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Archive for Green

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.”

Mar 19 2018

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Uniting Built and Natural Environments

By Julie Schuster

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the country’s leading governmental infrastructure initiative. It correctly asserts that: “Decisions about how and where we build our communities have significant impacts on the natural environment and on human health. Cities, regions, states and the private sector need information about the environmental effects of their land use and transportation decisions to mitigate growth-related environmental impacts and to improve community quality of life and human health.”

This philosophy doesn’t just apply to building developers and urban planners. As interior designers, we too have a professional responsibility to find ways to best unite built and natural environments – for our clients and for Mother Nature herself.

Some of my favorite practical interior design strategies for integrating built and natural environments include:

Following Nature’s Lead. Interiors should be designed with humans in mind. It is a Biophilic Design principle that people feel most comfortable in spaces that follow nature’s lead rather than monochromatic bubbles. Our common desire for hardwood floors is a subconscious human yearning for replication of the forest floor. Hence, the ground should be darkest, like a path; mid-range eye-level colors should be neutral and the ceiling should be light like the sky.

               Schuster suggests reflecting a forest in the colors of a room.

Using Renewable Materials. It goes without saying that using renewable materials in your interior design is beneficial for the environment. But did you know that building materials that have been harvested from the earth are also extremely durable and cost effective? Cork and granite are two of my favorite renewable materials to work with. Cork, which is made from the bark of cork trees, is very springy and resistant to damage. Granite is the hardest and most dense natural stone which helps maintain luster and resist staining.

Furnishing Thoughtfully. Furniture made from natural materials like rattan, wicker and hemp channel the outdoor world and are easy on the environment. Another eco-friendly idea is to purchase vintage furniture which lends itself to a beautiful, eclectic feel.

                                 Donna Dotan Photography Inc.

Layering in Greenery. Indoor plants are a fantastic representation of Feng Shui wood energy – instantly bringing interiors to life while simultaneously purifying the air we breathe. Consider clustering small plants in groups at staggered levels to give a sense of natural depth and balance.

                                Plants naturally clean the air in a home.

Prioritizing Natural Colors. Once your home is filled with renewable materials, natural fabrics and greenery, it’s important to ensure a natural color palette is used for the remainder of the space. Neutral colors with subtle variations work a charm and allow greater flexibility for accent colors later down the track. Remember, Mother Nature never goes out of style!

Implementing Considered Lighting Design. Sunlight is a crucial and all too often forgotten component of natural design. It’s also my favorite energetic disinfectant. In addition to letting the light shine in whenever possible, consider natural fiber window treatments, soft/warm light bulbs, unobtrusive fixtures and recessed lighting.

By viewing the outdoors as an extension of the home, you too can find design inspiration in the natural world and bring that powerful, organic inspiration indoors.

Julie Schuster is an active member of the New York City Design Community. In 2014 she helped establish the Interior Design Society’s (IDS) New York City Chapter, spearheading the group’s formation as the chapter’s president. Julie also works closely, and engages enthusiastically as a member of International Furnishings & Design Association (IFDA) and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). Schuster is also a proud member of the Kitchen and Bath Business Advisory Board and the Robern (Bathroom) Brand Ambassadors.

Mar 02 2018

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The Future Kitchen

We’ve heard a lot about new appliances, tech and gadgets for the kitchen. But will the kitchen of the future really use all of these? KBB magazine tuned into the NKBA Future Kitchen webinar to find out, and we were surprised what trends we discovered.

1. Changing Demographics. The baby boom generation is getting older and making up a good portion of the population, but that doesn’t mean they are any less active. The kitchen will help them thrive in their own homes longer with smart, universal design.

2. Individualization. Innovations in manufacturing technology mean that more products can be customized on a large scale. This will continue to evolve as homeowners demand more personalization at home.

3. Connected/Disconnected Lifestyle. Homeowners want to be connected, but they don’t want to be distracted by technology, either. Manufacturers will have to hide their new connected technology well to sell.

The GroBox from Cloudponics is an automatic grow box for growing plants at home. Select what you want to grow, plant the seed and the system will nurture the plant from seed to harvest without any maintenance from you.

4. Gathering Events. Staying in is the new going out. Homeowners want more entertaining space, more ways to cook easily and access to recipes for groups.

5. Healthy Lifestyle. Awareness of nutrition and health makes the future client look for ways to preserve fresh produce longer and cook cleaner. Bringing greenery and potted herbs into the kitchen will trend as well.

The SmartSlab Table can warm plates, cool a drink and even cook a meal using discreet digital devices embedded in a razor-thin, ceramic table-top.

