31 December 2013

Bottle Service

In honor of tonight's toasts to auld—and new—lang syne, here's a backsplash featuring designer Erin Adams' 'Bottles' mosaic rendered in moonstone, opal, and tourmaline glasses. She cites the natura morta ['still life'] paintings of Giorgio Morandi as an influence on the work; his bottles and vessels gently jostle each other, and the shadows they cast go in all directions. newravenna.com

And so cheers, prost, proost, cin cin, salud, santé to you all, dear readers. Thanks for your company this year and next.

30 December 2013

Party Place

I've never been one for the raucous, out-on-the-town type of New Year's Eve festivities. But I do appreciate a spirited get-together with friends at home. This forward-looking kitchen, with its theatrical, layered lighting and plenty of room for guests, strikes me as a fun spot for such celebrations. ashsak.com

27 December 2013

What Once Was Will Be Again

It's the final Flashback Friday of 2013, dear readers, and in a temporal juxtaposition befitting a New Year's Day hangover, we'll simultaneously look forward and back. In 1899, artist Jean-Marc Côté created fifty depictions of daily life in the year 2000. His take on the kitchen certainly foreshadows today's molecular gastronomy craze; the steampunkish 'appliances' look like they'd fit in at a hipster Williamsburg boîte.

If you're curious about the other facets of the future, you're in good company: no less a visionary than Isaac Asimov was captivated by them. In his book Futuredays, the science-fiction master muses on the entire set of Côté's illustrations, which in addition to the kitchen, include such now-realized technologies as wheeled houses, robotic floor cleaners, and variations on the computer, in addition to some questionably prescient pastimes as aerial tennis and deep-sea croquet.

26 December 2013

Silent Night [or Afternoon]

There's a stillness to this bath that I find irresistible in the midst of the holiday hubbub. But it's more than just a peaceful retreat; there's something to contemplate in the design. The location of the handshower is practical, but also unusual. Correction: It's artistic. Ordered and contained, the fittings underscore the size and the solid/void quality of the wall. Nice, nice job. costudio.be

25 December 2013

Deck the Walls

...or the halls. Whatever jingles your bell.

Merry Christmas, dear readers.

24 December 2013

Whirled Piece

The central island of the Prisma kitchen features a sliding, bridge-like counter. Located mid-span is a lazy Susan [Wince. The term is so wrong regarding this sophisticated design.] with a tablet connection; a spin lets cooks share the screen without covering the device in fingerprints. I applaud the subtlety—and the usefulness—of the detail. toncelli.it

23 December 2013

Christmas Present

Acres of uninterrupted concrete counters. A vista-framing window. And a fireplace? Someone must have been very good indeed to merit such a sugarplum of a kitchen. I like architect Arne Thorsrud's materials palette—heavy on the texture, but with a touch or two [glass and stainless] of slick surfaces. ram-arkitektur.no

20 December 2013

It's the Thought That Counts

In case you're still on the hunt for the perfect Christmas present, here's an item that doubtless topped the Must-Have List of 1959. Yes, it's a garbage disposer.

Warms your heart, doesn't it?

I have a feeling that the sprig of mistletoe 'she' is holding will be the first thing down the drain—unless you count their marriage.

19 December 2013

Wood You?

Look beyond the unfortunate styling that obscures more than it enhances, the regrettable open shelves, and the bad lighting—I know I'm asking a lot, here, but work with me—and focus on the wood used in this kitchen. The translucent grey/green stain on the wall paneling shows off the oak's grain, and is quite the unexpected contrast with the polished cherry base cabinet. It's a bold treatment that I can see applied to traditional or modern designs.

18 December 2013

Appliance Art

Today a new visitor's center opens at Stonehenge, just three days before various druids, revelers, and pagans converge on the site to celebrate the winter solstice. But there won't be any such gathering at the once venerable Fridgehenge, aka Stonefridge. Erected in 2003 outside Santa Fe, New Mexico by  artist/filmmaker Adam Horowitz and the Primordial Soup Company, its 100+ discarded coolers were configured into a satiric 'anti-monument' to consumerism. A well-crafted video tells the unlikely story of the installation.

