IMM – Germany – Part One

I ventured over to Europe for the IMM this year – International Mobile Messe – in Cologne Germany.  As part of a group of SieMatic dealers from North America, we also went to Amsterdam to see the company’s newest flagship showroom.  I’ll share some pictures of that wonderful installation in a future post; for now, here are some images from IMM.

1970's Feel at IMM Cologne 2015

Starting with some living spaces, among the trends I saw were 1970’s influences and softer, feminine colorways.  Although many companies are still working in a minimalist vein, there were lots of eclectic ensembles mixing style, colors, textures, gathered and otherwise complex upholstery treatments and interesting accessories.

Porada Dining Chair

This dining set had a very 1970’s vibe to it, with curved cushions, glass top table and organically-curved woodwork.

The use of bronze-colored metal was very prevalent.  This collection of cocktail tables used faceted surfaces and rich materials in a lovely manner:

IMM 2015

Also in use were gold and brass tones, a trend we have been talking about for the better part of a decade.  Every year more and more brass is seen and it still feels very fresh and underused.

Living room at IMM 2015

Greys are presently the “it” tone in European design.  Although there were many masculine presentations throughout the halls, as mentioned above a feminine touch is frequently felt through accessories, color accents and great fabrics.  Notice the tufting below.

Grey Furniture at IMM 2015

I loved these accessories at Interluebke:

Console at IMM 2015

The ceiling treatment at Cor, a German company, were very inventive.  Each living ensemble had an individual deep ceiling with creative arrays of lighting.

Cor Ceiling at IMM 2015

Another trend was the use of black and white pattern, such as dots, hounds tooth and the like.  Readers who have been at the design game for a few decades may recognize this palette from the late ’70s and into the 1980s.  This pair of chairs below reminds me of the old TGV train interiors, which had black and white striped chairs with a red carpet and window curtains.

1970's Influences at IMM 2015

A black and white laminate treatment:

Black and White Patterns at IMM 2015

This closet environment at Poliform shows a great ziggurat carpet in black and white, as well as other fabulous details in casework and accessory placement.

Ziggurat Carpet

Great wallpaper mixed in with a lovely plush fabric at B&B Italia.

B&B at IMM 2015

The Michel series at B&B – a system I like to specify – against some nice black and white ticking:

Michel from B&B Italia

And for something a bit different, this bohemian tropical luxury look had many admirers.  I forgot to write down the company in my notebook, but this was not a completely isolated look, as many other makers indulged in such comfy-casual presentations.

Deep Island-Style Luxury at IMM 2015

This is a good place to break, so I can pick up on more individual and eclectic furnishings and accessories in the next installment.  And of course, also coming up with be kitchens as well, including all of SieMatic’s new collections.

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Photos from the B&O Railroad Museum

This past Saturday I meandered over to Baltimore’s B&O Railroad Museum, something I had wanted to do for years.  Although many historic buildings have been removed after the B&O merged and absorbed it’s way into CSX transportation, there is still the amazing 22-sided “roundhouse” and some old car shop buildings on site.  The big draw, however, are the ancient locomotives, passenger cars and other supporting rolling stock.

The B&O railroad was one of the first in the world, with the short trip from Baltimore to Ellicott Mills (20 kilometers) being the first self-powered line in the USA.  There are many priceless rail vehicles dating from the earliest days, as well as some incredible monster locomotives from the 20th century.  I brought my camera and wandered through the old buildings getting close up to all the iron and dust.

B&O Railcar Interior

What I didn’t know is that we would be able to climb aboard many of the train cars and engines and imagine what it would have been like back in the railroad’s glory days.  Most of my pictures were taken in the southern car shop, out of the way of the train-crazy children and demonstrations.

Detail of old Steam Locomotive

It wasn’t my intention to shoot everything that had a grey-blue and black hue, but the old trains were speaking to me, drawing me to the shadows to study the age marks and wrinkles in the incredible old surfaces.

Old Railcar Detail

4 or 5 impossibly large locomotives are berthed next to each other in the old shop, possibly 120 or 150 centimeters shoulders apart.  There really is no way to step back and get a full shot of these magnificent beasts, but I was happy to get close and smell the waxy grease and study the giant forged mechanicals.

Locomotive Wheels at B&O Museum

The most impressive locomotive was one of the last steam engines built in the USA, the early 1940’s #1604 “Allegeny” 2-6-6-6 coal-hauling monster.  The numbers refer to how many wheels the engine has.  The main wheels are 160cm tall and the locomotive + tender (the coal cart behind the engine) together are as long as the building they are parked in.  The engine was built to haul coal trains from West Virginia up to the coal dumper in Baltimore’s middle branch harbor.  Standing next to or on top of this thing is awe-inspiring.  The engine itself weighs 389 tons.  That is 778,000 pounds.  The coal tender, loaded weighed 215 tons.  Now, they rest in darkness, silent and regal.

