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The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com
   

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Friday
Feb082013

Ten Tips To Create A Cozy Kitchen

The fireplace, just 6' from my desk, has a beautiful fire going, I'm looking out the window at snow falling, AND it is the beginning of a big snowstorm set to unfold over the next 24 hours! I'm fully prepared, in "hunkering down" mode and ready to enjoy my home, most especially, its open plan kitchen/den.

...Which makes me think about "the cozy kitchen" and how we can make the winter kitchen comfortable, cozy, and warm - a pretty delightful combination!

Image from Skona Hem

1. Rugs - Do you have an unheated tile floor? Bring in rugs with a rubber pad to hold it in place or use rug tape. Rugs "do' cozy, really well!

Rugs from ScandinavianMade.com

2. Warmth - Bring in the candles...gather small stones, twigs and pine cones from the outdoors and make a lovely arrangement on a plate.

3. Lighting - When buying pendants or lighting fixtures, hang them low! The lower they are hung, the cozier the feeling.

4. Long Cooking - Cook dishes that require low, long, simmers, roasting, braising, etc. Crockpot dishes cooking all day enable the savory fragrance to flow throughout the home. 

5. Start a Fire - Do you have a fireplace in your open plan kitchen? Start the fire in the morning and keep it going - the act of fire tending is a cozy activity. The act of flipping a switch for a gas fireplace gives instant atmosphere. Either way, it's all good!

6. Pantry Party - Stock your pantry with specialty condiments, which add a touch of something special to every day foods - truffle salt, artisan cheese, good coffees, small batch balsamic vinegar and oils are some examples. You deserve the treats, and it adds to a pleasurable cooking and dining experience.

7. Cushion Comfort - Do your seat cushions need replacing? Replace them with super cushy cushions to encourage post-meal lingering and relaxing.

8. Bring in the living room artwork - definitely, a mantra I have repeated many times. Oil paintings, sculptures, in other words, the good stuff, has a place in the kitchen.

9. Kids Cooking - Create a small spot in the kitchen for kids' cooking equipment-just for them! A cozy kitchen accommodates whoever is inspired to cook.

10. Change - Change your decorative layer, change the use of tableware and serveware, remove things and equipment that are not useful and periodically update the kitchen for function and aesthetics for a refreshed kitchen overall, always in tune with your current needs!

The snow is really coming down now - everything is white...time to get cozy!!

 

Monday
Feb042013

westedge Design Fair, October 3-6, 2013

We are deep into design fair season, which takes place in the first half of each year (for many design fairs.) I'm going to go back and forth between the word "fair" and "show". In the kitchen industry, designers tend to use the word "show." We often say to colleagues we see at design shows "Have a good show." In Europe, they use the word "fair." But, I digress!

I attend a fair amount of design shows (no mixed use intended) during the year and love the hunt for new products....like, LOVE.

westedge (all lower case) is a NEW design fair that takes place in the fall, which I'm really excited about. High Point is in the fall, and I've been there a few times, but westedge will be different. I expect that it will be a showcase for innovative design, whether that innovation translates into modern, updated tradition, or other original design concepts. It will be special.

I know the directors of the westedge design fair, and together, Troy Hanson and Megan Reilly have managed some of the most renowned design fairs in the U.S. They are on top of every single detail to create the best experience for both the exhibitor and the attendee. I know this from both perspectives, having worked with Troy and Megan before. 

With this venue, this team, and this time of year (perfect to seek a fresh design perspective and linger a bit more in a summer vibe too) I know this will be a show of GOOD design. My guess is it will be curated. The website is very small and somewhat sparse right now, but it's also very early in the year. 

I'm compelled to write this post just because of my faith in this team and their vision. I'll be watching the site as it grows and can't wait to hear more as time goes on! 

Sunday
Feb032013

Kitchen Trends at IMM LivingKitchen 2013 - Blues!

As I walked throughout the different sections of the IMM Cologne Living-Kitchen fair in Germany, one of the common threads I spotted was the use of blue. The blues ranged from dark teal to more cobalt in color. Most commonly, they were deeper shades of blue with a touch of warmth. 

I found this color range to be dramatic and fresh. I would not call it a strong, mainstream trend at the show, but if you are considering blue in your kitchen design, here are some ideas for incorporating this different color, in different ways.

Below: It is not often that a dark color is designed as wall cabinetry with white cabinetry below, usually the opposite, but in this case, the tall, dark, toekick section adds a solid foundation to balance the upper section. 

Below: A perfect example of less is more, allowing the faucet to be featured as a sculptural piece.

Below: A quiet deep blue backdrop ties in with blue accessories, allowing the white cabinetry to "pop".

Below: A gutsy move to design in a blue floor, the gloss and richness of the color adds style. I'm not sure I'm fully on board with the choice of table on this floor.

Below: Graffiti as art, perhaps inspired by plants, surrounded by blues and greens and coordinating blue floor. I'm ok with the cabinet color, but I would have chosen a different backsplash to work with the graffiti.

Below: Simple, straightforward cabinetry that's interesting and very attractive to look at. The wood planking above adds needed warmth.

Below: An active mix of texture and clean lines and finishes, it's a good looking area which doubles as storage.

Below: I can see this color could highlight many other colorful accessories and useful items - I really like the use of this blue in this context.

