Spring Walk – Washington DC/Dupont Circle

It has been a lovely spring; not too hot and some wonderful sunny days.  Looking for some blossoms and classic architecture, last Sunday I took a quick jaunt down to Washington DC to walk Embassy Row and Dupont Circle.  DC always delivers for eclectic architecture walks; the city is a treasure trove of fabulous facades and exceptional urban scale.  A Sunday is best as the traffic is very light.  Some highlights; let’s start with a whopper of a building.  This is the Beaux Arts masterpiece Cosmos Club by architects Carrère & Hastings:

Cosmos Club by Carrere and HastingsThis incredible building is the former estate of Mary Scott Townsend, completed in 1901.  The architects are famous for the New York Public Library and many other important American buildings.  Carrère & Hastings were a very successful firm, focusing on commercial buildings in the Beaux Arts style.  This property was acquired by the Cosmos club – dedicated to “The advancement of its members in science, literature and art” – in 1952.  The address is 2121 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

A pair of typical DC row houses.  This facade is fairly consistent throughout the city, very often in brick and sometimes stone.  The house to the left would have been painted at one time, which is fairly common and gives the street scape an eclectic feel.  The most noteworthy (and completely typical) feature is the square breakfront; DC row houses employ a sculptured facade almost by rule.

Typical NW Washington DC Row HousesA little up the road, just this lone impatiens.

Impatiens FlowerAn embassy building.  I didn’t get my notes correct, but I do remember this being a South American government/cultural building.  Anybody recognize the flag?

Embassy Building in Washington DCAcross the street, this great old apartment building, also in buff brick.  Turrets are common in the District.

Apartment Building, Embassy RowThe Dutch embassy.  The hyacinths were in full bloom and smelled wonderful!  I expected some orange flowers; none to be seen!

Dutch Embassy Washington DCWalking back to Dupont, here is a typical row of residential/commercial buildings from the early 20th century.  Note the eclectic range of styles – this is a fairly typical block of commercial development and the pastiche of style is a never-ending delight.

A row of eclectic architecture in Dupont CircleAcross the street is the Washington Club, originally the Patterson House, designed by icon Stanford White in 1901.  This Italianate mansion was the scene of some bizarre politics during WWII, as Cissy Patterson, heir to her father’s Chicago Tribune fortune, waged an editorial attack on FDR throughout the war years.  The only mansion left on the circle, it looks a little lonely and the siting seems a bit odd today.  Even so, a nice sunny morning and any Stanford White building will get my undivided attention.

Washington Club, Architect Stanford WhiteAnd finally, on my way back to the railroad (when rain began to fall), a detail of Daniel Burnham’s fabulous Union Station.  This is the “knuckle” arcade between the main waiting room and the former – now shops – concourse room.  The detail of this building is astounding.

Detail of Union Station in Washington DCI used to live 3 blocks from Union Station, and would walk in and around it most days.  Completed in 1908, it is a massive complex – not exactly pretty – but impressive nonetheless.  Daniel Burnham was the “art director” of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, the famous world’s fair in Chicago that introduced the “White City” and celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the western continents.  The fair, and this building, were a riot of Beaux Arts white marble monumental architecture.  I used to sketch in and out of this building, and it has inspired some details of my own, and a collection of architectural hardware that I designed for Amerock in 2003.

So, just a quick Sunday’s walk and some highlights of DC in the springtime.  I return to the capitol several times during the year (it is the next city south of my home), so look for more Washington DC architecture in the months to come.

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SieMatic Montreal Opening Party

I attended the SieMatic Montreal opening party last night, enjoying cocktails and fantastic hor d’oeuvres with 150 guests in the sparkling new installation.  I started working with showroom manager Jean-Martin Lapointe on the design last summer, so it was great to see the space come alive, exactly as we intended.

The studio is part of the large kitchen gadget/commercial supplier shop Doyon Cuisine, in the upscale Montreal suburb of Brossard.  To enter the space, one goes through the main kitchen store and up the stairs to SieMatic.  We clad the stair area with a walnut laminate to visually connect the SieMatic areas upstairs.  Here SieMatic USA principal management Marcia Speer and Hans Henkes pose on the red carpet.

Marcia Speer and Hans Henkes of SieMaticWhen reaching the top of the stairs, we needed to show visitors the way to the studio (to the left at top of stairs.  We added a walnut laminate-clad desk and curved wall at the top of the mezzanine and used logos to denote the way to the main showroom.  This area is the perfect buffet and bar area for events.

Main Reception of SieMatic MontrealThe ceiling of the Doyon Cuisine space was a lovely terracotta color, and walls apple green.  Jean-Martin and I selected all new finishes for the building and carefully orchestrated the entrance sequence, as the studio itself passes by the commercial demonstration kitchen before entering the displays.  Upon entry, one walks into a “full living environment”-style display – showing a living space with a large kitchen display.

Studio entry view of SieMatic MontrealLiving Space at SieMatic Montreal

The first kitchen display is an SE4004 Stone Beech Veneer.  This display bridges the living space with Floating Spaces shelving to integrate a flexible storage element which can be more decorative or more functional, depending on planning and configuration.

