Spot Light

The Ghembe pendant's mix of stainless steel and wood [choose from maple, walnut or the redoubtable wenge] is pretty slick. The band of metal mesh lightens the look of the cylinder, and the silver color coordinates eminently with contemporary hardware and faucets.

Rise and Shine

I've seen a lot of bathtubs in recent days. The majority are sleek contemporary vessels; they'd be a great spot to read up on metaphysics, I think, with their coolly intellectualized designs. But sometimes body and soul need a respite from the modern world, and maybe the copper-leafed Piedmont tub would be a good place for that. The luminous, handcrafted finish is inspiring in its own right.

Sitting Pretty—and Practical

Most shower seats seem like an afterthought, don't they? Those flip-down perches, no matter how well crafted, are just a compromise solution to a condition that would be better addressed from the start. This 'Hide & Seat' design offers both commodious storage and a secure, spacious place to sit.

Artificial Intelligent

It's been a while since I've seen trompe l'oeil on kitchen cabinets; I think my last encounter involved a portrayal of a faux fruit basket and some butterflies—not exactly what you'd call sophisticated. This delicate, hand-painted woodgrain is much more appealing, particularly in the way the 'planks' illogically extend across the real gaps and seams of the cabinets. The line is called 'Driftwood', and was created by designer William Yeoward.

Forward and Back

I just got back from a trip to ISH, the mega- trade show for the bathroom industry, and in the coming days will preview some of nifty items that are coming down the design pike. However, this being Flashback Friday, I'll share this 1964 vision of fixtures of the future. Everything in the Galaxie collection is orbital, I see: The geometry of new frontiers in space and science is visited upon the humble bath.

Against the Grain

I love wood floors, and so am intrigued by these geometric mosaics. The 12-inch x 12-inch tiles are pieced together of end-cut hardwoods in Ghana. The manufacturer has developed a special elastic grout, as well as a cushioned underlayer, which compensate for the natural shrinkage and expansion of the material. The collection comprises 24 patterns; Safo is shown here. Kid, welcome to the candy store.

Cool Stools

Sized to fit tables, counters and bars, these stools have legs that are widely splayed, giving them a solid footing on less-than-even surfaces. Their indeterminate—but hardly generic—style suits a range of decors. Collect 'em all!

Rightly Angled

Adopting a tawny color palette allows this austere bath to avoid a common pitfall of minimalism: an ambience that's too cold for comfort. Architect Claudio Silvestrin selected a subtly marked stone tile for the wall, in another wise detour from monotonous materials.

Quirky Cabinets

While I may not think the overall design of this kitchen is a success, a couple of its imaginative cabinet elements are really interesting to me. I love the rounded top and circular windows of the freestanding cupboards. The other compelling component: the wall units that stand up from the counter. They're like a perverse interpretation of what you might find in a 19th century general store, offering both enclosed and open storage and display.

I Scratch Your Back...

I'm not quite sure if this contraption should be called a shower or...what? Proper ladies—in 1830 Virgina, that is—could enjoy this semi-automated device which simultaneously sprayed water and scrubbed backsides via a hand pump connected to a most decorative reservoir. Sorry, no iPod scores or chroma- or aroma- therapies were offered at the time.


Call it kelly, emerald, shamrock or Pantone 347, today's the day when green reigns supreme. I'm just doing my part with this retro-ish fridge done up in the of-the-moment color.

Sculptural Storage

Sometimes a typical towel bar just won't do. These ceramic tiles—or shall we call them hooks?—have long been on my radar. Their contours can securely hold all manner of objects, and I see no reason to relegate them to the bathroom or to limit their layout to vertical orientations.

Square Footage

I don't know about you, but when faced with the choice between a tub-sized bathroom sink or a modicum more of storage, I opt for the latter. The aptly-named Plus sink delivers on this front, and in a creative way. The slot-like enclosure prevents toiletries from taking an accidental plunge to the floor. Of course, if you're not a klutz [ahem], you could stack some colorful hand towels in the niche.

Vive La Différence

Voila: Here's what sets the French version of the home-improvement center apart from our Home Depot, et al. The stylish Epure collection has a lightness and simplicity that would earn it a place in a design showroom anywhere. Big Box retailers, wake up!

