1930’s England – Agatha Christie’s Poirot

I’ve discovered a fantastic period British TV show on Netflix; Agatha Christie’s Poirot.  I know nothing of Agatha Christie, other than her name being synonymous with “murder mystery”.  I love period movies and shows, and the look of Poirot is outstanding.  I’m completely caught up in the characters now too, with the quirky Belgian detective Poirot becoming irresistible.  His sidekick Captain Hastings is a car buff, and they work these wonderful old cars, trains and other great machines into the show as well.  Here is a sampling of screen shots I took today while watching some episodes in my office; first up is Poirot’s modern apartment building:

Poirot's Apartment Building

Poirot is a displaced Belgian detective, who moved to England during WWI.  He is funny, quirky, and quite a dandy.  The clothes are fabulous, with both Hastings and Poirot dressing immaculately.  Here is Poirot entering a seaside hotel:

Poirot at the Seashore Hotel

I’m sure the wonderfully preserved modern buildings are all famous landmarks in England, but being Yank I don’t know any of them so far.  Here is Chief Inspector Jaap from Scotland Yard with a bobbie, walking from a lovely house owned by a missing banker:

Davenheim's House on Poirot, Driveway

Here is a closeup of that curving stair wall from a shot in the opening credits:

Davenheim's House on Poirot

Very 1930s modern.  I’ll have to look these buildings up.  Knowing how film production works, the interiors are often different buildings from the exterior shots.  Some scenes, such as this one inside the banker’s library, must have also been from period buildings because the details of the doors and trim are just too nice to be a stage set.

Inside Davenheim

Poirot has a thing for lovely ladies (who doesn’t?) and the females in the show are very elegant and beautifully dressed.

In another episode Poirot and Hastings go to another seaside town for a respite.  Look at this fabulous “hotel”:

Midland Modern Hotel from Poirot

I say “hotel” because the signage looked tacked on, and even the characters mention the name is more befitting a place in Leeds.

This next building had a very interesting stair that the cast descended, with a crane shot taken from outside through those curious tilted lunette windows.  They pull back at the end of the scene and show the whole alley with this great bit of lighting.

Night Scene from Poirot

Very early on this show got me hooked when Captain Hastings pulls up in a fabulous Lagonda automobile.  Poirot does not like taking an open car and prefers the train or taxis, but Hastings delights in driving and they really make a great story of the car and his very English sporting habits.  Here the duo go to an old tailor in a seedy part of town, where some kids start playing on the car in the street.

Lagonda from Poirot

In the banker episode a suspect happens to race a Bugatti and they visit the incredible old Brooklands track to pay the man a visit.  Incredible seeing an Alfa Romeo and Bugatti go at it, in color, at the old Brooklands!

Brooklands 1930's Racing Poirot

The show was filmed in the early 1990s, and I think the track was un-restored at that point.  It might still be in this shape, in fact.  Here, the Bugatti pulls into the pits.  This car today would be priceless, of course.

Bugatti on Poirot

During a scuffle, a pocket-picker runs from Inspector Jaap and almost gets clobbered by the Alfa Romeo coming into the pits.  They really drove the cars too, and the driver had to give something special to avoid the actor.

Brooklands Pit Scene from Poirot

In another episode the team travels the suburbs of London looking for a suspect, and they stop for fuel and a phone at this vintage Vauxhall dealer.  The detail of this shop was incredible, with the cars gleaming immaculately.  Here is the establishment shot, and again the nighttime lighting was stunning.

Vauxhall Dealer Scene from Poirot

The most amazing thing to me about this show is how the production design consistently uses modern buildings, showing a very progressive and exciting 1930s London.  I would love to discover more about these buildings and get back to England to visit some of these landmarks.  I would post more Poirot but it looks like Netflix is taking the series down in a few days.  I’ll have to cram in a few episodes before the month is out.

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Spring in New York: ICFF 2013

The month of May in New York; that means time for design week and the ICFF Show – the International Contemporary Furniture Fair.  I have been many times over the past years but skipped a few recent ones, so it was time to go back.  My focus this year was to work with a New York client in midtown, then spend the rest of the weekend looking at lighting and furniture for various projects.