17 December 2013

On/Off the Wall

There's no telling how Arne Jacobsen, designer of the iconic HV1 faucet, would react to this audacious installation of the fitting, but I love it. The ordinarily deck-mounted model has made the leap to the wall, and the spout is reversed so the water streams well into the sink. Danish artist Tenka Gammelgaard has a passion for dramatic black and white and a flair for the unorthodox; this is a detail from her home. vola.com

16 December 2013

Fire Power

It's cold enough to light up the fireplace today. While mine is in the usual living-room location, I can't help but speculate on such a feature in the kitchen. At counter height, it could easily be used for hearth cookery, a primitive pursuit I've long been interested in more for its arcane equipment than any hipster-chef neo-authenticity. In fact, it's just that anachronistic quality which draws me to this room, with its mix of modern and traditional design.

13 December 2013

Cool is the New Hot

'Tis the season for parties. Certainly the Wonderbar was the hit of many [?] an office holiday wing-ding back in 1952. Sheathed in fashionable Bakelite, with legs and casters optional, the portable fridge was designed by Donald Dailey. While small-scale refrigerators are commonplace today, I imagine that this essentially electrified cooler was the appliance equivalent of the newest X-Box.

[Here's an early Christmas present for you majapp trivia-masters: The name 'Servel' is a portmanteau, combining 'serve' and 'electrically.']

12 December 2013

One or the Other

The Unico tub/spray-shower has been on my radar for some time. Most interesting is how the conversion between those two functions is achieved. Panels covering the body jets are removed from the wall and placed across the top of the tub, creating a 'floor' that's perfectly positioned for the spa experience. rexadesign.it

11 December 2013

Smooth Move

Not quite a lever nor a knob, the handle of the Synergy faucet is nonetheless eminently graspable. A substantial pebble-like form made of pure white Corian, it fits the palm rather sensuously. I like the melding of organic shape with synthetic material—it's very contemporary. fir-italia.it

10 December 2013

Hamba Kakuhle, Tata

Sentenced to life in prison, Nelson Mandela arrived at Robben Island, seven miles off the coast of Cape Town, in 1964. Eighteen years later, Prisoner 46664 was moved to a series of mainland jails; Mandiba was freed in 1990. Today, Robben Island is a World Heritage Site, and former political prisoners lead tours of the facility. This is the kitchen. robben-island.org.za

09 December 2013

Icy Beauty

There's a white/grey glaze over the landscape this morning, as the first appreciable snowfall blew in overnight. It's much the same palette as in this serene space, which I'd have to put on my [nonexistent] Top-Ten Kitchens list. Even though the room is quite large, I detect a sense of intimacy at the island; a maximum of three people could pull up a chair there. josephdirand.com

06 December 2013

Get the Look?

Forever is a long time, Revco.

There's no disputing the claim that the look of this kitchen is as new now as it was in 1959. But what must be questioned is if this design is more novelty than quality. The two-tone cabinets were certainly ahead of the game, but I'm not sure if the same can be said for the refrigerators. Maybe if their proportions weren't so morgue-ish....

As long as we're on the subject of mortality—I can't let the oxymoron 'forever new' go unacknowledged. Let's have a round of applause for the intrepid copywriter who coupled permanence and change.

05 December 2013

Anuran Art

I think I might have some weird dreams tonight.

In Nancy Braithwaite's design, artist Robert Kuo's sculptures effect a reversal not only of scale, but of role as well—being scrutinized by enormous toads while bathing isn't exactly a prescription for a relaxed soak. But imagine the room without the amphibian accents, and you're left with a run-of-the-mill bath, albeit a nicely appointed one.

