seat cover.
Similarly, New York designer Nicole McLaughlin, who became popular on Instagram for her unlikely upcycling projects, used old, rolled-up newspapers and foam inserts to pad out the seat, while clear storage pouches slung over the armrests accommodate crossword puzzles and a magnifying glass to “exercise the mind”.
Rather than tailoring his chair to a generic idea of an older person and their preferences, Dixon adapted his for one particular person – retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
“He added panels to the backrest and arms before covering the chair in tin foil and aluminium foil tape,” said Will Butterfield. “Taking inspiration from Apollo 12’s Lunar Module Intrepid, the foil wrapping becomes immediately recognisable.”
Others focused instead on improving the comfort of the wooden chairs, with Sabine Marcelis wrapping the seat and backrest in translucent rubber sleeves and British fashion designer Ashley Williams creating a series of upholstered panels using the same patchwork technique she usually incorporates into her dresses.
Installation design studio Isabel + Helen built an entire cocooning machine and placed the chair on a revolving platform at its centre, allowing it to be slowly encapsulated in yarn with each revolution.
“The chair’s skeleton becomes encased within the machine’s tightly woven web, creating a soft outer shell for the angular chair,” the duo explained.
A number of participants took a more abstract approach, taking the chairs apart and using them to form entirely different items.
Es Devlin transformed her two-seater into a revolving lamp, betraying her longstanding fascination with light and movement, while Siedentopf simply sent the Butterfields back a plant in a terracotta pot instead of the chair, suggesting he had turned it back into a “younger and rebellious version of itself”.
Joe Lycett, a British comedian and artist, completely disassembled his seating design and wrote tongue-in-cheek, IKEA-style instructions for the new owner on how it can be rebuilt, including such directives as “insert nail into hole one carefully and kindly and with grace” and “call Alan to tell him you have his Alan key”.
Another cohort of designers simply made over the chair in their hallmark style, with Morag Myerscough using ripstop fabric and acrylic paint to transform hers into an explosion of colour.
London-based James Shaw applied his characteristic swirls of recycled, multicoloured plastic using a self-built extruding machine.
Chicago-based Benjamin Edgar redesigned his chair to act more as a “portrait of a moment in time”, reconfiguring its slatted seat to droop down as if exhausted but colouring it in a “brilliantly optimistic blue”.
Pandemic-permitting, the 19 Chairs project is set to be exhibited at London’s Protein Studios in April, while a parallel online charity auction – for which the Butterfields are still seeking sponsors – will raise funds for Age UK as well as the Resourcing Racial Justice fund.
At the end of last year, Los Angeles gallery Marta recruited a slew of designers including Marcelis and Martino Gamper, to reimagine another common household item – the humble toilet roll holder.
The aim was to help people become more conscious of using toilet paper and its considerable environmental impact.
Photography is by Alecio Ferrari.
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Case-Real, a studio headed by Koichi Futatusmata and Yuki Ohnita, designed the two-storey residence to make optimal use of a 148-square-metre site in a quiet residential area of the city’s Higashi-Gotanda district.
The timber-framed building is mostly covered in panels of hot-dipped galvanised steel to give it a sense of mass and solidity and a uniform appearance.
The same material is applied to the garage shutters and louvres flanking its top-floor terrace.
“During the day, the exterior wall reflects the surrounding green and artefacts, but at the night it gives a different expression,” the architecture studio explained.
“We aimed to create an architecture that allows you to enjoy the changes in texture and the ageing of materials gradually changing with time.”
House in Higashi-Gotanda is flanked by a low-rise apartment building and another property of a similar height, so a key challenge was finding a way to provide the lower storey with natural light.
Case-Real inserted a terrace on the upper level that functions like a light well, enabling daylight to flood into the adjacent living areas.
Angled louvres allow sunlight and breezes to reach the terrace and filter into the house while obstructing views from the neighbouring buildings.
