Wash Away Your Troubles

The long weekend here in the US—the unofficial last fling of summer—means lots of people will be heading home from the office earlier than usual to make the most of the holiday. I'm sure many will take a tip from this stressed-out, hard-working gent and hop in the shower to emerge rejuvenated. It's interesting to me that not only will he have the benefit of three body sprays [this is in 1923!] but will also enjoy what the manufacturer calls 'once-used water' in the process.

Industrial Evolution

I think it's the coupling of precision detailing and imposing proportion that makes the R.W. Atlas collection of kitchen and bath fittings so appealing. Exposed handle screws, knurled elements [inspired by the textured bezels of 35-mm camera lenses], and hefty cast-brass construction gives them a commanding presence. In the pursuit of authenticity, designers Roman and Williams even modified the manufacturing procedure: The faucets are available with the gently pitted surface produced by the tumbling stage of the finishing process, a texture that would normally be smoothed away by a final polishing step. waterworks.com

Bucket Brigade

This bath, fitted with more framed mirrors than I can count, reflects the fondness that its designer, William Monaghan, has for vernacular style. A native of New Orleans, he founded Build Now, a design/construction firm that specializes in traditional, Delta-influenced architecture, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In a most unwelcome coincidence, Hurricane Isaac has set upon the Big Easy seven years to the day of Katrina's arrival. So far, the levees have held up under a deluge that may total 20 inches of rain.

Talking Shop

Patrick Schiavone, vice president, Global Consumer Design of Whirlpool Corporation, recently answered a few questions for 'Talking Shop', a recurring feature at KBCULTURE.

As a designer, my greatest responsibility is...
To create desire. At the entrance to our studio in Benton Harbor, there is a plaque that expresses our mantra, 'Create Desire'. This simple ideal is instilled in every one of my team members and is something that all of our products aim to accomplish.

An industry trend that I'm watching is...
I am looking at global colors, finishes, and materials. With studios in Shanghai; New Delhi; Milan; Monterrey, Mexico; Sao Paulo; and the US, our design team is able to see what designers around the world are focusing on.

One of my creative touchstones is...
As a designer, I use all our different disciplines to execute our vision, including craftsmanship, design benchmarking, usability, and sensory fulfillment [sound, lighting, feel].

My secret design ambition is...
The ultimate design dream for me would be to design my own home.

The best part of my job is...
When my designers take me further than I imagined we could go. Working with a global design team means that my designers are able to see things from different perspectives and build off of each other, creating a finished product that not only meets the original concept, but far exceeds our initial vision.

Melancholy Monday

Sigh. Even with the promise of some warm and sunny days ahead, I've got a case of the end-of-summer sads. This kitchen foreshadows the seasonal transition in several ways: The room is bright, but with a bluish, cold light; the materials, while natural, are so very neutral; the open lines of the space evoke emptiness more than airiness. [If the rafters hadn't been painted out, that last observation wouldn't hold up.] In truth, I like this kitchen very much—it's just the wrong space at the wrong time. vincentvanduysen.com

Getting Sirius

In the final installment of our week of dog day posts, I'm getting literal, with a winsome pup at the center of this 1925 ad, which ostensibly promotes a new line of 'yard stick high' kitchen sinks. The picture's saturated colors, clear light, and idyllic imagery certainly belie the tumultuous reputation of this late-summer stretch. Time seems to stand still in the illustration; I wish it could be so in reality, as these lazy days begin their fade into autumn.


While this image might look ominously familiar to anyone who is in the midst of a bath remodel, imagine having it as permanent facility. Earning its place in our dog-day-relief campaign is this bathroom from a Russian submarine [Foxtrot class, built from 1957 to 1983]. Yes, that is the sink peeking out from amid the Dali-esque tangle of conduits, valves and gauges.

An off-topic footnote: The distress call 'mayday' is phonetically based on the French venez m'adier—which translates as 'come help me.' The things you learn as a blog author....

Rethink the Sink

It's not just the irregular shapes of the tiles that earn this kitchen sink a spot in our dog-day celebration. It's also that they extend down the interior walls of the basin, in an unconventional convergence of materials that I find most appealing. Should you be curious about the handles for the faucet: Industrial in style, they're mounted on the front side of the island. In a clever touch, the 'hot' one is painted red. minacciolo.it

Purple Phase

Welcome to Day Two of a week-long look at offbeat design ideas, part of KBCULTURE's antidote to the dog days of summer. While it might not stand up to the punishment of a bustling family kitchen, wrapping cabinet doors in an eye-catching wallpaper—and I'd say a lavender toile certainly fits that description—adds pizazz to a humdrum room.

