31 January 2013

Faucet Formalities

There's a dapper, dressed-up quality to this kitchen faucet that I find—odd though it may seem—reassuring during these raw days of winter. Outside, the landscape is so beat up and rough, and the split finish of the Alta Compact presents such a sleek, resolved design. With the just right amount of color [choices run from white through browns to this Cinder grey] sheathing the chrome, it's a completed composition. blancoamerica.com 

30 January 2013

Winter White

Leave it to the Dutch to make the most of the limited light that characterizes this time of year. And by using matte surfaces and a cool, neutral palette at that! Even though it's a design tactic that's pretty much run its course, I like the coupling of an ornate chandelier with a contemporary space; perhaps because here it's confined to a bathroom, I'm more tolerant of that particular trick. Then again, that fireplace might have something to do with the thaw in my attitude.... badenbaden.nl

29 January 2013

Ultra Light

Growing up, designer Daniel Hulsbergen was enamored with toy glider planes. Using the same materials—balsa wood and shrink-wrap film—and construction technique, he's channeled his original appreciation for the playthings into the Vederlicht [Featherlight] pendant light. The fixture is available in several colors and sizes. danielhulsbergen.com

28 January 2013

Kitchen of the [Dark] Day

It's winter at its worst, today: not a glimpse of sun, with the oppressive pairing of snow and rain completing the dismal* picture. This small but radiant kitchen is my personal aesthetic antidote to the situation. The cabinets, should you be wondering, are hammered silver.

* Etymology Lesson of the Day: 'Dismal' refers to the late Middle English term for the two days of the month that were considered unlucky. That traces back to the Anglo-Norman French dis mal, and in turn stems from the medieval Latin dies mali, which predictably translates as 'evil days.' deniot.com

25 January 2013

Dot's All, Folks

I'm wrapping up this #tiredofwinter week with a fond look back at the happy and heady days of the 1960s. From the mind-bending concert stagings of Joshua Light Show to mind-clearing mandalas utilized by practitioners of transcendental meditation, the decade was a non-stop experiment in color, ornament, and design. And it wasn't confined to the Flower Power crowd. Here, Formica got into the act with a simple but unmistakable message that a stroll across the spectrum was the groovy thing to do.

24 January 2013

Blossoms for the Bath

Unabashedly crossing mid-century [the 20th one] graphics with a contemporary color palette, the O.novo sink is a ceramic crusade against the winter doldrums. Offered in three patterns [each in three colorways], you're sure to find one to brighten your bath. villeroy-boch.com

23 January 2013

A Hue Idea

This wallpaper—a quick fix of color and pattern for the kitchen, if ever there was one—has an interesting story behind its somewhat surreal appearance. A collection of mismatched, flea market-worthy spoons and forks was embellished with bright embroidery thread and daubs of paint, giving the flatware a new identity. Arranged in a cascading grid and then photographed, the result is simultaneously whimsical and contemplative. studioditte.com

22 January 2013

Edgy, Indeed

Pretty pointed design, this, and guaranteed to pop any mid-winter funk. The stone-as-wallpaper is a tour de force of fabrication and installation. I like the the mirror; even if it's a stop-gap measure until a wall-hung model arrives, it adds a bit of brutalist brio to the room. The drawer fronts are—la-de-dah!—lacquered goat skin. kellywearstler.com

21 January 2013

Brilliant Notion

As the bleak winter stretches on, I think a visual respite from its dull emptiness is vitally in order, so this week's posts will focus on pattern and color. The slightly psychedelic backsplash in this kitchen is a panel of Josef Frank's 'Brasil' linen; you can find it, and many other of his textile designs, at Just Scandinavian.

[From the Who Knew? Department: Today, according to the BBC, is Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing day of the year.] incorporatedny.com

18 January 2013

Then and Now

The kitchen's basic functions have stayed much the same since this 1917 exemplar—but its form certainly has gone through some remarkable changes. After a week at the Living Kitchen show, my own perspective on the room's design has been updated. From boiling water on-demand from a tap rather than a kettle to cabinets that open without the touch of a hand, culinary conveniences continue their ascent.

Tastes and technologies evolve, but until the day when meals come in the guise of a pill, we'll still need a place in the home to cook and drink and eat and talk and be alone or gather together while doing so.

The future looks bright.

17 January 2013

Singing the Blues

I've had a great albeit exhausting visit to LivingKitchen; even after three full days, it's hard to tear myself away from the show. While I sort out my notes, discs, photos, and thumb drives on the long flight back home, here's a fabulous island for your contemplation and inspiration. Its fractured geometry of white and blues is like an abstracted sky; I think I'll go for a window seat on the plane, and look for pictures in the clouds. architectureatlarge.com

16 January 2013

Keeping It Clean

Dirty laundry: The encroaching stowaway on any trip, business or pleasure. While I've seen plenty of feature-laden washing machines here at LivingKitchen, I'm unfortunately unable to avail myself of their services. This ersatz washer [it's really a hamper] will have to suffice. cb2.com

15 January 2013

Cool Style

Back home, we've had—knock wood—a fairly mild winter. Here in Cologne, it's cold! Snow fell overnight with more to come. It would hardly surprise me if the fantastical reindeer depicted on these tiles came trotting down the frosty streets. The collection is designed by Marcello Chiarenza. bardelli.it

14 January 2013

Middle Ground

I'm writing this post en route to Köln, site of the LivingKitchen industry show. For me, visiting Germany is an experience that's both familiar and foreign. A brief residency in the country years ago gave me cultural confidence, yet the language remains more a stranger than a friend.

