KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Chelsie Butler

Chelsie Butler

Chelsie Butler is the executive editor of Kitchen & Bath Business. She has had 25 years of experience in the publications field, specializing in residential and commercial design.

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 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

Feb 22 2018

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Kitchen & Bath Tech Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss

A recent National Kitchen & Bath Association webinar gave insight into this important industry topic. As consumer expectations are increasing where technology is concerned, it is important than ever to stay on top of the trends.

Moderated by Ed Wenck, CEDIA content marketing manager, the panel included Jamie Briesemeister, CEDIA’s integration controls, sales & marketing director; Adam Gibson, CMKBD, Adam Gibson Kitchen & Bath Designs; and Christopher Wright, owner of WrightWorks, a remodeling contractor firm.

The panel covered four learning outcomes during the webinar.

Explore Current and Emerging Tech Trends and Their Application to Current and Future Projects
Briesemeister and her team attended the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and were introduced to a plethora of connected appliances, as well as systems that allow users to access their homes remotely. She said voice control was huge, with many products including Alexa, and water leak detection products help homeowners save on their investment.

“We saw many ‘smart’ products, with smart meaning connected in some way to the internet or a mobile device – there is intelligence built in,” said Briesemeister. “I even saw a mirror with smart glass, which can display weather or a calendar and can also act as a touchscreen to control home devices and even email.”

KOHLER’s Verdera voice-lighted mirror with Amazon Alexa

She also said smart refrigerators add value by letting the homeowner view contents remotely (at a grocery store), and a smart stove can send alerts if it has been on too long. Gibson said the number one connected home need his clients specify is audio visual technology, followed by lighting, which can be controlled with a one-button press or a keypad.

Improve the Experience, Save Production Time, Gain Referrals
“I try to bring up the technology conversation early and ask what existing systems are in place,” said Wright. “I want to deliver options, not upselling or forcing anything on my clients, but rather adding to their quality of life. I find they are willing to pay more for the experience and the peace of mind.”

According to Gibson, every kitchen has some technological integration, but he recommends using an integration specialist to correctly do the install.

“I have learned not to be afraid because I have an integrator involved early,” he explained. “Really good electricians know their limits; they do not try anything they are not trained to do.”

The Bosch Built-in Coffee Machine with Home Connect features voice control through Amazon Alexa. 

Establish a Comfort Level with Emerging Technologies
“In the past, integrations were costly, and it was hard to make multiple systems work,” said Wright. “The early step for me was building relationships with tech pros at events and working with them on my projects.”

CEDIA also offers a database of integrators based on zip code. A good integrator is someone who will not slow down a project, who knows exactly what is out there and who does a great job.

“There are different types – those who do faster installations and those who work with a designer,” said Briesemeister. “Find out what kind you are talking to; you may need to know both.”

Tricks of the Trade
There are several advancements that can hide the technology you install in your client’s home, such as faceplates that match the surrounding material. You can also port a subwoofer through a heating and cooling vent to disguise it.

In terms of maintaining the overall project budget, Wright said there is no need to replace all the current technology in a client’s home.

“This alleviates the fear of having to start over from scratch,” he explained. “We want to present options so our clients have the power to decide what they want. Some will want the latest and greatest, and some only need the bare minimum.