Autumn 2017; Recent Kitchen Projects

News from some recent projects; digital renderings in the non-photo realistic style – NPR – our latest visualization obsession.  First up – a display kitchen for a proposed showroom project:

Pure Modern Kitchen by Mick Ricereto

Working with lighting in Sketchup is tricky; most people export their model to a rendering package and work on materials and shadows.  We’ve been playing with staying in Sketchup, using Styles and doing this quickly and more loose.  As frequent readers know, I like our renderings to show some “hand” and be more conceptual.

Next is a kitchen project for an exciting modern lake-front house:

White Modern Kitchen by Mick Ricereto

This design was originally shown with a darker accent color but the client wanted to see it in all white as well.  We left the white glass backsplash for now but perhaps this could use a textured gloss tile instead for a little more pop.  The cubes are white oak boxes which will be back lighted with small LED strips.

Finally, here is another studio project, this one for SieMatic, using one of their signature styling photos (London’s “Gherkin” building):

Studio design concept by designer Mick Ricereto.

We were tempted to show the exterior street scene through the large glass windows but again, time can get out of hand when working on digital renderings.  Also, no need to be distracting here; the client knows what is outside of their windows.  This view shows an important table area that design staff uses with visiting clients – through the windows passerby can see some creative work in action, creating some buzz.  Whenever possible we try and make the entire space a working design as opposed to a static showplace devoid of life.  This is the third renovation for this particular client and we are always happy to work with our old friends in the business.

Future projects include some new lighting collections about to hit market, and also more kitchen projects – always kitchens!

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Knocked Off Again

Knockoff.  Webster’s definition reads as “a cheap of inferior copy of something”.  A bit similar to “knock down” and “knockout” but to be sure I refer to plagiarized, and again by a big box store with the victim being an Amerock hardware design.

Rolling into the Box one evening looking for blue painter’s tape and some CFLs, I passed this forlorn little vanity ensemble:

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The unit’s cup pull is as close to my Amerock Manor pull as one can get, only not as wide.

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Here is Amerock’s official view of the Manor pull – model number BP26130 – for some reason shown from the bottom:

amerock-bp26130g10-lg

I designed this piece of hardware way back in 2003-2004, while living in Washington DC.  I used to wander the majestic avenues looking for architectural inspiration.  In this case, I was thinking of some details I liked in Daniel Burnham’s Union Station.  I’ve blogged about Union Station before I think … ah yes, here is a picture of the entrance vestibule:

Detail of Union Station in Washington DC

When I started with Amerock in late 2003, they were thick in the transition from a domestic manufacturing company to a run-of-the-mill importing brand.  Needing new designs to be made in China and appeal to the mass market, I whipped up some collections that would have timeless appeal and work with a myriad of cabinet and interior styles.  Manor was actually the first design I did for them.  In fact, the Manor knob was my very first design, penned in late 2003:

amerock-manor-square-knob

As I have stated before, I don’t mind so much to be knocked off as I can just design another knob or handle very quickly.  In this case I’m actually a bit proud to think a 13 year design still holds up enough to be copied so blatantly.  My goal of “timeless appeal” seems to have been met.

While I will continue using the world’s architectural monuments for inspiration – as any good artist should – some will simply copy other’s designs.  I don’t suppose there are great old buildings and fascinating streets to wander out in the Big Box corporate park, but that should not be an excuse for failing to come up with an original design.

Pirch Soho NY

On Saturday, May 21 Pirch Soho opened at the corner of Lafayette and Broome in New York City.  On Thursday, I attended the VIP opening party with the rest of the SieMatic and Fitch design teams.  As long-time readers know, I have been designing the kitchen areas for the Pirch stores, and Soho is unquestionably our best.  Here are some impressions of the finished store and the grand opening party.

Blog Subway

The buzz starts on your subway ride to Spring Street.  Pirch has advertisements throughout the subway using celebrities in the decorating and gourmet arenas.

Blog Ext Sign

The building itself is a fine old stone/brick manufacturing/office building, lovingly restored.  The store itself covers 32000 square feet and actually comprises space from at least two buildings, as the grade change and brick arches inside reveal.  The exterior brickwork and paint is exceptional.

