K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Jul 17 2017

Posted by
Comments off

Artificial Intelligence and Interior Design

Above image: A simulation of a design created by Artificial Intelligence.

It’s not just science fiction. Artificial intelligence (AI) is starting to leak into our daily lives, from Siri to smart appliances and Amazon Alexa. According to a recent report from Tractica, a market intelligence firm, AI software applications will grow from $1.4 billion in 2016 to $60 billion by 2025.

Planner 5D, a consumer-focused interior design app, is currently creating machine learning algorithms that will train on more than 40 million real user projects. The app’s AI is also learning general interior design rules, technical requirements and how to match colors and styles. For example, the app is learning that a TV cannot be placed in front of a window or it will reflect light; that a bed should stand sideways to a window and that a couch should be placed in front of a TV or a fireplace in the living room.

Our question was, will technology like this make professional designers irrelevant in the future? We talked with Alexey Sheremetyev, co-founder of Planner 5D, to find out more.

The Advantages of AI in an App

Speed is the main factor. Any design project takes a long time, because a person working on it needs to think each detail over and sometimes mistakes happen. Computers work much faster and use information that has been collected from other users and projects. AI doesn’t make mistakes either, unless there was a human error in programming. Therefore, AI can design any typical project much faster and with better quality. A user will only have to edit the final product according to their wishes. That also affects the price, making design much cheaper, since the process will be much faster.

AI and Clients

A user has to choose a space they will be designing, put down the walls and windows and indicate the address of the house. AI will then calculate sunlight and other parameters necessary for the project. Then a user has to choose what kind of space this will be (bedroom, kitchen, living room, etc.), select the style (Provence, modern, Scandinavian, etc.) and color palette. In a few minutes, they will have their project ready.

AI and Interior Designers

If a designer is working on creative projects, AI can hardly help. But if a designer is creating various similar-looking projects by using one template that only needs to be adjusted and modified, then this is a job for AI. For example, AI can be successfully used for a multi-apartment buildings or new-build developments where the houses look similar and have similar floor plans. A designer can prepare one project, and AI will be able to adjust it to other apartments or houses.

What influence do you think AI will have on the industry? Let us know on Facebook or on Twitter @kbbconnect.

Jul 09 2017

Posted by
2 Comments

Micro-Design


New York City apartments are notoriously small, but living in small quarters is a growing phenomenon globally. Particularly in larger metropolitan areas, people are looking for less-expensive, more efficient ways of living. One solution is the micro-apartment – a studio space with the optimum minimalist layout.


Designer Ajay Chopra of New York City-based Echo Design + Architecture designed one of these spaces for a client living in Manhattan. The space is only 220 square feet, so the design team needed to make every inch count.

“Architecturally speaking, the square footage was not a lot of space to work with, especially when you’re trying to include a full apartment’s worth of functional features,” said Chopra. “The goal was to create a micro-apartment that appeared far more spacious than it actually is without sacrificing practicalities of everyday living.”


Hidden Kitchen
The team found that the best way to conceal clutter in the kitchen was by hiding it completely behind a fold-out wall, creating that illusion that the space is larger than it really is. Behind the wall, the custom kitchen cabinetry is arranged to maximize space. For example, the door and cupboard panels can be maneuvered to double up as a table.

“This clean, simplified way of living encourages you to only have what you need,” said Chopra. “Beyond that, each element in the kitchen is multifunctional, designed to keep things contained and less distracting while also providing flexible usage for each feature.”

Behind the fold-out walls are small appliances like a microwave, mini-fridge and mini-oven. Outside, the walls in the kitchen are covered in chalkboard paint to create an interactive element and add a personal touch to the space.

Natural Light
Instead of using a regular door that would open out and take up limited space, frosted sliding barn doors were used to divide the bathroom from the bedroom. The sliding features also make the studio space feel more continuous.


“We utilized a white color palette, from features like mosaic tiles to the floating sink and shelving, to make the 5-ft. by 5-ft. bathroom feel clean and open,” said the designer. “The sealed bamboo flooring creates a visual contrast from the white scheme to create further depth in the space and ensure that the white walls really pop.”