Full View of Stone Beech display at SieMatic Montreal

SieMatic Montreal Stone Beech Display

SE4004 Display

Note the ceiling “cloud” above to bring the scale down and slightly mask the commercial corrugated/exposed ceiling.  The flooring throughout is a dark medium-plank veneer.  Mick enjoying a drink with guests and SieMatic management/colleagues at the cantilevered Smoked Oak countertop.Mick with Guests

The display around the corner is an S2-L Truffle Grey Gloss Lacquer model with black glass touch-latch cabinets embedded in the wall to the right.  The vertical channel tall cabinets hide a column-style Gaggenau refrigerator.

S2 Display at SieMatic MontrealAt the center of the showroom is a Beaux Arts 2.0 display, in the “Sophia Loren” style.  For more on this style of display search for “Beaux Arts” or “Sophia Loren” here on my blog.

SieMatic Montreal "Sophia Loren" Beaux Arts DisplayThe last display is an SC10 in Titan Pine and Sterling Grey laminate.  This is a Smart Design offering from SieMatic, which is a great look at a popular price-point.  We show Materials system shelves along with a standard L-shape design.

SieMatic Montreal SC10 Display SieMatic Montreal SC10 Display

Note the window opening into the Beaux Arts display.  Whenever I can, planning visual cues into other areas is essential to keeping a sense of circulation and discovery in a showroom layout.  Especially in this case, as this SC10 display is a “dead end” which leads only to offices at the back.  A detail of the backsplash area, showing SieMatic LP1 lighting and award-winning OnWall accessory system:Tile Detail of SieMatic Montreal SC10 Display

Here is a view of the samples library/consultation room, just adjacent to the studio entrance and across from the reception area.

Samples and Consultation Room at SieMatic Montreal

SieMatic Montreal is associated with Doyon Cuisine and Julien, the fantastic stainless fixtures company.  Here, Jean-Martin Lapointe addresses the guests along with Hans Henkes and Julien CEO Gilles St-Pierre.

Manager Jean-Martin Lapointe introduces the new SieMatic Montreal kitchen design studio

A parting shot – old friends Keith and Raymond Binns (SieMatic resellers in Toronto) with SieMatic management.

Raymond Binns, Hans Henkes, Marcia Speer and Keith Binns

I am very happy with the final presentation.  Jean-Martin Lapointe did a fantastic job at executing the design, and this business is surely going to do quite well here in Montreal.  As always, I wish I had more time to spend in the city, but I have pledged to come back in the summer or fall – with my bicycles and sense of weekend adventure – and visit again.

 

 

More Classic Modern Displays

Since my last post in November (already a month has gone?!), I have been working on more showroom displays in a “Classic Modern” vein.  Here are some renderings; first up is a concept for a store in South America:

Exterior Concept for SieMatic Showroom Studio in South America by Mick Ricereto

Before doing an entire store layout, we decided to render just a concept of the front of the space, to show how warm and inviting we could make the furniture layout from the outside.  When a given space has windows on 2 or 3 sides, it does wonders for publicity but can be a challenge for a kitchen showroom.  Our concept shows how we integrate a “Total Home Design” feel to the entrance; visitors can see a kitchen and a sitting/living space complete with TV, seating, fireplace.  The kitchen and living space are designed in harmony as one, the way home renovations should be considered.  I have been lecturing about this type of renovation and will post on my concept of Total Home Design in the future.

A detail view of the kitchen; notice how the “soft side” of the kitchen is arranged towards the living area (with wood shelves and a wood seating area), and the “hard side” which is water and stain-resistant, faces away from the seating and allows kitchen play and it’s inherent messiness to stay isolated from the soft side.  Finishes are Agate Grey gloss lacquer and Honey Walnut veneer.

The upper cabinets bridge over the way into the rest of the studio.  This bridge connects to the fireplace/entertainment unit and helps tie the design together.

Kitchen display concept for South America; SieMatic Agate Grey Classic Modern

Next up is a concept here in the US.  We have a large showroom which we are considering renovation, but again, want to make the front entrance as inviting as possible.  The same classic modern Agate Grey finish was selected, this time mixed with Graphite lacquer.  This display is more of an “entertainment center” or “wet bar”, with sink, coffee station and refrigerators behind panels.  Again we see a bridge to the seating area.  Across from this setup is the main kitchen, which is a more formally-presented Beaux Arts 2 display.  The idea is to keep the entire space in harmony.

SieMatic Agate Grey Kitchen/Entertainment Center Concept

It has been a busy close-out of the year, with exciting projects all over the globe and some extremely satisfying industrial design projects as well.  I have been considering new 3D software in the new year, if I can make up my mind on what to go with and then commit the necessary time for training.  Looking forward to 2013 being as diverse and exciting as 2012 has been!

