KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for May, 2018

May 30 2018

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On the Road in New York


The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is known as the North American platform for luxury international design, showcasing the latest in exclusive interiors and high-end furniture. However, it’s much more than furniture. Naturally, I wanted to hone in on the latest and greatest for the kitchen and bath.


I found lots of beautiful plumbing fixture booths featuring all types of sculptural freestanding tubs and faucets in the widest variety of metal finishes ever! Admittedly, the innovative furniture was the star of the show with an emphasis on bentwood – furniture literally made of bended wood – designs and mid-century modern styling. I also loved the international aspect, and one of my favorite sections was the Hand Made in Germany booth. There was a lot of Bauhaus-inspired design, and I especially loved a minimalist work center.

Another show, Wanted Design, was happening right down the street in the Terminal Stores at the same time. The venue was old warehouse chic, and there was a global focus here as well.


Wanted Design was also the venue for Modenus Talks, sponsored by LIXIL and hosted by Modenus and Design Milk. This regular series of talks is held in different locations, usually in conjunction with trade events. They are always so informative and relevant. The one we attended was “Sustaining the Sustainable Home,” moderated by Modenus Media CEO Veronika Miller and featuring materials expert Grace Jeffers.

It’s always great to have more knowledge about the materials I am specifying and to educate the public about safety and sourcing. Do you know the number one thing you can do to reduce pollution in the home? I’ll tell you because you’ll never guess: it’s removing your shoes at the front door. Your shoes track in not only dirt but also carbon monoxide! Honestly, even though some really relevant information was shared, it was also very scary.

All in all it was a great trip, topped off by a birthday dinner courtesy of my dear sister and brother-in-law at Shuka in the Village. What an amazing feast! Executive chef Ayesha Nurdjaja has a knack for flavorful combinations that feel Middle Eastern to me and are described as Eastern Mediterranean. The service was top notch too, even though it was packed for a Tuesday evening. Maybe everyone knew it was my birthday… back to work now, but at least I have some great memories to savor.

May 25 2018

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Have a Seat in the Forest

Have a Seat

The Maine College of Art students explored wood, trees and the forest in the 14th Wilsonart Challenges Student Chair Design Competition. The chairs were designed around the concept of standing in the forest and being alone with a tree. The theme of this year’s competition focuses on the importance of Maine’s timber industry and Wilsonart’s commitment to educate design professionals about responsibly sourced wood.

The winning chair – “Tool for Translation” by Joseph Goodwin (above) – was designed around the idea of a chainsaw becoming the chair through flowing curves and geometry.

The following is his description of his chair:

As a cultural icon, the chainsaw is perhaps more fraught with contradictions than any other everyday object. The power tool is representative of competing ideologies, disparate politics and contentious debate. By translating these complexities into a refined, simplistic chair form, Goodwin attempts to draw our attention to the irony of being not one or the other, but both simultaneously. The universal language of geometry can mediate the divide between opposing viewpoints and can be a catalyst for constructive dialog. The chainsaw represents the threshold where a tree’s life ends, and a chair’s life begins.

The Runners-Up
Holey Blue by Kincaid Pearson
“My chair is an abstract representation of being in the woods during the night and looking up at the sky. I wanted to create a design that is more pattern based and reflects the silhouettes of the tree branches reaching across the night sky. I was looking to give the sitter a sense of being isolated, a feeling that is like being in the woods.”

Oxide by Dan Trottier
The origin of “Oxide” stemmed from my finding a broken, plastic Adirondack chair in the forest. There was something so cyclical about a chair design that was inspired by mountains, mass produced and domesticated and then returned to nature to be reclaimed and decay. It was, by definition, feral. That word, feral, became integral to Oxide’s form. The idea of designing from a broken state and still honoring the dilapidation with intentionality. The form of the chair is skewed and precarious to convey a sense of unkempt abandon. The chair shades itself with different tones of slate, while one rusty element pierces through, suggesting the imminence of the oxidation process covering the entire mass is yet to come.”