I'm wondering - since we are moving ever more toward the kitchen as a living area, and as we coordinate with surrounding rooms, perhaps it's a natural time to consider using blues in the kitchen? Hmmmm...I think that's an intriguing concept!

 

Friday
Feb012013

Aamanns-Copenhagen - Scandinavian Dining + Design in NYC

Last Friday I was FINALLY able to go to Aamanns-Copenhagen - the authentic Danish restaurant (which also has takeout availability) in New York's Tribeca. Aamaans has been mostly finished for over a year except for a few mechanical issues in the building which took forever to resolve - and I have been waiting impatiently for its opening!

Having a lifelong familiarity with Danish cuisine both from my own childhood in the US, my family in and around Copenhagen and via countless trips to Denmark, I have a deep emotional connection to the wonderful flavors and textures of the food. And, they are wonderful! But, the food is only part of the experience of dining at Aamanns.

The design of the restaurant is beautiful. Here's what you might feel when you enter the restaurant:

comfort  - surrounded by the natural textures and materials

light spirited - via the expanse of white surfaces, furnishings and huge window which brings in lots of north facing natural lighting

engaged  - with the organic feel of the artwork

relaxed - with the casual nature of the bar

inspired - by the collection of beautiful, yet simple, every day objects on shelving and on tables AND by the wonderful, super fresh, food

All of the elements work together to effectively create a comfortable, happy, yet stimulating feeling. The natural materials and textures beautifully merge the Scandinavian style with the vibe of its location - Tribeca. 

The design of the room has a straight forward and functional feeling to it, but it's the beauty captured in the function, i.e. choice of materials, that the Scandinavians do, not only well, but to perfection which so often translates into a straight path toward comfort-both physically experienced and visual.

A few words from Sanne Ytting, founder and owner of Aamanns-Copenhagen: 

"The space is designed by the young talented Danish designer from Copenhagen, Anders Buck Faaborg.
Chairs: Fritz Hansen
Lamps: Mater,
Bodum, Holmegaard, MENU, By Nord, Sort of Coal, Anne Black, are also represented at Aamanns-Copenhagen.
The overall goal was for me to create a piece of Denmark in Manhattan, a feel of being somewhere in Denmark.. clean design, elegant but still warm feel....
The art on the walls are made by the famous Danish artist, Peter Max-Jakobsen - we do rotating exhibits every 4 months in a collaboration with Kim Jørgensen, Oxholm Galleries in Copenhagen."

 Here's how this look can translate into a kitchen design - it's so easy!

  • A foundation of white
  • Natural stained wood floors - #2 oak is just fine rather than a perfect wood with no knots
  • Modern chairs
  • A touch of stainless and/or glass to bring in a functional feeling
  • Organic elements such as pieces of nature, handmade ceramics, textiles and so on
  • Simple, beautiful forms
  • Good natural lighting

Scandinavian style is not only one interpretation, it can be nudged in many different directions. As so many of us are inspired by hotels, restaurants and other public places, I thought the style of this warm space might inspire, which can translate easily into one's home.

I've been inspired and comforted by both the food and the design - very much so! Aamanns-Copenhagen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner AND you can make reservations online as well.

Wednesday
Jan302013

Gloss + Color Blocking Kitchen Design Trends - LivingKitchen 2013

Continuing my (enthusiastic) march toward sharing the many trends that I spotted at IMM Cologne's LivingKitchen, today's two trends which I saw quite well represented are:

  • Gloss cabinetry
  • Color blocking in cabinetry

Cool, right? They definitely are two hip trends, often mixed up with other kitchen design trends that I listed in my first post on this show.

There is no doubt that nearly every European cabinet manufacturer puts their most creative foot forward in an effort to present eye-catching displays - and it certainly works, like a magnet to design lovers! Well designed, tasteful, cabinet designs are very enjoyable to see, and to learn from too - always, to learn from. Part of the learning process is to look for design attributes which "speak" to you, adding to your global (as in overall) view of design. At some point soon, I will share what I discovered that spoke to me personally. 

To my eye, these kitchens are uncluttered, which gives an opportunity for a design to be fully appreciated. While I would not say these trends were mainstream, they were quite prominant.

GLOSS CABINETRY

 

COLOR BLOCKING CABINETRY

Of course, committing to color could be risky, depending how it's designed into the kitchen. If designed into the kitchen in a way that could be temporary, which is possible, it could be an easy "out" to replace one section of cabinetry, should you get tired of it. In that scenario, put that chartreuse section of cabinetry in the garage, basement, or other area to add to household storage needs.

Some design decisions are the type where, once you are on the "other side" of the decision, which happens during installation, you don't always know exactly how you will feel. That's surely where a design professional can reduce the anxiety by providing expertise and drawings to work it through as completely as possible. I definitely think many of these designs are innovative, bold, and worthy of study. 

 

Wednesday
Jan302013

Kelly's Kitchen Series - Appliances by Bosch

Kelly's turn.....

We are so excited to begin our series on my kitchen renovation!  The entire experience has been a wonderful learning process, an opportunity to collaborate with my mom, and only a slight exercise in patience! Following is an overview of the beating heart of the kitchen - the appliances. 

Since we couldn't design the kitchen without knowing which appliances we would be using, we enthusiastically jumped into the appliance world. There's something about appliances that gets this girl - and I suspect most homeowners - excited to learn about all the new features, modern technology and sleek designs. My interest in fashion temporarily took a sharp right turn in favor of an appliance obsession! Bosch appliances were the perfect match for our aesthetic and functional needs.