Full-height windows connecting the internal and external spaces ensure plenty of natural light reflects off the sloping ceiling and down into the stairwell leading to the lower floor.
The angled ceilings make the most of the available height beneath a pitched roof designed to comply with setbacks restrictions relating to the distances from neighbouring buildings.
To enhance the sense of spaciousness and openness within the kitchen, living and dining area, the only interruptions to the clean, white ceilings are the central air-conditioning ducts requested by the client.
Artificial illumination is provided by a strip light running along the entire length of the ceiling ridge. A V-shaped metal reflector bounces light onto the ceiling to generate a soft and ambient glow.
A picture window at one end of the living space provides a view of the leafy neighbourhood. Wooden floors and joinery bring a sense of warmth to the pared-back interiors on both levels.
Case-Real’s previous residential projects include another house in Tokyo featuring a hexagonal living space that catches the sun at all times of the day, and a timber-clad cabin at the base of a mountain in Saitama Prefecture.
The studio has also designed several retail spaces for skincare brand Aesop, including one with materials chosen to reference snowy mountains and another featuring rough plaster walls and contrasting steel display units.
Photography is by Daisuke Shima.
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Stan Dixon, AIA, is the president and founder of his Atlanta-based firm, D. Stanley Dixon Architect, Inc. Raised in Sumner County, Tennessee, a region along the Cumberland River notable for its pastoral landscape and historic structures, Stan was inspired from a young age to study architecture. The simplicity of materials and authentic beauty of the houses, which originally compelled him to pursue architecture, continue to inform his design philosophy today.
“Whether our house be large or small, it can be beautiful and a pleasure to ourselves, our friends and to the passerby. While our wants and our pocketbooks determine the size of our house; our own good taste determines its character. Houses such as these will grow better as age adds its softening touch and they will be good houses as long as they endure.”
Welcome to the lump-free revolution – whether it’s nutritious smoothies, restorative soups or fun cocktails, the latest jug blenders will tackle them. It’s easy to see why a good blender is an essential addition to your kitchen.
For more expert advice on the gadgets to get, read our buying guide reviews
The latest models have moved on substantially from the lacklustre liquidisers of the past and now come packed with more power and innovative internal design than ever before. Never again will you find yourself sieving sauces or splashing money you don’t have on expensive smoothies. A good blender sat on the worktop might just change your life.
Why do I need a blender?
There’s just so much you can make with a blender, kitchen essential, just like their culinary cousin, the stand mixer. As well as the obvious smoothies and soups, you can create dips, spreads, sauces, milkshakes, nut butters and pestos. Those with a sweet tooth can quickly whip up brownie mixture, mousses, waffle batter, sorbets and ice cream.
A versatile blender can take you through from breakfast to dinner, and from spring to winter, mixing, blitzing, milling and whipping. Importantly, it will save you time and mess in the kitchen.
How much should I spend on a blender?
How much you spend depends on what you want your blender to be able to do. The good news is that if you’re on a tight budget, you can find a decent, basic blender for under £50. Its motor may have less power than more expensive models and the features will be limited – but it should still be able to handle everyday tasks.
Spend more than £100 and you’ll get a better choice of attachments and extra blades, usually a glass jug or a thermally resistant plastic one, and more choice of speeds and programmes. At the other end of the scale are premium blenders that have evolved from those found in professional kitchens.
These blenders will be far more powerful, sometimes enough to gently heat the contents. These blenders frequently come with a price tag upwards of £500.
Best blenders 2021
1. Vitamix Ascent 2300i – best blender overall
Dimensions: 43.2 x 20.3 x 27.9cm
Power: 1440 watts
Reasons to buy: Incredibly versatile, large 2L jug, smooth results
Reasons to avoid: With a hefty price tag, you may want a cheaper alternative
For those whose blender budget is more generous than most, it’s worth considering a Vitamix. That’s because its models are made for more than just blending.