Blog Exterior

Approaching the store after 6pm, guests experienced a velvet rope line up the block and tuxedo-clad “security”.  Yes, quite the buzz.

Entry View of Pirch Soho New York

Above is the view upon entry; SieMatic is the very first thing you see, even before the standard Pirch complimentary cafe.  SieMatic was very fortunate to get involved with the store layout early in the design process.  We were able to implement SieMatic’s vision of Timeless Elegance and Journey of Discovery by ensuring lots of space around each kitchen environment and letting the architecture inspire our layouts and material choices.

SieMatic S2 Agate Grey Soho New York

This first display features Gaggenau appliances, with a freezer and refrigerator clad with Black Oak veneer and the balance of the cabinets in Agate Grey matte lacquer.  The open layout and floating shelves are minimal and contribute to the spacious feel.

SieMatic SC40 Umbra Kitchen at Pirch Soho

As one walks throughout the space new display environments reveal themselves around wall blocks and glass screen walls.  As they were setting up for the party, some of the larger areas were dominated by catering and DJ equipment so this shows only a portion of what is on offer.

SieMatic Viking Display at Pirch Soho New York

Appliances on display include Sub Zero, Wolf, Viking, Miele, Gaggenau, Monogram … essentially the best available in the market today.

SieMatic 3003RLM Nutmeg display at Pirch Soho

SieMatic’s new 3003 door features a very thin 6.5mm edge detail in matte Nutmeg lacquer.  We mixed a very subtle aged bronze accent color into this display, as seen on the handles.  Up front we show another 3003 in Graphite lacquer, this one featuring Miele appliances and stainless steel accents.

SieMatic and Miele Display at Pirch Soho New York

Realistic seating areas are included where we could fit them, as this completes the domestic feel but also these areas are where the Pirch and SieMatic customer consultations start as guests receive exceptional and personalized service when shopping at Pirch.

SieMatic 3003RLM display in Pirch Soho New York

The Miele display is tucked into the window on the Broome side of the store, shown behind the stair area below.  This little display may not be much in size but when customers explore each area of the store little surprises like this small kitchen area come to life.

Stairs at Pirch Soho New York

Pirch offers kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor living furniture and fixtures.  A view to a bath environment on the second floor shows how the store designers (Fitch of Columbus OH) aimed to show complete environments in the design.  Note – all faucets and bath fillers and shower heads are fully functional for a very realistic experience.

Glog Bathroom

The spaces on the second floor are more intimate due to a lower ceiling and window height.  We responded to this feature by making the kitchen areas smaller and more realistic by building them in with walls and the ceilings properly.  This “Innovation Loft” kitchen takes up the corner of the second floor and is part of an apartment suite.  There are many home-organization and entertainment media screens embedded into the design like in the table and on top of the counter top.

SieMatic Loft Area at Pirch Soho New York

The loft is fairly small so a good view of this area was a bit hard to capture properly.  I didn’t venture upstairs during the party to see how this area was received but I’ll pop-up to NY occasionally to see how the store is doing “in action” and report back.

SieMatic Loft Area at Pirch Soho New York

We used as many new SieMatic features as we could, including these open shelves from the “URBAN” collection of furniture, quite appropriate to New York’s apartment-dwelling clientele.

SieMatic SC10 Graphite Cabinetry at Pirch Soho New York

Marcia Speer of SieMatic poses with me for our obligatory party shot.  Marcia and I work very close on these stores, selecting materials and shaping the overall product offering and interfacing with the Pirch team to get the mix of cabinets, counter tops and appliances just right.  In addition we have a team of bright designers, managers and installation experts at SieMatic who help put the whole thing together – too many to note here but they know who they are and if reading this, please recognize that I cannot take any credit for this work without your invaluable help!

Designer Mick Ricereto and Marcia Speer of SieMatic at the Pirch Soho New York Grand Opening

Next up for Pirch and SieMatic is the exciting addition of Austin TX.  We have almost completed this design and it should be open by early 2017.

I know this latest store is the best for SieMatic and Pirch and I’m sure it will be a smashing success.  When you are in NY please stop by and see the store and let us know how we are doing.

Knock Offs

I was recently walking a “big box store” – nameless for now – and noticed some private label cabinet hardware that carried an uncanny similarity to a design I did for Amerock a few years ago.  This doesn’t bother me as this sort of thing happens all time.  You know what they say about imitation and flattery.

