29 March 2013

The Good [Friday] Life

To mix a metaphor, this ad from 1925 plucks every sentimental string in the book. From the iconic country cottage, humble but perfect in its orchard setting and leaded glass windows to the exultation of innocence, with the child and her precious chick, it's impossible to resist the charm of it all.

The atmosphere is so idyllic that is distracts from—or does it underscore?—the curious fact that the kitchen has essentially only one feature in it: the sink. Which is, of course, the objective of the image.

Rendered in brilliant, resurrection-white, even though the basin in the background, it's the center of this scene, offering the promise of modernity to a pastoral life.

28 March 2013

Off-Handed Elegance

There's an ad hoc progressiveness to this bath that seems appropriate to the finally-changing season. The casual inclusion of those high-style lights and the bespoke cabinets are clear indications of a sly design sensibility at work. The floor plan—such as it is—makes do with the existing conditions. Studying the photo, I think the space is more like a walk-in closet with sinks than it is a bathroom with lots of storage. katehume.com

27 March 2013

Happy Birthday, Mies

Light-handed, but certain in stroke, this pencil sketch by Ludwig Mies van de Rohe shows a bathroom in the Farnsworth House. Life—and art—in the B.C. [Before CAD] era was different, indeed. farnsworthhouse.org

26 March 2013

Very Hardwood

Cabin fever propelled me to take a walk along the banks of the Hudson River this chilly afternoon. There's still quite a bit of storm detritus along the shore, with fallen trees and tangles of driftwood bringing a different texture to the landscape. From the Soleras collection, these porcelain planks offer the weathered-wood look, without the rot, splinters, or splitting. abk.it

25 March 2013

User Login

While I don't think the logs that are chocked into the undercounter voids are meant to be used as fuel for the substantial grill in this kitchen, they do make a circular contrast to the angular galley design. Though there are a couple things I'd do differently in this space—the floor and the range—overall, I like the room. dot-partners.com

22 March 2013

Urban Affairs

Murphy beds? Sure, anyone who's ever lived in a New York apartment knows about the fold-down sleepers. But it caught me unawares to learn that the manufacturer ventured into the kitchenette business, too. There's no plethora of cabinet space in this 1950 model, to be sure, but if mid-20th-century urbanites were anything like their contemporary counterparts, those cupboards—and, for that matter, the 'ranges of advanced design'—would be filled with sweaters and shoes and take-out menus.

As far as the cabinet material is concerned, I must say the notion of vitreous porcelain as the period's equivalent of laminate makes me nostalgic for a time I never knew.

21 March 2013

Good Design Versus Bad Behavior

World Water Day is upon us once again. This faucet, a concept by Chanhee Han, addresses water-wasting in an intuitive and beautiful manner. Based on the observation that people leave the tap on while soaping up their hands—sending liters of clean water down the drain—he devised the Seesaw to automatically separate the lathering and washing actions by virtue of its back-and-forth design. Pressing the left side of the faucet starts the flow of water; pressing the right side dispenses soap: it's one or the other. Cleanliness and conservation can coexist.

20 March 2013

Cool Stools

Seating in a kitchen has always been a tight-wire act—the need to balance comfort with aesthetics is uncommonly concentrated. The AVL stool is stylistically versatile and has an accommodating hop-on, hop-off design. In the most complimentary sense, I give it a [ahem] bums' up. mooi.com

19 March 2013

Bright Spots

Despite yesterday's snowfall [!], I see the moss-green and peat-brown colors of these glass pebble-tiles as a chromatic harbinger of spring. It's surprising how great a difference the finish [glossy on the left, matte on the right] makes in the optical quality of the water-smoothed forms. The Riva del Mar collection comes in eight colors, from lapis blue and aqua to tiger eye and agate. countryfloors.com

18 March 2013

Simplicity Rules

I like how this kitchen blends assertive forms with low-key materials; the combination creates a space that's inviting, but still has a little edge to it. Attention has been well paid to dimensions: see how the  thickness of the counter surface and the shelves is consistent? Maintaining unbroken surfaces is another detail that smooths the room together. The undermount sink and flush-fit storage preserve the planes nicely. briggsedwardsolomon.com

15 March 2013

Breaking Out of the Cooler

Was it a crime to own a manual-defrost refrigerator in 1952? It would seem so, as this wasp-waisted jailhouse poet gets out on bail thanks to her Westinghouse appliance, which is loaded with 'freedom-making features.' On second look, her freedom is obviously ill-gotten, as the broken bars of her cell attest. I'm issuing an APB for this Fridge Fugitive: The manufacturer created a series of these prison-themed ads, and I'll share some of the more bizarre of them in the future.

