30 September 2010

That's a Wrap

The foil/wrap organizers on the market are commonly more hindrance than help in a busy kitchen; they're often flimsy, they take up more room than the narrow rectangular boxes themselves occupy, and the rare cutting device is clumsy—I'm thinking about round-tipped scissors here—to operate. This Orga-Line accessory is the way to go. Plastic wrap sticks to the metal dispenser rod, so it pulls out cleanly and evenly. A simple slide of the cutter and all is done. Afterwards, the rod keeps the free edge of the plastic from reattaching itself [grrr!] to the roll. If this isn't genius, it's mighty close. blum.com

29 September 2010

A Heavy Light

Carved from Calacatta marble, the Lambda pendant is a sleek combo of classic material and contemporary form. About 15 inches in diameter, the shade is thin enough to be translucent when the lamp is lit, and its coloration changes—from golden to quite white—depending on what type of bulb is used. vandenweghe.be

28 September 2010

Growing Up

It's a disciplined use of materials paired with a modern stance on storage that lifts this kitchen above being just another polygonal place. An energizing spear of black steel ties the ceiling to the floor in a scale-preserving move. I like how it interrupts the window. On the island, the mirror-finish induction cooktop blends into the stainless surface—impossible with a typical black-glass appliance. While the ductwork in this room doesn't allow for any upward expansion, the rest of the Shell House, with its two-story open ceilings, is meant to allow the eventual insertion of a second floor. fedl.jp

If I can go off-topic for a moment, and indulge in a minor gripe: This project has been posted in various places online; well and good, as it [hopefully] fosters a broader discussion of the design. But it's dismaying to me to read comments—in the guise of editorial—that are just unthoughtful rephrasings of each other. Why pass up an opportunity to exercise one's own critical faculties and deliberately choose to parrot another person's point of view? I sadly suspect the answer can be found in the intellectual cul de sac at the end of the path of least resistance, if you catch my drift. Thanks for hearing me out, dear readers.

27 September 2010

Color Forms

Is color in the bathroom on a comeback, or is Alessandro Mendini's updating of the classic Monowash pedestal sink a mere flirtation? From his vibrant contributions to the hyper-designs of the Memphis group and Alessi tableware, he's proven his personal commitment to making the world a brighter place. ceramicaflaminia.it

24 September 2010

...Borne Back Ceaselessly Into the Past

Today is F. Scott Fitzgerald's birthday. If Daisy and Gatsby ever shopped for refrigerators—of the Surpassing Beauty type, of course—I imagine it would be in such a rarified environment as this colonnaded space, the West Egg equivalent of a Home Depot.

23 September 2010

Slate, but Hardly Blank

A welcome break from the sleek-and-shiny school of range hood design, this cleft-stone model would make a statement—a subtle one—whether set amongst wooden or lacquered cabinets. The gooseneck accent light can be positioned as you like; I'd rake it across the face of the stone, to show off its texture, but there's no reason why you couldn't aim it towards the cooktop, supplementing the hood's three halogen task lights. The angle of the panel can be adjusted, either for aesthetic effect or to spare the taller chef from undue head-bumps. elica.com

22 September 2010

The Great Outdoors...Goodbye, Summer

A somewhat elegiac image for the calendric—but not psychological—end of a season. The Sundeck tub can be installed indoors or out; I'd be quite content with this dockside location, thank you. The integral headrests fold down to form a sturdy, weatherproof cover for the jetted tub, allowing it to be used by sunbathers as well as soakers. It was designed by EOOS. duravit.com

21 September 2010

So Cool It's Hot

Marc Newson's penchant for streamlining and unexpected color is on display in his appliance designs for Smeg. While this cooktop wouldn't hold up to an Iron Chef workout, it could make a sweet addition to a residential kitchen, either retro or contemporary in decor. In addition to mint green, there's an iris blue and a soft yellow in the palette, as well as black and white. A coordinating wall oven is offered, too. smeg.com