Classic Modern Kitchen Displays

We are currently seeing a strong trend to “warm-up” modern luxury kitchens.  Cabinet finishes are trending towards high gloss again, with the addition of gloss metal finishes and a general sparkle effect throughout the entire range of materials.  There are often two strong tones (light and a bold darker tone), which keeps the eye moving.  Dark gloss tones strongly reflect everything around them, which adds spatial dimension.  This new display concept from SieMatic shows how flat cabinet doors can be used to a luxurious, but modern effect:

SieMatic Agate Grey Gloss "Italian Townhouse" Kitchen Concept

Notice the overall grey palette with strong contrast in the marble and gloss black cabinet finish in the middle of the display.  The “top boxes” are the most dominant design element, reaching up to the ceiling.  I love the irregular rhythm of divisions at the top, which were undoubtedly based on some Golden Ratio sizing.  Picking divisions like these are similar to writing a melody; you want to avoid simple monotony, but if you go too far the song will not be catchy or may be jarring.  In the case of these top boxes, it is quirky enough but definitely does not go too far.

For a recent display here in North America, I am working with similar finishes and the need to have a crisp, elegant feel.  Our envelope included a full-height window in the corner, so the use of top boxes made perfect sense.  I recessed the Graphite gloss oven cabinets under the main Agate Grey plane for emphasis.  On the adjacent wall the end is anchored by Graphite panels with vertically-adjustable thin shelves.  Just enough classic elegance is added by using the Beaux Arts mirrored toekick and gloss-nickel tall glass doors.  A sliding stone panel backsplash reveals a walnut shelf for just a touch of third finish (repeated inside of tall glass doors as well).

SieMatic S2 Agate Grey Display by Mick Ricereto

The plan shows the unusual parcel we had to work with.  There is a seating area to the left (out of view) with a wall of panels and shelves, much like the SieMatic example above.

SieMatic S2 Agate Grey Plan by Mick Ricereto

I have been very interested in the trend of irregular open shelves which began two seasons ago in Milan.  However, this latest, more elegant use of closed cabinets and tall elements is really starting to look fresh and exciting.  It is great to have modern and classic blending so closely now, as in the past a client would identify herself as being, say, “country” or “contemporary”.  Those division lines are long gone as we enter a cross-harmony of sturdy historical values and the fashion and freshness of the new.

Matthew Rao Studio – Opening Party

Last week I attended the opening events for the Matthew Rao Studio in Atlanta, a kitchen design studio that I designed earlier in the year.  The space really came together, with great work by everybody involved.  A view of the exterior before the event:

Exterior View of Rao Studio

In the morning Matthew and Haskell Harris from Garden & Gun magazine conducted a discussion on the history of the modern kitchen.  Afterwards we were treated to a lovely, southern-style lunch.  A view of the informal discussion in the SieMatic Beaux Arts display:

Kitchen Discussion with Matthew Rao and Haskell Harris

Some views of the space courtesy Cablik Enterprises (the General Contractor) and Charles Quade Photography:

Front Display - SieMatic S2Samples and Presentation Desk at Rao Studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another view of the Beaux Arts display:

Beaux Arts Display at Rao Studio

The festivities continued in the evening with a cocktail party.  I had a great time catching up with some old friends from the industry.  Here is myself with David Sabo the installer and industry stalwart and old friend Phil Shepherd.

Guests at Rao Studio Opening Party

The entire showroom is wired and plumbed for full functionality.  The following morning I dropped back in for some breakfast cooked with the Gaggenau tappan yaki and steam oven.  Here Jane, Cindy and Matthew prepare a delicious frittata in the Beaux Arts kitchen at the rear of the space.

Breakfast at Rao Studio

Matthew’s space is located in Midtown Atlanta, one block off Peachtree in the center of everything.  In the morning before the events I took a quick run in Piedmont Park, and marveled at the lovely bungalow-style homes just a couple blocks from the new high-rise hotels and office towers.  Before heading back to the airport I took a quick walk over to the new Museum of Design Atlanta and snapped a shot of the High Museum of Art, a rigorous design by Richard Meier.  In all, it was a lovely two days and I wish the best of luck to Matthew and the staff in the new space.

View of the High Museum in Atlanta

Kitchen Trend Discussion at Houston Design Center

I have been invited to present on global kitchen trends at the Houston Design Center, October 9.  Organized by the design center, SieMatic and Kitchen and Bath Concepts of Houston, I will be presenting up-to-date photos of kitchen and living trends from around the world, including some special mention of SieMatic’s Beaux Arts 2 designs.  I really enjoy these presentations and a special shout-out to Micqui and Peggy and K&B Concepts for inviting me to speak.  Here is the flyer – if you are in the area please come out and say hello:

Mick Ricereto's International Kitchen Trends Presentation Flyer, Houston, 2012

Keynote Kitchen Design Address – DCOTA August 9, 2012

Tomorrow I will be the keynote speaker for the closing of the summer program at the Design Center of the Americas – DCOTA in Fort Lauderdale.  The topic is International Trends in Modern Kitchen Design, one that I have presented on several times before.  After the discussion is a reception at the SieMatic showroom, for the debut of my latest Beaux Arts display.

Here is the flyer for the day’s events.

International Trends in Modern Kitchen Design Keynote Address - Mick Ricereto - DCOTA

I’m excited about my discussion on kitchen trends.  I hope to get some images of the event and post an update on my return.