The first day in NY it was sunny and beautiful.  I was indoors most of the day in meetings but walking around a corner on the way to my hotel – yes, an old, familiar sight:

View of Empire StateThe sun was catching the Empire State Building in such a way to make it sparkle, something I never noticed before.  It always seemed so heavy, so concrete.  Nice to see something familiar in a different way.

Incidentally, I was not the only “tourist” taking this picture at this point.  So that made me feel good about stopping, pulling out my little Canon S100 and setting up the shot.

The ICFF show is based at the Javits Center, west of midtown.  It is seemingly out of the way but a short walk from the A C and E (blue) subway and Penn Station actually makes it really convenient.  I was setup at a nice little hotel with a client of mine and all set to explore the show and all the “outside events”, showroom openings, parties and happenings.

Once at the show it was hard to miss any lighting innovations – great stuff was seen in every aisle.  What is nice about the show is how local and small international makers/brands attend the show, so you discover unusual and one-off pieces as well as major brands.  Here are some highlights of lighting:

Iacoli and McAllister Lighting Pelle Lighting Mooii Lighting Lighting ICFF2013

From top left, Rough and Smooth pendants by Tom Dixon, Iacoli & McAllister pendants to the top right, and some very nice clear globe chandeliers by Pelle to the right.  Different arrays of glass and paper shades in carefully-draped arrangements were a strong trend throughout the show.

Below to the right is Mooii, which always looks good.  There were larger brands present, with companies such as Tango showing some very nice new concepts including some outdoor.

A company called Graypants had some paper/cardboard/something pendants which were nicely crafted.

Graypants LightingThere were also some concepts with shades made from rapid prototyping, such as lacy SLS shades in “natural” white.  Open-ness and interesting screen materials were dominant.

There was a “maker faire” feel to the show as well, with an area set up for rapid prototyping and other sorts of fabrication including a seminar area to learn about maker technology.  There were at least two 3D printer companies on display and there was also a company called US Trumpf who rolled out enormous laser-cutting machines and some fabrication jigs, making Tom Dixon “death star” lighting pendants right there on the show floor.  It was pretty cool to see the process, as it was ultra-clean and quiet without the heavy presses, greasy flooring and general mess of a typical factory floor.  Here is a pic of the “death star”:

Tom Dixon Death Star PendantI really like this fixture.  Dodecahedron?  I didn’t count sides.  Anyway, it is make by laser-cutting aluminum sheet, including all the holes.  I don’t know how much waste you get from making the holes, as the material is burning off during the cutting process.  Anyway, other than some muted humming coming from the giant stand-alone laser cutting machine, the only noise on the makeshift factory floor was the sound of simulated mirror-folding/film advance of peoples iPhones as they took pictures of the manufacturing process.

Tom Dixon Fabrication Area

And a closeup of the assembly table shows the men riveting the Death Star together.

Trumpf and Tom Dixon Assembly Area

There was a small stand set up with some fine hanging fixtures called Shakuff.  The owner was not around but I looked closely at the artisan glass shades – very nice work.

Shakuff Lighting

I’m not sure how the red box shades were made.  This next piece was comprised of hanging sheets of wavy glass, in a box shape (in plan) which made them seem like towers of wavy glass.  A very cool effect.

Pendants by Shakuff

Next up I passed Roll and Hill.  I love what this company is putting out, and this particular hanging pendant kept catching my eye all weekend (I saw it around town and on various show reports over the weekend) – it is called Bluff City by designer Jonah Takagi.  Splendid.

Bluff by Jonah Takagi

Next is a company called R B W which I figured out later stands for Rich Brilliant Winning.  I’m thinking with that name they are anglophiles.  Anyway, I just took some detail pics of their products, as they were particularly well-crafted.  Here is a shot of their Branch Triple Chandelier from their website:

R B W Chandelier

Here are some details of their floor lamps and such:

IMG_1518 IMG_1519

A continuing trend is to use wire to make open-looking shades.  Some fixtures in this vein by makers Phese and Blu Dot, respectably.

Phese LightingIMG_1517

A company called Gabriel and Scott had some nice folded-metal fixtures.  I didn’t get much detail about them or this piece but it was decidedly on-trend:

Gabriel and Scott Lighting

Also shown was this hanging chain chandelier called Kelly.

