2019 KBCULTURE Awards

And here we are: The tenth annual KBCULTURE Awards. How time flies...

Speaking of which, the last year has seen some changes in the biz, at least in part motivated by consumer interest in living smaller and in a more sustainable way. Industry heavyweight Masco exited the cabinet business altogether, selling KraftMaid, Merrilat, QualityCabinets, and Cardell to ACProducts Inc for a cool $1 billion. Despite the cabinetry unit notching an operational profit of $$86 million in 2018, Masco is looking to minimize its exposure to the new construction market and plans to focus more on the less cyclical businesses of plumbing and decorative hardware. In other news, LG opened a new plant in Tennessee; the million-square-foot facility will produce laundry appliances.

Let's just skip any attempt at serious analysis of the cat-and-mouse game of tariffs. Pure political hijinx.

My congratulations to the winners, and my thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of KBCULTURE for the past—could it really be?—decade. Onward!

—Leslie Clagett, Editor

Winner: The Haberdasher's Kitchen by DeVOL
Glass-fronted cabinets and drawers, patinated copper end panels, turned legs, oiled oak frames—this kitchen takes these eclectic albeit timeless elements and creates a wonderfully creative environment that's totally immune to trends.

Winner: Limited Edition 7 Series by Viking
Anticipating the inevitable 'little black dress' metaphor, the Cast Black & Rose Gold range is definitely couture for the kitchen. A limited edition, only 110 will be produced, making the 48-inch model a hot product, indeed. Functionality continues the Series 7 features: automatic ignition, backlit control panel, simmer/high heat burners, and more.

Honorable Mention: Pro-Style Gas Range by Forza
This racy range has bragging rights to the industry's first double broiler. Dubbed 'MassimoBlu', the element produces 18,000 BTU, its grid of gas outlets evenly heating the oven cavity from edge to edge. Available in 30- and 36-inch sizes, in stainless steel and six color options.

Winner: NicolaTesla ONE by Elica
Connecting this downdraft vent to the induction heating elements allows it to sense the cooking conditions and operate with optimal speed while minimizing noise. Available in aspirating and recirculating models, the unit has nine standard settings and a power-boost feature. Designed by Fabrizio Crisà.

Winner: 7 Series 30-Inch Fully Integrated Refrigerator by Viking
This column fridge has the blues, but in a good way: It's Bluetooth-ready and it features Bluezone technology. The latter is an air-purification system that extends the shelf life of fresh foods by preventing ethylene build-up in the storage area.

Honorable Mention: Recessed Handle Refrigerator by THOR Kitchen
In appearance and performance, this appliance delivers the goods at a friendly price point. The 36-inch sleek-fronted fridge comes in stainless or black stainless, and supplies 16 cubic feet of cooling space behind those french doors and 6.5 cubic feet of freezer space split into two drawers.

Winner/Bath: Ettore Sottsass Washbasin by Glass Design
From the master behind Memphis, this cylindrical glass basin is serigraphed with striking patterns and vivid hues. Mixing transparency with bold decoration recalls the in-your-face manifesto of the influential design movement. Designed by Ettore Sottsass. 

Winner/Kitchen: Terraza Collection by Ruvati
Three high-fashion finishes—matte gold, matte copper, and matte gunmetal—expand the stainless steel palette beyond the predictable silver and give this farm sink an updated, sophisticated presence. Offered in 30-, 33-, and 36-inch sizes, the undermount design features a gentle, generous bow front that is fingerprint resistant. 

Winner: Infinity by Isenberg
Available in 20 ceramic-based colors as well as a full range of metallic looks, this wall-mounted faucet [and its color-coordinated controls] adds a design zing to the bath. The spout of the 34-inch-long fitting extends nine inches from the wall, allowing it to reach any basin with ease. It's especially suited for dual-sink designs or where limited space precludes deck-mounted faucets. 

Winner: Phyn Plus Smart Water Assistant + Shutoff by Phyn, a joint venture of Uponor and Belkin
By continuously measuring a household's water pressure [240 times a second, to be specific], this device detects plumbing issues throughout the entire system in real time. The monitor recognizes problems of all scales—from catastrophic bursts to pinhole and toilet flapper leaks to freezing pipes—and remotely shuts off the main water supply before damage occurs. 