My husband, Dave, and I, assessed our needs and wants, while keeping in mind how each appliance would fit in with the overall design and function of the finished space. Here's what we chose and why.  In a later post I'll follow up with performance notes.

We finished our kitchen just 2 months ago and in that time, my cooking processes have changed in a number of surprising ways I'll get into soon!

Refrigerator

We had a few requirements entering into this decision. 

  • We knew we wanted a side-by-side refrigerator to give us easier access to the freezer without having to bend down and dig through a single crowded drawer, and 
  • We had to have more space than our current 30" refrigerator provided.  
  • A counter depth easily semi-built in design 
  • Functional interior accessories and features

Enter the Bosch 36" Side by Side!  This refrigerator fit the bill perfectly, offering many great features such as easily customizable digital programming, filtered water and ice maker, and an energy efficient cooling system. This was a dramatic improvement over our previous, much smaller, refrigerator.

Bosch 36" Counter Depth Side by Side Refrigerator - 800 Series, Stainless Steel
 


Oven

We debated briefly between a slide-in range vs. an under counter oven with separate cooktop.  We chose the latter in order to achieve a more built-in, streamlined look to complement the minimalist design of the cabinetry. We loved how the continuous form of the countertop allowed the eye to flow uninterrupted.

But, Friday night pizza night? More about that shortly-including convection drama (my mom would call me - um, repeatedly - and ask "are you using the convection settings???")

Bosch 30" Single Wall Oven - 800 Series, Stainless Steel
 

Cooktop

Once we decided on a separate oven and cooktop type of installation, we knew an induction cooktop was the way to go.  Bosch's impressive induction offerings were right up our alley with their AutoChef sensor, easy to use touch controls, and super fast heating ability.  We chose the 30" size instead of 36" to maximize our counter space which, given our lifestyle, was a higher priority.

Bosch 30" Induction Cooktop with SteelTouch Control and AutoChef - 800 Series, Black & Stainless

Hood

We debated between designing in a low profile hood (used in typical under cabinet installations) vs. a very cool chimney-style hood.  Originally, I thought I wanted a more substantial-looking hood that would signal "serious cook with serious ventilation needs," but after consulting with my mom, we set out to re-imagine and subsequently design-in a fresh look for this otherwise functional workhorse that typically sits obediently around wall cabinets above and alongside the hood.

More on this later, which was one of the more exciting and innovative elements to design into the kitchen.

Bosch 30" Under Cabinet Ventilation - 800 Series, Stainless Steel

Dishwasher

Our existing dishwasher was loud, leaky, and as unattractive as you can get, and it didn't fully clean the dishes! Yuk! Dishwashers have come a very long way in performance and aesthetics since ours was installed in the "dawn of kitchens age", it seems.

We chose a custom-panel dishwasher to support a visual flow of our cabinetry, and not disrupt our goal of a "furniture" feel kitchen.  We also needed it to be quiet, as our sofa is situated a mere few feet away from the dishwasher and we often run it during our prime-time TV viewing hours. But, what we discovered in its functional abilities went so much further than good looks - more later on that.

Bosch 24" Panel Ready Dishwasher - 800 Plus Series
 

I can't wait to elaborate on the performance of these appliances.  In short, we couldn't be more pleased, and are blown away by the tremendous enhancement they've been to our lives.  Ultimately, I'm really glad we followed a few important guidelines when choosing appliances and didn't get swept up in either the aesthetics or current trends when making our decisions.  

Here's what we kept in mind to make the most educated decisions possible: 

  • Bigger is not always better - really evaluate if, for example, you will use a full 6 burners often enough to sacrifice the necessary counter space. 
  • Energy-efficient may not seem like an exciting feature, but over time, you will appreciate the cost savings in your electric bill
  • Think about your overall lifestyle when evaluating appliance needs - for example, our need for a quiet dishwasher, due to the positioning of our kitchen or a low profile hood
  • Look at the overall footprint of your space in terms of whether minimalist, sleek appliances designing in appliances as focal points works for you.

Our thanks to Bosch for donating appliances in support of this kitchen renovation. More, soon, on my kitchen renovation - details, products, design issues, and what kept us awake at night!

 

Tuesday
Jan292013

Wood Texture Kitchen Trend - IMM Cologne LivingKitchen 2013

Texture, designed into many of the kitchen displays I saw at LivingKitchen two weeks ago in Cologne, Germany, was front and center as a trend. It showed itself in various forms, but the movement was clear - Europeans clearly want warmth in the form of wood grain, whether real or faux wood.

This specific type of texture was shown in walls, backsplashes, cabinet doors and countertops. It was also seen in flooring, which I will be covering separately.

The kitchens were warmer in their overall feel than the last time I was at this show, yet, interestingly, and here is an important point - European cabinet manufacturers show texture in a very modern way as opposed to designing in heavily textured wood with more of a country feeling which we are familiar with here in the U.S.

The new European kitchen designs are using textured wood in a straightforward way - plain (mostly flat, sometimes raised small squares in a modern pattern) and simple. When you add flat, simple, doors, modern accessories and appliances, no amount of heavy texture will move the design toward the next level of warm and fuzzy that we are used to seeing in the U.S. - you need paneled doors and other design elements to go down that road.