These white-paneled walls were also Chopra’s favorite part of the space.  This aspect of the design took the longest to construct because many different modular pieces were incorporated. Even the TV has the same paneling, complete with a 180-degree rotating feature that allows the viewer to see the screen from anywhere in the apartment.


“I love that the dynamic paneling minimizes excess and declutters the space, encouraging the resident to focus on experiences outside the home,” said Chopra. “Working on a project like this has made me rethink the importance of necessity versus excess, while developing an innovative solution to maximize the space that was available.”

Jul 03 2017

Posted by
Comments off

A Design for Everyone

Photo Courtesy of Bestbath

Trends often come and go, but one necessity in the design world is here to stay. Aging parents are moving back in with families with small children, veterans are returning from war, and the Baby Boomer population is growing older. To address this hot topic, KBB hosted the webinar “Making Bathroom Design Work for Multi-Generational Living,” sponsored by Bestbath.

The Q&A at the end of the discussion covered common questions designers have and ways they can encourage clients who would benefit from universal design elements to include them in their baths. These questions were addressed by Julie Schuster of New York City.-based Julie Schuster Design Studio and Barb Mueller, president of Designs Anew Houston LLC.


Is universal design a positive when it comes to resale value?
It is certainly a positive when it comes to multi-generational use. All of these things that you put into a bathroom don’t have to be obvious, but buyers can realize how comfortable, easy and safe elements like a comfort-height toilet and grab bars are without knowing they are universal design elements.

What height is considered to be a low-threshold shower height?
Three inches is the highest. If you can get away with it though, a completely cureless shower is the best.

How do you keep water from escaping a curbless shower?
Use something like the Schluter system, which actually brings the water-proofing membrane outside of the shower. It won’t affect the area outside of the shower. Plus, be sure to still use shower curtains and doors.

What should the minimum tub deck width be?
There isn’t a real standard, but we would say six to eight inches. The very thin decks that are sculpturally beautiful are not exactly feasible for a universally designed bath.

Should there be more contrasting colors in the bath so different areas are easier to see?
Yes, for example, there can be tile around the shower so the homeowner can tell where the shower starts. The client should be able to discern where one thing starts and another stops, like if the countertop is a different color than the cabinetry, someone with failing eyesight can more easily find drawers and sinks.

Is a universally designed bathroom more expensive?
If you’re gutting a bathroom, a universal bathroom is not dramatically more expensive at all. The cost of products like grab bars and different pulls make little small difference in the price.

Other takeaways include:

-A huge portion of the U.S. population is considered morbidly obese. When designing for a larger person, be sure to create more space and include thoughtful elements like a bench in the shower.

-There are several ways to warm up a bathroom for an elderly family member. Heated floors and towel warmers are some options.

-Have the bathroom door swing outward rather than in. That way, if someone inside falls, a family member is able to notice and reach them quickly. 

What are your thoughts on universal design? Let us know on our Facebook page and on Twitter @KBBconnect.

Jun 22 2017

Posted by
Comments off

Summer Design Trends

Just like in fashion, trends and colors in the design world can vary based on the season. This summer, we’re talking bright accents and white materials. Michael B. Klein, CEO of Lincolnwood, Ill.-based Airoom Architects and Remodelers, filled us in on the specifics of this season’s trends.


White and Bright: Don’t be afraid of white! A predominately white kitchen makes for a clean, light and airy room. According to a recent study conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, quartz has quickly become the most popular countertop material. Quartz countertops require less upkeep and are non-porous, so they resist staining better than granite and marble.


Contrast and Accent: Accent the bright, white kitchen with some colored cabinets or interesting wood veneered cabinets to create just enough interest to keep it from feeling too stark and typical.


A Mid-Century Modern Twist: Update your living space starting at the top – the ceilings! Our designers have seen an increase in requests for adding exposed trusses. Trusses create an open feel and make the home seem larger than it is. Using reclaimed wood or open beams add drama and a mid-century modern twist.

What trends are you seeing this season? Let us know on our Facebook page or on Twitter @KBBonline.