04 December 2013

Earth Works

It's quilt season. While my personal textile tastes run towards the rural/jazzy work of the Gee's Bend collective, when it comes to hard surfaces, I can appreciate the more ethnic/graphic treatment of these ceramic tiles. This pavonine patchwork gives just a taste of the Chateaux collection's 22 color and pattern combinations. winchestertiles.com

03 December 2013

High and Dry

I was enlightened [ahem] to learn that the original purpose of the perforations which are the hallmark of a brogue shoe was to drain water out of the footwear while trudging through boggy terrain. In the Brogue light fixture, laser-cut piercings let pin-points of light shine through the leather shade. danielschofield.co.uk

02 December 2013

Galley Slaves

It is conceivable that after last week's festivities, one could be excused for not immediately wanting to look at a kitchen of any shape, size, or color. But here we are, moths gathered around the flame.

In truth, this isn't so much a kitchen as it is a sweet piece of art direction. The most basic cabinets and counters have been intriguingly accessorized. Such eclecticism is capped off by the portrait of a chef, conspicuously implying that a culinary talent is in residence. chelseahing.com.au

29 November 2013


Sixteen pies, two cookie platters, and one cheesecake: Yesterday's dessert table alone reflects not only the cornucopian menu, but also the generous spirit that suffused the Thanksgiving celebration.

If the promise of this 1969 range—an oven that self-cleaned at low temperatures—held true, I'm guessing there would be a lot of spotless appliances today.

28 November 2013

Cleaning, Up

Gobble tov! When this year's hybrid holiday known as Thankgivukkah comes to a close, there may be twice the quantity of pots, platters, and plates to clean. Long after the last latke is eaten and the pie pan is empty, the dishwasher will be working far into the night. These bottle wash jets are rather ingenious, I think. Spray nozzles at the tips of the tines aim water into every crevice of tall, narrow vessels. geappliances.com

27 November 2013

Dinner Is [Almost!] Served

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. In a premature fit of holiday reverie, I'm thinking back to a Turkey Day we hosted while living in Munich. In lieu of a 20-pound tom, I procured a couple of smaller birds; they were about seven pounds, if memory serves. Veggies and bread were plentiful, pumpkin pie was replaced by apple strudel, and, in the end, a reasonable facsimile of the traditional American dinner was served.

This Combi-Steam oven, with its surprisingly spacious cavity and multiple cooking modes, would be an appliance to be grateful for, then or now. mieleusa.com

26 November 2013

Untamed Flames

Over the next few days, cooking appliances across America will be put to the test as Thanksgiving meals are broiled, grilled, fried, braised, sous-vided, steamed, sautéed, and possibly even nuked. The fire power—25,000 Btu, to be exact—of the PrimaNova burner will make short work of stove-top dishes. I speak from first-hand experience that the open [versus sealed; note the absence of the flat plate over the flame] burner design really cranks out the heat. bluestarcooking.com

25 November 2013

Of A Time

I'd have to have the sensibilities of an extraterrestrial to shun traditional design at this venerated time of year, but try as I might, it's hard to make peace with floor-to-ceiling, cathedral-door, cherry cabinets. Yet unrelentingly contemporary looks seem to violate the spirit of the season. Here is a more than satisfying compromise. Oak paneling, classic artwork, and minimalist cabinetry—the combination is happily timeless. miyostudio.nl

22 November 2013

Slow Cooking, Indeed

It's hard to fathom how this undersized appliance could ever produce dinner for two, let alone a holiday feast. I guess you'd have to prepare one dish at a time—and keep the wine flowing during those prolonged gaps between courses. Despite its claimed cooking proficiencies, the 1940-era Bantam didn't actually live up to the definition of 'range', as it lacked any burners. But far be it from me to nitpick the progenitor of the toaster—or maybe the Easy-Bake?—oven.

