Watt's Up?

'Housepower' was the catchy tag given to a 1959 industry campaign to promote all things electric in the home, from light bulbs to heating and cooling technologies. Naturally, the appliance-rich kitchen was very much the focus of this effort, and manufacturers vied for the public's attention in predictably wacky ways. Above, we have Westinghouse's effort. That big box on top of the island is—ta da!—the Refrigerator of the Future. It had doors both front and back, so you could access your snacks and ingredients with total convenience. It's a concept that I think is worth pursuing today, albeit in less conspicuous installations. To wit: How about a through-the-wall fridge that opens onto adjoining rooms?

Out on a Limb

You just never know when that college botany class will come in handy. This showerhead goes by the name of Rami, which is the plural form of ramus, Latin for 'branch'. That explains a lot about the design, with its chromed shoots weaving away from the wall. gattonirubinetteria.com

In the Hot House

Even though yesterday yielded thirteen fat tomatoes from our garden, the time when the vegetable patch will be plucked clean is inevitably coming. Solace comes in the upright form of these cupboards, which promise to extend the planting season year round. Integral LED grow-lights encourage seedlings, which are rooted in a deep, removable 'drawer' that can be carried from potting shed to cabinet. And should your green thumb suddenly take a turn for the black, your kitchen still benefits from plenty of storage, enclosed as well as open in design. toyokitchen.co.jp

Room to Think

It's certainly understandable that you'd want to try before you buy one of these investment-quality, do-it-all toilet seats. While some showrooms may have working demonstration models, it can be a bit disconcerting testing them, with everybody knowing what you're up to behind closed door.

In his mandated pursuit of continuing professional education, an architect friend came across this interesting resource: a list of restaurants whose facilities feature the Washlet. Anonymously experiencing its hygienic functions under such semi-public circumstances could, paradoxically, afford a modicum of privacy. totousa.com

Put a Shine On It

I'm so impressed by the level of craftsmanship exhibited by this cabinetry. A glossy lacquer finish on a ribbed panel—wow! Applying that contemporary coating to a traditionally-styled design is a spunky move, too, that lifts the Convivio kitchen out of the mainstream and into more adventuresome territory. martinimobili.it

Heat Ways

The options proffered by this appliance are so outrageous that they actually confuse me. Perhaps in 1961, the idea of pulling a chair up to the dryer and settling under the heat helmet was the epitome of sophistication? Considering the alternatives—a limpid fur and/or a wet head—I guess one couldn't say no to Norge's over-achieving invention.

Commercial Influence

A diminutive complement to the tub of the same name, the Vieques sink is offered as a countertop basin as well as a pedestal model. The latter far too much resembles an oil drum for my taste, a fact which may be a bit discordant, considering I'm a big fan of the aforementioned tub—but industrial chic has its limits. agapedesign.it

Spot-on Light

Even in photographs, the Coco pendant light begs for a caress. The shade, made of spun aluminum capped with a finial of turned ash wood, has a virtually seamless surface. The satin finish is far more alluring than the typical shiny powder-coat—at least to my eye. cocoflip.com.au

Clean & Green. Quite.

An exercise in old-is-new, the Jennings tub is cast from recycled brake discs. Taps can be installed right on the substantial wooden roll, or you can opt for a floor-mounted filler. A classic nineteenth century design, somehow it soothes the way from summer to fall for me; maybe it's the collision of faded green and turned-earth brown. watermonopoly.com

Transparent Thinking

Glass inserts on the base cabinets? As this room shows, it's a nifty way to establish a conversation between upper and lower cupboards. One thing that often kills a kitchen for me is the copy-and-paste approach to the cabinetry; while an architectural space can get away with that treatment, such monotony strains a standard room. Another thought: These windowed cabinets hold even greater design potential if their interiors are creatively lit. rotpunktkuechen.de

Come and Get It!

Over the years, fads in refrigerator design have brought us shelves that rotate and elevate—but this is my first encounter with a pull-out pantry feature. I do wonder, though, if this 1957 Coldspot fridge was really so deep as to require such a device; from the look of things, a standard-size watermelon fills up the shelf quite handily. In a way, this model is the appliance ancestor of the drawer-style units we have today; the 'Family Food Center' just escaped from the cooler compartment and adopted a horizontal orientation under the counter.