Nonetheless, the added texture seen in the kitchen displays does contribute to a sense of comfort, warmth, and a casual nature to the design.

Below are images which illustrate the various ways texture was used at the LivingKitchen show. I've turned the color saturation down quite a bit to more clearly show these textured areas. This was a mainstream trend!

What do you think of this trend and how it's used? 

Monday
Jan282013

Modenus + BlogTour = Inspiration Defined

Modenus is a web based interior design resource with carefully, even lovingly, curated products found in all corners of the world presented in an organized, and beautiful, directory. The products on Modenus are at a level beyond "the usual." The site is a delightful journey of discovery. Veronika Miller, founder of Modenus, personally travels to design shows in the U.S. and abroad, continually in search of new, different, and fabulous products for designers and homeowners to find. But, that's only part of Veronika's mission. 

It was upon my return to my bubble (my office) after an eight day, very busy, design focused trip to Denmark and Germany 10 days ago, that I thought more about Veronika, which compelled me to write this post.

Veronika, a designer herself, going back some years, fully understands what it means to work day in and day out as a creative professional. Understanding what designers need, she developed and launched an extension of Modenus, called BlogTour. Veronika and her team select a group of influential design bloggers and take them to a city to participate in that city's "design week" shows and events. 

Image: Susan Serra | Thinking of design as I walk in London with the BlogTour group!

Veronika understands that designers and those who love design are creative people, open minded to new points of view, design concepts and product inspiration. But, beyond this insight, what really happens on BlogTour is a little bit of magic.

Veronika, on behalf of Modenus, knows that this love of design that design bloggers have translates to a heightened awareness of design in all of its forms, particularly when experienced in a new location, outside of the design blogger's bubble.  Design bloggers (some are working professionals) attend events of a diverse design nature during BlogTour. These varied events over the course of 5 days (with much free time to walk the design events in one's own way) open the design bloggers' collective awareness to:

  • new experiences where one has the luxury of being a "follower" and can just take it all in
  • new friendships with people of different states, regions, countries adding interesting social dimension
  • discover cutting edge, exciting, products, design concepts, solutions and materials as well as products of other period styles and themes
  • engage in endless conversations on design with lots of smart people in different design disciplines
  • view design in a historical context, whether walking down the street, visiting a museum, or a 100 year old pub
  • observe many different design disciplines, whether graphic design, industrial design, packaging, mechanical, fashion, crafts...and more
  • listen to speakers, noted local and sometimes internationally known designers and manufacturers who speak just to our group
  • more...more...more via many types of visual arts and printed materials, as tools which stir the senses

Veronika's mission, in a nutshell, is to nurture designers in an effort to achieve all of the above benefits just mentioned, in a location (often) far from home. BlogTours have taken place twice in London (one of which I attended), New York City (twice) and Germany (with a bonus day in Amsterdam.) 

One of many design events we attended along with other, both small + large venues around London

Just 2 weeks ago, I went to Cologne, Germany as part of the BLANCO Design Council group tour to IMM Cologne LivingKitchen. The Modenus Cologne LivingKitchen edition of BlogTour with all of its enthusiastic, top design bloggers, were there as well. Both groups gathered together at planned events. We talked design, saw old friends, forged new friendships and had a whole lot of fun. Heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to BLANCO as well, for their continuing demonstrated commitment to inspiring designers via their own version of a tour to the LivingKitchen fair for members of their Design Council (I am a member).

My point here is that for some reason upon my return, I realized in a much bigger way than I do typically, that designers NEED to get out of their design bubble (their offices) as often as possible - and going far away is a bonus.

While truly a guardian angel of designers, perhaps a designer whisperer as well, Veronika Miller a.k.a. Modenus needs partners to make BlogTour happen. Product sponsors underwrite the costs - a huge win-win for sponsors to have attention focused on their products by top bloggers who write about them from their own unique point of view. It's a gift that never stops giving for sponsors (as well as for organically discovered non-sponsored products found at all the events). Once all the blog posts are up, google search takes it from there. Then, there are all the other social media channels humming with design bloggers' authentic opinions on what they have seen and learned during their trip. It's a win-win-win for designers, sponsors and most of all, other trade professionals who could not attend design week and, of course, countless homeowners, those with commercial design needs, among others.

My own BlogTour experience was truly the best design focused experience I think I have ever had - and I do not say that lightly. Being completely immersed in different TYPES of design expanded my creative thought process immensely in ways I have described above. I went to London ready to be fully open minded. Veronika knows this will happen to those who love design. 

Veronika works through a variety of issues before and during any given BlogTour such as delays, changes in plans, spot decisions, ridiculous travel logistics and remains focused and moving forward. I wonder if she has ever been called a guardian angel of designers. That's what she is. I'm grateful to have attended BlogTour. It made me a little bit better of a designer. 

Refreshed interpretation of a traditional woven rug

My passport has been getting a lot of use these last few years as I travel to design events. Upon my return from this trip, as I now think back on it, it's all so worthwhile...and important to my growth as a designer. Interestingly, at a Twitter chat which took place earlier this evening (I've been working on this post for 3 days) these tweets authentically support the BlogTour experience I am speaking of, so I share them here.

 so true! RT : A4 biggest takeaway: theres a whole world out there - embrace it, learn from it#blogtourcgn

 A4 also, to be better designer + blogger get out and live life more, seek to see new things, meet new people

 What blogtours are all abt “: A4 biggest takeaway: there's a whole world out there - embrace it, learn from it #blogtourCGN 

Just recently, Modenus was tapped by the NKBA and other industry sources to bring fresh ideas and insight to the venerable trade show, KBIS 2013 as clear recognition of the understanding Veronika and her team have of designers and what their needs are. I can't wait to attend!

