31 January 2012

Screen Play

As you may notice from the subject labels for this post, I'm torn as to how to categorize these unusual stainless steel panels—but that's a minor detail, really. What's much more interesting is how they could be used: to separate an open kitchen from an adjoining space; as a decorative scrim for a shower enclosure; maybe as a window treatment. A variety of patterns are available, and the manufacturer hints at a new model that will incorporate LED lighting. cainodesign.com

30 January 2012

Organizing Principle

To deal effectively with odd-shaped interiors—like this loftlike garret, with its sloping ceiling and walls—it's a good strategy to smooth out the rough edges of the space, and then develop the functional elements. Here, storage is recessed into the wall and a simple working island defines the kitchen. While I hope the frayed-fabric panels are temporary measures, I do like how this room has been pulled together.

27 January 2012

Happy Birthday, Wolfgang

On this date in 1756, one Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born in Salzburg, at Getreidegasse 9. This is the kitchen in the home; during the winter, that small, wood-fired stove must have been burning day and nacht. The house/museum is open for tours, of course. mozarteum.at

26 January 2012

Fluid Form

Happy Australia Day! To celebrate, here's a shot of Aussie-turned-international designer Marc Newson's bathroom. Famously averse to sharp angles in his work, this space soothes with gentle contours and a muted palette. The grey stripes of the Linac marble sheathing the walls resemble all too closely the drizzly winter day here—let's hope it's sunnier Down Under. marc-newson.com

25 January 2012

Visual Metaphor

Please excuse me while I rhapsodize a bit. Each piece of Plateau Block tile pairs a sculpted, raised rectangle with a rough and crumbly 'empty' patch. In and of itself, this contrast creates a compelling surface treatment, but when you think about how it represents the processes of construction and erosion, it assumes [Pun alert!] another dimension entirely. It's offered in four colors. Lixil

24 January 2012

Stealth Shelf

Here's a gem of a storage solution, especially in a bath that's pinched for set-down space near the sink. The Cascada mirror features a concealed, drop-down shelf that's held closed by a tiny magnet. I think it's a secret worth sharing. americanstandard-us.com

23 January 2012

Cool Kitchen

As our weekend snow begins to thaw, unexpected forms are melting into view, putting me in mind of this kitchen by Tehran-based Ryra Studio. Commissioned, appropriately enough, by a ski resort for its guest lodgings, it conjures the bumpy topography of a mogul run—albeit one snugly outfitted with hot water and cooking facilities.

20 January 2012

Do Not Try This At Home

Wow. This 1966 ad is so bizarre on so many fronts...let's look it over, point-by-point, shall we?

1] The 'Swing-Door' concept: Unless you want to experiment with the novelty of trying to seal water behind a folding or by-pass design, what other kind of door is there?

2] The boast about loading up to 17 sets of dishes 'any way you like': Sure, if you don't mind washing 17 sets of still-dirty dishes by hand afterwards.

3] Finally, regarding the marquee claim about putting a barefoot and blindfolded ten-year-old to work: Please consult an attorney regarding applicable child labor laws.

19 January 2012

Talking Shop

Surjit Kalsi, Chairman of Capital Cooking Equipment, recently answered a few questions for 'Talking Shop', a recurring feature at KBCULTURE.

How did you get your start in the appliance industry?
On a cold night in London in 1957, while I was preparing for my medical degree exams, I found myself without a roof over my head or a warm bed to sleep in. Luckily, I was able to take shelter in a friend's home and bought an evening newspaper to look for new opportunities. The first job posting I saw was for a lab assistant with Main Gas Appliance, a company that manufactured gas ranges and space heaters. I loved the job so much that it became my new career path. It was the catalyst to my thinking about and exploring new and improved methods of designing gas ranges and burners for appliances.

What is it about designing appliances that appeals to you?
It is so interesting to see your ideas materialize in front of you when you apply them to the daily life of a consumer. It also amazes me that these very ideas have the power to revolutionize the entire world market.

Is there a specific innovation you've developed of which you're particularly proud?
Although I am proud of everything I have developed, the Culinarian Series is definitely garnering a lot of attention. It offers the highest Btu output—23,000—available on an open burner. Going back farther, it would have to be the product that really set my career in a new direction: I designed the very first Viking range.

Who does the cooking at your home?
My wife. She has written a cookbook called Cuisine of Lucknow.

What do you see as the new frontier in cooking technology?
The sky's the limit.

18 January 2012

Bright Spot

Double-teamed by travel and deadline pressures, a full-blown post today is not forthcoming. Yet I am happy to quickly share with you this tidy and polychromed idea for storage in the kitchen—which may have been borrowed from the bathroom, and its ubiquitous shower niches. How nice to break both character and color scheme by using bright, patterned tiles in this design.

17 January 2012

A Touching Experience

The form of the Thames lav handle [shown with the Kensington faucet] is irresistible to me. It's a visceral piece of design: grasping its smooth, slightly irregular form creates a kind of physical memory, and the lustrous, copper-coffee finish lingers in the mind's eye. watermark-designs.com

16 January 2012

Side by Side

I love the easy compatibility between modern and traditional in this kitchen. It's as if the two styles are having a friendly chat about what they've got in common: simple lines, neutral colors, and natural materials. While I'm no Luddite, I had initial reservations about the TV on the wall, but I've warmed to the idea; hanging a static painting or print there might tip the balance between old and new.

