Out of the Dark

Apologies to Volker Haug, designer of this collection of pendant fixtures [which he calls Cable Jewelry] as I have precipitously gone under the weather, i.e., have contracted a sudden and seemingly severe cold, and therefore am posting while under the influence of the generic equivalent of NyQuil.

It's eminently customizable: choose the colors, cord, bulb type, socket and contoured metal tube/s. I've always been drawn to the mad-scientist-meets-modern-designer genre of products, and right now, this fits that bill.

And so to bed. volkerhaug.com

Feat of Clay

No, this isn't some obscure work by Jenny Holzer. It's meant to pique your interest in watching a video of ceramic bathtubs being made by hand; each is one-of-a-kind. [The still pictures of the tubs, sinks and water spouts are rather grainy.] Formed on an oversized potter's wheel, the tubs are crafted in Shigaraki, Japan, a historic center of the stoneware industry. Glazes favor dusky earth-tones, but there are a couple brighter colors on offer. The gentle music that accompanies the clip eases the transition from the holiday break back to the work week—at least for me. aquapalusa.com

Old Is New

As many of us in the States spent a significant amount of time in the kitchen yesterday—cooking, eating and cleaning up—it occurred to me that might be fun to take a look at what we might have encountered in 1869. The narrow windows wouldn't have let in much light, and the convenience of running water wasn't in evidence. But there's certainly lots of well-organized storage space and expansive work surfaces. Food for thought, I'd say.

Seasonal Suggestion

One word: Cranberries.

That was my immediate reaction upon seeing these Aoba mosaics. In fact, they're made of coconut shells, which appear to take dye spectacularly. No grout is necessary [wood glue is fine], and they can be installed in damp environments. nemotile.com

Palette and Palate, Satisfied

Thanksgiving seems to inspire a spate of ultra-traditional, home-and-hearth type interiors in the design media. That's all well and good, but I'm in the mood for something in the contemporary vein, like this kitchen in California. That double-height tiled wall puts me in mind of leaves falling [which they did aplenty this week, here in the northeast], with its staggered pattern of earthy tones. And the hanging cabinets are rather fun: limned in wood, boldly positioned and brightly lit, they bring a witty style to the space. stephenwillrich.com

Information, Please

The other day on Twitter, I posted a news item that's generated a little buzz, so for the benefit of those who aren't part of that community, here's a link to a site where you can learn about a proposed restructuring of the EnergyStar program. You can read appliance manufacturers' responses to the idea there, too. It's always interesting to look at an issue from various points of view.

Grey Area

The polished graphite finish on the Museo faucet is such a chic change from the usual silvery suspects. With its abridged modern form and a smoky depth to its color, it would bring an unexpected accent to palettes white, black and in-between. symmons.com

Lining Up

High on the 58th floor of the Setai Fifth Avenue, there's a suite of showhouses hosted by three popular design magazines. Walking through one of them, this powder room by Jim and Phoebe Howard caught my eye. I like how they handled the condition of the sink area. The side wall is taller than it is wide, so running the oblong marble tiles vertically makes sense—coordinating the veining so it flows with that of the sink deck tightens up the space in a strikingly modern way. designervisionsonline.com

Paging Mr. Peabody

When will NASA or Apple or Google or some other tech titan finally release the Wayback Machine for the masses? I ask because sometime before Thanksgiving I would like to return to 1961 so I can avail myself of this ahead-of-its-time range. Its double ovens with side-swinging doors and quartet of in-line burners promised to make preparing the feast 'fast, cool and clean'—that's fine with me any day.

Speaking of 'fast', our hostess better keep an eye on those gents in the adjoining room...

Hot Tubs

Simple without succumbing to boring, the Inout tub offers a choice of three edge designs. An outward-curving lip, a squared-off deck [for drop-in installations] and the straight, clean treatment shown here. The thin walls and matte finish are especially appealing. agapedesign.it

Halftime Pastime

From the Department of Guilty Pleasures comes this retro-style reefer that I'd venture would make any Man Cave [is the plural of that Men Den?] complete. A through-the-door beer dispenser lets the thirsty tap into a standard 1/6 or slim 1/4 keg. There's lots of room for frozen pizzas and hoagie ingredients, too. The fridge is available in nine hues, one of which must surely coordinate with the home team's colors. elmirastoveworks.com