Discover the products in Modenus, read the blogs and other design news within the Modenus site, AND read the blogs of those who have gone on BlogTour - you will find passion, renewed design insight and a little bit of magic that has been cultivated by the BlogTour experience.

Monday
Jan282013

Kitchen Cabinet Trends - IMM Cologne LivingKitchen 2013

SO! Now the fun part starts as I begin a series of follow-up posts to my initial breakdown of kitchen design trends I spotted while at IMM Cologne LivingKitchen a couple of weeks back. The first category to focus on is cabinetry style. Without further ado, the gorgeous images!

Cabinetry Style 

Below: Without equivocation, neutrals remain the stronghold of today's cabinet finishes. White painted or laminate cabinetry, light woods (more than I've previously seen in the past several years) and greige dominate. Black cabinetry is well on the periphery, as are dark wood finishes.

What do you think of these styles? Due to this image-heavy post on just the first kitchen design trend noted, I'll leave it here for now and will be covering all of the trends noted as quickly as possible!

Thursday
Jan242013

Kelly's New Kitchen - It's Personal, Smart, and Flexible

Kelly's kitchen (see Kelly's picture on the right sidebar and wave!) was just finished a couple of months ago after a year of planning and 2 months of renovation! While our images quickly show the overall design of the kitchen, there are MANY features, both aesthetic and functional, that bear dissecting and sharing with our readers. 

Design is often the art of nuance, and this kitchen is all about nuance!! You'll see how soon - this is the start of our series! In each post, we will provide important tips, insight on how a designer thinks, the collaborative process and product information.

When you design a small kitchen, in this case, close to 200 sq ft, (small for the suburbs, huge for Manhattan-and we have (separate) personal living experience in no less than 6 Manhattan kitchens) every decision, no matter how small, is critical! With no additional dining space in the home and needing to accommodate a wide range of activities, it's a design that is either pass or fail once kitchen living begins post-renovation.

Kelly's new kitchen reflects the choices and compromises of real life needs and desires of a young family in their first home. It's a mix of DIY, designing around architectural elements we chose to keep in place and others that we chose to remove and replace. It's about designing with the end always in sight, including the surprisingly important decorative layer.

The kitchen (as many do) needed to serve these purposes:

  • A social kitchen - comfortable to be in for long periods of time
  • Able to accommodate as many people as reasonably possible
  • Appear as spacious as possible while balancing storage needs
  • Allow for a decorative layer including "real" artwork and treasured artifacts
  • Capable of change, which we will talk about in depth later, possibly the most exciting aspect of this kitchen renovation
  • To add an enhanced dimension of efficiency and function to the cooking process
  • Accommodate multi-functional activities (more about that later)
  • Reflect a highly personal design aesthetic overall

We are fortunate to have wonderful partners who donated their products and who had the foresight to see that this kitchen design would provide intelligent and interesting solutions to common design issues. We're proud of how it all came together, and as mother and daughter, we didn't even have a whole lot of drama during the process! Ok, we each took turns with some creative techniques of persuasion...true enough! I may or may not have coached Kelly on how to present controversial design ideas to her husband, a "trust but verify" kind of guy. ;)

So, thank you to our partners:

Next up, Kelly talks appliances - what was selected and why, where they should be best positioned, features, design integration, and more. Here's our nuclear family-the only one missing is baby Annabelle.

Thursday
Jan242013

Kitchen Design Trends At IMM Cologne - LivingKitchen 2013

As I get settled in to closely study the nearly 1800 images that I took in a 3 day period at the fabulous IMM Cologne's fabulous LivingKitchen trade fair, I see that this first post needs to simply be an overview of the trends that I spotted. The images that I captured of the stunning displays at the show demand multiple posts, an expanded visual documentation of these trends-coming next. 

I will also be spreading the image love throughout my other social channels, so please follow me here: The Kitchen Designer blog - right here! Sign up for the feed top right or via email, under my picture on the sidebar:   Twitter  +  Google+  +  Facebook +  Pinterest (Pinterest will have both blog images as well as lots of new images from my hard drive). I'm barely beginning to add those images, so check back.

As I look through the images, there are two main categories of design that come to the forefront for me. The first category is those companies whose sole purpose is to be on trend and second, those companies whose purpose it is to do their own thing without much, or less, concern for trends. BOTH types of design are extremely creative, but that word, "trend" can manifest itself in a tricky way if the entire kitchen design one puts in one's home in 2013 is solely based on the hot, new, trends. Like chocolate, trends are fun to indulge in, but an all chocolate diet (while enjoyable to dream of) will cause problems later! Don't trend-binge design! 

Since I also attended this show when it was last held two years ago, it's an interesting exercise to compare both sets of images that I took to get a better sense of how design has evolved in Europe. Here and there, I will be mentioning what's evolved since 2010. And, a thank you to the U.S. and German teams at BLANCO for inviting their U.S. Design Council members, of which I am one, to experience this show with them, providing opportunities for our group to bond as colleagues and friends.

