31 August 2011

Thrill of the Grill

After three days without electricity [thanks, Irene], I'm looking for ways to make the BBQ routine a bit more aesthetic. The compact oneQ system can be set up in a straight array of modules, or in a series of 90ยบ connections. Charcoal or gas fuels the fire, and the line is available in silver, grey or black. one-q.com

30 August 2011

Sunny Bathing

About as close to an open-air bath as one can get, taking a shower in this inventive space would be as eye-opening on a star-lit night as in the morning. For some, the height of the room might be a bit overwhelming—but I'd be up for the experience. minarc.com

29 August 2011

Circumstances Beyond Control

With luck, this rooftop kitchen survived this weekend's visit from Irene—a most unwelcome guest—intact. I confess to a little case of hurricane-induced envy here, as our power has been knocked out and we're resorting to the trusty Smoky Joe for cooking until electricity is restored. [Refrigeration is another matter altogether, I'm afraid.] Until we're back online, I'll do my best to post daily, but please forgive me if I falter. gradenyc.com

26 August 2011

A Seat at the Table

Judging from the appliances, the young family that occupied this kitchen from 1954 to 1960 was certainly of modest means. At the time, wringer-top washers were being eclipsed by automatic models; the fridge, though, looks more or less up to date. As a pastor and community leader in Montgomery, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr. spent hours in this room discussing the nascent civil rights movement. The residence is now a museum, and is open for tours. dexterkingmemorial.org

25 August 2011

It Must Be the Weather

Hurricane Irene is still hundreds of miles away, and yet we have a turgid, grey sky and intermittent rain. The quality of light in this bathroom—diffuse and cool—is more intense than what's currently outside in the real world, but its softness is remarkably similar. The proverbial calm before the storm? anoukb.com

24 August 2011

Attachment Issues

It's time to test your powers of observation: What's not seen in this shower drain? That's absolutely correct, oh sharp-eyed ones! There are no screws holding the grate in place. In their stead are four tiny rare earth magnets, which are more than up to the job of keeping everything in place. Look for this twist on traditional fasteners to spread to other plumbing assemblies, speeding installation and keeping appearances neat. watermark-designs.com

23 August 2011

Too Many Choices

Selecting just one photo of the Cun modular kitchen was not an easy task, dear readers. Cooktops [gas, induction, or teppanyaki], sinks, chopping blocks, and myriad storage options—on casters or fixed legs—can be hooked together or stationed separately. Side panels are available in a variety of woods, Corian or stainless. This is the best-looking freestanding kitchen system I've seen to date; perhaps it's an idea whose time has finally come? jokodomus.com

22 August 2011

Summertime Cues

By my definition, a summertime kitchen is neither too casual as to be grungy nor too styled or structured to be stuffy or formal. This room, well-appointed but not overdone, is just right. Its focus on people rather than performance suits the season especially well. My one question: Can the single dishwasher handle all those plates?

19 August 2011

Wash and Wear—Really

Here we have one of those wonderful inventions that simultaneously appealed to a homemaker's sense of the possible and the pragmatic. Tantalizingly dubbed the 'Automagic' washer, this 1947 dual-function device cleaned both clothes and dishes. The conversion—which allegedly took a mere 90 seconds [ahem]—involved unscrewing the agitator, lifting it and the tub out of the cabinet, then dropping in a screen, spray arms and dish rack. Magic? Maybe. Auto? Not so much, considering the multi-step change-over procedure. But I'm not going to let a minor detail like that tarnish the utopian aspirations of this ingenious appliance.

18 August 2011

Sum of Parts

The Tresham line of bath furniture slyly treads the line between custom and stock cabinets by virtue of its modular design. Tall vanities interspersed with shorter storage units encourage some creative combinations: one sink flanked by two storage units, two sinks joined by one bridge module, et cetera. kohler.com

17 August 2011

Store More

The layers, levels and nooks that comprise this larder would make finding a wayward bottle of EVOO a rather pleasant adventure. The rolling shelf at the front of the cabinet seems less confrontational than a pull-out pantry, and screens a row of deep drawers behind it; I find such a mix of storage configurations is more useful [and interesting] than a homogenous design. mwf.com

16 August 2011

A Fine Tangle

A fragile chaos—that's my initial response to the Knotty Bubbles pendant light. Designer Lindsey Adelman cites maritime culture and Japanese packaging as influences for the fixture. I can see it bobbing up in a bathroom or in a rough-around-the-edges kitchen. rollandhill.com

