KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Sustainable 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.”

Dec 06 2016

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Neolith Joins the Tiny House Movement

Neolith Tiny House Launch Party (www.BenRosePhotography.com)

Neolith’s Tiny House pays homage to the material by displaying a number of applications in a small space, including exterior and interior cladding, flooring, countertops, shower walls, fire places and furniture.

According to Mar Esteve, marketing manager for TheSize, the goal of the mobile space is to bring Neolith closer to the residential A&D community across different states and to showcase all the properties of the material: lightweight (great for transportation), durable, uv-unalterable; anti-grafitti, etc.

“We want to convey the message that every space – no matter how big or small – can look great and high end if the right materials are selected,” added Esteve. “We want to communicate that TheSize is aligned with sustainable architecture as well as a way of live.”

Neolith is seen in the Tiny House in the following applications:
– Exterior Cladding (Calacatta gold, Basalt Black, Textil White and Iron Frost)
– Interior Floors (Strata Argentum)
– Interior Walls (Iron Frost)
– Countertops and Island (Estatuario Polished)
– Bathroom Walls (La Beheme, Calacatta Gold)
– Fireplace (Steel Marengo)

The home features an OG36 36- in. outdoor barbeque grill with four individually contained burners for independent heat control, including a sear zone to seal in juices and a two-position rotisserie system. The master bath features the TOTO Neorest 550H toilet with a heated seat, built-in bidet system and choice of an efficient 1.0 or 0.8 gallon per flush. This is paired with a Kiwami Renesse lavatory faucet and a slim Villeroy & Boch washbasin and vanity, which is wall-mounted to save space. The shower includes an Upton rain showerhead and Gyrostream body sprays with rotating heads. In the guest bath, there is the TOTO Aquia Wall-Hung Toilet that takes up less floor space, gives the bathroom a more open feel and is easier to clean.

Oct 27 2015

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“Rehab Addict” Nicole Curtis on Saving $$ in Renovations


Nicole Curtis, star of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict,” has made an art of introducing the comforts and conveniences of modern living while restoring homes to their former glory. She believes not all home renovations need to be complete makeovers and spends her time preserving the character of old homes to their former glory. Nicole has teamed up with Mitsubishi Electric to help old house owners discover heating and cooling systems that’ll work effortlessly within their historical homes. She is a self-taught home rehabber, licensed real estate agent and designer, and K+BB recently got a chance to talk to her about avoiding expensive kitchen and bath renovations.

K+BB: What are some of your tips for avoiding a costly kitchen renovation?

Nicole Curtis: First, figure out what exactly you [or your client] need in your kitchen – so many people do not realize what they need until after they have lived in it. If you just moved into a new old house, do not do renovate right away. Live in the house for at least six months and take notes everyday.

After many homeowners do the renovation, they have what I call the “regrets.” “I wish we would have spent a little more or added a larger range.” Take time to properly plan it, otherwise you will regret it. [Explain to your clients that] it costs a lot more to redo something after its put it in than to take your eraser to your pencil drawings and redo it on paper.

K+BB: Where are some areas where it is safe to splurge and save?

NC: Splurge on custom cabinets with solid wood materials and dovetail drawers. Natural stone countertops are heat and scratch resistant and can take years of abuse. We see these materials in homes that are more than 100 years old; we know their longevity.

I am never going to spend $500 on a light fixture in the kitchen because they are pretty trendy and will go in and out. I will spend $500 to make sure I do not have particleboard in my cabinet design. If they change the color or layout, I can split up wood cabinets and move them around. I can’t do that with particleboard, and it is a challenge to repaint.

K+BB: What about bathrooms?

NC: [Advise your client to] spend money on a licensed plumber. This sounds silly, but so many people think they can do it themselves, and water leaks are no joke. I have seen so many houses ruined because someone spent more money on the vanity during the renovation and did the plumbing themselves. They should have spent the money on a licensed contractor.

Spend more on solid stone materials, like a tile surround versus vinyl. Any time you caulk it lets moisture in and you will have to redo it again and again. I see people splurge on an expensive mirror and then put vinyl flooring in a bathroom. Flooring and fixtures should be first, and then use leftover money later for something like expensive wallpaper. (Nicole admitted she hates wallpaper!)


K+BB: In terms of historical properties, what are some elements of the kitchen you think it would be safe to reuse?

NC: There’s not a component that can’t really be reused aside from drywall or if you are changing a layout. Wood floors can be used, stone countertops can be reused, wood cabinets can be reused. When you use disposable materials, because they are not solid, once you try and tear them out or reconstruct them, they just kind of fall apart in your hands.

A lot of the older homes were built as 500 square feet in 1880, and then additions were made throughout the years. I find a way to take the old house and make additions, add floors, etc. They get the extra space, but we can still keep the old house standing, and the way to do that is to blend new mechanics. This keeps budget in check because we are not redoing an entire heating system for the whole house.

K+BB: Do you feel today’s consumer has a realistic idea in mind when it comes to budgeting for these kinds of projects?

NC: I don’t think anyone ever has a keen eye on the budget. You should have two lists: a need list and a want list. With old houses, clients hate theirs because they are hot in the summer or cold in the winter. They will spend a lot on furniture when they need to first get back to the basics. I can’t tell you how many bathrooms I have walked into, and there is absolutely no heat source because they did not budget for it. Let’s make you comfortable in your home and work with you on what you have already, and then see where the budget is.

K+BB: Is it important for people doing a renovation to have a design expert on hand?

NC: I always think it is wise to have a design professional on hand because what looks good on a website or something you tear out of a magazine does not always fit in your space. What looks good on paper does not always look good in the field. A design professional knows that if you want to put in a 36-in. door, there can’t be a cabinet swinging into the door. It’s always good to consult one even if you are not hiring them for the whole project – even if you just have someone do the layout. You will never regret paying someone to help you to layout your design in the most efficient and budget-friendly way.

May 29 2015

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Benefits of a Garbage Disposer and Myths Dispelled


May is National Home Improvement Month, and as the month comes to a close, there’s still time to do one small project in the kitchen that will make a big difference: adding or replacing a garbage disposer.

This hard-working, under-appreciated appliance has come a long way since it was first invented back in 1927 by an architect in Racine, Wis., named John Hammes. Believe it or not, the photo above is what the first disposer looked like.

About half the homes in the U.S. have a disposer, and here’s why:

  • It helps keep kitchens clean, fresh and hygienic – no food waste in the trash can causing an odor to attract pests and fewer trips to the dumpster.
  • Putting your food waste down a disposer is more environmentally friendly than putting it in the trash to be hauled to a landfill where it will decompose and release methane (a greenhouse gas).
  • A good disposer only costs hundreds of dollars and will last for several years.

So, what’s keeping the other half of the homes in the U.S. from investing in this handy kitchen helper? Well, there are some long-standing myths about disposers that still need to be dispelled, and you can explain these to your clients:

  • “Water/energy used by disposers cancel out any environmental benefits.” Actually, disposers only use 1 percent or less of a household’s total water consumption and cost on average less than 50 cents a year in electricity.
  • “Using a disposer is bad for a home’s plumbing.” The fact is, food waste is 70 percent water. If you have a modern disposer with multiple stages of grind and you use your disposer properly, food waste is virtually liquefied, allowing it to move through your plumbing with ease.
  • “My house is on a septic system, so I can’t have a disposer.” If your septic system is properly sized and maintained, this shouldn’t be a problem. If your septic system can handle a dishwasher and a washing machine, it can handle a disposer.

– Leah Kondes, spokesperson for InSinkErator