Here are the designs at the ‘Box:

Here are my designs for Amerock, designed around 2007:

Amerock HandleAmerock Knob

My designs have a subtle curve the ‘Box models lack, but looking at the knob in particular I think we can say my designs have undoubtedly provided the inspiration for these retail pieces.

Discussing plagiarism in design is a important topic and a little too deep for me to tackle today.  In this case Amerock is not sold in this particular store; the product manager probably wanted to have something similar to my design, but could not find it in their manufacturer’s catalog.  In today’s product development environment, it’s simply a matter of sending a drawing (or “inspirational sample”) to your Far East factory and ordering the minimum quantity to have something very close in your store.

Another situation I have been meaning to post about is what happens to a design when it gets passed over for launch, but then mysteriously shows up in somebody else’s product lineup.  This happened with a mid-century-inspired bow handle I did back in the mid 2000’s.  Here is my design:

Bow Handle 2007

You are looking at a die cast and chrome plated “actual handle”, and two development prototypes.  At some point I changed the design from the awful 3-banded idea to this simple and frankly, “familiar” bow handle design that would have been a typical design in the 1930-50’s.  Our product team rejected the design in the end however, and we went ahead with some other products.  The die cast mold went on a shelf in China.

Then, a matter of a few months later I saw my design in the display of a competing hardware company, here in the US.  The factory had simply flipped it over to somebody else!  I studied it very closely but I was convinced it was mine and not some crazy coincidence.  Here is Haefele’s handle:

Haefele Handle

It may not be the actual mold, but the engineers could have changed it a touch and then passed the product over to this other buyer.  I just can’t see how my design would otherwise be so similar.  I have nothing against Hafele here at all – it’s been years since I have done this design and I just find it amusing.  I wonder how many of my other “rejected” designs may be out there under another company?

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In other news, I have designed the kitchen area for another store for Pirch, the exciting appliance and fixture retailer – a great location in downtown New York.  The opening is later this month; look for a feature on the store in a few weeks time.

Recent Projects and Renderings

As the holiday season gets into full swing here in the States, we are wrapping up some private projects, studio designs and renderings for other designers.  Everybody likes hand renderings so I will share some of the more interesting rooms we have been working on.

First up is a difficult kitchen space for our good friends in California.  This is a stunning house, but with an odd shape to the kitchen which took some clever design to get organized.  The designers moved some doors and windows around to get a better spatial flow to the room.  We didn’t do much here, other than render the design.  Cabinets are SieMatic Classic, in Sterling Grey gloss lacquer.

California Kitchen Rendering by Mick Ricereto

Next up is a more eclectic design in a very traditional house in South Carolina.  The client wanted something darker and more modern in this – again – difficult-shaped kitchen space.  We helped add some character to the room by designing a banquette and treating the existing brick wall with a Silestone wainscoting to tie the kitchen finishes and the architecture together.  I could completely see myself sipping coffee by the window on a nice spring morning.

Umber Gloss Lacquer Eclectic KitchenThis next project was a rendering for a real estate developer in Florida.  This is a small kitchen, but using the same care we use on our big design projects.  Where prospective home buyers would normally expect a basic digital rendering of the space, we like to think this accessorized and inviting view gives a better impression of the builder’s product.

Small Kitchen Rendering by Mick Ricereto

This next project are renderings for a villa in Hawaii.  The designers were looking to update the traditional Japanese-style interior to a more minimalist and clean look, while retaining the incredible inside-outside living that is unique to this climate.  First is the great room, with a view to the dining table and sitting area.  The kitchen is behind the camera in this view.

Hawaii Resort Interior RenderingThe floor here is slate, which continues inside and out seamlessly.  The sliding doors are shown here pocketed; there is almost no divider between the outdoors and in.  The next view is the bathroom, which has an open arrangement to allow a great view from the bathtub.

Hawaii Resort Bathroom RenderingThe bedroom has a similar set of sliding doors to the outside.  The piece on the wall is a Donald Judd-style wall sculpture.

