KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for March, 2010

Mar 24 2010

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Showing up

As I sit here at LaGuardia airport with what seems like all of humanity at the gate as well as inside the airport I think about sharing my purpose for this trip. I am attending a training seminar for Jenn-Air appliances in Atlanta.

I’ve attended other training seminars this year and attend various industry events, both locally and long distance. I also attend KBIS every year and interior design shows in my area. I pay attention to the High Point and Las Vegas interior design markets trends, read design blogs and generally try to keep continually updated on what the pulse is in the design world and in society at large. I also watch CNBC on occasion, which is often very revealing in regard to what is happening with our domestic and global economies.

I have never understood those who say they do not need or wish to go to KBIS, as one “show” example. I’ve been in this industry for 22 years and I know that—with as much experience as I have—I will, without a doubt, learn something of value. In fact, I learn quite a few things of value at every visit to every show and seminar.

Having the latest information and knowledge of current appliance technology, brushing up on venting via a seminar and just walking the aisles in search of connecting dots to spot trends keep me up to date and ever learning. “In this economy,” a phrase we often hear, it is more important than ever to prove our relevance as knowledgeable designers in today’s kitchen and bath marketplace.

Continually learning about our industry’s ever-changing marketplace developments positions a designer head and shoulders above the competition, and spreading the word to our clients about attendance and participation in industry events is the thing to do. When it is time for the client to compare one designer to another, I, for one, believe that a client’s perception of a designer’s up-to-date knowledge on what’s happening in our industry is an important piece to the decision process.

Susan Serra


Mar 23 2010

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Breaking the ice


Making a connection with your prospect or customer is one of the best ways to make the selling process run a whole lot smoother. At the same time it also shows you care about what’s important to “THEM.”

Let me give you an example. The other day I was traveling with a seasoned rep on sales calls and was sitting in on a follow-up call with one of his prospects. We were discussing some of the products and financials of the proposal they were reviewing, when I noticed one of many pictures hanging on his wall. There were at least 30 pictures hanging on all four walls, but this one stood out. It was a picture of two people sky diving taken from the plane above their bodies as they were soaring through the air. A breath-taking view of the ground below.

I turned to the owner of the company and asked, “Who’s the sky diver?” At that moment, you could see his eyes widen with excitement and his face light up with enthusiasm. He said, “That’s me the first and last time I jump out of a plane!” I asked him what it felt like the moment he jumped and became airborne… He then went into a whole story about how he and his buddy were so fired up for two hours after they landed and were driving back from the jump. I’ve never seen someone so excited about explaining the euphoria they experienced from the jump.

The transition to the sales call was easy. “Well, that’s how excited you’ll be when we install these six machines,” I said jokingly. They laughed and we continued, but the atmosphere was quite different from when we started.

Sometimes we forget how important the basics are—the little things we do that can make a big difference in the way we sell and the relationships we build. It reminded me of how important it is to look around and be aware of your environment: what’s on the walls of your customers’ office, pictures on the desk, the people you introduce yourself to on the way into your call, coworkers, assistants, receptionists and anyone you come into contact with at an account. Breaking the ice just doesn’t come with asking about a sky diving picture, it happens when you become the mayor of the account and remember names and something unique about each individual you come into contact with…because you never know who they know or maybe when they will become the new decision maker you end up with.

The next call we went on had a glass box hanging right outside the entrance of the customer’s office with a picture of Al Pacino from the movie Scarface with a gun and three bullets underneath and this saying in quotes:

“You need someone like me.”

We had a lot of fun with that one.

Barry Farber

Mar 22 2010

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Film Review: Food, Inc. – 5 stars

I recently watched the Academy Award-nominated documentary, Food Inc. To be honest, I was hesitant about watching it. I already know more than I’d like about the sorry state of our food supply. Another film putting images in my head of slaughterhouses and e-coli poisoning was not going to make me any happier. And, after all, being happier is something I strive to be.

The film changed my perception of food and did so without resorting to horrifying images or nauseating statistics. Instead, Food, Inc. walks the viewer through the capitalist structure of the entire food industry and how their pursuit of savings and profit has unintentionally created a system with severe health and environmental consequences.


The cause of our environmental problems can be almost solely put upon the shoulders of the building industry. After all, buildings alone are responsible for nearly half of all carbon emissions and an overwhelming 72 percent of all of our energy goes into our buildings. As an architect, I feel responsible for this, which is why I have dedicated myself to educating people about how to change our buildings. I try to stay focused on my own area of expertise (buildings) and try to not talk about the impact of other industries.

