Not a Lot of Hot Air

While angled cooktop installations are rare [at least in US homes] that's no reason to neglect their ventilation; indeed, I'd think that nasty vapors would accumulate more in corners than mid-point on a wall. [HVAC experts, please feel free to weigh in on this.] Here's a sleek, chic solution to the problem.

Toy Story, the Final Chapter

Sweden is home to Lundby dollhouses, and their resemblance to Ikea interiors is striking. I give them points for operable lights in the oven and range hood; I can't vouch for whether the undercounter refrigerator also has that feature. Putting legs on the base cabinets is a nice detail, too.

Toy Story, Part 5

All I can say is: Appliance designers, take a lesson. Harkening back to the immortal Chambers stove, this playhouse kitchenette delivers all the essentials with a surplus of style. And it's berry red.

Merry Christmas, and to all a good night.

Toy Story, Part 4

I call this the Happy Days kitchen. Its optimistic color scheme [note the jazzy red appliance handles] reflects the feeling of the 1950s; all the conveniences of the New Era are in place. The view of farm fields outside the 'window' I find both touching and telling: Even as society was racing towards modernity, it looked for reassurance to the agrarian past.

Toy Story, Part 3

The last of the bathrooms for our Toy Story week, this chubby tub reminds me of the Dreamscape design Michael Graves produced for Hoesch many years ago. His was more geometrically pure, to be sure—but the sense of fun [which is rather important for toys, yes?] is shared by this little soaker.

Toy Story, Part 2

A Brutalist bathroom suite for the progressive child [or their dollhouse surrogate self], rendered in wood rather than b├ęton. You may be startled at the source for these pieces—I certainly was.

Toy Story

In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, this week KBCULTURE takes a break from the harsh realities of the kitchen and bath world—almost. We'll stay on topic, but focus on the more forgiving realm of make-believe: toys, both old and new.

Yes, Virginia, once upon a time dollhouse fixtures actually worked. Fill the tin cistern on this 1920s vintage bath, and a scaled-down shower could be enjoyed by members of the miniature household.

Chicken Little

Unless my eyes deceive me, this helpful indoor BBQ was offered in electric and—whoa!—charcoal models. Perhaps that explains the prominence of the intercom system [on the wall to the left of the fruit bowl]; it's easy to buzz in the ambulance crew when they arrive to treat guests suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Oh, Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner—Looks like that bird is cooked.

Spanish Ayes

Two stylistic cross-currents make it tricky to peg the nature of this bath at first, but break it down into components and its design heritage becomes evident. The equipale chair, encaustic tiles and wrought-iron ring pulls give it a Latin flair. Effective foils to an overt hacienda look are the contemporary vessel sinks and sleek mirrors.

Cool Rules

To my surprise, this winter-white kitchen lifts my mood in these daylight-challenged months. The graceful light fixtures soothe the relative busyness of the island's base. Deliberately undersized door and drawer pulls painted to match the cabinets maintain the visual composure, as do the matte finishes. Even the frosted windows, with their icy allusion, speak more of brightness than briskness.

We Interrupt This Blog... inform you of a guest-blog gig that Paul Anater kindly offered me. Paul is a kitchen and bath designer—with a wide range of other interests, as you'll see—in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Lighten Up

The food-mill handle gives this repurposed-parts pendant some credentials for use in the kitchen. It's difficult to ascertain the identity of the other components. I think the bottom part of the 'shade' may be an embellished colander; the top looks like an automotive air filter. Designer Gilles Eichenbaum demonstrates a fondness for combining culinary cast-offs in fun ways.

Looking High and Low

If the Lift faucet looks a tad ungainly [and really, it's within the realm of acceptability, isn't it?] there's good cause. This image shows the faucet literally in top form, extended to its full height. It can keep a low profile, too: A gentle push downward, and it converts to a low-rise model.

Two Cool

Here we are, flashing back to the Silly Sixties. These towering twins [notice they're heads if not shoulders taller than the appliance] are meant to impress us with the grooviness of a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer dubbed the Gemini 19. The double allusion—to the space mission and the zodiac sign—is far-out indeed.