Hawaii Resort Bedroom Rendering by Mick RiceretoBack to kitchens, here is our third prize winning entry to the Blanco Dream Kitchen contest from this past October.  The rules required the fitting of a Blanco sink and faucet (which we use extensively in most of our projects), but otherwise the design and style of one’s entry was completely open for creativity.  Our design is a very modern and modest kitchen using grey woods, stainless steel and for the room’s centerpiece, a black Corian custom angled island.  Our Ilex Space Array chandelier in black is above the sink/eating area, and this finish ties in to the blackened oak tall cabinets/room divider to the right.

Modern Kitchen Concept by Mick RiceretoI like how our Blanco project resembles the Hawaii resort above.  The lifestyle is not dissimilar, although our space is in a North American urban area; the desire to bring the outdoors in is an almost universal request when designing living spaces today.

The Blanco contest results can be seen in this issue of Blanco’s online magazine Here

The next project is a rendering for our colleagues in California, a kitchen for an industry executive.  We worked carefully on the proportions of these upper cabinets as the ceiling is a bit low and we didn’t want to misrepresent the design by making it appear taller than it actually is.  Hand rendering of course should be considered an “artist’s impression”, but that doesn’t mean we should not strive for accuracy in the design.

SieMatic Beaux Arts Class Kitchen Rendering by Mick RiceretoThis last project was done earlier in the autumn; a nice big traditional kitchen for our friends again in South Carolina.  This is an expertly-tailored space with some very nice door details.  Again, another kitchen with a lot of openings and a tricky space to design but I think the room comes together with an exquisite use of vertical proportions and a consistent horizontal datum.

SieMatic Classic Beaux Arts Kitchen Rendering by Mick Ricereto

In addition to these residential renderings we have some private kitchens and as usual, kitchen studio projects and other retail spaces on our boards.  2015 has been a busy year here in our new Philadelphia studio.  We look forward to some relaxation time this holiday season and continued growth for 2016.  Thanks for visiting the blog and please also see our Facebook page Here for photos, travel impressions and general goings-on at Mick Ricereto Interior + Product Design.

 

 

Recent Renderings – Summer 2014

It’s been a busy summer here in the studio as we have residential kitchen projects, two small kitchen studios and some ongoing industrial design projects to finalize.  Here are some images from our residential kitchens:

Kitchen Project by Mick RiceretoThis first project is for a large home with the kitchen space centered within a sprawling floor plan.  There are numerous entrances and reveals to other spaces from all sides, which presents a challenge to circulation and maintaining a harmonious feel.  The space is quite large however, big enough for two very large islands.  Behind all those tall cabinet doors is an array of refrigeration.

The next project is has similar finishes and back-to-back, they almost feel like they could be the same project from a different angle.  Brown horizontal wood grain has been a popular finish now for about 10 years, with no sign of abatement.  The strong tones work well with the earthy palette many homeowners request.

Kitchen Rendering by Mick RiceretoBoth of these projects have fairly “traditional” building envelopes, meaning, they have all the trappings of today’s North American building trends like covered porches, traditional-style siding, raised panel doors, big moldings and the like.  It is good to see functional, modern kitchens being requested in these types of environments, even if there does seem to be a slight clash to the architecture.

This next project is a small kitchen studio.  The space is a converted car garage, with an extra high ceiling allowing for a loft space at the rear.  We have planned a large “living environment” similar to the types of spaces we have been designing for large showrooms such as SieMatic New York.  In this case the main space is shared between two kitchens, to highlight different solutions to the same living example.

Small Kitchen Studio by Mick RiceretoThe rear kitchen is functional, and positioned under the loft like it would typically occur in a converted apartment.  We kept the cabinet sizes similar and very similar, for an elemental look to counteract the busy, large industrial-type space around it.

Apartment Kitchen by Mick RiceretoThe front kitchen display is completely integrated into the environment and designed to be less “kitcheny” in appearance.  Across from the island is to be a built-in seating element with a long table suitable for parties and for client consultation.  The overall feel is to inspire the visitor and convey a feel of real architecture.  I think we will achieve all this with our design solutions.

Loft Kitchen by Mick RiceretoOn the Industrial Design side, we have been working on a few lighting collections over the past 12-18 months.  We have some models just finishing up and we are now in the process of picking colors.  Recently debuted at Wanted DesignNY in May, the Lacage pendant fixture for Ilex Lighting is entering production very soon.  We have launch photos in chrome and brushed nickel, but there will be some interesting color options for more pop.

