Heat Stoked

Mirages occur under extreme confluence of light and temperature, tricking the mind's eye into seeing something that's not really there. But the Pro Grand Steam range, which I previewed a few weeks ago at Thermador in the arid environs of Scottsdale, is no heat-induced illusion.

Scheduled to be released in August, it's the only range on the market to feature a dedicated steam/convection oven, in addition to a regular radiant cavity. There's also a warming drawer, which also boasts a neat technology—its entire glass bottom heats up without any electrical trace-wire running through it. Up top, you'll find six burners and a grill/griddle element. Two more design details that also impressed me: the lit-from-above control panel and the soft-close mechanisms for both ovens and drawer. So hot, it's cool. thermador.com

Flights of Fancy

At the risk of jinxing what's been an unbelievably sweet stretch of weather, I'm succumbing to the seasonal zeitgeist and sharing the La Petite Voliere fixture. Granted, its single incandescent bulb is not particularly practical for illuminating either bath or kitchen—but it's summer. Time to lighten up! conranusa.com

Not Bad at All

Oh, yes—even a shower-type like myself could enjoy a spell in this tub, no problem. The millwork and cabinetry are modern yet subdued, and the corner windows beautifully dissolve what would ordinarily be one of the room's most unforgiving boundaries. estestwombly.com

Balanced Approach

It's clear that this kitchen, with its commercially-inspired island and hood, means business—but in a relaxed sort of way, not hard-nosed at all. While the wood floor adds a welcoming note, it's the expanse of windows that really gives the purpose-driven space its stay-a-while ambience. barbarabarry.com

What's Up Here?

The wine glasses are a clue that a party [or perhaps a dinner date] has recently concluded. The cocktail frock confirms that theory—but a bigger mystery nags this 1952 scenario. My question: Is this a clumsy attempt at a triple exposure, made to illustrate the three-in-one efficiency of this appliance, or do we see identical triplets, happily keeping house together? [The Frigidaire space ladies posed a similar conundrum, but for some reason, it didn't bother me so much.] Fans of Flashback Friday, please weigh in with your take on this burning matter.

The prominent Underwriters Laboratories mark does put my mind at rest, though, as the close proximity of water and electricity always makes me a bit nervous—even from a distance of almost six decades.

Exposed Plumbing, Indeed

From the ever-busy minds at Emme Group comes this sink-and-shower combo, aptly dubbed the Totem. Described by its creators as 'a high design cult object' [I wouldn't contradict that statement], the tower, with its droid-like demeanor, might find an enthusiastic audience among fans of Gort, Optimus Prime and HAL9000. emmegroupdesign.com

Cue the 'Cue

I spotted this grill at ICFF last month, and, in addition to its highly structural design, admired its portability and sturdiness—two qualities that are more often than not, mutually exclusive. Designer/fabricator Berthold Hoffman produces a rather sumptuous line of cookware, as well. hoffmann-metallgefaesse.de

It's the Little Things

Tiled showers do not have to suffer the indignity of ugly, obtrusive metal drains. Linear grates are becoming popular for residential use, but in situations where a single-slope shower floor isn't viable, this tile-insert drain does the trick nicely, affording a seamless installation in a traditional, four-way pitch. Cleaning is simple, via a small key-like tool. infinitydrain.com

A New Order

Dispelling the notion that only ultra-contemporary cabinetry is at home in wide-open settings, this kitchen injects a cordial note of domesticity [not dullness] into a loft-scale space. The island appeals to my sense of the offbeat; I like the way the built-in seating creeps beyond the boundaries of the multi-purpose unit. smallbone.co.uk

You Say It's Your Birthday

And so it is.

Paul McCartney was 13 when he and his family moved to a modest home at 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool in 1955; they lived there until 1965, so a few birthday cakes might have issued forth from this kitchen. It's interesting to see how simple it is to get to John Lennon's home from here, which is a little more than a mile away.

Top Chef

There often seems to be a satirical cast to images of a man wearing a toque blanche—at least that was the case back in the 1960s. Part funny hat syndrome, part gender-role reversal: on the occasion of Father's Day this weekend, we could get into all kinds of theories on the semiotics of such portrayals. But I would rather just offer thanks to dads everywhere, for everything. And to this turkey-tending fellow, I offer an apology on behalf of Frigidaire, which failed to see the wisdom in putting a window in its wall-oven door.

Low-Flying Plane

Last night, in my presentation on the open bathroom, I noted how flattened, low-profile fittings are an important element of the design concept; an interior landscape punctuated with chromed arcs and knobs does not a sublime visual experience make. The Deque faucet, with its exquisite streaming action, sidesteps that situation nicely. Come September, it's available in silver or matte black.

