KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Inspiration

Jun 18 2018

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Smart Technology: Yay or Nay?


The debate continues about whether smart technology makes sense in the kitchen. It’s hard to argue against appliances that notify owners of problems and schedule service. However, some object to delegating tasks and thinking to smart devices and worry that they are making us lazy – or worse, dumb and anti-social.

Who Is Interested in Smart Home Tech?
Because the baby boomer population continues to grow and people are busier than ever, one can easily make the case for employing smart technology in kitchen design. Configuring smart devices and appliances with smart phones, Google Home or Amazon Alexa lets you remotely complete tasks that normally require your presence or direct touch.

According to The New York Times article, “To Invade Homes, Tech Is Trying to Get in Your Kitchen,” only 5 percent of Americans own smart appliances. In a related survey from October 2017, RICKI – Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence revealed statistics about who is interested in smart technology: 69 percent of Generation X, 62 percent of millennials, 23 percent of baby boomers and only 2 percent of the mature population. If only 5 percent of Americans own smart appliances, these percentages translate to fairly small numbers, and interest does not necessarily result in a purchase.

Appliance Brands Need to Walk the Talk
I live in the North Carolina region known as Research Triangle Park, which is home to numerous IT companies from hi-tech startups to well-established giants like IBM. Local designers enjoy a higher level of interest in technology products here.

During a recent visit to The Appliance Center in Durham, N.C., I spoke with owner, Stu Stewart, and  marketing director, Kim Stewart. They supply appliances to the building and design communities, as well as homeowners. They report seeing a limited number of homeowners or builders seeking smart appliances, and 80 percent of consumers are not computer-savvy. The Appliance Center’s staff receives training on smart technology from the brands, which equips them with the knowledge to educate their customers.

Appliance sellers need to be educated and current with smart technology to efficiently sell it. Combine uneducated consumers with untrained sales professionals, and the percentages noted by RICKI are not surprising. If the seller cannot explain the benefits and uses of smart features, how likely is s/he to make the sale?

Maybe Bertazzoni president, Paolo Bertazzoni, has the right idea – the enduring Italian appliance company does not want its appliances to rely on a smart phone. The main objective for their appliances is that they cook well.
                              Bertazzoni’s 48-in. six burner and griddle

We live in exciting and changing times in the design industry. Some consumers will find the idea of smart technology in the kitchen irresistible. But me, I’d rather spend the extra money on a snazzy range and sit around the table talking with my family.

Jun 07 2018

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The New Laundry Room


Unlike its dreary predecessors hidden away in a basement or side closet, today’s laundry room is becoming a celebrated and cheery space in the modern home. It gives homeowners an opportunity to create a multifunctional place fit for their particular family, and options range from including a craft table or a pet grooming area to using it also as a mudroom. This week’s KBTribeChat covered this trending space and how manufacturers are better catering to homeowners’ needs.

Trending Features

-Laundry machines now have bling – including chrome touches and unique finishes.
-The laundry room is becoming a bright and uplifting space, meant to inspire organization and cleanliness.
-Homeowners are stylizing their laundry rooms by adding cabinetry, sinks and more.
-Pet spaces – such as a feeding or grooming area – are on the rise in the laundry room.

Different Operations, Different Clothes

-Clothes are more casual and easier to clean, so there is less demand for dry cleaning or delicate washing.
-Laundry machines are operating with less water and shorter cycles, which saves both time and money for the homeowner.
-Speed-wash cycles, available on many models, is underutilized as most loads do not have heavy soil and can be washed effectively on this cycle.

Innovations in Laundry

-Automatic dispensers sense the size of the load and distribute detergent and water accordingly to save money and time.
-Connected dryers can anticipate their settings by communicating to the washer about how damp items are.
-Nearly half of all voice- and Wi-Fi-connected appliances introduced recently have been in laundry.
-There are more meaningful reasons to connect to the laundry room, allowing homeowners to start laundry remotely or know their laundry status.

Front-Load or Top-Load

Twitter users debated the pros and cons of the top-loader versus the front-loader without reaching a verdict. Along with being easier to lift clothes out of, the front-loader was found to be space saving – since they are stackable and more energy efficient. However, some users argued that front-loaders do not drain well, which can lead to mold and fungi.

The top-loader, which still makes up a majority of laundry room purchases, is now available with new features and finishes that make up for its bulkier size. Shorter cycles, Wi-Fi connectivity and more controllable options for washing cycles – all features also included in front-loaders – still make it a popular choice for homeowners.

Join next week’s KBTribeChat by searching for #kbtribechat on Twitter at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Jun 04 2018

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Celebrating Emerging Talent

ICFF and Bernhardt Design have announced the winners of the 13th-annual ICFF Studio. Every year, Bernhardt Design partners with ICFF to invite emerging designers and new talents to submit their unique concepts and innovative designs for evaluation by a jury of some of the industry’s top professionals. The finalists and their work were presented to the design industry in a special exhibition at ICFF.

“We receive entries from across North America and throughout the world that continually blow us away for their thoughtfulness, creativity and technique,” said Coleman Gutshall, director of global strategy for Bernhardt Design. “ICFF Studio helps propel many of these exciting new designers to international acclaim and rewarding careers.”

The ICFF Studio 2018 winners are:

1. Cecilia Zhang – Discrete Shelf / Stool – Bergen, Norway

2. Chenchen Fan – Lavida Chair – Toronto, Canada

3. Jialun Xiong – Back Kaleidoscope – Pasadena, Calif.


4. Sasipat Leelachart – Sensi Chair – Bangkok, China

5. Nupur Haridas – Snug – Los Angeles

6. Kelly Kim – Mokum – San Francisco, Calif.

7. Haeun Kim – Fog Table – Los Angeles

8. Adam Markowitz – Assegai – Melbourne, Australia


9. Christian Golden – Stackable Wooden Rocker No. 1 – Columbus, Ohio

10. Yeling Guo – Nostalgia – Pasadena, Calif.

 11. Huan Pei – Froz – Pasadena, Calif.

To enter the competition, a designer must have been in the industry five years or more and have a working prototype that is not in commercial production. Submissions are evaluated and judged on design aesthetics, the ability to be economically mass produced, marketability and commercial viability.

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.