31 May 2010

The Great Outdoors

Easing into summer, I think a series of posts on al fresco accoutrements is in order; and so, Part 1 of The Great Outdoors.

Looking a bit like a Cor-Ten girder, the Menhir shower has an architectural attitude that could stand up to the most modern of designs. I think the oxidized finish would complement a woodsy or garden setting much better than a shiny stainless model. tenderrain.com

28 May 2010

Happy Days Are Here Again

With GI Joes heading home in 1945, a sense of normalcy began to return to American households. Reassured about the future of civilization, consumers celebrated by making war-delayed purchases, enticed by the likes of these sassy sisters [who, though strategically wearing a fashionable variant of olive drab, still look pretty fetching]. I recommend you click on the image to enlarge it—the text is an outstanding read, for more than one reason.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone.

27 May 2010

9 Out of 10

Short of my own kitchen, this room comes mighty close to the top of my personal list of great cooking spaces. There's rigor to its design, but with its open plan, understated cabinets and gloriously even natural light, it's not at all stifling or cold. The marble island appears monolithic, owing to the nearly undetectable seam; look for the faint bookmatching in the middle of the piece. If I were to change one thing about the room, it would be the lighting in the cooking alcove—I'd like it to be more ambient and less task-oriented. obumex.be

But that's just me. What are your thoughts, oh holiday-bound KBCULTURE readers?

26 May 2010

Waste Not

With the shameful BP oil spill continuing to do untold environmental damage, I'm reminded of another natural resource—far more precious than petroleum—that we too often take for granted. This thought-provoking concept shower design by a student at Lund University's School of Industrial Design in Sweden was exhibited at the recent Il Salone show in Milan.

25 May 2010

Free Forms

The abstract watercolor-like images brightening these aptly-named 'Oh!' tiles recall the work of one of my favorite artists, Morris Louis. I like how their splashy, fluid look plays off the austerely modern faucets. fapceramiche.com

24 May 2010

Green Piece

While I find green to be an thoroughly agreeable color, it took this viridescent bathroom to open my eyes [and how!] to its more extreme possibilities. Looking at the photo, I mentally scanned the color spectrum to test if any other hues would be as effective a partner to the smoky stone panels. Warm tones would be too harsh and contrasty; of the cool possibilities, I concluded that none would work as well as this clear, matte emerald. Interesting work.

21 May 2010

Higher Aspirations

Seeing this portly refrigerator described as 'daring' and 'modern' might elicit a chuckle from us now, but in the 1930s, the machine definitely had some moxie. Unfortunately, the monitor-top appliance lacks the architectural elegance of skyscrapers of the day. But you can't blame a fridge [or a copywriter] for trying.

A side-note: The slice of the city depicted in this ad—imaginary, to be sure—reminds me of a view I enjoyed for several years as editor of Kitchens & Baths magazine. From my office on the 42d floor, looking east, I could spy on the rooftop gardens of Rockefeller Center, where GE née RCA currently is headquartered. Small world, isn't it?

20 May 2010

Flag Burner

While not the icon of Englishness that is the Aga [although it's manufactured by the same company], this range nonetheless expresses its allegiance boldly. A cheery respite from stainless steel, it is.

May is a big culinary month for the Brits, by the way. They are celebrating not only British Sandwich Week, but National Bread Week, National Vegetarian Week and National BBQ Week. A big huzzah for all. falconappliances.co.uk

19 May 2010

Top Drawer Design

The convenience of a four-door fridge is indisputable, but burdened with the attendant grid of vertical and horizontal lines crisscrossing its front, the appliance can look overly busy when set into a clean-lined kitchen. By aligning the upper drawer with a standard counter height, this model restores a little calm to the composition. On the functional side, the compartment features four temperature settings, from 29 to 42 degrees. samsung.com

18 May 2010

Tall, Order

The multi-armed, punnishly-named Sheeva storage pole stacks hooks, rods, a cupboard and a mirror in a quasi-constructivist format. I appreciate its compact size and no-nonsense approach to organizing the bathroom. ritmonio.it

17 May 2010

On a Lighter Note

This kooky little kitchen is a kind of aesthetic antidote to some rather dry designs I encountered at ICFF over the weekend. While the floor ought to have been left alone, the collage-like effect of the light fixtures and range hood is mildly entertaining. The pattern on the cabinets is a curious graphic riff that plays off the Fifties-inspired furniture. I will say the door is wonderful.