The Ascent 2300i, for example, can be used to make your own butter (no churning by hand, yet all of the wow factor at your next dinner party), dips, nut butters, mayonnaise, non-dairy milks, hot soup from scratch without a pan in sight, bread and pasta dough, wholegrain flours, baby food and frozen desserts – essentially, almost anything you could make in a food processor.
To which end, it’s built with a more durable construction than you’d expect your average blender to have. There’s a large base to find space for in your kitchen, plus a two-litre plastic jug with a wide spout that manages to be both lightweight yet sturdy and a secure push-on lid that prevents leaks.
And while there aren’t any programmes, the Ascent 2300i doesn’t lack options – 10 speeds plus a pulse button mean you can scroll between gentle liquefying and pulverisation.
Other points of difference are a comprehensive recipe book, a tamper to nudge frozen ingredients towards its blades and an on-off switch so it’s not accidentally flicked into life. In testing, it made a smoothie that was completely lump and fleck-free in about a minute, staying steady on the worktop even at the highest speed. Its count-up timer on the front came in especially handy for keeping an eye on blending times.
Similarly, it took a minute to blend cooked ingredients into smooth soup and 6 mins 30 to blend and heat using the friction of its blades. A few pulses were all that was required to crush ice, and it cleaned easily after messy jobs by using water and washing-up liquid, with the mixture even reaching the lid for a thorough clean.
An investment appliance but one that’ll prove its worth.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
2. Sage Super Q – best quiet blender
Type: Plastic carafe and cup
Dimensions: 21 x 46 x 27cm
Power: 2400 watts
Reasons to buy: Powerful motor, quieter average noise, simple controls
Reasons to avoid: Big price tag
Putting off making your morning smoothie for fear of waking the whole household, or even the neighbours? The Super Q is here to save the day. While blending is never going to be a quiet activity, this speedy, commercial-grade machine does its best to dampen the usual racket, and, importantly, the sound it does make is less of a jarring whine – because it’s often the pitch that’s a blender bugbear as much as the volume.
However, it’s not just noise suppression that makes this blender an asset – it’s also the breadth of programmes, versatility and efficiency. In the box you’ll find a good-sized two-litre jug with a lid that clips firmly into place, a 700ml cup with removable blades and a lid that you can use to blend shakes or smoothies, tamper, spatula, and a sleek silver base unit.
The controls are devilishly simple to get the hang of – there are five programmes at the push of a button, such as green smoothie, frozen dessert or soup (designed to heat up ingredients rather than blend already hot soup), plus a manual dial for ramping up through 12 speed settings and an LCD screen showing count up or count down times.
What’s especially clever though, is that the jug is compatible with the separate Vac Q pump, which enables you to suck the air out before blending. In our tests, this resulted in far less froth in a fruit and veg smoothie and noticeably velvety butternut squash soup, heated in less than six minutes (although this was noisy).
The smooth textures also owe a lot to both sets of blades, which feature serrated knives and are powered by a mighty 2400W motor.
A final reason to love it is its frozen food and ice-crushing abilities – it transformed cubes into snow in about 30 seconds (the programme lasts a minute), which was easily scraped out. The only downside is the price – but if other blenders are leaving you disappointed or deafened, the Super Q is a superhero solution.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
3. Rx blender by Nutribullet – best blender for smoothies
Type: Plastic carafe/cups
Dimensions: 36.2 x 21.8 x 46 cm
Power: 1700 watts
Reasons to buy: Great value, lots of accessories, make soup quickly
Reasons to avoid: Blades aren’t dishwasher safe
Fans of the original Nutribullet looking to upgrade to something with more oomph will love the Rx. While some bullet blenders can leave behind flecks (of leafy greens, for example) the Rx uses its 2.3hp/1700W motor to create a flawlessly smooth consistency. Inside its blade unit, you’ll find four angled blades that screw into an oversized or short cup for smoothies or its Souperblast pitcher.