14 March 2013

Separation Anxiety

I'm writing this post—longhand, to be sure—in a sauna. To answer your politely unspoken question, I'm doing so out of some need to vicariously participate in ISH, the biennial mega tradeshow of the latest in bathroom-product design. After attending the fair in 2011, I am keenly missing it this year, and have been compulsively monitoring media outlets [social and otherwise] to keep up with the new developments. I'm somewhat surprised how little info is being released, but in service to KBCULTURE readers, have doggedly pursued this goal through more exclusive channels. And so here is a piece from the Kartell by Laufen collection; more to come. laufen.com

13 March 2013

Made for Each Other

The enigmatically-named You & Me toilet and bidet [I wonder which is 'You'?] have a simple, pleasing presence; it brings to mind some of Michael Graves' bathroom designs back in the heyday of Postmodernism. Unable to make the most of the fixtures' solid base, the wall-hung models lack the impact of their floor-bound counterparts, but not to worry. detremmerie.be

12 March 2013

It's Not What You Think It Is

A handshower—why, you might ask, would KBCULTURE ever feature such an unremarkable item? Ah, appearances can be deceiving, dear readers, for this spray wand is not a shower accessory at all. It connects to an outlet in a jetted tub, allowing a bather to drench their face with luxuriant, MicroSilk aerated water. An idea, I believe, that is both unique and useful. jasoninternational.com

11 March 2013

Quiet Before the Storm

It's a busy couple of weeks coming up here, so I thought this staid—but not stuffy—kitchen would be a good way to set a calm course. The slight asymmetry of the wall cabinets [go ahead, count 'em] is just enough to jog the composition, and those ponderous light fixtures do a nice job of thwarting any one-note decor scheme. hollowayskitchens.com

08 March 2013

Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves

On this International Women's Day, some will say we've come a long way, baby. Or have we? With the exception of The One Percent, I think there's still plenty of room for improvement for humankind in general. But I digress.

These gals, despite being clustered around a heretofore unloved appliance, all evidence some degree of liberation, befitting the cultural shifts of the 1970s. White, black, old, young, housewife, hipster—all are represented, and are unanimous [yet nuanced] in their 'praise' for the washer. If GE truly wanted to appeal to women, I'd think including a man in this group shot would have done the trick. Such an unreformed radical, I am.

07 March 2013

Clear Thinking

Talking today about materiality and color and kitchen appliances [more on that conversation in a couple days], I remembered this artistic take on the cooktop. It's part of a glass kitchen, which in turn is part of a glass house. santambrogiomilano.it

06 March 2013

One More Time

Well, it looks like I spoke too soon. Another snowy squall is blowing in tonight, with 'predictions' of accumulations of anywhere between four and ten inches. [In the real, non-weather-reader world, such a range is called a 'guess'.] I capitulate to Old Man Winter, and suggest this vision in white as a can't-beat-'em-join-'em offering. The luminous mosaic is mother-of-pearl, which is both stain resistant and durable—the latter a quality of which, in the face of this unending winter, I am running in short supply. linkasink.com

05 March 2013

Sui Generis Sconce

What's up—or down—with this light fixture? You might well ask. The answer: The 28sc can be installed either on the wall or the ceiling, and the copper arm can be flexed the way you like it. The glass globes are individually made [customization is offered]; as a result, each sphere is slightly distorted, just as designer Omer Arbel intended. A 20-watt xenon lamp is inside the milk-glass bubble. bocci.ca

04 March 2013

Seasonal Showdown

Despite an unexpected—and need I say, unwelcome—coating of snow this weekend, I'm certain that winter is on the way out. Icy remnants are receding, each day yielding more territory to bare earth. This EL_01 kitchen, with its stark white/brown split, is an interior analogy to what's happening outside.

Nota bene: Seen upside down, this photo is really interesting. Stretch your mind and rotate! elmarcucine.com

01 March 2013

Taking a Bath

In yet another example of its extraordinarily finite wisdom, our Congress has left the building—literally—on the cusp of the sequestration budget cuts. As we all might need to generate a little extra cash in the near future because of their [in]action, I thought I'd share an inspiring bit of entrepreneurialism, 1915-style.

The Robinson Folding Bathtub needed no plumbing, was 'positively unleakable', and was poised to capitalize on the 70% of homes that allegedly lacked a bathroom. [The early 20th-century verbiage is a hoot; click the pic to read it.] The opportunities for financial gain promised by the manufacturer—'Hustlers, east, north, west, south: coining money'—sound depressingly familiar, albeit it in a different, contemporary context.