 

L ‘Dor V ‘Dor (From Generation to Generation) by Naomi Russo
“The concept of this chair relates back to the woods and my family. As a tree falls over in the woods, that tree may not hit the ground but will rather be held up by the other trees surrounding it. The same applies for a line of generations. As one ancestor may pass, the following generations are there to remember them. That ancestor may have passed, but they are not forgotten. The seat that pierces through the center of the piece is an ode to that fallen tree or lost ancestor. They may have fallen, but they have not been forgotten and are still carried on through their legacy. This chair gives the sitter two options for places to sit within the piece. There is also the option to sit alone on the chair, or with someone else, while using the chair as a means to start a conversation.”

Ascend by Jason Haskell
“The concept behind Ascend was to figure out how to incorporate the feeling of physical movement, the uplifting sensation of having a seat higher than normal and also the emotion nature presents when you interact with it. The form of the chair when put together is supposed to represent a tree trunk, along with the different levels of seats to signify different heights of branches, each placed at a certain point that is suitable for any climber. The woodgrain on the outside of the form grabs the attention and sparks the idea that this is a tree-based object, along with the inside woodgrain that reassures that thought. With the red tops being the last element to the piece, this color is for seating arrangement – a small indication of where you can end up.”

Please, Sit by Daniel Iwasko
“This chair was created after an experience in the woods where I found myself sitting at the base of a tree with a guitar. I found that the roots formed a perfect backrest for me as I was sitting at the base of a tree. Sitting there on the ground was very comfortable, and I wanted to recreate that feeling.”

“A year ago in Montana, I was drawing chairs in my basement at night after work and now I am headed to ICFF to show my design,” said Goodwin. “The path between those points is insane and to say that I’m ecstatic would be an understatement. I’m so grateful to Grace and you all for allowing me the freedom to make such an unorthodox piece that will be a portfolio booster as well as a conversation starter for some difficult cultural and environmental issues we face. I hope that moving forward my piece might open the door for designers to think conceptually and metaphorically about the power furniture can have and how material choices can enhance content within not just sculpture but also design.”

May 23 2018

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Designing a New York City Kitchen

By Alice Tedesco

The world is getting bigger, but the interiors we live in are getting smaller. As interior designers, we have faced this fact often. With a small kitchen, the smokes and smells are free to go wherever they like. It is important to plan an efficient ventilation system where it’s possible to lead smoke and smells outside. It may not always be worth moving pipes to a more centered position, and the design may be compromised in a small space.

                                     Photo Courtesy of Cesar NYC

With a small kitchen and often open-plan kitchen, the mess in the space may be frequently visible. The mess factor should be a concern for any good designer, and we need to be able to work with clients and understand their daily flow of operations that can compromise the look of a kitchen. The kitchen’s functionalities need to be planned out to make day-to-day tasks as easy as possible. Ask plenty of questions, like where is the right place for the trash? Where is the right place for the fridge? You need to prioritize and give order to the kitchen.

My Example
I designed a new-build apartment in Midtown Manhattan, which was a tiny space of just 7-ft. by 7- ft. and was directly exposed to the living room. But there was no need to panic; you don’t need a lot of space, you just need a good design.

Small kitchens are always more complicated than big one – and making a small kitchen functional is a struggle – but I had a lot of fun with this project. We designed a space that allows my clients to both live in the kitchen and living room according to their tastes and attitudes. Whenever they want to have a romantic dinner or a party, their kitchen is the perfect solution.

                                       Photo Courtesy of Cesar NYC

We compromised on the size of the appliances to give them more storage, and we integrated all the functional appliances of the kitchen, including the preparation and food storage facilities. We made sure the kitchen has a great dialogue with the rest of the living space, thanks to the double height of the counter and a careful selection of colors and finishes.

                                     Photo Courtesy of Cesar NYC

The colors were selected accordingly with the main interior pallets to unify the space visually. The main material is a white elm melamine for the bottom units, and this runs from the bottom to the shelves dividing the space for functionality and merges the peninsula with the wall. In contrast, the upper cabinets are in acid-etched glass; this finish matches the back splashes and lifts up the space since the ceiling is just 7 feet. The material combinations and the paneled appliances are the strength of the project, with the layout hiding all the visible appliances inside the kitchen.

This kitchen looks way bigger than the 7-ft. by 7-ft. space in which it is located. It’s open, fresh, and the clients just love it!

                                 Photo Courtesy of Cesar NYC

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.