This comes with a vented lid, so you can use a special programme to blitz veggies into hot soup in only seven minutes. There’s no on or off button or speed settings. The Rx adjusts automatically to the contents and for the right amount of time – just drop the cup onto the base. In tests, it effortlessly blitzed smoothies using seeds and nuts. It easily tackled black treacle and broccoli too, all of which were thoroughly blended.
This super blender then made piping hot soup from vegetables and pre-made stock. It’s worth noting that it won’t brown ingredients, so some may need cooking beforehand. It was also used to blend creamy nut butter from almonds and oil.
One downside is that the blades aren’t dishwasher-safe, so you’ll need to clean out any residue by hand. Also, the cups are bulky to drink from directly and the kit it comes with doesn’t have an obvious way to stack it for storage.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
4. Rx blender by Nutribullet, £119, Amazon – best blender for one-touch programmes
How much blending is too much? If you’re the sort of person who feels like you’re always second-guessing your appliance or over-processing, meet the Power Blender. It comes with five auto programmes (one of which is a time-saving self-cleaning setting) that help take the effort out of blitzing ice, smoothies, desserts and soups, alongside four speeds plus pulse for when you want more control.
There’s also a recipe book in the box that gives you an idea of what you can make with it, and a spatula to help nudge stubborn ingredients towards the blades.
On the design front, it’s everything you’d expect from Magimix – clearly labelled buttons and a dial, a choice of three classic finishes, easy drop-on jug, and a good balance between sturdy and stylish. However, there are some quirks to be aware of, such as 1.8-litre glass jug. It’s heavy even without anything in it, so pouring out accurately can be tricky.
The push-on, pull-off lid can also be stubborn at first, and there’s a max run time of a minute. Beyond this, there’s a lot to love – the jug splits apart for cleaning, it’s all dishwasher-safe and you can blend soup that’s still relatively hot (up to 60 degrees C) so you don’t have to wait long after cooking.
Its smoothie programme, which was a gradual ramping up of speed, followed by low then high, took about 30 seconds to whiz through a fruit and veg smoothie. There was no trace of leafy greens left and the blend was beautifully consistent.
Its cleaning programme using warm water and washing-up liquid left the jug spotless with some residue remaining around the lid. It also crushed ice into snow in seconds while its auto programme turned hot chunky vegetable broth into silky smooth soup in just over a minute.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
5. KitchenAid Artisan Power Plus Blender – best blender for power
Dimensions: 44.9 x 26.7 x 23.1cm
Power: 1800 watts
Reasons to buy: Excellent design, produces great smoothies
Reasons to avoid: Very noisy
If the smoothest of smoothies is a priority, the Artisan Power Plus blender will deliver. Equipped with a peak 3.5hp motor and billed as the most powerful blender available, it liquefies everything from frozen fruit to nuts and grains.
There’s a choice of 11 speeds plus high or low pulse and three programmes for juice, smoothies and soups, plus a self-cleaning option. Its 2.6-litre blender jug is superbly designed – made from BPA-free dishwasher-safe plastic, it has a dual-wall construction so the exterior doesn’t become hot even when it’s heating soup. Inside the blender are four heavy duty 3mm-thick angled blades.
On top, a vented lid lets out steam, while a tamper comes in handy for solid food. The blender power cable also detaches for storage. Available in three glossy shades, the Artisan Power Plus blender is beautifully designed and rightly so – at 9.4kg, lifting it in and out of a cupboard would be a chore.
It’s more of an investment than your average blender, so you’d need to get lots of use out of it to justify the cost. It’s also an exceptionally noisy blender – anything over speed 7 may have you fleeing the kitchen. However, in tests, it gave a peerless performance with smoothies, soup and ice.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
6. Kenwood BLP400BK Blend X Fresh – best budget blender
Dimensions: 18 x 21 x 41 cm
Power: 650 watts
Reasons to buy: Value for money, dishwasher-safe parts
Reasons to avoid: Lower power compared to the competition
It might not have the sleek curves or glossy colours of some models but look past the simple black or white exterior of the Blend X Fresh: it’s a good blender at a pocket-friendly price. Boasting a 650W motor, three speeds and a pulse, it also has a nifty button for ice crushing, which works much like the pulse function but is more convenient to use for making everything from fruity slush to cocktails.