Shelf Life

In conversation with a designer the other day, she pointed out the books lining a shelf in one of her kitchen projects had all been wrapped in white or cream-colored jackets. Well, this goes that arty detail one better, I think. The spines are aligned to form a triptych of sorts that depicts an antique culinary illustration. It's a custom job, of course. juniperbooks.com

Optimal Illusion

When I first approached the Fiamma kitchen in the showroom, I was impressed by the subtle louvers on the cabinet doors—and upon getting up close [say about two feet away] I have to admit to amazement: the cabinet fronts are completely flat. The sepia-stained walnut has been meticulously pieced so its grain alternates in light and dark ribbons. Was this a deliberate design stroke, or my aging eyes playing tricks on me? I strongly suspect the former, and will categorically deny the latter. gdcucine.com

We've Got It Good

Yesterday, Veterans Day was observed in the US; hence this photographic remembrance of a WWI doughboy in a dugout field kitchen. A haunting and humbling image.

Eye of the Beholder

Inspired by a motif found in traditional Japanese textiles, the pattern for this tile recalls both a hilly landscape and the rolling sea. It's one of a family of ten tiles; the collection is called Komon. Available in subtly glazed terra cotta or a smooth lavastone recovered from Mount Etna in Sicily. madeamano.com

Provocative Placement

A spare bathroom in the sculptural sense of the word, this space manages to be simultaneously bold and modest in design. Installed in the open, the sink has become part of the house's public areas; the commode is enclosed for privacy. cubod.com

Modern Modules

The jaunty geometrics of the Solutions bath cabinet collection straddle contemporary and mid-century design. Because the drawers and cupboards are modular units, they can be assembled in configurations that fit spaces large and small. The line is available in five finishes, but I'm partial to cool white. porcher-us.com

An Engrossing Design

I was first attracted to this kitchen by its graduated levels of transparency: the large windows bordered by glass-fronted cabinets which are flanked by the soft, reflective silver of the refrigerators. There's no single focal point, nor are there any weak spots; rather, every ingredient in the room is equally considered and interesting. The design melds a commercial kitchen vocabulary with the warmth of a residential setting, and from my point of view, the result is sublime. joebmoore.com

Faster Food

Hasty pudding, indeed. While cooking technologies change, our cultural obsession with speedy meal preparation—the Slow Food movement notwithstanding—remains constant. In 1951, the electric Corox burner helped homeowners beat the clock with its 30-second warm-up; today, a microwave would vaporize a pint of Ben & Jerry's in that same time.

One more thing: In those far-ago Happy Days, I hope there was an equivalent of speed-dialing 911, as Famous Television Star Betty Furness is risking some nasty third-degree burns to her stop-watch hand.

Fresh from the Oven

Put away those spindly colander-like wire baskets and stacking bamboo trays [the latter make great desk organizers, by the way]. A new 24-inch steam-and-convection oven from Thermador lets you harness these two healthy cooking methods solo or in combination; a menu of nine different modes, including defrosting and proofing, incorporates the forced hot air or mist technologies. A 30-inch trim kit allows integration into standard built-in appliance configurations. And yes, the 1.4 cubic-foot cavity does accommodate a medium-sized turkey. thermador.com

A Jolly Trolley

This bright little number, a cross of retro and futro styles, would add a smile as well as work space to the kitchen. Its frame is made of molded wood; one drawer features a bamboo cutting board. The color-coordinated wheels lock when stability is needed, but I'd be rolling this beauty all around the house. In addition to flaming red, the Trix cart comes in lime green, bright orange and a very mellow yellow. legnoart.it

Seeing Spots

Inset cabinets and drawers, painted in a muted palette; the farmhouse sink fitted with ye olde bridge tap; crown molding and cafe curtains—they all add up to a rather straight-laced space. But then the pebble-tile floor enters the picture and shakes things up a bit [much to my personal relief]. The dense yet random pattern is a wholly unexpected design element in the kitchen, and as such really succeeds in imparting a cheeky character to the room. phoebehoward.net

Unique Perspective

Conservative design takes a swerve towards creativity in the Aimes lav set. I like the resulting collision; pitting silhouette against solid, it's a genuinely fresh look. Because of its artistic ambivalence, it would inject a stylistic counterpoint in baths of either stripe. totousa.com