Weekend Furlough

It's a three-day weekend here in the States, as we mark the close of summer with Labor Day. Not to clamber up on a soapbox here, but I can't help reflect on the irony of the holiday, with the job market stagnant while income inequity has soared. In 1946—the date of this beautifully rendered appliance advert—the US unemployment rate was 3.9%; today it's about double that figure. But reading the last line ['Design it better, make it better'] of the copy, I do notice one optimistic similarity between these times: A resurgent dedication to quality.

Have an excellent weekend, dear readers.

Tidying, Up

In the smallest room of the house, space must be utilized to its fullest potential. Designer Monica Graffeo kept this precept in mind when creating the Fonte collection of bathroom fixtures; most of the pieces are multi-purpose. I'm partial to the sink, with its integral shelves and a base-basket that can hold laundry, cleaning supplies, or what-have-you. It's all made of that most perfect of plastics, Corian. rexadesign.it

Marching On

'What good does it do to be able to eat at a lunch counter if you can't buy a hamburger?' —Martin Luther King

Mixer Unmatched

In bathroom design, color is often equated with childish. I'm happy to see the Series 240 lav defy this notion; its confident lines are a mature foil to the palette of 30 hues that are offered for the handle component. The body of the faucet is available in five finishes, which allows for 150 color combinations. steinberg-armaturen.de

In-Between Bath

The sun is out, it's 83ºF, and there's even a light breeze coming through—yet a glance at the calendar augurs the unofficial end of summer. Change and I can be uneasy partners, and the shift in seasons is no exception to this. There's something about the gauzy, blurred view afforded by this bath that puts me in mind of this upcoming transition; who's to say what the future holds? erinmartindesign.com

Kitchen Uncovered

Sometimes you just get lucky. Called to renovate a modest ground-floor apartment is São Paulo, AR Arquitetos discovered an opportunity to transform the space. Part of the property extended under a central courtyard. By glazing the ceiling of that portion of the home, the heretofore dark interior is given a dazzling new look; the kitchen is the principal beneficiary. ar-arquitetos.com.br

Seat of Power

Let's file this thought-provoking piece under 'Who Knew?'. I for one have been woefully ignorant of the telltale nature of the toilet seat and the pivotal role it plays in commercial real estate and corporate politics! To believe this 1930s ad, the washroom accessory is both status symbol and architectural asset, found in the the most prestigious, progressive buildings. Reviewing the list of these landmarks—which includes the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and the Chrysler Building—I grew a bit empirically curious. So I can share that in 1929, Walter P. Chrysler's private office/residence on the top floors of his eponymous building, was the highest toilet in the world. At least it was for six months, until the ESB, with its 2,500 commodes, was completed and eclipsed Chrysler's claim to fame.

Double Trouble

This ceramic tile, although based on a 17th century design, is very familiar to me. Several times a day, I feel the gaze of four unblinking, grey/green feline eyes, as the cats silently remind me that I'm delinquent in feeding, brushing, opening/closing doors, and otherwise serving them. So while I won't be installing the Os Gatos tile in my kitchen, it might very well be suited to yours. deferranti.com

Hot Spot/s

Perhaps you are admiring the simplicity of this lone burner—but confounded by its off-center placement. Or maybe you reject the idea of a solo hob altogether, judging it too minimal to be of much use in a working kitchen. Whatever your view, dear reader, I suggest you look very closely at the photo and reconsider, as you're actually seeing a five-burner cooktop. The Sense Premium C895iWH combines a gas-fueled wok ring with four induction burners, all in a sleek, white glass design. I call it the best of both worlds. caple.co.uk

Simply Brilliant

When I was attending the LivingKitchen show early this year, I met Frank Koschembar, who, along with Gerd Pfarré, has created a most fantastic magazine, Illuminator. It is devoted completely and passionately to the most elusive of expressive media, light. The publication, which measures 38 inches x 27 inches [that means a two-page spread is a glorious, visually stunning 76 x 54], takes both space and time to read—not an insignificant statement in this era of ever-smaller electronic informational devices. The second issue is out now. lightingpress.com

A Galley Gallery

It's been an outstanding summer for art in NYC and environs. Just about every weekend, we've been enjoying site-specific installations, galleries, and museums; yesterday at the Guggenheim, the James Turrell show played some exquisite trance-inducing perceptual tricks with light and color. This kitchen, featuring both contemporary painting and classical sculpture, is a stimulating space in its own right. schiffini.com

In the Summertime, the Final Day

My sentiments exactly.

Kelvinator's cool view of life in 1947 may be a bit biased—as might be expected from a refrigerator manufacturer—but you'll get no argument from me on its suggested strategy for summertime meal preparation. 

In any case: I'll have what she's having.