The blender’s two-litre jug is plastic and not suitable for blending hot food, but it has a working capacity of 1.6 litres, making it a better proposition than comparably priced models. Cleaning was straightforward: the blender jug disassembles and most of the parts are dishwasher-safe, although the blade unit had to be washed by hand.
In tests, the Blend X Fresh performed well, processing a fruit and ice smoothie until no shards or skin remained. It also made short work of ice cubes thanks to the dedicated button. This blender struggled with thick waffle batter on the lower speed, but raising it solved the issue.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars
7. Philips HR3652 Avance blender – best blender for smoothies and soups
Dimensions: 21.6 x 43 x 31.6 cm
Power: 1400 watts
Reasons to buy: Fine blending, dishwasher-safe
Reasons to avoid: Speed settings are unnumbered
Most of us could probably do with eating more fruit and veg. Proven to motivate you into upping your five-a-day is the 1,400W Avance blender, which will turn unpalatable vegetables into smoothies and soups with ease. Its makers claim it produces 50% finer blending than a previous model – which is great news for the fruit and veg-phobic. For its price, it brings a lot to the table.
This blender has a two-litre glass jar with 1.5-litre working capacity, 13 speeds plus pulse, two one-minute programmes for smoothies and ice crushing. It has cable storage and a spatula that inserts through the lid to move contents around.
The manual speeds are only marked min to max without numbers between, so it’s more difficult to reproduce a recipe if you’ve already found the perfect setting. It also can’t be used for more than three minutes at a time. In tests, it turned a couple of handfuls of ice cubes into snow and made a fruit and veg smoothie, both using the dedicated programmes.
The smoothie was consistently blended, though some traces of pear grit and a little texture remained. The jug and blades split apart for cleaning and it’s all dishwasher-safe.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
8. Argos Cookworks 1.5L Jug Blender – best basic blender
Dimensions: 41.4, 16.4, 22cm
Power: 500 watts
Reasons to buy: Value for money, compact
Reasons to avoid: Not dishwasher safe
Proving that affordable doesn’t mean having to make too many compromises, this basic blender should prove to be a hard worker in your kitchen. Plus points include three speeds with a pulse for more control over blitzing.
It’s relatively compact, with four sucker feet on the base that clung to our worktop when we attempted to move it – so it’s almost guaranteed not to shift when in operation.
Where you will have to compromise is that it’s not dishwasher safe – and getting the blades spotless by hand means you’ll have to be careful – and blending soups. Even though the jug is made from plastic, the lid isn’t vented, meaning any soup will have to cool to room temperature before blitzing.
There’s also a maximum run time of a minute, which could limit your blending horizons, and no guidance as to what speed to use for different foods. One other concern is the flat base of the blender, which sometimes made it tricky to seat on the base without trapping fingers.
In testing, we found that our fruit and veg smoothie wasn’t as consistent as the same recipe made in other models. As well as noticeable texture, there were visible pieces of fruit skin and leaves after a minute of blending on top speed. This may be because during blending, the vortex wasn’t quite strong enough to suck the contents on the surface down towards the blades.
Ice crushing using the pulse also took longer than expected, about 30 presses of the button, and some larger shards remained at the end. That said, given the good performance with other tasks, such as batter and cooled soup, it’s still an excellent option for those on a limited budget.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars
9. Tefal Blendforce II BL435840 blender – best blender for small kitchens
Dimensions: 37 x 30.7 x 21.4 cm
Power: 800 watts
Reasons to buy: Easy-to-use, easily crushes ice
Reasons to avoid: Small jug, hand-wash only
Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, don’t let the size of the compact Blendforce II fool you into thinking it can’t blitz as thoroughly as some of the larger models on the market. That’s because its 800W motor still packs a decent punch, using six stainless-steel blades to whizz through lumps and liquid with ease.
