KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

May 17 2018

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Inclusive Design


Last week I had the pleasure of attending an immersive education program at the Monogram Appliances Showroom, which is at the Design Center Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. Part of our program addressed universal design, or as I now like to call it, “Inclusive Design.”

What Is Inclusive Design?
Every design decision has to the potential to include or exclude clients. Inclusive design emphasizes the contribution that understanding user diversity makes to informing these decisions and thus to including as many people as possible. User diversity covers variation in capabilities, needs and aspirations. I think of it as, “designing for everyone from the smallest to the tallest.” The beautiful thing about looking at the subject from this angle is that it doesn’t concentrate on aging or physical disabilities but on creating design that makes a space safe and accessible to those who might have those disabilities now or in the future.

Inclusive design does not suggest that it is always possible or appropriate to design one product to address the needs of the entire population. Instead, Inclusive design guides an appropriate response to diversity in the population through:

– Developing a family of products and derivatives to provide the best possible coverage of the population

– Ensuring that each individual product has clear and distinct target users

– Reducing the level of ability required to use each product to improve the user experience for a broad range of customers in a variety of situations

Why Is Understanding User Diversity Important?
In my training with the Living-In-Place Institute, we are taught to think of the lifespan of a home. And if that lifespan is a long and healthy one, more than 1,000 people will interact with that home over that span of time. Within that group will be a large range of capabilities. Why not think about designing for the long term?

Additionally, failure to correctly understand people can result in products, furniture and appliances that cause unnecessary frustration and exclusion. This reduces commercial success due to increased returns and need for customer support.

Applying Inclusive Design to Interior Design
Some of my favorite ways of applying inclusive design to the practice of interior design include:

– Installing levers instead of door knobs to make them easier to grip and use

– Selecting products while thinking about the contrast between counter-tops, cabinets and floors to allow for vision difficulties

– Installing lighting in kick-plate areas to light up floors and provide the perfect amount of night lighting; great in bathrooms, kitchens and on stairways

– Incorporating technology to allow for voice activation of appliances

– Lowering appliance installation to accommodate someone in a wheelchair and incorporating vertical patterned cabinetry to mask the height changes. This is also a great time to talk about French door ovens for those with limited accessibility.

 

May 14 2018

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A Good Deed for Animals

At the recent 2018 Coverings show, we got the chance to play with PUPPIES! The Tile Council of North America and 14 of its member companies celebrated a special program in which custom dog houses were designed and built using forms donated by Wedi and the Tile Council of North America.

The 14 charming dog houses were displayed in the Art Tile Courtyard during Coverings before they were donated to the Homeless Pets Foundation. The organization, founded by local veterinarian Dr. Michael Good, is dedicated to finding forever homes for cats and dogs in Atlanta-area animal shelters and promoting the benefits of pet ownership.

And on the day KBB was there, we got to hang out with four puppies who were part of the courtyard experience. Having been a volunteer with Atlanta-area animal shelters for about seven years now, this initiative was near and dear to my heart, and I never get tired of petting and playing with puppies, kittens and their adult counterparts.

American Wonder Porcelain designed a dog house to emulate the black and white trend that is popular in the surfacing industry. Titled “A Vision in Black & White,” the house features basket weave, penny round, octagon, hexagon and curve mosaics in the two popular shades.

Lunada Bay Tile’s Modern Barkitecture” was inspired by a design-loving dog and features the architectural shapes of Ka-nu Keel ceramic tile in Harbor Blue, which features a subtly pearlized glaze. The front and back walls are a combination of Ka-nu Buoy Mosaic in Sandbar, Harbor Blue and Sea Kelp, and the house is trimmed in Ka-nu Plank in Sea Kelp.

May 03 2018

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10 Ways Smart Lighting Can Enhance the Kitchen & Bath

System design and installation by Gramophone, Timonium, Md.

So much happens in the kitchen and bath that it’s often difficult to have the lights at the right intensity levels at all times. When you’re clients are cooking, they need the lights brighter; lower when they sit down to eat. As they apply makeup or shave, they’ll want the lights bright, but when unwinding in a hot bath at the end of the day, an intensity level that mimics candlelight is apropos.

In the past, we’ve relied on dimmer switches to adjust the intensity levels of the lights. While this approach still works well, smart lighting products have introduced a whole new level of convenience and control to the management of home lighting. Plus, these solutions are so much more cosmetically pleasing than the switches of yesteryear.

Here are 10 ways smart lighting can add value to the kitchen and bath:

1. Clears “Wall Acne.” It’s not unusual to see kitchen and bath walls blanketed with huge banks of light switches. There are two problems with this setup: It’s difficult to remember which switch controls which group of lights, and the numerous faceplates eat up a big chunk of wall space. Lighting keypads, by contrast, provide six to eight pushbuttons that can control all of the lights and take up only the space of a single-gang junction box.

2. Creates Activity-Based Preset Lighting Levels. Each pushbutton on a keypad can be programmed to set the intensity level of a predetermined group of lights, called a lighting “scene.” For example, a morning button on a kitchen keypad can brighten the undercabinet lights to 50 percent and the fixture over the island to 30. A cleaning button can raise every light to full intensity, and a romantic button can lower the lights to an intimate 25 percent. Likewise, in the bathroom, specific lights can adjust on the fly based on whichever button is engaged: morning, night, relaxation and so on.