21 November 2013

Hot Pot

It would be safe to say that a week from today most pots and pans in most American kitchens will be in use, as the national overindulgence that is Thanksgiving is celebrated. I'm getting in the spirit with the cauldron-esque design of the Chef sink. Continuing the culinary motif, a soup-ladle soap dish hooks on to the rim of the aluminum vessel. rapsel.it

20 November 2013

Going With the Flow

The lines of this faucet—designed for La Cucina Alessi—are a fairly accurate abstraction of my day. Things started out a little wobbly, then straightened out into a reasonably steady structure. As for the little beastie: he reminds me of a certain misbehaving cat.... oras.com

19 November 2013

Commending the Commode

It's World Toilet Day, dear readers, when the issue of global potty parity comes to the fore. This drawing, a detail from US Patent 2,220,482, shows Buckminster Fuller's 1938 design for a prefabricated bathroom. Bucky wasn't solely interested in architectural efficiency, though; he paid particular attention to the toilet component. His design was waterless, and contrived to shrink-wrap, err, 'deposits', for subsequent composting. Today the cause is carried forward by forces large [American Standard] and small [Loowatt] alike.

18 November 2013

Going Grey

There's a couple of things that strike me about this calm-inducing kitchen and make it my pick to ease into the week. One: The cabinets are contained to the interior walls, leaving the windows—or more accurately, the daylight—unbound by cupboards. Two: The subtle mix of door-styles jostles the room out of the ordinary; the plain slab fronts of the base units are pleasingly modern. oscarproperties.se

15 November 2013

Not a Slow Burn

Forget about the range burner—I think that Dad is the one getting 'red-hot' here. If you enlarge this 1950 advertisement [click on it], you'll be able to see that this is not a happy family. Junior's teeth are clenched, and his eyes are glazed and fixed on his father's threatening visage. For her part, Mom looks frankly terrified. As for clock-watching Dad [who bears a striking resemblance to angry-man du jour Alec Baldwin]: I suggest he take a time-out.

14 November 2013

Warm Thoughts

Our sudden snap of sub-freezing temps has made me confront a personal truth: I am a weather wimp. To counter the cold, I'm mentally retreating into the Topkapi hammam. Turkish in origin, a hammam differs from the nordic-style sauna, relying on moist steam instead of dry, hot air. The monolith that's home to the water basin, steam generator, and control panels can be faced in a choice of five marbles. effegibi.it

13 November 2013

Compact Composition

Shades [and shapes] of Piet Mondrian! The color-block tile treatment in this bath is an eye-catching distraction from the room's all-too-close quarters. The pastiche of Victorian and De Stijil aesthetics is a bit odd, I admit, but there's something about it that works for me, too; the space has a historic quality to it. maynardarchitects.com

12 November 2013

Knife Point-of-View

A mortal enemy of those chunky, counter-space consuming knife blocks am I. And the typical wall-mounted magnet bar is not only ugly, but undersized, as well. This slim but sturdy freestanding wedge combines a minimal footprint with ample room for cutlery storage. The Knifeboard is made of solid oak or various veneers. sarah-maier-collection.de

11 November 2013

Art + Life

There is a small clutch of bronze-colored leaves tenaciously clinging to the maple tree outside my window.

And there is this kitchen in Milano. decotiis.it

08 November 2013

Propaganda for Peace

This Flashback Friday looks ahead to Monday, which is Veterans Day. During WW2, having put its household appliance production on furlough, Norge focused on fulfilling the needs of the military. But mindful of the eventual return of its peacetime market, the company continued to connect with those on the home front. This 1943 matriarch—and her hard-working range—kept her family fed at all hours as they worked around the clock in support of the fight against fascism.

07 November 2013

Blurred Vision

I see these mirrored glass tiles as reflecting time as much as they do visages. Deliberately tarnished, they assume an antiqued look that can bring a hint of history to bath or kitchen walls. Yet the grid of security wire updates the Versailles Mesh collection, resulting in an intriguingly ambiguous design. annsacks.com

06 November 2013

Tap to Tap

Reading the latest issue of Appliance Design magazine the other day [yes, my life is like that], I learned a new word: 'haptics'. It refers to the tactile sensation of pushing a button, twisting a knob, flipping a switch, and so forth. While poking at a touchscreen is at best a haptic-neutral experience, I'm nonetheless impressed impressed with the design of this digital-controlled faucet, which delivers filtered and/or carbonated water, chilled or boiling. quatreau.co.uk