Its two-litre jug capacity might be smaller than some at 1.25 litres, but the blender’s size means the base can easily tuck away below units or in a cupboard. You’ll find four sucker feet on the base too that keep it planted on the worktop when in use.
Blendforce II is simple to use – there’s just two speeds plus pulse, plus the jug splits apart for cleaning, with only the blades needing to be washed by hand (a bit awkward but straightforward), and the whole thing just twists into place on the base, with neat lock and unlock symbols to confirm if it’s on properly. Unlike the previous Blendforce II model, you can also blend hot liquids (up to 80C) for up to three minutes, so there’s no need to let soup cool before decanting it in.
Some more guidance as to what speeds to use for different foods would have been useful but even without it, the Blendforce II performed well. In tests, it handled a fruit and veg smoothie on speed 2, eliminating flecks of spinach, with only a small amount of gritty residue from a pear remaining. The pulse setting took about 20 pushes to crush ice cubes into uniform snow that was perfect for cocktails.
Soup was blended on speed 1, and took about a minute to work through chunks of carrot and celery, producing a consistently smooth texture with a minimum of froth. A good buy if you’re short on space but don’t want to compromise on blending power.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
10. Ninja CT660UKV Smart Screen Blender – best blender for froth-free smoothies
Dimensions: 435 x 170 x 210 mm
Power: 1100 watts
Reasons to buy: Vacuum cup reduces foam, sleek design
Reasons to avoid: Hard to wash
Powerful blenders can turn tough fruit and veg into yummy smoothies but all that whizzing makes for a foamy drink. Enter the vacuum pump – designed to suck the air out of the jug or cups before the high-speed action begins. This incorporates fewer bubbles in the process, so you can pour out a silky-smooth beverage.
The other benefit of using a vacuum is better colour retention (so the green doesn’t turn to sludge brown as quickly). And, unlike some vacuum-compatible blenders, Ninja’s Smart Screen Blender comes with the pump and enough batteries to run it.
It’s not just the vacuum pump that makes this a good buy for smoothie fans either. Concealed within the base unit is an 1100W motor, which gives the stacked six-blade assembly of the jug enough power for its smoothie, purée, frozen drink or ice cream programmes.
You can also blend smoothies directly in a pair of on-the-go cups using a screw-in blade tool, and there are high, low and pulse speed options.
What we especially liked about the Smart Screen Blender was its sleek buttonless control panel: it was easy to wipe it clean, with nowhere for mess to hide, and when the machine was off, it was completely blank.
Its performance was also good – our smoothies only had small flecks of spinach and berries remaining and had a bright, vivid colour. Blending them was very loud but only took just over a minute. However, the vacuum process adds on about another 20 seconds for the cups and a minute for the jug, so may not be suitable for busy mornings.
Plus, while all the parts are dishwasher-safe, we found that cleaning by hand was awkward – there’s no brush for the stacked blade assembly and it’s hard to wash thoroughly without coming into contact with sharp edges.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
11. Retro Stand Blender by Swan – best blender for colour
Dimensions: 17.7 x 19 x 38 cm
Power: 600 watts
Reasons to buy: Great design and colour, easy to clean
Reasons to avoid: Fewer speeds, no programmes
There’s no need to splash the cash if you’re on the hunt for a brightly coloured blender. This retro-style 600W model can bring a cheery pop of red to your kitchen (it also comes in a few other shades) as well as its blending capabilities.
Unlike many affordable blenders, there are some thoughtful design touches, such as that it comes with a durable weighty glass jug rather than plastic. The jug even splits apart so you can give the stainless-steel blades a thorough clean without having to reach down inside, and the parts are dishwasher safe.