My talk, by the way, was well received—my sincere thanks to all who attended, and to those who sent messages of support to this public-speaking-shy individual. dornbracht.com

Helping Hands

As I'm still writing and editing and reediting and rewriting tonight's talk, I find myself envious of this mechanical marvel's multi-tasking skills. An artist in the kitchen, if there ever was one!

Down to the Wire

Depending on who you ask, I'm either a procrastinator or a perfectionist. I mention this only because I'm still working on my slide show for tomorrow's presentation on bathroom design trends. My focus: The evolution of the bath from closed chamber to open plan. Here's a peek at one of the images I'm using to illustrate that concept. Installing a sink [this one is called Tangens] on a half-wall is one way to free up floor space and sightlines alike. alape.com

One Great Kitchen

To be honest, kitchens that make me do a double-take are few and far between. This design merits a triple-take, if there is such a thing. Creative and snappy [the positive/negative island and table is great, and I love the general contrast between urbane and rustic elements] without sacrificing either functionality or comfort, it's a winner. traceryinteriors.com

Rethinking the Sink

This 1928 'efficiency center' [I see Kohler made a herculean effort to avoid the word 'sink'] is an uncontested step-saver in the kitchen, with a dishwasher on the right, a laundry/utility tub on the left, and the main basin in the middle. But for the sake of the homeowner's sanity, I hope the view out the window is engrossing, as this set-up guarantees she'll be spending a lot of time standing in one spot.

The dishwasher-in-a-sink is a concept that comes and goes over time; GE released one after WW2, and I remember a model from the 1990s.

The gaggle of taps and spigots is most impressive. The underside of the efficiency center, though, not so much—perhaps a fabric skirt could conceal the storage bins and plumbing.

A Stream Come True

Grasping the topmost portion of this faucet lets you pivot the water stream in a full circle—hence the name of the model, '360ยบ'. The spout rotates at the base, too. I like the concentrated functionality of the design; there's plenty of flexibility without the ropy hoses of pull-out faucets. webert.it

Bright Idea

I can't quite decide if the Acquaparete sconce is better suited to a contemporary bath or kitchen, or to a space with a more traditional slant. Michele de Lucchi's design [which is offered with a choice of clear or frosted shade] applies a modern approach to a conventional form, resulting in a fixture that's both fresh and familiar. Let's make this easy, and declare it at home in either setting. produzioneprivata.it

We Interrupt This Blog...

...to let you know that the New York City chapter of IFDA has graciously invited me to share my experiences and observations on ISH, the epic bath industry show which I attended in Frankfurt this past March. Date: Wednesday, 15 June; a reception at 6:00 kicks things off, with the presentation beginning at 6:30. Place: The Duravit showroom, 105 Madison Avenue [between 29 and 30 streets], New York City. For more information, click here.

If you're in the neighborhood, I'd love to see you there!


Summertime, and the livin' is sticky—at least in these parts. This outdoor shower offers more than a cool spritz on a hot day. Architecturally-inspired fabric panels provide both shade and privacy, and the base assures against sand or grass clippings clinging to newly-washed feet. metalco.it

Behind Closed Doors

Painted finishes and natural oak in the same kitchen? When done as skillfully as in this room, the answer is yes. But what really hits the mark for me here is the cupboard that's ajar. No puny coffee-maker garage, this—it's large enough not only to house several small appliances, but also offers ample room to operate them, owing to an expanse of concealed counter space. A modest triumph of cabinet design. Bravo! martinmoore.com

Unbalanced Load

The cantilevered control panel on this 1960 laundry pair is positively wacky. Called the 'Free Span' design, it purports to conveniently center the controls for easy operation, but such a claim seems to be, if anything, out of line. Maybe the electronics [Did those even exist in 1960?] that stored all the fabric-care formulae in use during the Age of Acrilan were too big for a single housing, and had to expand. In any case, the angular design is a far cry from the bloodless digital displays found on machines today.

Recycled Glamour

It's not your grandmother's lav—but then again, maybe it is, if only a small part. Embellished with vintage costume jewelry, the porcelain sink has a funky-but-feminine attitude. There's a bronze-glazed version that's decorated with gold-toned baubles, as well, and coordinating drain covers are available. linkasink.com

Diverging Streams

Newly offered in the US, the Milano showerhead has an offset design that capitalizes on the choice between spray and waterfall modes. Simple and expressive. fantiniusa.com