Detail of #1604 Allegeny Locomotive Hopper Car

Because these relics are safely indoors, their state of preservation feels as if they could awake at any moment.  Almost completely free of signage or modern interpretation, the big engines feel as if they rolled up for their last journey, the barn doors were shut and the overhead lights turned out.

Detail of Steam Engine Works

Listen close to the pipes and hoses and you can almost hear the hissing of steam.

Detail of Railcar Coupling

Considering the weight of these giants, it is amazing the condition of the concrete floor.  This particular car shop was not originally built for locomotives, but merely for the fitting out of passenger car interiors.  This building was constructed to last.

Train Car Detail

The volunteers at the B&O are very friendly and helpful.  The old boy sitting by the front door of the car shop jumped out of his seat to talk to me and give information about the building and the locomotives.  The yellow crane below is still functional, and the docent pointed out some recent activity with some diesel engine restoration in one corner.  On this day however, it was a quiet winter afternoon in the old train shed.

Decrepit Rail Car

When I was a small boy I witnessed the ’76 Freedom Train go by the tracks near my neighborhood in NJ.  It was a restored steam engine pulling historic cars filled with Americana.  We only saw the train pass by, but it was an intoxicating and unforgettable sensory experience.

There is something magical about the billowing steam, the aching moan of a steam whistle, the jerking motion of the piston and cranks working away at speed.  To see something like the Allegeny #1604 pulling a train of coal cars up a mountain must have been an impressive sight.  Sleep well old iron, after a life of burden you have earned your rest.

New SieMatic Showroom – Konst – Bethesda MD

Our latest showroom design for SieMatic is now open in Bethesda, MD.  Konst – meaning “art” in Swedish, is owner Jonas Carnemark’s third studio renovation/location in a decade.  Locking down a busy corner of Wisconsin Ave. near the Bethesda Metro station, this latest move – just a block away from the old building – is a gigantic leap in street and sidewalk exposure.

Konst SieMatic Showroom ExteriorOur previous showroom space was constructed over two renovation phases, which left an incongruous layout from end-to-end.  This new space is more linear, showing a straight progression of SieMatic design as one enters and meanders counter-clockwise around the space.

This view from opening night in early October shows the great storefront exposure on the front of the building.

As motorists and pedestrians come down Wisconsin Ave towards Washington DC, this large SieMatic logo beckons proudly on the modernist façade from blocks away.

The first display consists of a simple white laminate island positioned before a large, continuous-grain natural walnut cabinet wall.  Behind the paneling are fridges and freezers, hidden storage areas and audio-visual equipment.

Konst SieMatic Display 1

The building features a large chamfered corner on Wisconsin Ave, so we chose to angle the front display parallel to this edge.  Keeping the floor longitudinal but aligning the LED ceiling strips adds dynamics to the youthful room feel.

SieMatic Shelf DetailWhile most of the storage is closed and otherwise hidden, we added a Floating Spaces shelf to the end for accent.

A large display monitor shows loops of SieMatic and Konst design features while Miele’s latest white glass appliances make a bright accent on the left side for balance.

Visitors walk around the right side of the display for their first look of display 2 and the rest of the space.

SieMatic Display at Konst SieMatic

The second display presents a large suite of space with S2 in Oak and SLG “similacque” glossy laminate, adjacent to the Beaux Arts 2.0 display at the rear.  A SieMatic table and benches is just out of view behind the Algue screen by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra at left.

The Beaux Arts takes up the anchor space at rear with a large seating area, media center/fireplace and entrance to samples areas and service space.

SieMatic Beaux Arts display at Konst

The display follows SieMatic’s usual Beaux Arts philosophy of using metal, gloss lacquer and wood and asymmetrical balance to create this unique feel.  With these photos taken only a few minutes before the opening party, I’ll need to return for more pictures of details and the seating areas.

We are particularly proud of this latest studio, and wish the staff at Konst the best luck at this new location.  Based on the level of interest passersby expressed during my site visits – as well as the tremendous response on opening night – I’m sure this location will prove more successful than their old spaces.

Visit Konst online and browse the excellent work they have been doing for the past few years and do make sure to drop in when in the Washington DC/Bethesda area.

 

SieMatic NY Wins Showroom of the Year Award

The New York SieMatic showroom has won the KBB Magazine 2014 Showroom of the Year award.  Kitchen and Bath Business magazine, sponsor of America’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, is the industry’s leading professional publication.  We also won this award for the Charleston showroom back in 2009 and I’m proud to be a part of another award-winning project with SieMatic.

KBB Award Winning ShowroomA full analysis of the design can be read in my previous post of the showroom opening.  SieMatic is leading the shift to experience-based environments in today’s kitchen showroom design, and wanted to make a big statement with the studio in NY’s A&D building.  In comparison with the old layout (a series of small kitchen compartments, each representing a singular look), the new idea is two large apartment environments showing examples of the best in NY living.  With new studios under planning and opening soon – Amsterdam, London, Melbourne – SieMatic is moving towards this model around the world.

SieMatic New York KBB Magazine

I’m pleased the photographers chose to hone in on some of the styling elements – I worked hard to source and place those objects!