Here are the 2013 Kitchen Trends I Spotted - Brief notes are below with more details/features/thoughts to come in subsequent posts! "M" means it's a mainstream trend throughout the show. "P" means some dots were connected throughout the show but it is not mainstream. "P+" means more than peripheral, less than Mainstream.

Cabinetry

Cabinetry Style:

  • White (lots), light woods, and greige colors - NEUTRALS as a foundation - M
  • Use of texture/natural elements integrated into the design, whether in countertops, backsplash, or cabinetry, often driftwood-y looks, real or faux - M
  • More warmth in the designs overall than I found two years ago-definitely, added comfort - M
  • Gloss or glass combined with texture/more glass in general - P+
  • Color blocking - the color accent of choice for this show was orange! P
  • Blue/dark gray, usually medium to dark GE's new slate finish is on that one! P+
  • Warm, modern design overall - M
  • Usually soft contrast in coordination of material colors in a kitchen display, but sometimes bolder contrasts - P+
  • Use of horizontal lines in overall design (not new, but an important European design element) - M

Cabinetry Features:

  • VERY long drawers, lots of countertop lifts for multi-use (countertops/wall cabinetry/more) and as always-useful, very cool drawer inserts - M
  • Seemingly even shorter toekicks - P+
  • More cabinet cubicles than open shelves-often in unexpected places, always with lighting - P
  • As in 2010, lots of fun and playful geometry in cabinet design - P
  • Integrated benches to rest, sit, or display decorative or useful items - P
  • Tight/seamless appliance integration - M
  • Integrated handles or long, modern, pulls - M
  • Same countertop as cabinet fronts - P
  • Channels between drawers and under countertop - P+
  • Concealed close-like tall and wide sections  - P+
  • Open concept philosophy, considering a kitchen's design connection to surrounding living areas-very clear to me - M
  • Intersecting design elements - P+
  • Open cubicles designed into tall cabinetry for interest - M

Accessories

  • Organic in nature via textural ceramics, hand carved wood pieces, real greens and other handmade items - M
  • A fair amount of skins seen on floors and benches - P+
  • Rather than pattern, accessories communicate the style and theme - M
  • Large in size (perhaps to call attention to the display since it is a trade show) - M
  • Lots of rail systems - attention to universal design, seemingly even shorter toekicks - P+

Countertops

  • All thicknesses - super thin, thick, or in between - M
  • Different materials next to one another in a flush installation - P+
  • Patterned countertops - plaid, modern art, new designs (new look, not a trend) - P
  • Glass - P
  • Wrapped countertops - waterfall on each exposed side (not new, but it's still current and is SO chic) - P+
  • Lifts to raise/lower or conceal a cooktop - much more prevalent than two years ago - P+
  • Cooktops integrated flush with the countertop - P+
  • Built in dining configurations - M
  • Intersecting design elements - P+
  • Stainless steel with integrated/seamless stainless sink - P
  • Virtually no granite or marble - just simple, understated, tightly patterned surfaces - M

Backsplashes

  • Simple, plain, continuous, whether wood, engineered stone, or glass - M
  • Sometimes a 1/2-3/4 height, leaving wall space below the upper wall cabinets - peripheral trend - P
  • Very little tile - M
  • Real wood or faux - M

Appliances

  • Hoods - Look like lamps (not new, but getting nicer) - P+
  • Hoods - double hoods over cooktop - P+
  • Hoods - Integrated/toned down/hidden hoods and blowers - P
  • New, warm, greige mid tone to dark glass appliances - P+
  • Stainless/color mix (reminds me of Whirlpool ICE - P
  • All appliance types very seamless/tightly integrated into cabinetry - M
  • More white appliances seen - P+
  • Ovens concealed - as seen last time too - P+
  • Ovens as an important design element - M
  • Flexible, open, vessel placement (anywhere) on induction cooktop - P+
  • INVISIBLE refrigeration - M
  • Sinks & Faucets - matte, modern, quietly elegant - M

General 

  • Doubles - double hoods, double light fixtures, double cabinets, other doubles - P+
  • Not much vintage/retro/industrial representation - a touch here and there but mostly warm/earthy/modern design - M
  • Occasional attempt at what looks like American Shaker - P

Cool Factor! - Images to come, for now, just descriptions (these are sometimes one-offs)

  • Countertop lifts 
  • Glass patterned countertops
  • Framed multiple ovens
  • Nearly invisible induction burners integrated into countertop
  • Choice of touch screen or knob controls
  • Plaid cabinets
  • Colored glass cabinetry applied as modern art (wait for the image)
  • Awesome, seen more than once, patchwork of wall cabinetry
  • Glass countertop, cabinetry and glass supports in one display
  • Loved the function of a glass sink surround
  • Glass drawer inserts
  • I'm sure I'll select more! 

Lighting

  • LED lights for shelving, around cabinetry, in open shelf cabinets - M
  • LEDS een as a feature in color in appliances (not a trend, just something new)
  • LARGE lighting fixtures, oven seen in doubles over an island - M
  • Simple, rounded, modern shapes in fixtures, often in matte finishes - M

Flooring

  • Lots of light, textured, natural wood, very light, very Scandinavian - M
  • OR, gray or white solid flooring of some sort, with no pattern, perhaps vinyl - M

Dining

  • Benches - M
  • Benches with cushions or skins - M
  • Modern design - M
  • Natural, matte, wood surfaces or matte stone tabletops - M
  • Fresh, modern, designs - M
  • Surprisingly, chairs are often matching or closely coordinated - M

This post is so long that I'm only going to show one image that I took from the show - shortly, LOTS AND LOTS OF IMAGES to illustrate my points above!!!

