31 December 2010

Happy New Year

Interpretations on this curious image from 1927 are wide open. One scenario: Father Time is totally flummoxed by the longevity of the Monitor Top refrigerator, so-named because of its resemblance to the US Civil War ironclad gunship. Another take: He's confounded by the futuristic design of this kitchen contraption, the appliance equivalent of Baby New Year. One thing that's unambiguous is the supremacy of General Electric, whose glowing logo has somehow been grafted onto the sun.

For FT's sake, I hope there's a bottle or two of celebratory Champagne in the fridge. I don't see any decent wine shops on the lunar horizon.

Cheers and best wishes for 2011 to you all!

30 December 2010

Points of Light

The Unikorn, an inventive light fixture-and-towel-hook hybrid, would perk up the blandest of baths. While I'm partial to the opal white color depicted above, the polycarbonate design also comes in a vivid orange. Each module measures about 11 x 11 inches. altlucialternative.com

29 December 2010

Seeking Unity

Solid and void, circle and square, concave and convex all meet in this bold little lav. At the risk of sounding a bit soft, I find its integration of these opposites both provocative and hopeful. totousa.com

28 December 2010

Presents from the Past

Attention mid-century mods and retro fans: A trove of still-crated Crane fixtures has surfaced in southern New Jersey. These shapely, colorful goodies span the 50s, 60s and 70s; a full catalogue of them is found on the dealer's website, which is linked at the end of this post. A venerable vitreous manufacturer for well over a century, Crane retained designer Henry Dreyfus to develop innovative products for the kitchen and bath. recyclingthepast.com

27 December 2010

Back and Forward

As we get ready to take our leave of 2010 and take on 2011, I'm appreciating how this kitchen by architect Joseph Dirand straddles old and new. Weathered limestone slabs meet laser-sharp lines, classic panel detailing converges with chiseled contemporary planes—it's all good. josephdirand.com

24 December 2010


The promise of freedom from the drudgery of laundry is as sweet today as it was in 1910 [a hundred years ago!]. While there's no question that modern appliances out perform their ancestors, I have to say that their styling—super-charged colors in metallic flake, odd-shaped porthole windows—seems so garish when compared to that of the Blue Bird washer. Its bombe-like contours and snow-white-enameled housing are elegant, albeit in a slightly clunky sort of way.

Happy and peaceful holidays to you all, dear readers.

23 December 2010

Straighten Up

Designer Aurélie Fradin calls this storage ensemble Récapitualtion[s]; in the sense that its hooks, bins and shelves physically summarize all manner of items, it lives up to its name. Intended for a hallway or entry vestibule, I think it would be equally useful in the bathroom. Because it's modular, the pieces can be hung separately or ordered as you like. ecole-boulle.org

22 December 2010

Inside Out

In this bath[non]room, one perambulates around the exterior of the structure, rather than within it, to visit the shower, tub and sink stations. I think that with some hard work, a similar concept could be realized for smaller, more conventional spaces. This installation, a large-scale abstraction of the featured Supernova faucet, has some intriguing details: My favorite is the mysterious pool of light on the floor of the shower. dornbracht.com

21 December 2010

All Together Now

The interplay of materials—oak, olive wood, and teak, along with steel and stone—on this floor is so original and striking. For me, studying the woods' grains and the way the pieces are fit together is almost a meditative experience. A tonic, if you will, to the year-end holiday frenzy. This design is called San Miniato Opus Lignea. parchettificiotoscano.it

20 December 2010

Kitchen for Contemplation

This monastic-like kitchen, with its solid yet also ethereal qualities, is a source of food not just for the body, but also for thought. I find it an inspiring space, suitable for a time of year when many of us are reflecting on life's meanings and methods. carusostjohn.com

17 December 2010

Wish List

I'm sure this kitchen suite gave many a little lass great joy in Christmases past. For playthings, these are pretty substantial appliances; the 19-inch-tall Coldspot Jr. fridge weighs in at a robust 16 pounds. But in 1940 toys were made to last, and these, built of 'sturdy auto fender steel', offer some very impressive features. The sink unit has running water; the stove—optimistically christened Prosperity Jr.—comes complete with aluminum cookware and a whistling tea kettle. [We're reassured that the range is 'Non-Electric, Safe for Girls.']. Click the picture to appreciate the details at a larger scale.

