31 January 2011

Back to Basics

Used with intelligence and restraint, a limited materials palette can make a vivid impression. A sensitive combination of lacquer, stone and wood gives this simple kitchen character beyond generic modern. While the design wouldn't be mistaken for being cutting-edge, it's hardly ordinary. My favorite detail: the dense, omni-directional swirls of the stone, which keep the eye moving around the otherwise boxy space. gregnatale.com

28 January 2011

Ambidextrous Appliance

The chevron-shaped lever that controls the direction of the door swing on this 1954 fridge shares some traits with an airplane's emergency-exit handle; not only do you need to possess a certain amount of brute strength to operate it, but once you make the commitment to open it, there's no choice but to follow through. The need for a quick deplaning is clear, but it's hard for me to say the same for a two-way refrigerator. Passing off Philco's 'new miracle of convenience' as capable of 'saving you hundreds of steps each day' strains credulity...but it's certainly an amusing feature in its own right, isn't it?

27 January 2011

Nature Calls

Seeing this image, my heart melted [would that the avalanche outside our door do the same]. Thassos and Calacatta marbles are combined in the Marabel pattern, which in this photograph reminds me of the tracings left by a skater on a slightly snowy rink. newravenna.com

26 January 2011

Channeling Summer

Posting this picture is a purely defensive move on my part; I'm trying to maintain my sanity as we brace for yet another nor'easter. Ciao, cold reality: I am going to focus on the soft sunlight brightening this kitchen. Designed by Steven Gambrel, the room itself is pretty tame, but those glass doors and windows [dig the 20-over-1 configuration] are getting the atmospheric job done. srgambrel.com

25 January 2011

A Perfect Fit[ting]

I got up close and personal with the Culina faucet last week at LivingKitchen, the new, über-trade show for the kitchen industry. It impresses on two fronts. One, the closed coil of the hose is a welcome and refined change from the usual loosely-wound style; not only has the latter become a cliché in modern kitchens, but its open wire cage is a grime grabber par excellence. Two, there's no awkward fiddling around when trying to dock the head of the sprayer back into place, because a magnetic catch eliminates that tiresome struggle. blancoamerica.com

24 January 2011

Stone, Cold

It's been a tough winter in the Northeast. There's nearly three feet of snow outside, and the eaves of our home have been festooned with icicles for weeks, now. Little wonder that this carved marble wall panel, designed by Patricia Urquiola, has lodged in my consciousness; it's a flurry of cool forms. budri.com

21 January 2011

Lost in Translation

After a week of reacquainting myself with the grammatical hydra that is the German language—an exhilarating but nonetheless exhausting experience—I wouldn't mind stepping out for a relaxing evening, like this schöne mädchen. The text of the 1928 ad translates as "In the meantime, the Protos does the washing", signaling the advent of a new, electrified era of appliances.

20 January 2011

Reptile Style

The first time I saw this sink, I confess to being startled. Its form—especially the thickness and the cant of the rim—definitely triggered a mild fight-or-flight episode, which while standing at a sink is not a good thing. Rest assured, the Boa is not wrapped in real snakeskin: it's a very convincing ceramic treatment. vitruvit.it

19 January 2011

Artistic Vision

Most medicine cabinets which have a magnifying mirror take pains to somehow conceal it; it flips up or folds out from inside the unit. As a member of Near-Sighted Nation, I object to that practice, and wholeheartedly endorse the front-and-center design of the Spai cabinet. Its combination of convenience and creativity pleases me no end. agapedesign.it

18 January 2011

Above It All

Flying into Duesseldorf, bound for the LivingKitchen show, the aerial vantage point certainly influenced my choice of images, wouldn't you say? To see the kitchen concentrated into a nucleus of sorts, rather than dispersed around the perimeter of a room, provides a lesson in efficiency. The Harmonie kitchen organizes washing and cleaning on one side, cooking on the other, and storage in between. arthur-bonnet.com

17 January 2011

A New Slant

It's interesting to see how the fine points of a design can impact a room. By beveling the counter edge upward and angling the door pulls down, not only has a more spacious opening for grasping the handles been created, but a wee bit of dynamism has been generated. Another thoughtful touch: alternating bands of metal and wood at the shelf under the wall cabinet.