20 September 2010

Point of View

I came across this kitchen when preparing to interview its designer, Larissa Sand, for a feature in Architectural Record magazine. Not only does it challenge the conventional notion of cabinetry, but there's a participatory aspect to its design that I find pretty cool. The glass panels aren't so much doors as they are borders; by rolling the them along the rail, you can highlight or mask objects on the open shelves. sandstudios.com

17 September 2010

Baby Versus Bathwater

Thanks to the exhibit at MoMA, I've spent enough time in vintage kitchens this week, so for Flashback Friday it's into the bathroom. This perky 1960 ad turns the tables on the cleanliness-equals-white formula, promoting pink [or, as the manufacturer called it, 'Peachblow'] fixtures as both hip and wholesome. I'm amused by the 'bathroom emancipation' appeal made to parents as part of the sales pitch.

While the Dynametric tub is still in the Kohler catalogue, Peachblow was retired in 1973, after nearly a 40-year run. Kohler features an interesting color timeline on its website, where you can chart the longevity of such hues as Suez Tan, Black Black [not a typo] and my fave, Pink Champagne.

16 September 2010

Shine On

Laminate surfacing is formed by subjecting layers of resin-laden paper to extreme pressure—nearly 1,400 pounds/square inch. To realize designer Konstantin Grcic's vision of embedding small crystals into the material, engineers at Abet Laminati had to devise a fabrication process that wouldn't crush the tiny sparklers, yet would preserve the overall integrity of the material. It's an amazing feat.

This pattern is called 'Peak'. abetlaminati.com

15 September 2010

Hue and Cry

I think I'm on a bit of a stylistic rebound, after yesterday's immersion in modernism. What makes this bath stand out from others with similarly raucous color schemes—and there's plenty of those out there—is a small, but to me, significant, detail. Painting the towel stand to match the molding is clever, but the best move is to position it perpendicular to the wall, breaking free of the paneling and making a bold little foray into the room.

14 September 2010

A Day at the Museum

Speaking at the opening of MoMA's 'Counter Space' show, curator Juliet Kinchin revealed herself as a kindrid spirit of KBCULTURE when she called the kitchen "a place that's funny, complex, sexy, scary—subversive, really." If you take the time to watch the historical [and sometimes hysterical] film clips, read the excerpts from vintage magazines, consider the hundreds of artifacts displayed and reflect on the fine art included in the exhibit, you will come away with a sense of the curious backstory of the room. [As well, you might recognize some items that have been featured on this humble blog.]

The museum draws extensively on its collection of industrial design for the show; a copious number of kitchen gadgets, cookware and faucets—both the efficient and the eccentric—are showcased in the middle of the gallery. The walls are filled with video monitors and posters. Conspicuous by their absence are major appliances; except as represented in the films, their design evolution is largely overlooked. But in all fairness, this subject is so very broad and deep it would be a challenge to do it justice in a single show. [That's a hint and a hope.]

Reporting on the reporters...it was great to see such a quality media turnout. Editors from The New York Times, The New Yorker, Architectural Record, the industry trade publications and more than a few television stations were in attendance. I was interviewed by NPR about the Frankfurt Kitchen; it's odd to imagine covering this show without the benefit of visuals, but that's the magic of radio.

You can breeze through this exhibit and come away enriched, but invest an afternoon on the premises and you just may find yourself enlightened. If you can't make it in person, the curators are posting on a regular basis throughout the duration of the show. I know I'll be reading.

13 September 2010

Storage or Seating?

Although Alfredo Häberli originally designed the Ginger stool for use in a restaurant, I think it would be a welcome addition to the home kitchen; especially in small spaces, the under-seat shelf would prove handy in ways too numerous to imagine. bdbarcelona.com

10 September 2010

Twentieth-Century Kitchen Tour

Next week, an exhibit opens at MoMA that should prove to be a treat. 'Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen' traces the evolution of the kitchen from home economics laboratory to the social and recreational space we know today. Among the items on display are a couple full-scale installations, including the Frankfurt Kitchen shown here. Created in 1926 by architect Grete Schütte-Lihotzky, with its emphasis on efficiency it was a turning point in the design of the domestic environment.