(After all, who wants to hear about the importance of organic food from an architect?!)

But in recent years, the more I’ve learned about our food supply, I realize how interconnected these industries have become. We cannot solve one without addressing the other problems. Despite the impact of buildings, perhaps the most immediate thing a person can do to help the environment is to give up eating meat. The environmental impact of meat production are intense:

* 10 people could be fed with the grain that feeds one cow

* The production of a pound of beef requires 2,500 to 5,000 gallons of water

* Before a cow is slaughtered, it will have consumed 284 gallons of oil (through pesticide and embodied energy)

* Every second of every day, one football field of tropical rainforest is destroyed in order to produce 257 hamburgers.

Source: EarthSave

(In full disclosure, I should admit that I still eat meat. I mostly focus on chicken and fish, and very rarely eat red meat at all, but am still not strong enough to give it up. So, I know full well how hard the idea may be for you.)

The benefits of eating organic and healthy foods go beyond simple personal health. The impact has economic and cultural advantages. Which probably explains why urban farming produces $5 dollars of job growth for every dollar spent on food.

One of my old mentors, famed English kitchen designer Johnny Grey, once told me that a “designer must understand, appreciate and enjoy food in order to properly design a kitchen.” This is evident throughout his work. I would stipulate the inverse: In order to fully appreciate and understand the brilliance of one of his kitchens, you need to prepare food in it. Pictures don’t do it justice.

johnny grey

Incidentally, it was Johnny who taught me everything worth knowing about kitchen design (after also teaching me to forget everything I thought I knew before then…). If you don’t know him or his beautiful work, I suggest you take a look here.

If we designers are creating what we call a “sustainable” kitchen, then so too should we require that all of the food prepared in this kitchen be organic and healthy. While we obviously can’t control this, it raises the issue that how a building is USED is as important as how it is BUILT.

In one scene in Food, Inc., an organic farmer is discussing how cows are fed corn instead of grass. Corn is cheap, subsidized by the Government and in ample supply. Unfortunately, cows are not able to properly digest corn, demanding a series of hormone injections, bacterial precautions and other measures too graphic to mention. He goes on to state, “But at no time did anyone simply step back and ask why we can’t go back to feeding them grass.”

The parallels to our dependence on oil are frightening. In both cases, you have a native crop that was abundant in early industrial America. The Government formed subsidies and incentives to encourage the use of both. Inventive chemists found the means to manipulate both crops into thousands of alternative products (plastic, in the case of oil; fructose, in the case of corn). Our entire economy grew around this cheap crop and became dependent on it. As the decades passed, these once cheap crops were no longer affordable, but it was too late.


Source: www.eere.energy.gov/ golden/News_Room.aspx

In the case of both oil and corn, we have spent the last 30 years trying to find any solutions that solve the health and eco problems, but allow us to continue our addiction. This explains the push for impractical solutions such as “clean coal,” corn-based ethanol and corn-based plastics.

At no time is it ever suggested we just give up oil and corn. Perhaps we should.

Eric Corey Freed

Food, Inc.
Directed by: Robert Kenner
Running Time; 94 minutes
Rent on Amazon


The Art of Kitchen Design

Kitchen Culture: Re-inventing Kitchen Design



King Corn
Rent on Netflix
Purchase on Amazon

The Future of Food
Rent on Netflix
Purchase on Amazon


The End of Suburbia
Rent on Netflix
Purchase on Amazon


The Corporation
Rent on Netflix
Purchase on Amazon


Blue Vinyl
Rent on Netflix
Purchase on Amazon

Mar 19 2010

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Smart pebble


So much water gets wasted in the shower every year, and many times it happens inadvertently. That is where a product like this one comes in handy. The Waterpebble is a clever device that monitors water going down the plug hole when you shower. How it works: It memorizes the time you take on your first shower with it, and then it uses that time as the benchmark for future showers. Through a series of flashing “traffic lights” (red for “too much,” yellow for “just enough” and green for “well done—you are saving the planet”) the Waterpebble encourages you to use less water each time you shower.

Paul Priestman, the creator of the Waterpebble, says his design inspiration came from a hotel bathroom sign that read “Please use water sparingly,” and he started developing the concept on his return home.

What makes this different from other timing devices is that it is based on your own shower preferences, rather than dictating what that should be. Just don’t cheat and take a long shower for the first one! You can also reset it anytime you want.

The Waterpebble has also been designed to be fully recyclable.

Water Conservation

Thank you, Jon Kaufmann, for showing me this device.

Michelle Kaufmann