Lacage by Ilex LightingHere is a sneak preview of another fixture we are working on, which is an array of thin aluminum blades painted in various powdercoat options.  The array is held together by a center cage which allows many options of blades to be used.  In future models we will be looking at various different materials and finishes.  For now, just a simple paint finish:

Lighting Concept by Mick RiceretoWell, summer is almost over and I feel like it hasn’t started because of all the work we have been getting though the studio.  The reality is though, time flies when busy and having fun alike.  I do look forward to getting our lighting finished and getting the latest news from Europe for next year’s kitchen trends like we do every September.

Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson’s new film is called The Grand Budapest Hotel and like all his others, it is a quirky, visual treat that will leave you smiling.

Grand Budapest Hotel Exterior Door

The story orbits a fictional East European/Alpine resort hotel in 1932, told in flashback by a visiting English writer in Iron Curtain-era 1968, long gone are the edifice’s best days.  There are many well-known accomplished actors playing exquisite roles, such as Harvey Keitel playing a lifelong convict, Ed Norton as chief Gestapo and Ralph Fiennes as the lead in role Gustave, the hotel’s charming concierge.

Elevator from Grand Budapest Hotel

The plot is something of a caper, as Gustave inherits a valuable painting from a countess he has befriended over the years (played by Tilda Swinton above), with the surviving family more than a little bitter over their mother’s relationship with the concierge.  Hijinks ensue as Gustave enlists his trusty lobby boy Zero to help snatch the painting and hide it from the family’s assassin played by Willem Dafoe.

The story is fantastic, and along with the music and intoxicating production design, this film delivers a great escape on a rainy Spring day.

Grand Budapest Hotel Scene

The production designer is Adam Stockhausen, who puts together a great pastiche of old-World Europe and Cold War-era cues to create something very unique.  There is a big clash between older building shell and some newer detail shots that clearly came from another real-life interior.  Contrast the shot of the 1932 main desk above with the 1968 conceierge’s desk below.

Concierge Desk from Grand Budapest Hotel

The latter shot reminds me of 1960’s hotels in Italian and German spa towns.  It seems incongruous to have both scenes coming from the same building, but the director naturally uses the modern renovations in the 1968 flashback scenes, heightening the “loss of grandeur” feeling of the hotel in it’s fading years.  The 1932 shots are full of people, traditional dress and accompanied by sweeping music.  The 1968 scenes are empty, somber and reflective.

The main interior scenes were shot at the Görlitzer Warenhaus, an Art Deco (Jugendstil) masterpiece department store in Berlin that somehow survived the war intact.

Görlitzer Warenhaus in Berlin

The visual feast is not just in color and escapist scenery, but by using interesting camera angles and framing conversations in creative, non-natural ways as to embrace the fairy tale feeling of adventure.  Anderson uses this type of square-on shot in his film over and over, to create a unique look to the entire piece.  Here Zero and his chocolatier paramour embrace amidst boxes of chocolates.

Mendl's Chocolates and his two lovers

As I mentioned to a friend of mine recently, there seems to be a lot of interest in pre-WWII European life and stories in English-language film and TV.  I feel a romanticism for this “between” era, with the still visible aristocratic history facing the loss-of-innocence early 20th-century, just before the old Europe gets swept away.  Anderson really puts this feeling in perspective with his film, especially by using the Communist-era styling as a contrast to the glory days before the war.  Iron Curtain architecture, product design and culture is something of a trend right now, as more and more people are starting to embrace it’s quirky, “efficient” style.  More than anything, this film made me want to jump on my bicycle and tour Eastern Europe, before all these old buildings get torn down!

A scene from the film showing an elaborate bath from the “original” hotel building.

Bath Scene from Grand Budapest Hotel

And finally, a scene showing the filmmaker during an interview, in the “modern” lobby from 1968.  Truthfully, I love both of these styles so much.  How I love these rich orange and brown 1960s interiors.

1968 Grand Budapest Hotel Lobby

All of the above photos are from Fox Searchlight as part of their online promotion.  Go see the film and escape to a charming world of 20th-Century fantasy.

For more design tidbits and news on my latest projects, please have a look at my Facebook page at MickRDesign