Gabriel and Scott Lighting

Something unrelated to lighting; this is Amuneal’s exhibit, which won the Best of Show award.  It was truly stunning.  The exterior was made with rather thick gauge metal and formed an undulated surface.  The interior had a “cabinet of curiosity” theme, with vitrines and display cases all (seemingly) designed for this show.

Amuneal ICFF2013

Amuneal ICFF2013

There was a very high level of craftsmanship and composition on view at Amuneal.

Amuneal Exhibit ICFF2013

The shelves and vitrines were tagged with prices for each configuration.  I found them to be quite reasonable for what is custom-made artisan furniture made of real brass and wood in their Philadelphia shop.

Interior of Amuneal Exhibit, ICFF2013

I would very much like a shelf like this in my house.  Something to think about…

There was one other display which knocked me over with delight, and that was the similarly-styled (black and brass) exhibit of Apparatus Studio.  On offer was a wonderful collection of lighting which just floored me with its beauty and obvious quality.  My pictures do not do this product justice.

View of Apparatus Studios ICFF2013

Here is a detail of the Cloud chandelier.

Cloud by Apparatus

Some more products from their website.

Apparatus Studios Lighting Fixtures

Apparatus Cloud Picture

Also from their site, a really good illustration of Cloud.  It should also be noted that they have a gorgeous website too – check them out at http://www.apparatusstudio.com

I should also mention that I bought another Tyvek Mighty Wallet by the maker of Dynomighty himself, who always sets up a table in the Design Boom section of the show.  When I go to pay for things, every shop owner always compliments me on my wallet so I had to get another, again.

Dynomighty Tyvek Wallet

Later that night I wandered around Soho and checked out the parties and openings.  I looked at the new kitchen showrooms and looked around for some lighting as well.  I missed the opening reception but I made it a point to try and check out the E.R. Butler shop in Nolita, which was featuring some amazing lighting by designer Bec Brittain.  Here are some pics of the window displays.

Lighting by Bec Brittain

Made of brass, wood, LED strip lamps, marble… these were exquisite.

Lighting by Bec Brittain

I didn’t know E.R. Butler commissioned this type of work.  If not familiar with this company, seek them out online, they produce an incredible collection of architectural hardware, such as reproduction and original door knobs and other assorted pulls and knobs.  I really wanted to see this small storefront as this shop is invitation only.  Well, maybe next year.  From Bec Brittain’s website, one more incredible design.

Vise by Bec Brittain

The last thing I did before leaving the city was take a walk through the amazing Grand Central Terminal, which is 100 years old this year.  I thought there would be special exhibits and maybe a gallery of construction photos or some other display… but alas there was nothing.  Well the building itself is of course wonderful, so I close with this interior shot.  I wish this great building well as it enters its second century.

Interior of Grand Central Terminal

I’ll be up in NYC more this summer as my interiors project begins construction.  More on that later, as we enter the demolition phase soon.

ISH 2013 Wrapup – Faucets

Part 3 of my report on ISH 2013 from Frankfurt, Germany.

Although this year seemed a little down on exhibitors and overall showing a conservative approach to new design, there were still many standouts.  Some companies, notably Dornbracht, eschewed new shapes and finishes for a focus on useability and electronic aids.  I concentrated on trends within the design envelope.

Laufen Faucet with Top SurfaceFirst up is this faucet by Laufen and Kartell, which I mentioned briefly in my report on fixtures last week.  Similar to a faucet by Starck, there is a flat surface on top for storage of bathroom items.  Above it is naked… and here:

Laufen faucet with Kartell tray surface…seen from the side with the polycarbonate Kartell “caddy” on top.  I really don’t like this piece too much; if you consider the caddy moveable, what if you or somebody else puts a bar of soap on top of the naked faucet – and then you want to put your caddy on top?  The soap will leave residue on the bottom of your caddy, if you put it there next.  Also, I don’t like the “business end” of the faucet being hidden.  I like to see where the water will be coming from.  I would rather see Kartell make little caddies that fit into spaces on the lavs perhaps, or on the mirror, accessories or something along the side.

Chrome Mixer Faucet at ISH 2013Above is a nice design, with the square base and round lever language perhaps being in slight conflict.  Below are two faucets I noted the shape of, only because they look like things I have been developing for my client.  I didn’t note the makers.