Winner: Shokunin Kamado Grill by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
This contemporary kamado beats egg-shaped models by design. Ideally engineered for multi-zoned cooking, the 18-inch x 24-inch grilling area tops a fire grate that can be adjusted to three heights, equally enabling low-and-slow or sear-and-slide techniques. Efficiently insulated and ventilated, it delivers five hours of cooking time from a single pound of charcoal. The frame is weather-resistant ipe wood.

Winner: T25 Sectional Bath Cabinet by Moab80
The components of this freestanding vanity can be configured—and reconfigured—to suit. A collage of materials comprises the functional composition: expanded metal mesh forms the countertop, drawers are faced with cedar slats and shingles, and porcelain panels mimic concrete. Designed by Gabriella Ciaschi.

Winner/Tub: Forma by inbani
Another dinghy-shaped tub? Look again. Owing to skillful manipulation of angles and planes, this freestanding model is actually just a few inches shy of being a spacious square in plan. Overall dimensions are 75 inches long, 59 inches wide, and 21 inches tall. Designed by Ludovica+Roberto Palomba with Matteo Bollati and Stefano Contini.

Winner/Shower: 6030IMFD Shower Base by MTI Baths
This cast-acrylic design avoids the too-common flaw of flimsiness by using titanium, fiberglass, and wood to reinforce the pan. And this strength comes with style: elegantly contoured edges and a choice of stainless steel or white powder-coat drain covers.

Winner: Madre by Flaminia
Tweaking traditional details and merging them with contemporary form results in this distinctive commode. The stepped plinth has classical undertones while the body/bowl conjoins rectangular and spherical volumes. Designed by Angeletti Ruzza Design.

Honorable Mention: Muse iWash Integrated Bidet Toilet by ICERA
This luxurious loo offers the capability for presetting two bidet profiles. Users can program their preferences for heated seats and water jets, spray angle, and dryer temperature. The sculptured, skirted fixture also features an integral nightlight and deodorizer, and boasts an efficient 1.28 gallon flush.

Winner: Connect Hub by Häfele
Affirming the ascendance of function over form, this little black box is packed with connective power. In conjunction with interactive devices like Alexa and Google Home, it enables voice-control for lighting—as well as sound systems, TV lifts, and even cabinet doors.

Winner: Grand Banks Limestone by Eldorado Stone
To paraphrase a popular put-down: OK, drywall. This stone veneer features touches of cool and warm hues throughout its rough-cut ashlar face; the rustic effect contrasts with contemporary and complements traditional room designs.

Honorable Mention: Stanhope Textured Cast-Fit by Cultured Stone
Subtle variations in color and surface texture give this stone veneer slab a most natural look. Measuring 11.5-inches x 23.5-inches, the product can be installed both inside and out—ideal for indoor/outdoor kitchen designs.

Winner: Charley Harper for Installation by Motawi Tileworks
Making the move from art tile to handcrafted collection, these delightful depictions of birds and woodland creatures bring a mid-century inflection to the 3x6 subway tile format. In Ice Blue, Storm Blue, Light Sand, and Cream colorways.

Winner: Liliane Collection by New Ravenna
This mosaic pattern is an abstract interpretation of the exotic cacti found in the botanical garden of Èze, France. Water-jet cut inserts of brass and aluminum create spikes of shine between the polished stone tiles—a sharp look! Designed by Caroline Beaupère.

Winner: Electricity by Buster + Punch
This switch plate is equally about the tactile and the visual experience. The hefty moving parts have a satisfying, substantial snap to them. The classic industrial styling—knurled knobs, penny-button screws, rounded corners—completes the package, with the all-metal components offered in a mix-and-match palette of 11 finishes.

Honorable Mention: Pocket Door Privacy Lock by KOVA
Available in three finishes, this privacy lock gets high marks for its elegant lines. Fasteners are concealed, keeping the aesthetic clean. Operated with a sliding [rather than the usual twisting] motion, it's easy to use.

Winner: Gym Space by Scavolini
Instead of only storing towels and toiletries, this ingenious system accommodates fitness equipment, such as a bench, pull-up bar, rings, and more. A highly functional riff on gymnastics wall bars, it can be configured to fit any space. Designed by Mattia Pareschi.