SieMatic NY Showroom of the Year 2014

I helped write the copy for the award’s application, taking care to explain why we think this design is an important departure from normal kitchen studio design.  Happily, the editors clearly have an understanding of what we have tried to do with the design and presentation.

SieMatic New York - Showroom of the Year 2014

Already we have new ideas for the next series of studios, with SieMatic about to unveil some new product and layout design in January at IMM, Germany’s big furniture show in January.  There has rarely been a more exciting time in kitchen design; If you don’t mind a little grey, cold weather please join us in Cologne next year.  As always, I am proud to work with such a fabulous team of people and well-respected brand as SieMatic.

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.

New Projects 2014 – SieMatic Charleston

It’s been 5 years since we completed the original installation for SieMatic Charleston.  That showroom won us the Kitchen & Bath Business magazine Showroom of the Year award for 2009 (Link to KB&B Article).  However five years is a long time in the luxury furniture industry, and innovators should be prepared to change out a display every 1-2 years to maintain authority over trends in materials and design.  SieMatic NYC and Charleston are good illustrations of this thinking.

The Charleston design team was fortunate to have sold off some old displays just as new product was coming out of Germany, so we were able to do the latest here.  This first display, in the front window, is very modern in layout with a long rectangular island in Agate grey lacquer and natural walnut.

SieMatic Agate Grey Display

The geometry is as simple as possible, with as little clutter we could devise.  The hood is a ceiling mounted unit and cooktop a flush-mounted induction, to keep the furniture sleek and less “kitcheny”.  The long countertops are in a ceramic material which replicates basalt, but to a length of over 300cm.  There is really no reason to consider natural stone in place of this incredibly strong, impervious and eco-friendly material.  From arm’s distance you cannot tell this is a manufactured material.  This countertop is a SieMatic exclusive, and comes in several colors and finishes.

Note how the pullout cabinets have no hardware, and the faces go to the floor.  The cabinets open with electronic “touch latches”, a hugely popular trend with European kitchen design today.

This display replaced another long island layout, but retained the fireplace area towards the front window.  We softened the look by removing the TV and taking the bookmatched/sequenced walnut panels up to 9 feet.  The glossy panels on the backsplash are SieMatic Graphite lacquer.

The original Beaux Arts display remains in the sister window slot.  With this look very appropriate to the South and with the recessed white panel design being timeless as ever, there is no need to change this display any time soon.

SieMatic Beaux Arts Display

We installed a new “Sophia Loren” Beaux Arts Lotus White Gloss kitchen 2 years ago, and it remains as is.  It is interesting to see how the Beaux Arts feel has changed over the past few years, with just these two displays in one location showing the depth of range one “doorstyle” can go.  It is very much about overall feel and appointments, and not the design of the cabinet door.

Beaux Arts 2.0 Sophia Loren

We also changed a smaller display in the back, which represents an “apartment kitchen”.  Although we are starting to move away from doing smaller displays like this, it is good to show SieMatic can meet smaller budgets and still deliver world-class function and style.  This display is in laminate and the price of such a design is more accessible than many would surmise.  Such is a benefit of modular German cabinetry, having all the interior quality and function but choose laminate for the finish and be practical and budget-minded at once.

SieMatic SC10 laminate Floating Spaces display

The shelving system is called Floating Spaces, and is completely adjustable in height.  Although we carefully composed the standard widths and shelf placement, it is designed to be flexible.  The seating is a small banquette, as large as space would allow.  This is composed simply of laminate panel material.  I love banquettes and in fact, if I had one at home I would be sitting in it typing this right now.

The last display also contains some Floating Spaces, integrated into a series called S2.  This is SieMatic’s “channel” series, of handle-less cabinets.  SieMatic invented the handle-free design of kitchen cabinets in 1960, and this look is exceptionally popular today.

SieMatic Sterling grey gloss laminate display

The finishes are Titan oak (a limed quartersawn veneer) and Sterling grey “similacque” laminate.  This gloss laminate is so flat and distortion-free, it looks just like lacquer.  I understand it is coated with a clear gloss so in fact it is really a paint finish on top of laminate, and the clarity is just simply remarkable.  Combined with the “Zero” edge of the door, there really isn’t anything else that compares.

We are very happy with this display but I should remark how I miss the design we replaced, if only because of the Photoshop work I had to do documenting it.  The old display in Terra Brown gloss lacquer, from my main website at mickdesign.com :

Old SieMatic display at Charleston

At the time of installation, I had only a 35mm wide lens and this display was very wide, requiring me to do a panoramic stitch-type edit.  This was before easy stitch-type apps were available, where you just follow directions on the screen … so I had to take several manual pans and edit them later.  It was grueling.  So, in support of manual craftsmanship, this old display photo shall take one last victory lap around the internet in honor of midnight photo edit-efforts around the world.

As always, working with SieMatic is a great honor and I’m looking forward to the next round of showrooms this year and beyond.  Have a look at my Facebook page for more news and links to exciting design projects.

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