The press preview is on Tuesday, and I'll post some thoughts on the show afterwards. moma.org

09 September 2010

Smitten with Stone

For all the curvaceous comforts offered by molded acrylic tubs, there are some occasions when a more natural bathing experience is the best tonic. This carved marble tub is my idea of a great, restorative soak: its supportive form is at once hand-crafted and modern, and the interplay of the stone's veining and the tub tray's wild grain is worthy of contemplation. neutradesign.it

08 September 2010

C'est Vrai

And now for something completely [or mostly] different.

While I'm a fan of progressive design, I'm an equally ardent booster of quality work, and this ornate Versailles tub filler is an example—flamboyant in style it may be—of extraordinary craftsmanship. In fact, the manufacturer belongs to the Enterprise du Patrimoine Vivant, a French government-backed guild of sorts whose members maintain a commitment to culture and artisan skills in areas as diverse as gastronomy, built heritage and decoration. volevatch.fr

07 September 2010

Uplifting Space

The built-in cabinets in this kitchen—with an extreme plinth taking the place of a toekick—have a terrific solid presence to them. While I'm of the opinion that bamboo has passed its prime as a finish material, its erratic grain is appropriately primitive in this space. The patchwork quality of the backsplash isn't accidental, by the way; this photo comes from a manufacturer of some seriously sweet tile [more on that later]. madeamano.com

06 September 2010

By Popular Request: Books

Two of my favorite books, and one that shows promise: A new topic category debuts on KBCULTURE. Stafford Cliff has long had a way with both words and images, and his Home paved the way for 'The Selby' and its rumpled, unstyled brethern. Right-Sizing Your Home, the latest title by domestic doyenne Gale Steves, reinforces the notion that Smaller is Better—and smarter, too. Not yet released, Staging Space is the most oblique of these three volumes, examining art installations, event architecture, exhibition design and other creative environments; it's venues such as these that may influence upcoming trends.

Since everything in the world is easily available through Amazon, in the interest of editorial integrity [I know—it's a vanishing concept], I am going to refrain from posting direct links to any books I feature here. You know how to find them, and I hope that you do so—you won't be disappointed.

03 September 2010

Magnum Opus

The marketing love-child of the union of General Motors and Frigidaire, this 1956 film features some of my favorite things—kitchen appliances, cars, architecture and fashion—in a sometimes-Fellini-esque tour de force of cross-promotion. I'm torn between the Golden Rocket by Oldsmobile and the rotating refrigerator...then there's the Christian Dior ensemble. Decisions, decisions.

The kitchen [which appears at about the 3:20 mark] is chock-full of labor-saving devices, making it a suitable post for this long holiday weekend. Enjoy it all!

02 September 2010

The Great Outdoors, Part 10

When it comes to exterior ambient lighting, I steer clear of fixtures that are outdoor rated but maintain their indoor style—jumbo-sized floor lamps on the patio or Murano chandeliers dangling from tree branches, for example. The juxtaposition they create is too jokey for me. Instead, I'm drawn to designs that are more abstract in form; to me, that's more simpatico with nature. Jozeph Forakis created these sweeping Havana lights for Foscarini. foscarini.com

01 September 2010

Ring Leaders

These purple circles are serving as a pick-me-up after a long day at the keyboard [the computer, unfortunately, not the piano]. Their congenial loopiness has a kitschy quality, sure, but I'm going to plead online overload as a basis for my choosing to post on the Maaloo fixtures.

As to the origins of the collection's unusual name, I think it's a play on malu, which in Samoan refers to a densely patterned tattoo worn by women. omlsrl.com