Square the Circle

The Ice corner sink is marvelously simple in form and supremely effective in function. I can't envision any other similar configuration—with a deck-mounted faucet—that offers so spacious a basin in so small a footprint.

Bon Mot

An oldie but a goodie: Pun tiles. Available in a limited vocabulary—mostly bathroom-oriented nouns, adjectives and a few selective verbs—these tiles can either surprise or assure the visitor, depending on their architectural context.

Gilt Complex

Here's a fillip of flamboyance for you. The mirrored mosaic, with its embedded tree-like patterns, subtly reflects some neutral colors; that calms things down a bit. Designing with mirrors must be challenging—is the silver really seen, or is it merely a visual vehicle for the surroundings?

Chow Timely

From a postcard series dated 1918 and titled 'U.S. Army Life in the Cantonment' comes this sedate view of a military kitchen at mealtime. Judging from the full serving dishes, these gents must be the first diners on the scene...or maybe the food just wasn't very good.

All we are saying is give peas a chance.

Casual Comfort

In this kitchen, I'm drawn to the interplay of curves in the wonderful roof truss and the chimney hood, echoed by the bell shape of the copper pendant lights. The colors and materials all work for me, too. But then the oddly anthropomorphic skirted Windsor stools appear, crashing—albeit very politely—the design party. KBCULTURE readers, what say you: Hit or miss?

Good Woods

There will be some whose immediate reaction to these saw-cut driftwood wall tiles will be one of skepticism; cries of 'Too hard to clean! Susceptible to moisture!' will issue forth. Let me assure them that the 30" x 45" panels can be treated to resist both water and flame. Now there's no excuse not to embrace this innovative line of products.

Simply A-doorable

Here's a resourceful way to solve a storage problem without throwing the cabinet design into chaos. A column of faux apothecary drawers is hinged at the side to easily stow items that can't be corraled into cubbies. Smart thinking, I say.

All Steamed Up

In my book, there's nothing like a sauna to help displace any post-prandial pounds that may have accumulated over the recent holiday. But going cold turkey isn't my style—I like the beverage center that's conveniently integrated into this design.

Happy Thanksgiving

No three-fan convection oven, temperature probes, or non-stick roasting rack in the kitchen of the Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg. Just fire, and a rather impressive spit-turning apparatus.

Hands-On Cooking

The design of the Molteni range is conducive to theatrical cooking. Rather than individual burners, the flattop is essentially a large griddle; it's hottest in the center, and surrounded by progressively cooler areas. Sliding pans around the surface—with a dramatic flourish, to be sure—controls cooking temperatures. A coordinating rotisserie unit completes the set.

Good Taste

Roll up the Green Seasoning Trolley to bring a fresh flavor—not to mention sight—to the groaning board. Garden herbs are stored in root-shaped water reservoirs and can be snipped, plucked or picked right at the table.

Custom Cooking

Here in the US, it's Thanksgiving week—when gluttonous quantities of good food and good company dominate the domestic agenda. The kitchen-centric holiday will serve as an anchor point for this week's posts. I'll kick it off with the CombiSet series of sleek, modular cooking elements. Deep fryer, steamer, radiant and induction burners, even a tepan yaki grill—these and more can be installed any way you like.

Then and Now

This week's flashback is a two-fer; in a roundabout, ironic way, there is a linkage between the two scenes.

In 1949, the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel was bustling with dozens of finalists in the inaugural Pillsbury Bake-Off. Sixty years after No-Knead Water-Rising Twists captured first prize, the cooking competition is still going strong.

Not so with the setting of our second photo. It's a shot of the now-deserted test kitchen of Gourmet, a fine publication that did not deserve to die. Kevin DeMaria, associate art director of the magazine, made a series of elegiac images of the office during its final days.

Design Current/s

There's a paradox presented by this prototype. 'Panay: The Bath-Island', is a promising study for a self-contained washing station, replete with tub, sink and shower. But an island is surrounded by water; this concept is a vessel to hold water. I hope to see more from the designers, an Austrian duo called undpartner[punkt]at.