Once assembled, the jug slots into recesses within the base unit – no twisting being suitable for those with impaired dexterity – and the lid pushes securely into place.
In terms of functions, the offering is more limited – there are five speeds, plus a pulse on the control knob, and no programmes. While these were enough to liquidise fruit and vegetables, the drink we made lacked the smooth texture of more powerful blenders.
There were remaining pieces of fruit skin and grit and flecks of spinach in our drink. It wasn’t very noisy in operation, though, and the drink was only slightly frothy despite being blended on the top speed. We also noted that the lip on the jug dripped when we poured it out.
While the blades are sharp enough to handle ice in a liquid, we found crushing ice cubes by themselves to be difficult. Once smaller pieces of ice had been chipped off the cubes using the pulse, the larger pieces didn’t come into contact with the blades easily, so bounced around inside.
We felt that this blender would probably be a better buy if you don’t mind a bit of texture in your smoothie, or are more likely to use it for milkshakes, batters and cooled soup (as it’s not suitable for hot liquids) rather than the tougher tasks.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars
How to buy the right blender for you
1. Check how powerful your blender is
The wattage can work as a guide but higher doesn’t always mean a better blender. Take into account additional features that it uses to process food thoroughly, such as jug and blade design. A blender’s power can sometimes be displayed in horsepower (746W = 1hp) instead of watts. While basic liquidisers sufficed with two blades, most modern jug blenders will have at least four, sometimes with mini blades nestled around the stack. They’re usually angled, which helps them to whisk up pieces from the bottom of the jug and create a vortex to drag blender contents down from the top.
2. Check blender settings and speeds
Basic models tend to have just a few speeds while more feature-packed models will have several. Both will usually feature a pulse option for quick bursts of speed. You can also find blenders with programmes for blitzing specific foods, such as soup, ice crushing, smoothie, pureé and frozen desserts. A cleaning programme is another handy option, allowing you to clean the jug in-situ by running it filled with water and washing-up liquid.
3. Check blender materials
The blender jug itself will be made from either glass or plastic. Glass tends to be sturdier and less likely to become scratched but a good quality BPA-free plastic, such as Tritan, is a smart choice. This is because it’s strong yet lighter than glass, which can make all the difference if you’re lifting a heavy jug of soup. Jugs vary in total capacity and working capacity (ie how much they can safely blend without the contents trying to escape). This is usually lower for hot liquids. A 1.6-litre jug should cover most everyday blending but to be able to get the most of out of your blender, look for around two litres.
4. Check blender practicality
Look for blender jugs that have two-part lids, too, so you can add food or liquid as it blends. This is ideal for making sauces that can easily split, such as mayonnaise, or when processing hot food, so steam can be released.
5. Check for extras
The lids may include small measuring cups. Some blenders have additional milling and grinding blades (which can be used for seeds, nuts and sometimes coffee beans), mini containers for mincing smaller amounts of food, personal blender cups and even food processor bowls. Another useful blender accessory is a tamper. This fits through the lid of the blender so you can move solid chunks of food, such as frozen fruit, towards the blades.
What other key questions do I need to ask about blenders?
Are blenders easy to clean?
You’ll get more use out of a blender that’s easy to clean, so look for those where all the removable parts are dishwasher safe. Some blender jugs will split apart so that the blades can be safely cleaned separately and more thoroughly. If the jug has fixed blades, it can be difficult to clean around them by hand, so always use a brush.
Are blender noisy?
All blenders will be noisy, though some more than most. The pitch can differ from blender to blender, too, meaning that some noises, while not louder, are more annoying than others. If possible, try before you buy.
Will my small kitchen accommodate a blender?
Blender cables can be substantial, so look for machines with built-in storage to prevent the flex getting out of hand. Unless you’re buying a machine that you’re happy to have on display on the worktop, your blender will probably live in a cupboard. If so, choose one that can be easily dismantled, is light enough for you to lift in and out and won’t take up too much storage room.
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