KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for June, 2011

Jun 27 2011

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Buried treasure

michelle kaufmann underground
This lovely underground home is slated to be the first zero-carbon home in the North West of England. Designed by Make Architects, this four-bedroom oasis leaves the views of nature intact above the ground while creating spaces filled with light and space below the ground plane. The project utilizes thermal mass benefits, will use a ground source heat pump and renewable energy and expects to create more energy than it requires. Although buried in the earth, the strategy provides plenty of natural ventilation and sunlight, while creating privacy and spaces for reflection at the same time.

When can we visit? I have my bags packed…

michelle kaufmann underground 1
michelle kaufmann underground 2
michelle kaufmann underground 3
michelle kaufmann underground 4
michelle kaufmann underground 6

Thanks to Jon Kaufmann for bringing the beautiful project to my attention.

Michelle Kaufmann

Jun 16 2011

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Project collaboration between design professionals: Does it work?

Collaboration, what does it mean between design professionals? Can it comfortably exist? The question is always in the background when folks from different design disciplines get together. And recently an old post by a young architect surfaced again to stir the sometimes bitter soup.

Designers have egos. It is part of our DNA. Although we can agonize over the smallest detail at the end of the day, we love what we do. We are proud of our work. Can we also be good collaborators on the same project? Does the collaboration diminish us as professionals or enhance our work?

I think the answer depends on the individual him or herself. I am a professional kitchen designer. Years ago, I made the decision to gear my practice toward collaboration with other architects and interior designers, AIA members, ASID members, IIDA and IFDA, etc. Why? Because very early on, I realized that the 2 critical things you can do for your career are:

# 1. Find your niche and become the expert in that field.
# 2. Understand where you are not an expert and seek out those that are.

No one can be the expert for every aspect of a design project. If you are, it usually means that you have not stretched your imagination further than your own nose. The project may be “good” but it will never be great.

During my career I have worked with some fabulous architects and interior designers. With them I have helped to create projects far different from any solo endeavor I would have accomplished (and I am a good designer). And I have learned so much along the way.

Working with architect, Matt Bremer, AIA, taught me to suspend belief and concentrate on bringing the (im)possible to life. The Fractal Pad (below) won Best of Year for Kitchen design.

11 kitchen foyer 1

Architect Michael Lewis, AIA, (my ZEN architect!) has taught me that going quietly, listening carefully and creating a peaceful island during design meetings results in clients who are calmer and happier during the process. The best “last word” is a finished project that reflects serenity.

Elher_Kitchen left 1

Interior designer Robin Baron, ASID, IFDA, IDS, etc. is teaching me now how to keep my enthusiasm and sense of humor when a project changes its vision AND its address multiple times—“and please hurry we need this now!”

With all of these collaborations and many others, I have been respected as a professional and a member of the project design Team. I love my architects and designers. My expertise and experience would be smaller, my practice less interesting, without these alliances.

Even when it comes to “my own” work, Barbara Roth, AKBD, CAPS and I team up to help, check and generally cheer each other on through indecisive clients, complicated specifications, late deliveries and “hopeless” installations situations that result in pure art.

Critical Item # 3: Two sets of eyes are always better than one!

Collaboration with other design professionals: You may find that your ego is very happy with the results.

Come have a glass of wine and meet some of your colleagues from the ASID, IIDA, and NKBA, etc., at this year’s Summer Social 2011.

Roberta Kravette

Jun 15 2011

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Stylish glass inserts for contemporary cabinets

With all the great glass available these days, I’m surprised to see so many kitchens and other cabinetry in photographs with the same clear or frosted styling.

If your cabinet line is still using the same-old, same-old, why not check out the latest patterns from a local glass shop instead? They not only add another interesting texture, but they’re easier to clean as the pattern doesn’t show fingerprints as much.

Check out 3 of my current favorites for modern styling (note: they might be labeled by a different name in your area):

Kelly M_1

Thela—linen-style, slightly wavy

Kelly M_2
Chinchilla—fur without the guilt

Kelly_4Crocodile Hide—has an embossed side resembling rain drops on glass on one side

A quick word of advice: The pattern can be heavily embossed (like the crocodile hide above), so I specify installing the glass with the smooth side facing outwards for ease of cleaning.

Until next time,


Jun 06 2011

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Have you Herbed?

Consumers expect exceptional value from their designers these days. One way to set yourself apart from the average cabinet peddler is by planning an integrated herb garden into your next kitchen remodel.

Herbs are inexpensive, timeless and require little maintenance. The garden can be as simple as three herb pots (perfect thank-you gift) or a whole assortment of perennials.

Adding a little green can be a great way to break up a long cabinet run and vertical gardens can be used to add a unique focal point to an otherwise average space.

Plant shelves are great solutions for kitchens with windows very close to a corner. In older homes with low windows, a sunken herb box behind the sink is a terrific alternative to having to change out a period window to accommodate a 36-in. counter height.

If you are not a gardener, these tips may be helpful. Try to utilize a south-facing wall to take advantage of the most natural light possible. Herbs need 5- 6 hours of light per day so if the window is inadequate or nonexistent, add fluorescent or LED grow lights into your design.

Ann Porter