6. Alternative Cooking. It might sound gross to our culture, but insects are eaten in 80 percent of the world’s nations and are a healthy, sustainable source of protein. Look out for ways to incorporate cooking them in our future kitchens.

7. Zero Waste Movement. Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about how much they throw away daily. Grocery stores (and therefore kitchens) will start helping them out with more unpackaged, bulk sources and innovative storage options.

The Ground Fridge from Weltevree is an innovative version of the traditional root cellar, making use of the insulating effect of the ground and the cooling effect of the groundwater. The temperature in the fridge remains stable throughout the year and is ideal for the storage of fruit, vegetables, wine and cheese.

8. Slowing Down. The future consumer will be moving through their day even faster than today’s society and will crave slower practices. Fermentation processes, slow cooking and preserving are expected to rise in popularity, and special storage will need to exist in the kitchen.

What do you think the future kitchen will be like? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter @kbbconnect.

Oct 09 2017

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Living Big in Small Spaces

The Decatur Tiny House Festival – a celebration of living small – took place last week in Decatur, Ga. Organized by Tiny House Atlanta and City of Decatur, the festival offers three days of thought-provoking speakers and more than 20 innovative tiny houses to tour.

KBB spoke with downsizing experts Claudia Morris Barclay and Catherine Lee, who presented “How to Downsize and Organize Your Way to Happiness” during the festival, to find out more about this trend.


KBB: Why do you think the tiny house movement is growing?
Lee: I think people are realizing that keeping up with the Joneses isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A bigger house not only means a bigger house payment, it means more upkeep, astronomical utility bills and rooms that go completely unused. With a tiny house you can’t have any of that extra stuff that isn’t bringing you happiness.

There’s also the environmentally friendly aspect of the tiny house movement. People are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment. Tiny houses require less than a medium-to-large single-family home, and that’s incredibly appealing.

Morris-Barclay: Many people also now work remotely, and tiny houses on wheels in particular give them the option to live a more nomadic lifestyle if it suits them. They can continue the work they love, from home, in any location in the world. For retirees or people with different ability levels, who may not want to live a nomadic lifestyle, a tiny house on a foundation can be a great option. The tiny house movement, ultimately, creates options. Everyone, no matter your lifestyle, has a place within the movement and are not restricted by income, location, lifestyle, age or ability level.”


KBB: What can the average homeowner do to minimize their belongings?
Lee: Homeowners who live on their own can probably be more ruthless and quick about minimizing, whereas households with kids might have to take a step-by-step approach. One technique that is less intimidating than a giant purge is the one-in-one-out policy. If you purchase a pair of shoes, you have to get rid of a pair you currently own. Another way to ease into minimalizing is keeping a laundry basket in a closet that you fill with items to give away. When the basket gets full, it’s time to make a trip to a donation center.


Morris-Barclay: Pull everything out where you can see it. You will soon realize that you have duplicates of items because the original was buried so deep in a storage area that you forgot it existed. Ditch the duplicates. Take note of the things that you actually use every day. If you haven’t seen it or touched it in six months or more, get rid of it. Move into a smaller space. It’s easier to find the motivation to let go of unnecessary things if you are tripping over them constantly because you have no assigned place to keep them. Clutter is much more distressing in a smaller space.”


KBB: Why do you believe less can make you happier?
Lee: Having less is incredibly freeing. A lot of times you don’t realize how stressed out you are by all of your stuff until you start getting rid of things. I think so many people are overwhelmed by their possessions and know they’re unhappy about them but are also equally scared to get rid of them. Once you get over the hump of letting go, minimalizing becomes much easier.



Morris-Barclay: A lot of stress is created by the presence of ‘stuff,’ especially the pretense of things that lack a specific purpose. When you do have the urge to de-clutter, there is often a feeling of guilt associated with getting rid of things that have monetary or sentimental value. The less you have, the fewer restrictions there are on where you can go and what you can do – translating to fewer decisions an individual has to make on a daily basis.

Catherine Lee started her blog, AsianCajuns, with her twin sister in 2007. After writing about fashion and style for eight years, they realized their interests had moved away from trendy clothes and fast fashion to simplifying their style and minimizing their lives. They revamped AsianCajuns to focus on their journey of living with less – posting weekly regarding minimalizing your wardrobe, organizing your closet and applying the KonMari method – a de-cluttering technique – to your entire home. She is the downtown development manager for the City of Decatur.

Claudia Morris-Barclay is the entertainment and lifestyle consultant for ClaudiaMB Consulting and is known as a dynamic problem solver who offers her clients resourceful, inventive and attainable solutions for modifying their spaces. Claudia has been working in conjunction with the Container Store for more than seven years, is a tiny house enthusiast and is an original member of Tiny House Atlanta.