Home systems design and installation by Global Custom Integrations, Hawthorne, N.Y., in this and below photo

3. Showcases Decorative Details. The wood grain of fine cabinetry, the mix of colors of a granite countertop and other visually stunning architectural details look even better with the right lighting. You designer who specializes in lighting can choose the best light source, fixture and placement, while a home systems installer can suggest the best levels of brightness.

4. Improves Comfort. With standard, non-smart lighting, the lights can feel blinding during midnight trips to the bathroom or the kitchen. A smart lighting system ensures that the lights are easy on the eyes during certain hours of the night.

5. Adds an Element of Automation. Imagine having your clients’ kitchen lights set at the perfect level when they arrive home from work. It’s possible with a smart lighting system. Driven by sophisticated microprocessors, it can adjust the lights automatically based on conditions like the time of day, occupancy and even the location of their smartphone (a feature called geofencing).

6. Personalizes the Space. Some people like a room brightly lit; others prefer an atmosphere that’s soft and subdued. A smart lighting system has the intelligence to set the lights based on who’s at home.

7. Sets the Mood. The biggest trends in home lighting are color and tunable white light. Smart LED bulbs are available that can glow in a rainbow of hues. This is all controllable through a mobile app, keypad or even voice commands. The bathroom can bask in a sea of blue to promote relaxation; a red hue can evoke a festive atmosphere when entertaining guests in the kitchen. If infusing the kitchen and bath with colored lighting seems too drastic of an approach, a subtler mood-setting alternative is “tunable white lighting.” These LED bulbs adjust their color temperature – as well as their brightness levels – to mimic daylight patterns. This can have a huge impact on the look and feel of the kitchen and bath.

8. Boosts Energy Efficiency. Dimming a light by 25 percent can cut electricity costs by 20 percent, according to Lutron Electronics. You can save even more if that light source is an LED, which uses significantly less electricity than an incandescent bulb. LED bulbs also last years longer – a huge perk if the kitchen or bath has hard-to-reach light fixtures.

9. Synchs with Music and Other Systems. Lights can go a long way toward setting the mood of a room; when a smart lighting system has been programmed to synchronize with a music system, the kitchen and bath can take on a whole new attitude. Classic music can play when the lights are dim; hip-hop when they are bright, for example. This can be easily accomplished by pressing a single button on a keypad or launching a command from a mobile app. A security system, thermostats and motorized shading can be integrated, as well, to completely alter the atmosphere of the room.

10. Provides Peace of Mind. Nobody intends to leave the lights on when they leave the house or go to bed. Lighting systems can be accessed and controlled remotely from a mobile app so that the kitchen and bath are always illuminated (or not illuminated) perfectly

Lisa Montgomery is the editor of Electronic House

Apr 30 2018

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PANTONE Colors That Will Be Trending in 2019

Fashion isn’t the only industry affected by rapidly-changing consumer taste. This is why I scour the trade shows, publications and the internet for insight, updates and forecasts to inform you of color trends and styles for the home.

The authority on all things color recently released a taste of their PANTONEVIEW Home + Interiors Guide for 2019, with 72 forecasted hues inspired by culinary-inspired shades, fashion and movies such as “Black Panther.”

Two of the eight palettes Pantone highlighted in their announcement are “Cravings” and “Classico,” which come from opposite sides of the color spectrum.

Cravings (Left) and Classico (Right) Palettes (Photography Courtesy of Pantone)

According to Pantone, the Cravings palette includes allusions to “fetish foods” – yup, you read that right – from rich cappuccino and chocolate to spicy chili pepper and cayenne.

The neutrals of tasty Cappuccino serve up a delectable warming presence, while grassy green promises a cooling respite from the heat of the surrounding shades. These exceptional flavors will draw upon memorable sensory experiences to inspire new ones that will be just as pleasing.

The hues of the Classico palette skew more elegant with a nod to style fundamentals. This is the palette where “a graceful swan white” and shades of camel pair perfectly with deep teals, gray flannels, burgundy reds and caviar blacks.

Metallics are still in vogue for the coming year. After all, we can’t help but be drawn to shimmering objects. For 2019, metallic gold is part of the Classico palette.

“With more choices than ever before, it is essential for home furnishings and interiors brands and designers to connect with their consumers and deliver the themes, palettes and colors that engage and stimulate beyond the surface,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute.

The Pantone trend book contains visual inspiration, color themes and suggested color harmonies. CMYK printing equivalents are supplied for each of the forecasted colors making it easy to achieve the right match in your designs.

Here are the remaining PANTONEVIEW home + interiors 2019 palettes:

Syncopated – A palette pulsing with all the right moves, Syncopated is lit with energy and exhilaration by bright white, glowing yellow and a hot yellow-red.

Paradoxical – A synthetic color language that is both luxurious and accessible, the Paradoxical palette proposes style and design created by unconventional couplings, an eclectic mix of high and low and a mix of traditional and modern.

Musings – Musings, a quietly reflective yet vital palette of gentle and hushed shades, conveys a relaxed, healthy lifestyle made even more so by a sense of pleasure and excitement.

Cherish – A grouping of idealized combinations of color, pattern and texture that form a quiet, conflict-free refuge for the senses. Cherish captures memories of comfort, enjoyment, affection and contentment.

Meanderings – Whether travelling in person or in your imagination, to destinations known and unknown, Meanderings implies a winding course done at a leisurely pace that often reveals unexpected treasures and pleasures.

Proximity – Forming a hybrid of technology and nature that speaks to the complexities of 21st century life, Proximity gathers together sister shades of tropical green-blues and blue-greens that blend fluidly into royal blues and clean crispy greens.