15 August 2011

Go with the Flow

Yesterday, up to seven inches of rain transformed much of the northeast into a veritable lagoon, and more storms are on the way. Despite the deluge, I'm drawn to the liquid-like surfaces in this kitchen. The dappled backsplash is a gentle variation on the dramatic pool of solid blue that tops the island. Natural wood and checkered upholstery keep the room from floating—figuratively, to be sure—away. diamondbaretta.com

12 August 2011

Behind the Seen

Even though it's not quite the kind of help I'd like to have in the kitchen, I love this candid view of the set of Julia Child's PBS television show. No art-directed food styling, no gargantuan space with prominent product placements—just a working home kitchen [except, of course, for the five floor-bound assistants]. Julia passed away seven years ago today.

11 August 2011

Cutting Edgy

Can stone be sinuous? In the hands of designer Raffaello Galiotto and Lithos Design, these travertine blocks display a baroque topography that defies the traditional image of marble. The underlying geometry and structure is complex—the stones are modular in their cut, and can be combined to produce a variety of surface contours—but the effect is seductively artless. lithosdesign.com

10 August 2011

Grill Power

Solid, simple and spacious: That's how I like my grills, and this one, with its sturdy, well engineered construction, would be welcome to park in my backyard anytime. The GT 800 is a mid-size model; the company produces toolbox-size designs as well as a Volkswagen-scale behemoth with more bells and whistles than I ever imagined possible. Come to think of it, European designers seem to have a lot of fun reinventing the barbecue.... brennwagen.de

09 August 2011

Site Quite Specific

Remember a couple years back, when using cleft boulders and geodes as bathroom sinks was the rage? [I think it was during that time that I developed an aversion to the word 'zen', as it was invariably invoked as a descriptor to those baths.] This installation goes that idea one better—and sheds the abused adjective, as well. Living rock has been hollowed out into connecting pools which are filled via a wall-mounted faucet. Mountaineer Barbie, anyone? olsonkundigarchitects.com

08 August 2011

Out of the Ordinary

Global angst and tumult today has me seeking some design tranquility, but there's no reason to retreat to the banal. In this otherwise conventional kitchen, the unusual coffee machine installation hints at an underlying artistic bent. While not nearly as extreme as this space, turning up the artistic flame a notch can be both a fortifying and calming experience. mowlemandco.co.uk

05 August 2011

Through the Wringer

While we generally avoid political commentary here at KBCULTURE, the past couple weeks have been unduly stressful, as here in the US we wrestled with the national debt issue. I was struck by a few parallels between Congress' behavior and the performance of this 1954 washer, with its weird, shape-shifting laundry tub. Cycles of yanking, pulling, and squeezing—culminating in a burp: dirty laundry, of both Washington and wardrobes, has been cleansed. [Click the picture to enlarge it.]

It all comes out in the wash.

04 August 2011

Out of Sight

The SlideAway door is a pretty nifty innovation, I think. In small kitchens, an open wall-oven door can be an obstacle, and a hazardous one at that. This feature dispatches with that, while increasing accessibility to the cavity. But wait—there's more! Because the handle rotates in tandem with the door panel as it opens and tucks away, there's no wrist-twisting involved, as a fixed handle would require. Smooth move, indeed. neff.co.uk

03 August 2011

Freshly Aired

As much as I appreciate the convenience and ingenuity of modern laundry appliances, during these long, warm days of summer there's something to be said for giving the dryer a rest. Pinup, designed by Mark Moskovitz, is a colorful, clever and aesthetic alternative to the ordinary clothes pin. It only requires one hand to use, so if you're stuck doing the wash solo, line drying is a real breeze. fiftytwothousand.com

02 August 2011

All Aboard

Ferrovia is Italian for 'train station'—and this so-named light fixture is certainly on the right design track. A balance between awkwardness and grace, it belies its jury-rigged appearance. The unusual form of the porcelain element has me musing on its origins: old-fashioned electrical insulator or obscure bit of bathroom ceramic? carolollier.com

01 August 2011


Bee skeps for lamp shades—short of fireflies in jars, I can't think of a more summery lighting design. The form of the island is rather labored, but I like its driftwood-like finish. There's a genuine haphazard aspect to this kitchen, and I can't tell if it's deliberate or accidental. I hope it's the latter. billingramarchitect.com