14 May 2010

A Trip to TV-Land

The rebate program casually [and awkwardly] known as 'Cash for Clunker Appliances' has lured consumers into stores to take advantage of some pretty sweet deals on refrigerators, dishwashers, and laundry machines. But it's hardly a new concept; a precedent of sorts was set in 1959, when Westinghouse touted its 'Opportunity Days', with the help of some familiar and famous people. Watch and learn.

13 May 2010

Object of Contemplation

In his design of the お風呂—that's the 'Ofuro' tub—architect Matteo Thun melds Western form with Eastern attitude. I'm especially fond of the no-tech details: The overflow and stopper [a short length of pipe run through the tub's wall and a pull-chain design, respectively] keep metal to a minimum in the larch wood vessel. rapsel.it

12 May 2010

Bathroom Beacon

The new line of wall-hung vanities from Robern offer tons of options that simplify life: in-drawer electrical outlets, a hair dryer holster, adjustable glass storage compartments. And the soft-closing aluminum drawers can be had in shallow or deep designs, in widths from 24 to 60 inches. All perfectly lovely—but for me, it's the integral nightlight that sets them apart from the crowd. robern.com

11 May 2010

Best Seat[s] in the House

An anecdote: In virtually every photo shoot of kitchens I've done, we remove two or three bar stools from the seating area. While they might be there for the comfort of the home's occupants, the leggy furnishings rarely fail to complicate a visual composition. The design of the Tryst addresses both issues with creativity and craftsmanship. peterpless.com

10 May 2010

Tray Bien

I have never been able to get behind the idea of cupboards for trays; they strike me as being more space-wasting than not, and the opening action of the typical tiny door is so abrupt as to be unnatural. This design, where the tray itself is exposed and integrated into the base cabinets, fixes those problems in a straightforward and graceful way. woodenkitchen.co.uk

07 May 2010

Frozen in Time

Say what? This appliance oddity really piqued my cryogenic curiosity. Thanks to the Magic of the Interwebs, I am able to report that this freezer was available in 1948, and that it only required defrosting twice a year—a process that I imagine was more than a little messy. For such a hulking machine, it offered a mere nine cubic feet of capacity. Within the chilling cylinders, no foodstuff was ever more than nine inches away from 'the all-surrounding source of cold.' Such a fixation with the number nine apparently was meant to give empirical credence to the wonders promised by the Deepfreeze.

06 May 2010

Designed to Incline

Subtly sculptural, the Cuarcita tiles break the wall plane at just the right angle—enough to avert visual boredom and while avoiding excessive textural effects. The dimensions are well-balanced, too. ceracasa.com

Cream of the Crop

The results are in! You can see the winners of the 2010 KBCULTURE Awards right here, and read about the judging process.

05 May 2010

Open to Possibilities

By reaffirming that the idiosyncratic and the practical can coexist, Alfredo Haeberli's Mesa kitchen has lifted my spirits today. The divot-marked cabinets are as much about pattern as they are about texture; it's like a code. A slab of stone bridges the island's steel and wood ends—maybe a little strong on the materials usage, but I appreciate how they define the cooking and prep areas. The chopping block/workbench element, with its prominent vice handle, teases me [in a good way] with its references to disassembling/assembling. schiffini.it

04 May 2010

Chic Sighting

Slithering down its color-coordinated cable to beam into the kitchen or bath, the Alien pendant fixture is proof of intelligent life in the design world...but I can't say about what lies beyond. next.de