A Sinking Feeling

Some people have a thing for fancy cars or couture dressing; I'm a big fan of big kitchen sinks. Interchangeable cutting boards, integral colanders, wash-down areas, multiple bowls, varying basin depths: Such are the things that genuinely fascinate me. The Zeno sink offers several of these functional flairs, and tosses in an oddball geometry to boot. I am content.

See Worthy

Submariner style has surfaced. The Porthole tub can play it cute [painted yellow, it's a knowing nod to the Beatles] or quirky [finished in black, it's a funky steampunk statement]. The choice is yours—whatever look floats your boat.

From the Cleanliness Bureau

In 1956, LIFE magazine ran an article titled 'A Treasury of Old Tubbery', which featured a number of historic bathing apparatuses. The one I've selected to share is from the 1880s; it was originally described as 'the common sense invention of the age'. My immediate reaction is to wonder what inventions would be considered nonsensical, but then we live in a time when the home bathing experience is enhanced by colored lights, musical scores and even vibrating tubs.

Nota bene: The omnipotent Google has made available the contents of a huge number of LIFE issues online; if you have a soft spot for blasts from the past, I guarantee you'll spend hours and hours paging through them. I did.

A Fresh Take

Etching a lace pattern onto a steel plate, which then tops off a vintage work table—I admire the process and the purpose behind this novel piece. It melds the machine- and man-made, new technologies and old.

Yikes! Stripes!

While it may not sport my favorite color combo, this spiffy little number brightly reminds us that fittings don't have to be brushed nickel or polished chrome. The V-Tondo lav faucet is an eye-opener, to be sure.

Subtle Changes

Lo these many years ago, I met Roy McMakin in Los Angeles; he had opened a store stocked with his own furniture designs, and I was an editor at Arts + Architecture magazine. While times and places have changed, his pursuit of slightly irregular space continues, to my great delight.

Stocking Upward

I can't say I've seen a pantry unit that combines a bistro aesthetic with a rather contemporary jumble of drawers, shelves and bins—until now. The brass corner bumpers are a nice touch, as are the twin dispensing modules on the top tier. Here they're holding dried pasta, but I can easily see them filled with a few pounds of arabica beans.

A True Trophy Stove

In the last part of the 19th century, Detroit was the hub of the American cookstove industry. This was documented at the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition, where a Garland stove made of oak loomed large. Measuring 25 feet tall, 30 feet long and 25 feet wide, the colossal cooker [which, contrary to this postcard image, was distinctly earthbound] has survived, in various locations, to this day. However, with future of the Michigan State Fairgrounds [its current home] now up in the air, the fate of the range is uncertain.

Talking Shop

Mick De Giulio, owner of de Giulio Kitchen Design in Chicago, recently answered a few questions for 'Talking Shop', a recurring feature at KBCULTURE.

As a designer, my greatest responsibility is...
The principal responsibility of a designer is to always be thoughtful. Each design challenge presents an opportunity to improve people's surroundings and enhance their lives. This means going beyond the obvious or what may be asked for initially. We also have the responsibility to give our clients the very best of our efforts each and every time.

One of my creative touchstones is...
Finding the right combinations. I like to think that I am not afraid to put things together in unique ways; for me, that means mixing a lot of ideas, materials or vocabularies which can be harmonious or not. When ideas or materials are mixed, there is an exponential increase of the possibilities.

A current project I am exploring is...
I am working on a book about kitchen design.

If I had a week off from the studio, I would...
Just being with my family is the first thing that comes to mind. Sometimes just doing nothing helps regenerate the creative spirit; other times, it might be better to get away to a different environment to help unwind and see things in a different, more relaxed way.

Detail Oriented

Here's a cheery take on the country kitchen. It's very Terence Conran [80s incarnation], yes? But in reality, it's Italian in origin, done in 2009. I like the trim over the hanging cabinets; it binds them to the wall in a way that's suitable to this style. The typical installation [without the trim] would change the room's character significantly.

