An Appetite for Al Fresco

And so begins a week of posts devoted to that hallowed summer tradition, cooking outdoors. As a person who is happiest in the shade, I see this kitchen as an ideal design. A galley layout, with its horizontal line balanced by a vertical fireplace, establishes the simplicity of the space. Rustic stone, concrete, and wood keep the design low key and the focus on the out-of-doors.

Cold War Cold Cabinet

Here's a page from "The Soviet Commodity Dictionary," a nine-volume publication that starting in 1956 was kind of a Communist Sears catalogue. Beautiful illustrations of clothing, foodstuffs, knick-knacks, household objects, and oh-so-much more were deliberately designed to appeal to the nascent materialist tendencies in the population. [I'd make a contemporary kompromat correlation here, but yet another White House staffing scandal is unfolding and I must go monitor my Twitter feed.]

Peaceful Waters

In these whip-lash times, even a faucet that offers a sense of balance and beauty provides a welcome reassurance. The Equilibrio can be specified with a wide range of wood, metal, and stone elements, giving its organic forms a soothing tactility. I'll take two of them!

Pretty, Dirty Laundry

The knowingly-named Anfibio sink and under-basin storage unit are sufficiently stylish to be installed in a bathroom; the functional aspects of their design are up to the rigors of a laundry room. Matteo Ragni's creation is a multi-functional fixture that doesn't tip its aesthetic hand.

Writing on the Walls [or Floors]

In these days of 140-character communications, Scrabble—both the traditional board format as well as online version of the game—still remains popular. These ceramic tiles let aficionados get their messages across [and yes, you can keep score!].

Kitchen with a 360º View

I'd be hard pressed to focus on cooking in this glassed-in garden kitchen. The concrete sink is more rough than rustic, and the bare bulb light over the basin is also a no-frills touch. It's good to keep design low-key when competing with nature.

Happy Friday! Really!

But enough about Sean Spicer's just-now-former job.

Lordy, we live in a fast-paced world. No sooner had I lined up a Russia-referencing post for Flashback Friday, than bigly news broke about the shake-up in the White House press office. So as we bid adieu to our tongue-tied friend and wish him a subpoena-free life among the shrubbery beyond the Beltway, let's appreciate the anonymous copywriter behind this 1968 ad.

Wash and Dry

Part lounge, part tub, this design is lulling me into a restful state just by looking at it. It's a 'statement' bathtub, sure, but its low profile and controlled lines speak quietly. That's a trait I'd like to see more of in fixture design.

Clean[ing] Machine

I know: This looks like a computer mouse has been dropped in the sink. But the Dolfi ultrasonic washing device is specifically designed for submersion. By emitting ultrasound waves in the water, it triggers a process called cavitation, where [paging Carl Sagan] billions and billions of incalculably tiny bubbles are generated that softly, safely, and thoroughly clean fabric. The product name, by the way, references dolphins, who use ultrasound to communicate with one another over great distances.

A Cooling Kitchen

As the temps tick steadily upward, I can imagine taking a respite in this clean, simple kitchen. With soft colors and floor-to-ceiling cabinets and pantry unit, it's a visually cooling space. [Clunky fridge excepted. But it could have been worse.]

Happy Bastille Day!

While Jean Carlu originally intended to follow his brother into the field of architecture, losing his right arm in an accident at age 18 derailed this plan. Turning to the graphic arts, he designed this poster in the 1930s. A triumph of creativity over adversity [vive la France!], his interest in form and color is clear.

Working Art

The Harlock faucet, created by architect Fabio Rotella, is quite the original work. Unorthodox angles and a huge palette of finishes—copper, bronze, white, silver, ebony, and more in endless combinations—make it both a distinctive and an accommodating design.

Fishing for Compliments

An exuberant goldfish decorates the wall of this bucket-like basin. Equally sweet for a kids' bath or a summer home, the design provides a reminder of the delicate environmental [im]balance we increasingly face—particularly in light of today's calving of the Larson C ice shelf.

Circular Reasoning

In the Laurence collection, spherical globe lights are imaginatively connected with flattened plates of metal. Sections of circles, the plates add a dash of color to the fixture, and make the hidden geometry of the light visible.

Suspended in Time

I'm drawn to the sense of emptiness in this kitchen. The stacked plates, the lack of wall cabinets, the improbably low-hanging chandelier, the mirror that reflects nothing—all point to an absence that's curiously compelling on this hot summer day, when the city is noticeably less crowded.

Independently-Minded Design, The End

At the conclusion of our week-long celebration of independence in design, here's a look at a patriotic powder room from the early 1970s. The colors of the fixtures had a limited run: New Orleans Blue was available from 1969 through 1984, and Antique Red more than doubled that span, notching up 31 years of production, from 1965 through 1996. Something to think about, in these days where a vibrant democracy can't be taken for granted.

Independently-Minded Design, Day 4

This truly blue loo is quite the design statement. Accenting its moody monochrome with white or red is tempting—and such diversity could quite possibly be mind-opening at such a politically charged time.

Independently-Minded Design, Day 3

Designed, engineered, and assembled in the US of A, this washer and dryer—specifically, their control panels—are wrapped in the flag. In true American spirit, the manufacturer will donate $40 from the sale of each Patriotic laundry pair to Rebuilding Together, a non-profit organization that brings volunteers and communities together to improve the homes and lives of low-income homeowners.

Independently-Minded Design, Day 2

A bipartisan appliance [it can be hinged either on the left or right side], this refrigerator also reflects an open-mindedness to international trade: it's made in Italy. So felice indipendenza and a happy Fourth to all!

Independently-Minded Design

This kitchen has two of the three colors that dominate the national palette this 4 July week. Perhaps simplistically, I see the tile as a metaphor for the current state of the state: a bold statement, freely expressed, and still evolving toward a more perfect union.