Going Off the Grid

Amsterdam-based architects Merkx+Girod create a composition in this bathroom that is both balanced and unbalanced—and immensely appealing. Careful squares on the floor and glass doors are nudged out of stasis by the trough-like sink. The conservative color palette, combining black with pale blue and grey, is fresh in how it's blocked out and gives weight to the room. Soft daylight washes all the elements together. Lovely! merkx-girod.nl

The Great Outdoors, Part 9

Why do most gas grills look like chromed oil drums toppled over? That's a partly rhetorical question, of course: While I know the thermodynamics of cooking mandates the basic form, it remains a mystery to me why product designers haven't tackled the aesthetics of these hulks.

This suite of outdoor kitchen appliances and cabinets demonstrates a stylish alternative is within the realm of the possible. Eight modules [including a flip-top plancha and a sink unit], offered in seven colors—far more pleasing than the garden variety barbecue. outcook.fr

A Musical Interlude

'Come Together', 'Everyday People', and 'A Boy Named Sue'—these were among the hit songs of 1969, the year American Standard released 'The Bathrooms are Coming', an LP marking the launch of a new line of fixtures. While it didn't yield any chart-toppers, the catchy tunes developed a cult following. Check out this verse from 'The Ultra Bath', a track with a light calypso beat:
Here's another thing so dramatic:
This pool fills up automatic.
The temp—just right! We're ecstatic!—
Automatically controlled.
But what are words without music? Were it not for the always amazing archives of radio station WFMU, this gem might have been lost forever. Click the link and have a listen.

Against the Grain

Your eyes do not deceive you—these planks are anything but straight and narrow. Contoured to capture the irregularities of wood, I find the design intriguing and appealing in a universe of sameness. The flooring is available in five species; fumed oak is featured here. waldilla.eu

The Great Outdoors, Part 8

Look—out by the pool! It's a side table! It's a beverage cooler! Well, it's actually both of these handy items. The top of the table [whose squat-yet-clean lines attest to Mr. Starck's influence] telescopes up to reveal a double-walled ice tub. That's what I'd call really raising the bar. frontgate.com

Quiet Style

I'm impressed by the way this kitchen preserves space—as opposed to making room. Despite its simplicity, the design has ample personality, in no small part owing to the delicacy of the color scheme. The white floor suffuses the room with light in a wonderful way.

Sweet Storage

It would be a shame to cover up these hanging knobs with a robe or towel. I like how they're casually scattered here, adding incongruous little pops of candy-color to the smoky patternings of the wall. The collection is called Twin, and was designed by Bruna Rapisarda. regiasrl.it

Think of the Fingerprints!

So for better or worse, it turns out that not every appliance in the early 60s was pink. This 1961 view of the kitchen reverses the picture, with its rose-colored cabinets and stainless cooktop, counters, ovens and hood—and let's not forget the oddly prominent cookware. It seems to me that the upper wall oven poses any number of problems; the slot-like window prime among them. KBCULTURE welcomes any insight you wise readers can offer into this design mystery.

In a [Very] Different Light

With his offbeat Clusterlamp, designer Joel Degermark invites us to participate in the creative process by selecting five bulbs to combine in the fixture. Globes, novelty models, flame-shaped candelabra bulbs, silver-bowl reflectors, colored party lites: I'd rather mix than match, but that's not to say you couldn't coordinate light sources. Better stock up—the incandescent's days are numbered. moooi.com

Hide and Sink

From designer Charles de Lisle and architect Ian Moller comes this clever camouflaged sink. Drop the lid and it's a handsome built-in sideboard; open it up and it's an eminently serviceable vanity. While the color-blocked cabinet has a bit of a mid-century vibe, the versatility of the piece is wholly contemporary. cdlworkshop.com

Liquid Assets

Putting it bluntly, the grace of this tap designed by Toyo Ito knocks me out. Its form—like a brushstroke, at once precise and spontaneous—dissolves the boundary between manmade and natural. What a wonderful and appropriate way to channel water. altro.es

In the King's Kitchen

I've got a sudden craving for a peanut butter & banana sandwich.... Thirty-three years on, here's a look at the kitchen at Graceland. It's certainly spacious—the better to host the Memphis Mafia on their midnight refrigerator raids, I guess. The house was built in 1939; Elvis bought it in 1957, and died there on this date in 1977. The kitchen was used by the last denizen of Graceland until 1993; two years later, the room was at last opened to the public. elvis.com


Growing up, I remember having to rake the shag carpeting in our living room. It was a thankless task, not because my parents were unappreciative, but because after a while, the fibers just lost their resiliency, and couldn't stand upright. In time, the carpeting also started to thin out due to wear, and it looked very, very sad indeed. But even in its dilapidated state, I still had to rake the carpet.