Imagine the dullness of this kitchen if these two details weren't implemented. Making the effort to avoid the ordinary always pays off. atelier-saintpaul.fr

14 January 2011

Through the Looking-Glass

No beautiful soup, cakes, or mushrooms in this fridge—a condition that would certainly derail the plot of Lewis Carroll's wondrous tale. Philco's taming of the subversive story is itself absurd, although given what the 1948 populace had recently endured, I can understand the impulse to put a positive spin on things. My favorite feature [a sentiment apparently shared by Tweedledee and/or -dum] of the refrigerator is the Conservador, the swinging, clear plastic shelf unit that would eventually migrate to the inside of the door.

[Next week I'll be attending the LivingKitchen trade show in Cologne, and visiting the design and manufacturing facilities of Blanco, which kindly invited me to tag along on this trip. No rabbit-holes involved, I trust. I'll be sure to share my experiences in upcoming posts.]

13 January 2011

Hot Wheels

Such a well-appointed kitchen trolley threatens to do away with conventional cabinets altogether. Counter surfaces—both Carrara and butcher-block—are accounted for, as is wine storage that's sufficient for a nice dinner party. The drawers contain fitted knife blocks and cutlery compartments; the deep central drawer houses stainless steel bins for trash, or maybe ice, depending on how you put this cart to work. Topping it all off is a cookbook stand [or use it for sheet music—why not?] and canisters for utensils and gadgets. legnoart.it

12 January 2011

Jazzed Up

The blizzard of forms in this bath may confound some, but I find it rather appealing in its flaunting of Design Rules. The jumbled pattern found on the horizontal planes gives a nice visual kick to the regularity of shapes that cover the vertical surfaces. And the colors, both bold and muted, are a persuasive example of just how far a black-and-white palette can be pushed. The overall effect strikes me as a contemporary interpretation of Art Deco. srgambrel.com

11 January 2011

Wall or Window?

Metallic-painted masonry, you ask? Perhaps aluminum? No on both counts. The photo misleads with its silvery color; this is glass, imprinted with the texture of a brick wall. Hand-crafted and kiln-fired, this pattern is but one of many offered by the Tempe-based studio. meltdownglass.com

10 January 2011

No Place Like Home

In light of the sad and senseless events in Arizona, I'm finding it difficult to natter on about cabinets or bathtubs. I do believe architecture can inspire and comfort, and I find these qualities in our own kitchen. The window glass is selectively etched to obscure the harsh reality of a neighboring structure; the clear panes, in an outreach to nature, frame a birdhouse.

Shelter for the soul.

07 January 2011

A Simpler Time

How appropriate that the beneficiary of the Eden washer is hanging her laundry to dry in such an unspoiled garden setting. [Hope that's not an apple tree in the background.] In this 1923 ad, juxtaposing the hand-crafted woodcut illustration with the mechanical marvel is a 'supreme achievement' in and of itself, a not-so-subtle suggestion that technology is a savior of sorts, capable of restoring a domestic paradise lost.

06 January 2011

In With the New

A curious—in a good way—piece of equipment, this. The manufacturer has dubbed it Cucinotta; because I like making up words, I'll call it a demi-range, in recognition of the gap between burners and oven. It obviously takes its design cues from a professional kitchen, but has been scaled and engineered for residential installation and use. Nice. fosterspa.com

05 January 2011


While our currently-predicted snowstorm won't [I hope] come close to the scale of the blizzard that paralyzed much holiday travel, I'd still be happy to recuperate from the inevitable shoveling session in the Sasha home spa. Architect Alberto Apostoli's tripartite design brings together a range of complementary wellness experiences. The sauna cabin offers three treatments of graduated dry heat; the shower module a choice of misty or torrential settings; and the hammam enclosure soothes with hot steam. jacuzzi-sasha.eu

04 January 2011

Musical Variations

It's been a rough day here, and to lighten things up a bit I offer these inspired creations by artist Jeffu Warmouth. The Clawfoot Bass-Tub invites gallery-goers to pluck out a tune; another work, the Sinkrophonium (on the wall in the background) incorporates a kitchen sink and copper piping in an interpretation of a brass instrument. jeffu.tv

03 January 2011

A Fresh Start

Out with the old, indeed. Wall ovens on, rather than in, the wall is an unconventional touch, but in this rule-bending space [check out the extreme stairway], I think it's a good move. Installing them the customary way would dampen the unique design. As they're usually subsumed by an expanse of cabinets, I haven't really thought of built-in appliances as three-dimensional objects; my thanks to the creators of this kitchen for opening my eyes to a new idea.