Leicht Display-Image by Susan Serra

 

Sunday
Jan202013

International Kitchen Design 2013 - Introduction to IMM Cologne

Attending the Living Kitchen fair in Cologne, Germany, as a special guest of BLANCO and member of BLANCO's Design Council, is the equivalent of closing your eyes as you prepare to go to sleep and soon after, entering dreamland - kitchen dreamland!

The kitchen dream is intense, one of those really vivid dreams; it takes you to wonderful new frontiers in kitchen design and technology. There is beauty in many forms, you're surrounded by great people, many of whom are real life friends! This kitchen dreamland, Living Kitchen, is an international fair, showcasing kitchen products from 20 countries and takes place in 11 halls, set up like a campus.

For the moment, I'll share a few fun images of large, graphic, design elements that are part of a booth's design as well as accessories that embellish an individual kitchen display to get us warmed up for the posts coming shortly!

At last count, and this is probably close to the final count, I see that I took 1,744 images, with possibly a small amount of more images to count.

I worked this show as I do all shows-with a hunger to find common threads in different product and lifestyle categories among hundreds of displays. And, I love the process of the hunt and discovery!! 

Just prior to arriving in Germany, I spent 3 days in Copenhagen to visit family, collect my Scandinavian magazines that I love so much (19 of them, this time) and run through a number of showrooms to see the latest in Scandinavian design, which I will compare to what I saw in Germany. I have about 650 gorgeous images from those few days - more, beautiful, discoveries!!

 

I've already categorized all of my images, looked through them to find those common (mainstream) threads, uncovered some peripheral trends, and evaluated a bunch of products and/or design elements that qualify for "the cool factor" which I will also show...and more. There is a wealth of information and images to come, so stay tuned!!

 

So much more eye candy to come!

Sunday
Jan202013

BLANCO Sinks & Faucets At Living Kitchen 2013

Just a few days ago, I returned from my trip to the fabulous Living Kitchen international kitchen show at IMM Cologne in Germany. This was my second trip to the Living Kitchen show at the invitation of BLANCO. This time around I paid my own way (except for a few fabulous dinners with the BLANCO team) because I wanted additional flexibility in my schedule while there...not that there wasn't an ample amount of free time-I just wanted complete freedom...so of course, I ended up attending nearly every event!

One section of BLANCO's dramatic booth!

I am a member of the BLANCO Design Council, which is truly an honor, as I have the opportunity to contribute to shaping product design and strategy from time to time. BLANCO, while a global brand, has a corporate culture that in my experience with the company over a number of years, feels like a small, local, company (a good one!) The CEO, Achim Schreiber, greets, chats with and listens to anyone and everyone in a casual, friendly, way. I didn't realize who he was when I was chatting with him last week. I thought he might be a local BLANCO distributor or a regular, friendly, guy who had something to do with BLANCO till I found out later. He's relaxed, easy going, friendly and a great listener-a lovely man.

All others connected to BLANCO-in Europe, Canada, US and elsewhere whom I've met over time, are also every bit as friendly and positive from my experience. I have to say, having an interest in "corporate culture", I often observe and try to figure out a company's vibe over time, by connecting the dots from different types of communications and other experiences. I'm convinced that the values of a corporate culture, as has been said before by others, travel from the top down on roads that are either positive, negative, fearful, confused, apathetic, passionate, good enough and so on. BLANCO's U.S. team, a truly great group of people, has a genuine dedication to, and belief in the brand that is remarkable, but let me also say, very well placed.

From my point of view, BLANCO, the corporation, takes the positive, socially intelligent, and passionate paths - from the top down - to create an absolutely superb range of products that has that desirable mix of precision engineering and beauty. BLANCO's products are at once on trend and reflective of a classic modern design which renders them timeless. BLANCO does a whole lot of things right. They know their customer...very well.

Ok, time to see some of the gorgeous products that I shot from the show floor. Some products are not available in the US, many are, but the point here is to help you experience that special mix of design and engineering. Take a look at swoon-worthy kitchen sinks and faucets!

Above: The new BLANCOLIAN kitchen faucet

Above: Note the understated, elegant color, Truffle, the continuity of the flowing lines of the drainboard and the stainless steel rack, the simplicity of the drain cover, and the overall form of this top mount sink.

Above: BLANCO's new faucet, BLANCOHOT, that supplies both near boiling water as well as normal hot and cold water from a single spout

Above: Simply, precision stainless steel sink and faucet

Above: A sink with a beautiful form featuring an edge with an interesting, modern dimension

Above: A beautiful island in BLANCO's booth - note the faucet that can be lowered to the sink surface and covered with the cutting board - flexible design

Above: Seamless, stunning, stainless steel

Above: Another shot of this fully integrated, elegant stainless steel BLANCO SteelArt sink and countertop

Above: A new faucet by BLANCO which is easy to operate-ideal for universal design purposes by twisting the soft black section back and forth and side to side to operate flow and temperature

Above: A new take on mixing materials - note the stainless steel trim, the indestructible Silgranite material in the sink and coordinating finishes in the faucet - elegant

Above: BLANCO's new color, Cinder, with matching color on the faucet as well as a useful sink, sectioned off by a lower separation for design flexibility, once again

Above: BLANCO SteelArt, useful and beautiful - I could see this paired with a wood countertop for those who are fearful of mixing sinks with wood tops

Above: Simply, a close up of that precision engineering - I happen to really love BLANCO's use of stainless and matte colors on their faucets

I hope you have enjoyed these shots and that they communicate BLANCO's dedication to quality and design!

