K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for October, 2012

Oct 29 2012

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Industrial strength design

Can a bare light bulb make a design statement? At one point in my long life in design, bare light bulbs conjured up nothing more than a look destined for a jail cell or a musty basement. But I think differently now. Taking a pure form like a light bulb  and turning it into something beautiful and enduring takes some imagination. Here are some great products to create an industrial look for kitchen or bath design.

Barn Light Electric Co.’s caged pendant lighting made from galvanized metal. LED light bulbs inside the glass “bullet” make it gorgeous AND green.


A “trough” sink from Kohler’s commercial line makes a great sink for a kid’s bathroom.


Restoration Hardware makes these cool commercial laundry carts for the fully decked out laundry room!


Sonoma Forge makes gorgeous faucets for kitchen and bath. This one’s called “Brut.”


The Modern Times factory stool from Sundance is $ 195 and has a great distressed finish.


Modern Object’s Wing Nut knob is 2 1/2 in. long x 1 1/4 in. high


or go for the valve-looking knob that’s 2 1/4 in. in diameter.

DuPont Corian’s Medea solid surface material looks like concrete.

The Wallpaper Collective company sells Scrapwood wallcovering made in the Netherlands. It’s $299 for a 46-sq.-ft. roll, but doing one wall in it would look amazing.

Finally, I must mention sliding door hardware..a hot new look that’s showing up in bathrooms on shower doors. Very cool!

Patricia Gaylor

Oct 24 2012

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Soaped up

Freestanding tubs seem all the rage now, and I guess for good reason. Sculptural, shapely and sometimes resembling a work of art, they exude a feeling of luxury, promise complete pampering and infuse instant drama into any bathroom.

But if you’re a rigorous minimalist who prefers their bath-cum-sculpture free of clutter—with the exception of an ultra-streamlined tub filler—where do you put your soap?

Wetstyle has introduced a solution: the Soap Cone. Designed by the Wetstyle Design Lab, Soap Cone is a cone-shaped soap holder that is made of polyurethane gel, allowing it to adhere to the interior or exterior of the tub. Because the adhesive surface can be rinsed without losing its stickiness, the soapholder can be removed and relocated when needed. Other applications include on a glass wall in a shower or even in a kitchen sink.

Oct 19 2012

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Marble Marvel in Danby, VT

A four-hour bus ride on a gray drizzling New England morning may not sound like anyone’s idea of fun, but last week’s trip to Danby, VT, was very much just that.

The excursion, an annual event superbly hosted and organized by Artistic Tile, took a group of designers and architects, as well as an editor and myself, up to the southern part of Vermont, where we had the opportunity to visit an undergound marble quarry that was opened in 1785 and whose stone has found its way into everything from the Lincoln Memorial to several U.S. federal and state buildings, including the U.S. Senate building.

Although on the ride up, Artistic Tile president Joshua Levinson gave us an entertaining and educational presentation on calcium carbon stones (marble, travertine, limestone, onyx and serpentine), the history and methods of quarrying, the major quarries here in the United States—Indiana, Chicago, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, South Dakota, Colorado—and the world—Spain, Italy, Spain, Turkey (which has the largest reserve of marble), India, China and Brazil—and so much more, it did not quite prepare me for the experience of actually being on site.

Our tour began at an entrance that has been used for more than 100 years and wound its way through immense corridors carved out of solid Danby marble. The air was cool and damp, and except for the areas where work was being done, the light was dim. Nevertheless, even in the semi-darkness, the gray telltale veins that scaled walls and flowed onto ceilings were a magnificent sight and made one feel small.

The ground was wet, muddying rubber galoshes, work boots, sneakers and the odd unfortunate waterproof suede boot. Of course, we were advised to wear appropriate shoes, but some of us have the attention span of a fly. (Note to self: must read email much more carefully.)

Modern-day quarrying is done with heavy, sophisticated machinery, easing the process of extracting the marble and moving large blocks. Tests have also been developed to determine how deep one should drill or if drilling should stop to prevent a collapse of a quarry/mountain. In addition, thanks to advances in technology, cuts made into the walls are straight and precise. I can’t imagine doing this by hand, with the crude implements of the past or even with explosives, which can damage the stone and create a lot of waste. To keep track of the marble that’s extracted, each block is marked to indicate where it originated.

Our quarry visit concluded with a tour of an area (also underground) where slabs are cut, stored and finished. Danby marble is denser than white Carrara marble, making it more suitable for use as a kitchen countertop—which is what I kept seeing as I walked through the rows and rows of slabs. The variety in pattern and coloration was quite remarkable—but then again, nature is wondrous like that.

After a hearty meal at Equinox Resort & Spa, which is more than 200-years-old, we boarded the bus to head back to New Jersey/New York. On our return trip, we were treated to a showing of Breaking Away, a 1979 film which features scenes filmed at the Empire Quarry, an abandoned limestone quarry in Bloomington, IN (you can see it a minute into the video). If you haven’t already done so, the film is worth seeing.

I’ve since corresponded with some of my fellow travelers, all of whom were similarly impressed and amazed by the trip. Just thinking about how the technology for extraction has come such a long way leaves me a little breathless. Equally breathtaking is the fact that such beauty exists naturally and that it exists in such abundance. Yet even as the supply at Danby seems vast and far-reaching, I can’t help feeling that it’s still a resource that should be cherished, respected and used wisely.

Oct 16 2012

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A Glimpse into the Future of Home Apps


Last May I read about Ford Motor Company’s push to turn the car into a mobile communications environment. Alliances forged with Medtronic, nMealth pioneer WellDoc and SDI Health allow Ford to develop its initial Health and Wellness connectivity portfolio designed to empower people with self-help information while they drive.

Via Bluetooth and access cloud-based Internet services, Ford can offer in-car glucose monitoring devices, diabetes management services, asthma management tools and web-based allergen alert solutions.

“The car has rapidly evolved into a mobile office and entertainment center for many Americans. Our goal is to further innovate the automotive space by incorporating health and wellness services into the car, thereby making them convenient and easily accessible to our customers.”

Drivers of Ford SYNC Applink-equipped cars can utilize the first app now and have access to the Allergy Alert app from Pollen.com.

This got me thinking about what apps may soon appear in the home.

Am I crazy to think that manufacturers will move beyond the entertainment apps (do we really need another appliance that will play music?) and start to integrate useful tools such as an app that will help my washing machine figure out the best way to clean a stain?

Stain + fabric + how long it sat = pretreatment + wash cycle & detergent type

Can a refrigerator link to a portable monitoring device via Bluetooth and help aid patients and their caregivers control glucose levels?

Is a diabetic more likely to grab a healthy snack from the refrigerator if their glucose level flashes on a monitor in front of them? I would think the answer would be yes.

I will admit that I am not very familiar with which foods are included in a Diabetic Diet, so in a scenario where I am visiting someone who is sick in bed and I want to help out and make lunch for her, an app that told me which foods would cause a spike in glucose levels could be helpful. I might want to know which would be better: a grilled chicken sandwich or a spinach and salmon salad.

Caregiver/Patient + full refrigerator = healthy lunch or snack

Ann Porter