13 January 2012

You Can Take It With You

While KBCULTURE primarily pursues all things kitchen and bath, we're not immune from following our bliss into other realms that overlap this focus. With the perfect storm of the Consumer Electronics Show and Detroit's automobile extravaganza both taking place this week, what better occasion to flashback to this tricked-out 1947 Caddy? Owner Louie Mattar customized it with complete bathroom and kitchen facilities [see the fender-mounted shower, backseat stove and combination washing machine/toilet above] and much more in preparation for his non-stop, cross-country drive made in 1952. Gearheads will be impressed by the plethora of under-the-hood shots at the redoubtable Hemmings blog.

12 January 2012

Playing with Planes

In their renovation of a hotel in Athens, the brothers Campana created a variety of faceted designs for vanities in the guest rooms. This one, which I'd describe as an asymmetrical pedestal sink, is one of the tamer installations. I like how it coalesces a study of solid form with a function that's all about flowing water. campanas.com.br

11 January 2012

Lighten Up—and Down

Continuing what has turned into a week of unwittingly featuring products that zig and/or zag: the Match Lamp. An online design tool generates numerous possible installation configurations, based on the dimensions of the space to be illuminated. Each LED construction, therefore, is one-of-a-kind—just as it should be. vibia.com

10 January 2012

Tricky Tiles

What you see here is not quite what you get. Some of these ceramic tiles are functional, and some are not. The control valves and the shower heads are the active elements, while the snaking 'pipes' are faux. [That sound you hear is a great collective sigh by plumbing professionals.] If you're not inclined towards black tile in your bath, know that the Cover Tiles are also available in white. studiojspr.nl

09 January 2012

Freed Forms

The Suspendida kitchen takes a deliberate step out of line—and I mean that in a good way. Attaching cabinets and appliances onto a concealed superstructure allows the units to float above the floor, and the resulting irregular outline is happily nonconforming. The design is quite adaptable; it's as intriguing in a galley installation as it is in an island form. artificio.es

06 January 2012

New Visions, The Conclusion

On this Flashback Friday, as we wrap up a week of looking at some paradigm-challenging designs for the future, comes this reminder, courtesy of Electrolux, that change is good. While its gas-powered refrigerator might have turned heads in 1932, it was a short-lived innovation. But we all learn from failure—don't we, Grasshopper?

05 January 2012

New Visions, Part 4

There's no shortage of concept kitchens that feature a built-in herb garden or a water-free dishwasher; while such innovations often advance the design discussion, they don't always address the bigger picture of the kitchen as both an independent and inter-dependent ecosystem. The Microbial Home by Philips does that in a number of ways, one of which is the harnessing of methane that's produced by composting organic substances. The gas fuels the cooktop [located on the Bio-Digester Island in the foreground] and light fixtures [along the overhead pipe], and is instrumental in cooling food that's stored in the Larder [the unit in the background of the photo]. There's a bathroom component to the concept, too, that serves to complete the circle.

04 January 2012

Eye Spy

Here's a US-exclusive look at a new quartz surfacing that will debut in March. From Caesarstone, the Supremo collection has a look unlike anything I've seen before; the design is, in fact, patented. The cellular-like pattern is randomly studded with concentrated pools of color. Shown here is the Shining Armor variant, which is one of eight colors [including a rich blue and, of course, black] that will be offered. At once graphic and organic, the material opens up some intriguing aesthetic possibilities. caesarstoneus.com

New Visions, Part 3

Dubbed 'The Isle of I', this bathroom basin features an archipelago of integral porcelain perches for soap and other toiletry items. The mirror pivots, making it easier to keep an eye on I—or you. Mexico City-based design firm Agent developed this interactive prototype.

03 January 2012

New Visions, Part 2

Recognizing that a lack of awareness about natural-resource conservation has impeded progress on said front, the Poor Little Fish washstand makes an emotional appeal to the softie that lives inside us all. As the faucet runs, the water level in the aquarium drops, graphically putting the fish into peril. The cause-and-effect message couldn't be clearer: Turn off the water, save the guppy. [Designer Yan Lu has engineered the flow so that our finny friend is not actually going to end up high and dry.] yanlu.com

02 January 2012

We Interrupt This Blog...

... for a technical note. Over the weekend a slight change to the KBCULTURE domain name was made [the 'blogspot' appellation is no more]. Those of you who follow this blog via a RSS reader should reset your feed to reflect the new domain. Thank you.

New Visions

Rather than rush back into hard, post-holiday reality, I'd like to start the new year at KBCULTURE by looking at some conceptual products and installations for the kitchen and bath. After all, creativity must precede commerce, right?

From Michael Harboun comes this video of a kitchen—I guess it's OK to use that term—which utilizes the technology of claytronics. A nutshell definition of this, as gleaned from the collaborative research project of Carnegie Mellon University and Intel, is the transformation of 2-D planes into operational, 3-D mechanical structures; the scientists refer to the substance as 'programmable matter'. With the recent findings on the Higgs boson furthering our understanding of the molecular-material frontier, who's to say that M. Harboun's vision [which just won a Red Dot award] won't someday be realized?