 

Sunday
Dec162012

Kohler Karbon Faucet

I had the opportunity to go to Kohler, Wisconsin in October, courtesy of Kohler, to attend the Kohler Food and Wine Festival, quite simply, a food and wine fantasy weekend escape! While there, I had so many wonderful experiences which I will share here and there, but as I casually went through my images today, I was struck by those I took of the Karbon faucet at the Kohler Design Center, here, in the Vibrant Moderne Brushed Gold finish. How gorgeous is this faucet? It's like owning a sculptural, or 3D, piece of art in the kitchen. It also comes in a wall mounted version.

 


Monday
Nov262012

My Appearance on Martha Stewart Radio - Holiday Kitchen Decorating!

On Tuesday, (today) November 26, just after 8 am, I'll be a guest on Martha Stewart Radio talking about decorating in kitchens and dining areas. There are SO MANY great ways to express your personal style in the kitchen during the holidays that both Kelly and I came up with for whatever your version of holiday is. 

SEE OUR PINTEREST BOARD ON HOLIDAY KITCHENS HERE

Below are a boatload of tips on holiday kitchens along with some images of a Scandinavian style holiday from Bolig Magasinet and Skona Hem.

I suggested that I chat with the hosts of Morning Living, Brian Kelsey and Betsey Karetnick about tips for decorating the kitchen as well as tips for helping the kitchen function better. I definitely got carried away and brought with me way too many tips than time allows for - but that's what this blog is for, to fill in the blanks!

KITCHEN DECORATING TIPS

Pick a theme! Modern, traditional, natural chic, farmhouse, urban - coordinate with the theme of your home's existing design OR add a small mix of another style if you want a fresh look.

Remove the artwork in the kitchen on one wall - hang a collection of wreaths fairly close together to appear as one arrangement, of various types and sizes to add lots of texture and interest!

Bring winter nature inside - birch branches, evergreen cuttings, pine cones in bowls, any kind of branches will do. I often cut evergreen cuttings from the back of a shrub and I just recently cut down some dead cattails for a stunning indoor display. I will add white twinkling lights inside the tall glass vase!

Spray paint pine cones and simple twigs a metallic gold or silver for a little holiday bling.

Arrange oranges studded with cloves for fragrant pommander in decorative platters or bowls.

Add small kitchen utensils to garland draped around cabinetry - a single theme of different shaped/sizes of wooden spoons around a large wreath, or a mix of utensils in red and silver or blue and silver - or all white looks festive. 

Add a string of lights and/or garland around the bottom of the kitchen island

Add big, gold, red, silver, white or blue bows to the back of kitchen chairs and stools

Collection of 10-20 glittering ornaments on ribbons, hung from one point in the ceiling so they fan out - put them in front of a window, over the island OR add them separately, hung from the ceiling, for a look of charming chaos.

Above the kitchen wall cabinets, add brightly wrapped boxes for a clean, bold, look.

Have some extra space in the breakfast room? Put a small tree, decorated in white lights in a worn gray metal bucket.

Gather silver serveware and arrange the pieces in a collection. Add metallic ornaments, tinsel and other festive ornaments plus a touch of evergreen or red.

Candles, candles, candles - especially in small kitchen pitchers, clear coffee cups, glasses.

Tea lights in mason jars with red ribbon tied around the mouth of the jar.

Branches wrapped in yarn, placed in a vase with felt ornaments hung on it.

Pitchers with an assortment of outdoor greens, cranberries, metallic touches and/or spray painted branches add life to the kitchen - make the arrangements as tall as the receptacles allow!

Put ornaments in and around a decorative bundt pan and wrap the bottom with pieces of small green garland. 

 

TIPS FOR A USEFUL HOLIDAY KITCHEN

Keep serveware at the ready.

Bring out holiday dishes and after the holidays, use them all season, not just for gatherings.

Bake a few batches of cookies and muffins to freeze for impromptu holiday gatherings or gifts.

Purchase or make a cutting board to cover the cooktop to add additional counter space, especially for entertaining, when the cooking is done. Make it a bit wider than the cooktop on sides and front to back, and a bit taller than the cooktop for a seamless fit.

Cook meals that can be served in the same pot they were cooked in via stove to table cookware such as Le Creuset or Staub.

Clean the countertops and hood filter in anticipation of heavy use.

Clean the countertops and reasses what really needs to be there with the goal of finding more counter space for intense cooking sessions!

Arrange spices in alphabetical order!

Arrange pantry items in categories - baking, cooking, snacks, cereals, etc.

Gather together measuring cups, spoons, baking equipment and other like cooking equipment and store near point of use in the kitchen for easy access.

The holidays are a hectic time, but with a little organization and a festive environment, the cooking, baking, prep and cleanup process may lower your stress level and allow for FUN to become one of the most important ingredients in the kitchen! Bring on the cookies!