Spot On

The Brits have a knack for merging pedigree with Pop [remember the grating slogan 'Cool Britannia'?]. And they've done it again with this Aga range that's been decked out in polka dots. A collaboration with designer Emma Bridgewater, the limited edition marks the manufacturer's 300th anniversary.

Uploading a Look

If the selection at the local tile showroom doesn't thrill you, the accommodating folks at Glass Decor will transfer the jpeg of your choice onto glass mosaics. A close-up of olives on the backsplash or thunderclouds in the shower enclosure? The possibilities are interesting, to say the least.

We Interrupt This Blog...

...Well, hopefully, we won't interrupt it. For the next few days, while I'm on the road, I've entrusted my posts to Blogger autopilot—fingers crossed that it works. I'll catch up responding to comments upon my return.

Future Shocking

The eerie lighting, the comely female poking eviscerated animals with a pronged instrument..surely a macabre Halloween ritual, circa 1943. But no! It is part of the kitchen of the future, as envisioned by H. Creston Doner for the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass company. Given the corporate sponsor, the role of glass in the design is understandably emphasized; surely the public was amazed at the prospect of cooking tasty little carcasses inside what resembles nothing so much as a toppled fish tank.

Witchcraft, to be sure.

Clean Sweep

The Emperor faucet is an uplifting, assertive composition of curves. Solid but not bulky, spirited but not silly, it's a pleasure to contemplate.

Autumn Leaving

A rather blustery day in the northeast, and the lawn has disappeared under a cloak of leaves, many of them from Japanese maples.

This pair of fixtures represents fall in the Miyabi collection, which comprises four hand-painted suites. Each depicts the pine, bamboo and plum trees—known as the 'three friends of winter' owing to their distinctive presence in the landscape at that time of year—in seasonal foliage.

Vertical Vitreous

In the spirit of BathroomBlogfest09, I'm pleased to offer this installation in China. And of china—ten thousand commodes were suspended on a wall 328 feet long and 16 feet high, then periodically flooded with water. Is it art or commerce? I'll leave that up to you, the beholders.

A Noir Boudoir

Even if it weren't the week of All Hallow Even, I'd still be drawn to this dark, dramatic bath. The crown molding and the chandelier are incongruous accessories to the somber palette and massive tub.

On another note entirely, I'd like to call your attention to BathroomBlogfest09, where several folks with varied interests in the world of toilets and tubs are posting some far-ranging items. Follow the fest on its Facebook page and Twitter account.

Supercharged Sink

Forty years after its 1968 introduction, this sink [the 'Fiesta' model from American Standard] looks insanely radical when compared to the legion of drawn-cornered, stainless steely basins that populate our kitchens today. With its array of accessories and mean green color, it would make quite a conversation piece—then as well as now. What thoughts does it inspire in you?

Organic Expression

"The goal was to design something we can experience and understand with our senses; a poetic design full of feeling and joie de vivre," says Tom Schoenherr of Phoenix Design, speaking about the new PuraVida line of bathroom fittings. Solid in form yet delicate in line, the faucets have a striking soft geometry to them. A dual-finish version that combines white lacquer and chrome is due out next year.

Golden Globes

These gleaming pendants by Michael Anastassiades defy easy categorization. Such is the art of simplicity in design.

Toeing the Waters

The seating alcove in the Utuwa tub gives the bather a comfortable perch from which to engage in pursuits better suited to dry-dock—such as reading—without the perils of splashing or slipping under the water.
[Letting my curiosity get the better of me, I looked for a definition or translation for utuwa. It is a word in the Pogolo language (spoken by an ethnic group in Tanzania) and means 'measure' or 'size'. And so it is.]

Rise and Shine

I'm a lark—the opposite of a night owl. For me, morning light is simultaneously soothing and invigorating. This linear bathroom, with its corridor of dawn-diffusing curtains, might take the edge off early wake-up calls even for those who are more at home in the wee hours.