Controlled Environment

To my mind, the legs of this 'table' look like over-sized chess pieces—an impression totally in keeping with the calculated, composed look of this kitchen. Designer Vicente Wolf walks the line between comfort and contemporary like no other. Here, the take-away for me is the spatially unifying device of the 'T' that's formed by the glass-fronted cabinets topped by a boxed-in open shelf.

It's Automatic!

Through the magic of motion pictures, we drop in on two 1955 households: one saddled with an old-fashioned kitchen, the other boasting a thoroughly modern design. The latter room—which, we're informed, won an award from 'The Woman's Home Companion' magazine—is filled with such wonders as a refrigerator that produces 'continuous ice circles', an indoor incinerator and a laundry machine that dries clothes 'in any kind of weather.' In the above still, a doubting Darren McGavin is introduced to the automatic flour dispenser [A device which seems to me a bit of a holdover from the bad old days, but let's not nit-pick.]. So make yourself a bag of microwave popcorn and enjoy today's feature film in all its not-quite-Technicolor glory.

Pictures, Perfect

Part of a new series of books on a topic near and dear to my heart, Kitchens comes from a publishing house which not only cares about quality content, but about high production values as well. The oversize format delivers what tablets and e-readers can't: the opportunity to appreciate large photos without squinting.

Get a Grip

I see a smidge of mid-century styling in the shape of these cabinets pulls, but their impact is undeniably contemporary in the way they accent the lacquered doors and drawer fronts. The textural contrast is exciting. And while the hardware's dimension and form may not be ergonomic, it certainly is aesthetic.

Something New

Next week, courtesy of Hansa/KWC, I will be attending the amazing ISH, a trade fair that serves as the international launching pad for the latest plumbing fittings and fixtures. I fully expect to encounter designs at least as forward as this concept WC [which is the work of Anderson Dunlap].

Our agenda includes a couple factory tours—a favorite activity of mine. It's fascinating to observe the manufacturing process up close; whether it's a human hand-polishing faucets or a robot drilling holes in steel sinks, the pursuit of perfection in form and function is something that I find endlessly interesting.

I'm looking forward to sharing what I see with you.

Saving Daylight Time

Despite its reliance on the color of snow, there's something about this solid-yet-bright kitchen that suggests that winter is finally on the wane. Minimal shadows darken its surfaces. Orienting the wood grain vertically—especially on the back wall, where it reaches without repeat up to the ceiling—is as uplifing to the spirit as it is to the space and, ultimately, the eye. The ratio of organic materials to cold, hard steel is also indicative [to my cabin-feverish mind, at least] of the coming reemergence of nature.

Dubious Convenience

Hmmm. While today such a feature could prove grounds for a full-blown product recall, it appears that in 1958, a removable oven door was a design asset, not a liability. See how it allows whoever is saddled with the odious task of cleaning the cavity to get down on their knees and scrub away the crusty [and possibly carcinogenic] byproduct of all those home-cooked feasts? Thanks for the opportunity to get even closer to that mess, Mr. Product Manager!

The Better to See You

Usually, bathroom conveniences focus on the fair sex—foot rests built into shower stalls to facilitate leg shaving, pull-out faucets for hair washing, and the like. How about some design equity for the guys? Hot water channeled through inside of this showerhead keeps the mirror-like surface from fogging, affording a clear view and a close shave.

Tuff Love

Ignore the inexplicable aesthetic blunder of the chrome drain cover and focus on the nifty materiality of this sink, which goes by the name Civita. A chunk of tufa has been hollowed out, and the basin sealed in a matte, waterproof paint; I like the crude, haphazard line this forms at the rim of the basin. It's also offered with a white interior, which makes for a very forward-looking color combo.

P.S. I hope the geologists among you appreciate the title of this post.

Hood Linked

I can't say I'm a big fan [no pun intended...well, maybe it was] of ultra-eye-catching range hoods—they have their place, but it just isn't in my own kitchen. The DA6000W is more my style. The unit folds flush into the wall when not in use, and can be outfitted to electronically communicate with the cooktop in order to provide just the right amount of ventilation for the cooking task at hand.