In the Summertime, Day 4

Out in the backyard last night, I noticed the population of fireflies had dwindled down to a few; with a life span of about two months, the lampyridae are in their seasonal farewell phase. The Romolo family of light fixtures would be a vibrant wintertime stand-in for the beetles. Designed by Vincenzo Antonuccio and Marilena Calbini, the biomorphic collection is offered with a conventional white lamp or a color-changing LED bulb. vgnewtrend.it

In the Summertime, Day 3

For years, we were enthusiastic backpackers, hiking in the Sierra backcountry, through the coastal forests of northern California, and making an annual New Year's Eve sojourn to Death Valley. As hip joints became more creaky, we dabbled in car camping, which necessitated traveling with a jumbled batterie of plastic wash tubs, water buckets, and the like; it was neither an aesthetic nor efficient process. The swissRoomBox poses a solution. Made of a durable, paper-based composite material, the self-contained system opens up in various configurations to form a kitchen, a hot-water shower, a sink, storage, and a table with portable seats. A bonus: Each comes with a Swiss Army Knife, the inspiration for this remarkable design. swissroombox.com

In the Summertime, Day 2

I'm going to try to overcome my week of not-quite-solitary confinement in a windowless room by means of a series of posts focusing on the charms of the great outdoors. An integral single-lever mixer and a handspray [the loops of pale green tubing] make using this Palomba-designed shower as pleasurable as appreciating its form. kositalia.com

In the Summertime

In a welcome break from the silver and black that sternly define most barbecues, this white Corian design lightens up the outdoor kitchen. Modular and minimal, it's available with a customizable  range of cooking appliances, including a wok ring, teppan yaki griddle, gas burners, and of course, a grill.

Speaking of grilling: The past week I've been on jury duty. A roster of impassive expert witnesses, dutifully sparring attorneys, and a plaintiff and defendant who appear composed and a little sad have been my company. The process has been surprisingly draining for me, and I'm looking forward to a return to my relatively simple life ASAP. viteo.com


Donna Reed and June Cleaver would certainly clutch their pearls in disapproval of this rambunctious mom, who is demonstrating affection for her appliances in a most unusual way. Her family, on the other hand, seems wholly entertained by her graffiti artistry. [Although I am not sure if Junior is happy or horrified.] The scene sums up the carefree ethos of the early 1960s; if memory serves me, the yet-to-come Summer of Love did not extend to household white goods.


At KBCULTURE, we're following the current snooping and secret-sharing hoopla with a vested interest. [It's a little thing called freedom of the press.] So to see the issue cross over into the kitchen realm is quite the treat. In his aptly titled 'Informationleak_', Richard Evans, an artist and designer based in Birmingham/UK, arranges a torrent of laser-cut wooden letters gushing from a faucet and overflowing the sink. As best with all creative endeavors, I'll leave the interpreting up to you—but do note the small sign on the wall above the tap. It reads, 'Danger Hot Water'.

Glass Ceiling

I fear if this bath was in my own home, I'd be perennially late getting out the door each day; mornings in the skylit space must be distractingly tranquil, as dawn breaks overhead. After dark, however, it would be a different story, with the transparent ceiling acting as a sort of black hole that makes regulating light in the room a tricky situation. In the Photoshop Age, it's impossible to tell if the canister fixtures in the soffit above the sinks are the only source of artificial illumination. Given the impact of the room, it's a challenge worth grappling with. lksvdd.nl

Weathered—Or Not

While the industrial-antique aesthetic is beginning to wear a little thin with me, it's a look that's certainly in keeping with this season of rural retreats and beach escapes. This hefty recycled pine island would imbue the most generic vacation-home kitchen with a welcoming, lived-in character. The limestone counter can withstand all sorts of abuse; in fact, any wear and tear would only enhance the piece. williams-sonoma.com

Almost Outdoors

What a charming proposition: the sunroom as kitchen. The unfitted quality of the Mint collection of furnishings has just the right balance of rough and refined to work in such an unexpected setting. Under-counter boxes in a choice of colored laminate comprise the casual storage of the line, which was designed by Jānis Rauza. mintmebeles.lv

Getaway Days

At the height of summer, the pace of life slows. Languorous weekends—occasionally annexing Monday and Friday—are the rule. Whether you call them the dog days or the doldrums, this stretch of the season can seem oddly unbound by time; protracted periods of relaxation can subtly turn into a benign sort of boredom. It's kind of like watching the washing machine, much as this loyal hound was doing in 1954.


As with a mandala, contemplating the rippled pattern of the Scribe mosaic can lull away the stresses of the day. [Well, it works for me!] Cut by water jet, the stone tiles are suitable for floor and wall surfaces; a slight texture gives them a degree of slip resistance. Here, I'm impressed by the contrasting grout treatment: white between the central carrara tesserae and grey separating the surrounding pieces of thassos marble. annsacks.com