Dirty Little Secrets

With the dog days of summer officially upon us in North America, I thought I'd change things up this week in an effort to avoid—or possibly engage?—the hysteria that allegedly characterizes the time. First up: Photographer Erik Klein Wolterink goes behind closed cupboard doors and documents their contents in situ in an exploration of kitchen culture. Anthropologists, neatniks, and snoops can see more in the book, Kitchen Portraits, which is available through Wolterink's website. erikkleinwolterink.nl

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Let's see here: If I'm reading it right, this 1960 advertisement seems to imply that the thinner insulation in the walls of the refrigerator allows the cooler cavity to expand significantly. That sounds plausible, certainly. But has it grown so large that food can be stored beyond an arm's reach? How else to explain the pivoting shelves and bins, which, sad to say, are so spatially inefficient that they might just offset the new-found room. Back to the drawing board, Hotpoint.

Spot Lights

Nothing flashy here, just straightforward, handsome design. [OK, perhaps it's just a wee bit left of center.] Available with white or red powder-coated shades angling out from a walnut block, the Excel Double sconce could light up a bath or kitchen with its understated style. rollandhill.com


The afternoon thunderstorms have set in again; the sky has gone gunmetal grey and the birds have abandoned the trees for the security of the ground. There's no wondering about what motivated my choice of a post-picture, is there? The warm undertones of this brushed bronze sink unit hold the promise of a sun that I don't think we'll see today. incorporatedny.com

More Than Meets the Eye

This kitchen island, made of luxe mahogany and cherry wood with brass accents, is more than just a pretty place to stash your oft-used cooking stuff. When needed, a low table slides out from the end of the unit, adding extra surface area for prep tasks. Up top, an inset marble slab for working pastry and a removable cutting board complete the package. From the Felix collection. frenchheritage.com

Oh, Naturel

There's something boundary-blurring about combining brick and wood. This kitchen, for example, could be located in a renovated city warehouse or in a rural outbuilding. My feeling is that the raw materials act as an equalizer of sorts, rendering spaces at once rustic and urbane. It's up to other elements—like appliances, counter surfaces, and, as this photo so well illustrates, lighting—to tip the stylistic scales one way or the other.

Problem? What Problem?

Hold on just one minute, Frigidaire. This ad throws down the gauntlet in the first sentence, boasting that the '...exclusive Heat-Minder Unit "thinks" for you, watches food better than you can...'. Unless the range features the 1955 equivalent of a web cam, the only watching that will be done will still be by the mindful cook. I will give credit to the early appearance of a cooktop thermostat, though; a distant ancestor of today's induction technology, it seems the most intelligent element of the Thinking Top. It certainly surpasses the Deep-Well Cooker, whose shortcomings are in full evidence here.

Anything But Minimal

Mono-slabs of a single surfacing material have their place: in a contemporary kitchen, they're just what the designer ordered. But I find that approach rather flat-footed in rooms of a traditional bent. Here, stone tile edged in wood opens up the color palette, and contrasts nicely with the zinc sink deck. For grime-o-phobes casting a scolding eye on those grout lines, I humbly suggest a good sealer and a cutting board. marchicucine.it

Design á la Cart[e]

While there are aspects of this grill set-up that remind me of the office—wire trays that resemble in/out baskets, the file-cabinet-like storage under the sink—its purpose is clearly recreational. The genially-named Mr. Chef is modular, so you can line up the individual elements in any order that suits your setting and cooking style. I might forgo the deep fryer, and include a pair of sink units, using one of them as an ice tub. So accommodating, that Mr. Chef. palazzetti.it

Material Matters

Keeping an eye on the more forward product-design competitions is one way of staying abreast of industry currents. Amica's Zen wall oven copped top honors in this year's Red Dot program. Accenting a cleanly detailed glass front [offered in black or white] with a wooden door handle mixes high tech with hand-crafted, and creates—to my way of thinking—a compelling alternative to the stainless steel aesthetic.

This is the second sighting I've made recently of wood gracing a cooking appliance. Does this a trend make? amica.com.pl

Sunny Outlook

Wall cabinets need not apply to this bright little kitchen. Modest and compact, it gets the job done while happily taking a backseat to its verdant surroundings.

'Nuff said.

Getting Agitated

I am having difficulty calling this 1930s contraption a washing machine, as even though it's several eons removed from pounding clothes with rocks, it's certainly not an automatic device. Fill the tank with water, add soap and garments, then grab hold of the lever and start rocking the tub. A few hours of this arm-bending activity on a daily basis would be good training for some Olympic events, I think; shot-put, anyone?

Midsummer's Dream

A day-ending, alfresco shower with a view of the water—sounds pretty nice, yes? Like the rest of the residence, this shower pavilion sits on a three-foot plinth of cinder block, to comply with building codes in this flood-prone area. Open to the sky, the stainless steel-framed structure is wrapped on three sides with etched glass; one wall [to the right in the photo] features a pivot door. davidjamesonarchitect.com

Compromise Design

The contemporary treatment of this traditional-style faucet is pleasing; somehow, the aesthetic mash-up results in a fitting that's vaguely industrial, yet would be right at home in a residential kitchen. I'm impressed that this blending sidesteps any watered-down look, and results in a distinctive design. Could it be that's why the model is called 'Shock'? zucchettikos.com