And Upward

As you may have noticed, I'm a fan of vertical storage; not only is it an efficient use of space, but the format is often ripe for creative expression. Even in this more-or-less classic design for a grooming bar I discern a potential aesthetic rebellion à la Joan Miró and his Entwurf für eine Tapisserie. waterworks.com

Lunar Modular

This subtle, sculptural range hood has an extraterrestrial namesake: it's called Phobos, after one of Mars' much-cratered moons. To maintain the ventilation performance in spaces that are more than eight feet tall, the manufacturer recommends installing this flush-mount model in a dropped or false ceiling. [If white isn't right for your kitchen, the Phobos can be painted.] The ducted design is operated by remote control. besthoods.co.uk

Delicious Detail

No, this is not a post about exquisite, hand-decorated chocolates. It is about an exquisite, digitally-decorated counter surfacing called Sublimo. The pattern [this one is called Old Dutch] is imprinted into—not on top of—the CaesarStone quartz-composite slab. erbi.nl

We Interrupt This Blog...

...to tell you about a novel way to see what's new in kitchen design. Taking place from 17-23 September, thirty cabinet manufacturers located along a twenty-two mile stretch of the A30 highway in Germany open their doors to visitors. Less of a concentrated experience than a trade show, more topical and far-reaching than most design centers, the concept—while limited to locations where one industry is dominant [think vineyards and wineries]—is quite intriguing. Learn more about Küchenmeile here, and gute Reise if you go!

Endless Summer

It's projects like this serene pool-house kitchen that blissfully perpetuate my denial of the advent of autumn. I like the way materials define the structure [see how a cube of ipe wood forms the core of the pavilion?] and the slices of open space [check out the 'junction' of wall and ceiling] literally loosen things up. coop15.com

Falling Off the Catwalk

Once again, it's Fashion Week here in the Big Apple, and KBCULTURE hops on [and quickly off] the couture bandwagon with this vision from 1962. I'm not quite clear on the connection between a refrigerator with a flip-top freezer and a model dressed by Emilio Pucci [true!] as a psychedelic troll—although I can certainly endorse her decision to hide behind those Foster Grants. Hopefully the three thirsty lovelies are nursing their drinks, because there's not much ice to be found in the Zeromatic's one-cubic-foot freezer.

View From the Inside

What better way to appreciate the design of a sink than an up-close look at the feature that makes it special? An integral platform at one end of the Performa Cascade elevates items for rinsing above the drain level, and a notch in its rim keeps water from pooling. The granite-composite basin comes in seven heat-, scratch- and stain-resistant colors.

And yes, there may be a remote chance this post was triggered by our recent binge of rain and flooding.... blancoamerica.com

Attractive Forces

Style-wise, this swoopy bathroom mirror may be a bit on the youthful side, but there's a clever, concealed functionality to it that just might endear it to users of all ages. The shelves and storage bin attach to the steel panel that comprises the lower part of the piece via magnets; you can place them wherever you like. A small but rather handy feature, I think. The collection includes magnetic towel bars that connect to a ceiling plate. omlsrl.com

One of a Kind

While the hand-formed Graal sink comes in a garden of glaze colors, I'm drawn to its natural terra cotta incarnation. The materiality is so evident, and that's appealing to me—a reminder that all in this world need not be perfect and uniform to be appreciated. azzurraceramica.it

Coming to a Close

It's a holiday here in the States; for many, Labor Day signals the onset of a change in the seasons. The driftwood chandelier in this utterly simple kitchen reminds me that summer is indeed ebbing away. The cool grey palette, at once peaceful and melancholy, hints at the eventual shift in the skies, from clear and blue to cloudy. erinmartindesign.com

Form Without Functioning

Why, I do believe I have already made the acquaintance of the Invisible Refrigerator; just earlier this week, as a matter of fact. Perhaps not this fashionably flower-powered, built-in model from 1967, but its 2011 conceptual counterpart: Once again owing to Hurricane Irene, we've made do without refrigeration for almost a week. During this time, I have developed a new respect—a yearning, even—for the wooden cabinet that was cooled by blocks of ice.

Merging Materials

There's a whole lot happening in this short stretch of kitchen counter—and I love every bit of it. Slabs of black walnut and Belgian blue limestone meet in a bold finger joint that seems to be a jumbo-sized variation on the tightly tiled backsplash. A challenging design, and a masterful installation. finne.com