This carpet goes by the name Galore [how 1960s!]. Notice how that rhymes with 'deplore' and 'abhor', two words that reflect my feelings about floorcoverings in the kitchen in general.

P.S. Let's give the Chemex coffee maker on the counter a little recognition. It was invented in 1941 by Dr. Peter J. Schlumbohm [1896-1962], who was a chemist by training. He tinkered with the design of a Erlenmeyer flask—the classic conical laboratory vessel—and came up with this nifty device.

The Great Outdoors, Part 7

It's a little slick for my personal taste, but the Hotwater grill could be right at home at some coastal condo in Miami. There's a distinct beach-resort attitude about it...maybe the wood details remind me of classic Chris-Craft power boats. beltempo.org

A Clean Sweep

Yes, it's a high-efficiency toilet, using just 1.28 gallons per flush. And yes, the smooth, one-piece design makes cleaning quick and simple. And yes again, the slow-close seat won't go bang in the night [or day, for that matter]. All these are more than redeeming qualities in a commode. But it's the Veneto's curved tank lid that really endears it to me, its contour being a most effective defense against toilet-top clutter. porcher-us.com

Just Roll With It

Designers who are routinely faced with uncompromising environments—such as the labyrinthian floor plans of older New York apartments—often develop resourceful solutions. In this bath, where a conventional vanity would choke the small space, I'm impressed by Laura Bohn's customized cart. The wire shelving easily accommodates plumbing and there's plenty of storage [the cart's handles could be used as towel bars]. lbda.com

One Cool Kitchen

What a pleasure it is to virtually visit this kitchen. Soft finishes and colors—the cabinets are brushed steel, the palette hinges on charcoal rather than full-on black—lend atmosphere to the room. I love the pairing of the patterned encaustic floor and the graphite-tiled wall: it's a great play of texture and geometry. In the case of the lights, three are better than one, as the multiple disperses but doesn't diminish the impact of the quirky fixtures.

Four stars!

Kitchen Cacophony

I bet this cathedral-ceiling kitchen has excellent acoustics, and that's why Junior is practicing his trumpet solo there. Judging from his intense focus on the sheet music, he has superior powers of concentration—which is good, because the combination of powder-puff pink appliances and barn-wood cabinets would 'distract' most people, I dare say. Even in 1963.

The copy chirpily encourages you to collect as many appliances as you can in order to achieve your dream kitchen. [Duh.] And while we're assured that their color and design 'harmonize from year to year', hindsight tells a different story; pastel colors were largely discontinued by the mid-60s, replaced by—you guessed it—Avocado, Harvest and their earth-toned ilk.

Open Ended Design

Pulled from the brink of boring, this galley kitchen soothes with well-balanced design elements. I like the way the clerestory window and the singularly tall glass door relate to each other. An open shelf relieves the consciously anonymous cabinets. Even the gathered folds of the drapery strike a contrast with the smooth planes of the walls. All this sets the stage, of course, for the UFO-like pendant light. The designers are Vigilando Interiors, whose web site is currently under construction.

The Heat [and Cold] Is On

Instant tea-temperature-hot [199ºF] and cold water from the same faucet: it's a convenience I can appreciate on wiltingly humid days like this, when setting a kettle to boil on the stove is a proposition I would rather not face. And the good looks of the Lot water dispenser are a year-round pleasure. dornbracht.com

[Don't] Throw In the Towel

With summer's busy schedule of weekend guests, pool parties and beach days, towels seem to multiply exponentially throughout the house. Designed by Stephen Burks, this lightweight and portable stand can do duty in the bath or backyard—wherever you need to keep things tidy. bonluxat.com

Plastic Fantastic

A lovely, quiet design that reminds me there are some things that just can't be done with ceramic. The edges are sharp without being cutting; the form is substantial but light; the matte finish gently spreads the under-basin glow without glare or reflection—resin is the right material for the Tito sink. rapsel.it