05 November 2013

Centralized Storage

I'm one who likes to have my cooking tools easily accessible, but with more structured organization than a simple shelf can offer. Solution: This open and well-ordered storage zone. Especially in a room with limited wall area [I speak from experience here, as my own kitchen is punctuated with a couple large windows and no fewer than five doorways], this island-based design is an innovative and practical alternative. downsviewkitchens.com

04 November 2013

Tipping Point

With clear, sapphire skies and blazing foliage, autumn in these parts has been nothing short of spectacular. As a dear friend put it, 'It's like Nature is apologizing for the last couple years.' But there will come a day when the landscape palette tends toward black and white. This kitchen, with its persimmon cabinets warm against stark walls and cool concrete, seems a harbinger of that transition.

01 November 2013

Demonic Design, The Conclusion

Despite their devilish tails, I find these goblins a most likable bunch. They seem fiendishly happy to take a respite from the heat of hellfire, finding the burners of the 1908 range a relatively cool environment. So pleased are the little Lucifers by this temperate shift that they've been moved to dance, their high-kicking, hot-stepping feet burnishing the stove top to a dark lustre.

31 October 2013

Demonic Design, Day 4

Probably not for the fastidious—and certainly not the arachnophobic—this webby wallpaper casts a spell on any space. Metallic silver filaments glint in the light [of a full moon, perhaps?], creating a look that is chillingly ever-changing. grahambrown.com

30 October 2013

Demonic Design, Day 3

Afraid of the dark? You needn't worry about things that go bump in the night, thanks to this lantern-toting bat and his ophidian friend. The Drake pendant adds an appropriately eerie glow to belfry and bathroom alike.

[A fun frightful fact: This light fixture hangs in the foyer of the boyhood home of Adam West—yes, the Batman of the 1960s television series—in Walla Walla, Washington. Biff!] rejuvenation.com

29 October 2013

Demonic Design, Day 2

If Dr. Frankenstein had been a designer of powder rooms rather than cobbled-together corpse-creatures, this bath might have been in his portfolio. The diabolical plumbing layout is clear evidence of a twisted mind at work. I imagine those incandescent bulbs would ominously flicker and dim whenever the doctor powered up his latest creation. andrerothblattarchitecture.com

28 October 2013

Demonic Design

As is our custom, KBCULTURE commemorates Halloween with a week of posts featuring gruesome products and haunt-worthy locations. So grab your broom and off we go...

The gothic-influenced arch and blackened-steel canopy have a dark, old-world aura about them—perhaps this is the skullery [that's not a typo!] of a castle in the forests of Transylvania? The monolithic range could easily handle a cauldron or two of Newt Stew or Salamander Surprise. traceryinteriors.com

25 October 2013

The Hell?

Only the proud inventor of the Automatic Electric Fireless Cooker Range could call the ungainly appliance 'attractive and beautiful in design.' And the promise of love at first sight is a particularly bold claim, given the less-than-flattering photograph. But perhaps I'm being too judgmental, here; aesthetic standards in 1928 weren't bad, as much as they were simply different from today. In fact, Wm. Campbell was ahead of his time with the technology of the AEFCR: The drawer-style cooking component predates the modern slide-out microwave by more than seventy years.

24 October 2013

[Curly] Cue the Lights

The classic modern kitchen is so unrelentingly cubic; it's only natural that the eye [or is it the mind?] would seek a bit of curvilinear relief. The June chandelier adds both light and line to the room. LEDs illuminate small blocks of frosted acrylic, which cap each of the twelve bent-oak branches of the fixture. paakkanen.fi

23 October 2013

Snug Tub

Oh, excusez moi—I didn't realize this bath was already occupied. The portrait peeking out of the zinc tub is certainly a unique way to personalize the decor. On a more pragmatic note, the room defies conventional wisdom that freestanding bathtubs require acres of open floor space. mathias-paris.com