Gold Faucet Chrome Mixer Faucet

These were not the only pieces similar to some ideas I had.  It isn’t easy coming up with something completely new of course.  Next, a nice shower set in white.  Colors (instead of plated surfaces) were down a little this year, but there were still some very nice examples.

White Shower SetI think the sharp vertical edges of this design lend itself to powder coating, as opposed to plated finishes.  The edges will be very hard to get right if plated, as the polishing of the brass/zamac is critical and usually done by hand.  The thickness of the powder probably hides any flaws.  It was quite crisp, however.

Now that I have mentioned colors, a company called Treemme is next.  These faucets were by far the coolest new designs I have seen this year.  There were wall mounts, lav mixers and a clever two-handle lav top faucet.  Designed by Emanuel Gargano, Marco Fagioli and Giampiero Castagnoli.  Just stunning.

5mm Faucet Info Board 5mm Faucet in Black by TreemmeI love the matte black finish.  I will need these for my bathrooms at home.  Above is the two-handle version – the mixer is very similar.  The other offerings from Treemme were also fantastic:

White Faucets by TreemmeI had been sketching things like this last year for my faucet project, but I thought… no, too radical.  Ha!

Another great faucet by TreemmeA different take on 5mm, and a lovely one.  I will need one of these too, for my powder room on the first floor.  Also shown were these high arc faucets, similar to some designs I saw from Ritmonio a few years ago.  The thin spout is just great.

Great Faucets from TreemmeHere are some other powder coated faucets, these by Steinberg.  I like the adventurous palette of color.  If you are going to go paint, why not get very creative?

Series 240 Powder Coated faucets by SteinbergLastly, here was an “industrial chic” style faucet from Waterworks/THG.  This was the only sign of the industrial/factory trend I saw at the show.  This trend is completely saturated in North America and I’m glad to see it is not very prevalent in Europe.  That said, this was probably focused on America, being Waterworks.  Interesting piece but not my cup of tea.

THG Retro-style faucet for WaterworksI finished up my trip to Germany by heading northwest on Deutsche Bahn, to visit my friends at SieMatic.  It is easy to then fly back home from Amsterdam, which gives me some time to take in some strolls along the canals in Jordaan and Centraal.  Of course, I walked my favorite street again, Langestraat.  This alley-type street is just amazing.  I love how there is no sidewalk, the houses are pretty much at grade level, and the height and width proportion is just right.

Langestraat, AmsterdamThis walk was early in the morning on my way to the airport.  I singled out a house, one of many, that I love.  Can I move in?  Maybe just for the summer?

Langestraat House, AmsterdamI wonder if my current neighbors will mind if I paint my red brick rowhouse in black?

ISH 2013 – Part 2 – Fixtures

Continuing my report from ISH 2013, the Bathroom Experience show in Frankfurt, I’ll focus on fixtures that caught my interest.  First up, some lavatory basins.

This is a free-standing design by Flaminia.

Flaminia Swirl Lavatory Basin Flaminia Swirl Lavatory Basin

I like the detail of the swirl.  I’m not sure what type of material this was molded in (white matte Corian-like), but it was well done.

Laufen collaborated with Kartell for a collection which had plastic modular shelves and a faucet which had an integrated caddie-shelf.  More on the faucet on my next installment (part 3) but here was the lavatory from this collection.  A nice asymmetric shape, very cubic.  The faucet being very round and the lav being square… I thought this could have a bit more integration in concept but perhaps we’ll look at that criticism closer in the next installment.

Lavatory by LaufenSquare Lav by Laufen

Here is another design from Laufen, this one I think in steel.  I rapped the side and it made a tinny sound, so that is all I am going on.  I love the thin edge at top.

Laufen Lavatory BasinAlape does steel basins too – a company I respect a great deal.  I didn’t get any photos of their designs this time… oh wait yes I did:

Alape Stand at ISH 2013

I like the basin display above.  The selection of wood/laminates was on-trend and the quality and design solid if not exciting.Alape Lavatory

A free-standing lavatory from Zuchetti.  I love integrated towel bars and heightened functionality.  I think we could take this further, showing where/how the soap is used.  Come to think of it, having no flat surface here, this might be better for a powder room or a commercial (boutique-type) space?  Not sure where this type of columnar lav works best.

Molded Lavatory

This is one of those stands I forgot to note the manufacturer’s name.  This was a very nice, white matte finish lav with great proportions and scale.Smooth Molded BasinOn to some baths.