This kitchen has a dual nature which parallels that feeling. Modern but with a high comfort quotient, I'm drawn to its aesthetic ambiguity. stiffandtrevillion.com

11 January 2013

Auf Wiedersehen

And here's a view of the kitchen at the Municipal Lunatic Asylum in Herzberg, Germany, circa 1904.

In case you're wondering if I've gone off my rocker, let me explain why I picked this ad to post on this particular Flashback Friday. One: At over 100 years old, it more than meets the historical criterion. [Check out those boilers and caldrons!] Two: I depart for Deutschland in a matter of hours to soak up all that's new in the kitchen design world at the LivingKitchen trade show. Three: Trade shows and lunatic asylums have much in common.

I rest my case.

Remember to follow my tweets @kbculture for round-the-clock photos and updates from the show. Tschüss!

10 January 2013

Java Nirvana

Short of an IV, could there be a more efficient caffeine delivery system than the TopBrewer? Besides its stealth appearance [with the bean grinder, milk container, and other mechanicals under the counter, it could easily pass for a kitchen faucet—to my eye, at least], I'm happy to see the wall space normally occupied by built-in models liberated. Its performance is on a par with its design, too: Bluetooth-enabled, you can order a carafe of coffee, a single cappuccino, et cetera from your iPad or iPhone.

iLoveIt! scanomat.com

09 January 2013


The landscape is particularly blank this winter day; grey and flat and...well, you get the idea. This bathroom illustrates that even in a monochrome environment, there can be liveliness through pattern. The deft design work here is a visual pick-me-up—I'm grateful! katehume.com

08 January 2013

We Interrupt This Blog...

...to tell you that I will be off to Germany next week to survey the scene at the LivingKitchen trade show in Cologne. As a member of the Blanco Design Council, I'll be trolling the fair in pursuit of the provocative and the perfect works of design for the kitchen. My regular posts will continue here, but it's the KBCULTURE Twitter account which will be the hot conduit for what catches my attention at the show. Follow @kbculture and keep me company on the trip; as the saying goes, Kein Weg ist lang mit einem guten Freund als Begleiter. 

Prints Charming

Lurking among the TVs, tablets, and telephones at the Consumer Electronics Show right now are a few intrepid kitchen appliance manufacturers, who are fervently hoping that what happens in Vegas will definitely not stay there, but will sweep the country as the housing market continues to convalesce. Among the new product introductions: Whirlpool's Art Gallery range hood collection. Sheets of glass are printed with eye-arresting graphics that bring a little zip to the kitchen. Worthy of note: The panels are conveniently interchangeable, should you redo the room. whirlpool.com

07 January 2013

Every Picture Tells a Story

With the hoopla of the holidays now behind us, it's time to get back to work. There's a stampede of trade expos in January—the Consumer Electronics Show, the International Builders Show, and LivingKitchen—and each holds considerable interest for those who are engaged with the kitchen and bath industries. Lacking the ability to clone myself, I can attend just one venue—which one, you ask? I'll let you know tomorrow.

In the meantime, perhaps owing to the power of suggestion, I'm picking up a vague little traveling vibe from this kitchen. The shopping bags have me thinking that sundries are being replenished, after the residents have returned from an international sojourn to find curdled milk and withered spinach in the fridge. Ah, the jet-set life.

04 January 2013

Christmastide, Day 11

Tomorrow is the 'last' day of Christmas [if you're counting]. But in the interest of holiday parity, let's send the remaining drumming drummers and piping pipers off with a fond farewell, and welcome 2013. This 1948 refrigerator quite literally opens the door to the future with its new-new-new-newness.

And a very happy new-new year to you, dear readers. My sincere thanks for your company—and occasional criticism—on this jaunt through the Ethernet.

03 January 2013

Christmastide, Day 10

Yesterday's post focused on cooking made simple through technology; today, we veer in another direction altogether, in keeping with this serendipitous season. Assigned to design a specialized machine that would produce only one product, students from the University of Art and Design in Lausanne created a primitively elegant contraption that pops a single kernel of corn at at time. [Salt and melted butter are also meted out in appropriately minuscule amounts.] Yes, it works. ecal.ch

02 January 2013

Christmastide, Day 9

I'd like to think that this reinvention of the microwave might set nine men—as well as ladies—to dancing on this day of Christmastide. The Spoutnik [any similarity to the old Sputnik satellite is completely intentional, as this alien-landing image humorously underscores] features a transparent domed lid that opens wide for easy cleaning. The turntable is illuminated, with lights changing from red to blue when a dish has finished cooking. fagor.co.uk

01 January 2013

Christmastide, Day 8

Who's the fairest of them all? For some, it's a painful question on this morning after.

On New Year's Day, a few formerly celebratory folks are probably looking blearily into their bathroom mirrors, hoping the common symptoms of over-indulgence—blood-shot eyes, throbbing headache, cotton-mouth—will soon disappear. Were they facing this conceptual Apothecary mirror, they might be braced for some hard truths. Sensors and probes mounted on the interactive looking-glass collect samples of saliva, skin, breath, and other microbiota. After an automatic analysis, the unit delivers personalized recommendations for health and wellness management.

Cheers, dear readers, and best wishes for 2013!