Pin It, 1951-Style

There seems to be a bit of Red Scare bombast to this 1951 propaganda—oops, I mean ad—that highlights the progressive features of Hamilton's dryer. Both the graphic design and the verbiage echo the stringent path to social utopia popular at the time of the Cold War. I am most intrigued—maybe 'worried' is a better word—by the 'Sun-E-Day' feature, which involves inundating the laundry with ultraviolet light; for some reason, images of nuclear flashes come to mind.

Making Room

While most of the emphasis at this week's Cersaie design fair in Bologna is on tile and ceramic fixtures, I'm impressed with a product that introduces textiles into the bathroom. [I do have a bit of a contrarian streak in me!] Making its debut at the show, 'Shade' is essentially a folding screen that can be fitted with fabric panels that play a decorative role in the room, as well as Corian inserts that supply shelves and hooks for storage needs. Mirrors can also be incorporated into the freestanding, flexible piece.

Step Lively

You could have a lot of fun composing these tiles, playing their traditional forms against contemporary color schemes. In two patterns and 18 standard shades—and there's no problem if you want to spec a custom hue—the Flaster collection offers choices aplenty. Made of fiber-reinforced concrete, the durable tiles can be used for floors, walls, and outdoor applications.

Hot and Cold

As usual, the advent of autumn brings a mix of warm days and ever-colder nights that I find disorienting [let's not even think about the depressing return to the darkness of Standard Time]. Here's a food-prep helper that mirrors this condition. [My apologies for the less-than-optimal photography.] Inset on an island top, these spacious, temperature-controlled pads are identified by icons etched into their stainless-steel surfaces. The 'heat wave' zone [left] keeps foods warm up to 40ºC/104ºF, while the area marked with a 'snowflake' [right] cools at 4ºC/39ºF.

C'est Chic

The work of Parisian designer Jean-Louis Deniot, this kitchen is quite the alluring space, n'est-ce pas? Sharing the same neutral-hued wood lets the cabinets, walls, and even part of the ceiling quiet the room. Positioning the banquette so diners face away from the work zones is trés civilized; it underscores the not-so-subtle difference between an eat-in and a see-in kitchen. Set at staggered heights, the pendant lights remind me of nothing so much as Champagne bubbles.

Mixed and Matched

When I think of pairing pink and black together, just one thing is summoned to mind: the '56 Chevy Bel Air. But now, thanks to the crew at Admiral, that narrow view has been broadened to include...refrigerators. Who'd ever suspect that in 1954 a swatch of wallpaper could do so much to 'brighten' [really?] the appliance? It certainly seems to have put a smile on this fashionable lady's face.

Transparent Motive

Even thought its clear glass shade would do little or nothing to direct the light, I like this sconce nonetheless. Its see-through design allows easy appreciation of its construction. I find the exposed composition of nuts, bolts, and angle brackets most engrossing.

A Clean Break

I love how this design pushes the boundaries of the farmhouse-modern genre. Much of its appeal lies in the unusual proportions that rule the room. Boldly sized windows and wainscotting that's decidedly low-rise give the space a dynamic quality. The tub-like sink really fits the bath, too—both stylistically and dimensionally.

Precious Gems

Can't you envision this amazing surface in a bathroom—make that a boudoir—setting? Cabochons of translucent, milky quartz are banded in brass, then plotted out against a slab of black marble. The material combination is so rich and unlikely; I'm dazzled by its updated, Art-Deco elegance.

Art of Work

Hand-carved tribal motifs decorate the cabinet frame; pyrographed patterns tattoo the door panels; a bushhamered texture finishes the stone counter tops. These details typify the aesthetic that gives the aptly-named SineTempore kitchen its character. Gabriele Centazzo designed the system, which makes a powerful statement for original expression and craftsmanship in an assembly-line world. I find it's a curious—and ultimately appealing—blend of primitive and progressive.