Duravit had a large stand, well-attended as usual.  There were some new pieces by Stark and Sieger Design, but this simple bath caught my eye.  I like the soft but elemental shape.Duravit Bath

A trend in Europe is to have baths up on pavilions.  I really like this as there is a chance to bring more materials in, it gives some accessibility to the bath (easier to get in/out), and also the chance for storage underneath.  Here are some pavilion-type installations:Universal Access Bath

This is from a company called Bette; this was very thin enameled steel.  The edge of the fixture is flush to the edge of the millwork.  Very nice detail.Enameled Steel Deck Bath

Vitra had a large display.  Some of their product was displayed behind veils, and consequently, nobody was paying attention to it.  This was a very well-proportioned bath.Vitra Bath

Something from Burgbad.  I like the “collar” design on the backrest.Bath

Another “collar” bath, this one by Laufen.Laufen Bath

A very large bath by Antonio Lupi.  One person would get lost in here.  Invite a friend!Bath by Antonio Lupi

This was my favorite bath of the show.  Faraway by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba for Zuchetti.  This was released in 2009 but I have never seen it before.  Love the shape, proportion, detail.  The wide edge is seductive.  Zuchetti is always a highlight for me.Zuchetti Bath by Ludovica and Palomba

The last bath pic is actually first I took when entering the show.  I love these sharp-edge Corian-type matte finish fixtures.  The deck would be great for a small TV or candles, etc.

Flat Edge Bath

The next round will show my faucet highlights.  As I mentioned in the first installment, the scale of this years ISH was down a bit.  There were some nice innovations in faucets, however, and since I have been working on a faucet project I was keyed in pretty close to the trends on shape and finish.  I saw some new designs which looked a lot like some things I have been working on, which is maybe not too surprising.  Maybe I’ll show some of my sketches in comparison.

ISH 2013 – The Bathroom Experience Show in Frankfurt (part one)

Just back from ISH in Frankfurt, Germany.  I also used the short time in Germany to visit SieMatic to discuss our ongoing showroom projects around the world.  A snowstorm in Frankfurt cut my trip short by one day so I had to shotgun the tour of the 5-hall bathroom show in one jet-lagged day.  I was mainly concerned with faucets, vanity cabinet ensembles and baths; here are some quick highlights.

First up are some vanities by Sanijura, a French company located near Geneva in the eastern part of the country, owned by Kohler.  I visited this factory and worked with the company years ago when working with Kohler in the Cabinet Division.  It looks like they have come a long way and I was impressed with the design and workmanship.

Saninjura Vanity CompositionI like the integrated towel bar and the colorway is very fresh.

Sanijura VanityThis ensemble shows the ongoing trend of mismatched, randomized cabinet configurations.  Next up was a company called Burgbad, from Germany.

Pressed LavatoryThis lavatory basin is molded from some sort of acrylic, like it came from one sheet of material and was folded or pressed into shape.  Very minimal and elegant, although I wish the wall color was more interesting or in more contrast.  This all-in-one bathroom pavilion was clever, with the adjacent tall cabinets part of the composition.  I like the integrated TV above the bath.

Burgbad Bathing PavilionVisible Wall StudsSupporting the tall cabinets and the other displays was a metal stud system that the company made visible on the backs.  I should have asked about it – it looked very clever.  I don’t know if it is something proprietary to the company or if it is some sophisticated European wall system.  There was a name on it – Viega.  I will have to search around for this system.

This next cabinet system was one of my favorite designs from the show.  I forgot to note the company who made this!  Anyway, the cabinets are made from laminate, but are lacquered on the fronts.  The seam (see below) is quite good.  This is an adventurous detail and it comes off quite good.  A very, very nice idea which eliminates the need for a separate radius edge side panel.

Lacquer vanity cabinet with radius edgeDetail of inside edge:

Half Laminate/Lacquer DoorNext up, a nice vanity composition with a clever, angled towel bar integrated into the countertop.  I didn’t get the name of this company either.  It is a very well-known maker but I just didn’t note it down – darned jet-lag!

Vanity System ISH 2013Detail of the towel bar.