16 December 2010

Winter White Light

Snow, trees—'tis the season. The emphatically-named Tree-Like Tree Sconce is a sweet combination of modern form and hand-crafted finish that [in a pair] could add an element of grace to a bathroom at any time of year. There's another version of this fixture that's spangled with crystals; more festive, yes, but I like my holiday design on the quiet side. mothdesign.com

15 December 2010

Hot Stuff

Another bitterly cold night. I'm hardly one to blather on about the clichéd concept of a 'dream bathroom', but at this moment, I'm tempted to give in to such sentimentality. And little wonder: This two-sided, counter-height fireplace warming up the bath [and the bedroom beyond] appears utterly idyllic. modusfireplaces.com

14 December 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside [and Inside]

What more fitting image to mark our first snowfall and descent into single-digit temperatures? Standing in a plaza in Hamburg, Germany, this igloo is constructed out of 322 small refrigerators. Artist Ralf Schmerberg created this icy installation to illustrate how much energy could be saved if older fridges were replaced by newer, more efficient models.

A very cool idea.

13 December 2010

Watching the Clock

In remodeling projects, there are existing conditions, and there are Existing Conditions. This, needless to say, is an example of the latter category. Instead of trying to compete with or capitalize on the 14-foot-diameter clock [one of four in the loft], the kitchen design is kept simple, in an effort to achieve [ahem] equal time between the architecture and the interior. minimalusa.com

10 December 2010

Tell It Like It Was

OK, let's review this 1960 advertisement point-by-point. 'Neat': No. Unless you have a thing for control panels that are remote from the appliance they are supposed to control. [Look closely to the left of the range and you'll spot it, rising up incongruously from the butcher block.]

'Sweet': Yes! Pink and white brick—what's not to love?

And finally, 'Smart': Thumbs down on this claim, at least as illustrated here. A 27-inch range should fit into odd, remnant spaces, and yet here, at the end of an improbable peninsula, it seems there's all the room in the world for a stove of any size.

09 December 2010

Choice Design

The Moda vanity certainly gets back to basics—and at this harried time of year, I can well appreciate that. Well, there is the slightest quarter given to excess: it's offered in 16 finishes. But with a mellow grey ebony macassar and a silky chocolate bamboo among them, it would be Scrooge-ish to quibble. lacava.com

08 December 2010

It's for You

Bringing new meaning to the notion of house calls, these washers and dryers can communicate with repair technicians via your cell phone. With a push of a button, some Kenmore appliances can 'talk' to service managers. Then a digital diagnosis of the problem is made, and corrective measures are taken—automatically or with a company representative—through the ether. kenmore.com

07 December 2010

Pure & Simple

No extraneous details, no aesthetic loose ends, just fluid form and essential function. The Spoon sink embodies fine design. sanico.es

06 December 2010

On Solid Footing

Except for the occasional functional feature, like bonus storage drawers, the toekick largely remains unexplored design territory in the kitchen; it's usually relegated to playing a supporting role [you saw that one coming, didn't you?] to flashier elements in the room. That's why this treatment—the island sitting up boldly on a broad wooden plinth—is so terrific. It flaunts convention [to fabulous effect, in my view] while posing no underfoot consequence to the cook. mowlemandco.co.uk

03 December 2010

Rocks, No Salt

In 1955, through-the-door dispensers for water and ice weren't yet a gleam in an engineer's eye—but someone at Westinghouse was on the right track. At the press of a button, your chosen beverage concentrate was blended with 'just the right amount of cold water and air' [air?] and streamed right into a waiting glass. I'd bet that in an adult-only household, the fountain reservoirs might be filled with more potent liquids...on a closer look, doesn't that green solution bear a slight resemblance to margarita mix?


02 December 2010

Put It Away

While I may not be fastidious when cooking—as the floury aftermath of a cookie-baking session will attest—I do appreciate the finer points of efficiency and organization in the kitchen. Fitting a scale into a drawer makes so much sense. It keeps the countertop free for the more expansive work of mixing and assembling dishes and protects the scale from accidental bumps and jostling that might affect its accuracy. eggersmann.de

01 December 2010

Just Asking

Wouldn't having this 18-bottle-capacity wine fridge in the house make holiday get-togethers more spirited? And wouldn't its cabinet-compatible dimensions, reversible door swing and elevated installation make entertaining both ergonomic and elegant? And wouldn't it be fun to use the lighted interior as a nightlight?

I thought so. liebherr.us.com