You Might Well Ask

Reading this ad [click the picture to enlarge it] for the Smoothtop range, this statement made me laugh out loud: 'The one kitchen element which everyone considered hopeless suddenly emerges compact, smart, modern...'. From today's perspective, that might seem quite an exaggeration, but in 1926, the behemoth cast-iron cookstove was still a part—albeit a diminished one—of the domestic landscape.

The 'new-style' kitchen certainly sizzles with color. I do suspect that architect J. Floyd Yewell was a man of rather tall stature, given his positioning of the most-curious cabinet near the sink.

Anything But Square

Urbane in color and format, the VMC Series City Collection of mosaics is a natty change-up from the usual 1x1 tesserae. To my eye, this installation enhances both sink and wall surface; the ceramic mounting plate, anchored with exposed fasteners, is a geometric mediator between the two elements.

Midweek Musical Interlude

Miele, Bosch, AEG, Braun: These are big names in the world of kitchen appliances, but their products have now garnered a reputation for being players—in the most literal sense—in quite another realm. Over eight years, musician and composer Michael Petermann collected [or should I say 'auditioned'?] 200 vintage washers, meat grinders, vacuums, blenders, mixers and more to create the Blödes Orchester ['Stupid Orchestra']. He wrote a score showcasing the sounds of these machines and has staged concerts of the piece. I think it's a fascinating work; you can catch a performance here, or, even better, check out a short documentary on the creation of the mechanical ensemble.

Simple = Sophisticated

The meandering pattern of the stone floor [and backsplash snippet] works to loosen up the parallel lines of the cabinet doors and wall paneling. The egalitarian coupling of aristocratic marble and common beadboard shows how materials can transcend expectations. This bath—a favorite of mine—is a small but persuasive primer on the bringing together of diverse design elements.

Change in the Air

A cool day and a chilly night on tap comprise a harbinger of the slow passing of summer. This elemental kitchen, by Finnish designer Jaani Vaahtera, speaks to me of leafless trees powdered with frost. But I'm getting ahead of things, here, aren't I? We've got a few more weeks of barbecue-friendly weather ahead, and I intend to savor this time, shorter days and all.


Once again, it's Fashion Week here in New York, and KBCULTURE gets into the swing of it with this 1976 vision of chic. I love the idea of a designer scarf as an incentive for purchasing a washer, but I'm definitely not enthused about having to change out the agitator instead of just dialing in a new cycle when it's time to do a load of delicates. Couturier Emilio Pucci's impassive mien conveys a repressed skepticism about the whole thing.


The slightly cinched ends of the Aliento tub may give the fixture a trim look, but at 66 inches x 36 inches, it remains spacious enough for two bathers. Carving the mass of the tub in this way gives the impression that a standard, brick-like bathtub has exhaled. [And therein lies, quizás, a clue to the significance of the vessel's name....]


When it's draped in a dishtowel, the kitchen faucet might be mistaken for a maquette of a Christo installation. Nothing wrong with that, you might say, but when such an accidental artwork conceals a handsome fitting, something has to be done. I like how this deck-mounted hook solves the problem of where to hang a drippy towel without compromising on style or function. And it's an intelligent switch-out for an old air gap.


Induction cooking keeps getting hotter—figuratively speaking, of course. In my opinion, this model from Siemens most accurately reflects the way many people work the stove when preparing a meal. It combines a pair of dedicated heating elements with a field of continuous burners that's able to 'remember' the temperature settings for multiple pans, regardless where they sit on the surface. Touch-and-slide controls keep the unit's profile smooth. As it's a 2012 Red Dot winner, I'm looking forward to seeing this appliance in design-conscious kitchens soon.


I have no problem blaming the holiday weekend for the lateness and brevity of this post. For me, the color of summer is blue; it's all about clear sky and open water. The gridded wall of this kitchen is thoroughly modern, but the room's feeling is more tranquil than edgy, thanks to the restful, graduated shades from ice to ultramarine.