Integrated Angled Towel BarTo me, these types of details make/break your concept.  I do not like walking around the room with dripping hands or face hunting for my towel.  I would love something similar in the kitchen…

Some designs from Kohler.  I don’t know if this is available in Kohler Germany only, but there were some nicely-detailed vanity systems.  I worked on some concepts for Kohler years ago which were very much like this.  I’m glad to see they are continuing the modular cabinet ideas.  This was called Terrace, and it was similar to the Robern Box Logic series I did 10 years ago…

Kohler TerraceThe white oak drawer accent is very nice.  Here is a detail on the “Box Logic” area on the mirrored cabinet:

Kohler Terrace Shelf SystemThe Kohler stand was a little cold and without much style.  I think they could use some brand differentiation.  This wall was a little better – just a little color, anything really.

Kohler Terrace Vanity System

Next up is a variation on the curved/integrated wall basin idea from Antonio Lupi.  Last year they showed a basin that “peeled” away from the wall, from the top down.  The face of the basin is then skimmed over with joint compound and painted to look as if the design was actually peeled away.  It is lit with LED from above.

Curved Lavatory by Antonio LupiI don’t like this much.  It is too much of a one-line joke.  If you are walking around with those wet hands looking for your towelbar… well, I guess it is not functional enough for me.  Domestic bathroom furniture should look as it works, not be a parlor trick.

Next up: some mirrored cabinets from Keuco, the master of medicine cabinets.  Nothing too innovative this year.  In fact, there was not much innovation in general at this show.  In years past there have been fabulous concepts of lifting doors, articulating features… my bet is that these cool ideas are very expensive to produce and this world economy is not supporting lavish designs at the moment.  Here was one articulating design, with the mirror section and integrated light moving in concert.

Keuco Articulating light and mirrorA mirrored cabinet.  The big news from anybody doing mirrors was the way the lighting is integrated, something we worked very hard on at Robern.  LED has made this much more elegant.

Keuco Mirrored bath cabinetA mirrored cabinet from Burgbad.  Very flashy and maybe a little too much so.

Burgbad Mirrored CabinetAll those highlighted acrylic edges were making my head hurt.  Or was it the aforementioned jet-lag?

This trip came with delays from every mode of transportation I used.  The snow delay, normally awesome German trains were late on each occasion (which means missed connections, which could be disaster if you get on the wrong train), and the flights back were not without hiccup.  Still worth the trip, however!

Next installment of ISH2013 I will cover faucets, lav fixtures and baths.

SieMatic Haus Fair 2012 – Highlights

It is that time of year again – the lovely weather and hospitality of Germany and SieMatic’s Haus Fair, an in-house factory show of new designs and finishes for 2013.  For those unfamiliar, SieMatic is a leading luxury kitchen maker in Europe, and I have been involved with this fine company for almost 20 years.  Along with 15 of my North American colleagues, I made the trek to Westphalia again for meetings and training on new product.  Here are my impressions from our visit.

SieMatic has two handle-less series of cabinets, the luxurious S2 and more price-conscious S3 series.  Many new features and new colors were introduced for S3, greatly enhancing its appeal.  Here we have a wonderfully-restrained Graphite and Lotus White gloss laminate display:

SieMatic S3 Image Kitchen from Haus Fair 2012

The same kitchen was on display with yellow accents.  The same layout as above, except the unique features are more visible in yellow, including the interesting end shelf, the yellow finger strip area and a metal frame tall glass cabinet with yellow interior.

Graphite and Yellow SieMatic S3 Display

In another display, we can see a detail of the finger grip.  Both the horizontal backing strip (aluminum) and the actual integrated grip can be color coordinated and mix-matched in a variety of new colors, including this Poppy Red.

SieMatic S3 grip slot detail in Poppy Red

Another display shows the end shelf in “Olive Green”, which is really more of an apple green.  Here the individual handles (mounted on each door) can be seen.

SieMatic S3 with Olive Green Accents

Another S3 concept showed a run of demi-height cabinets with refrigerator and oven housings on each end.  A combination of Sterling Grey and Graphite, the use of finger channel here is quite creative, showing how the cabinets can alternate between contrasting and matching; the finger channel and cooking cabinet are both Graphite.  This mix/match feature could be a powerful tool for designers to bring individual design to their kitchen clients.

SieMatic S2 Concept from Haus Fair 2012

An S2 Floating Spaces display was shown in White with Natural Oak and also in the new  Graphite Grey.  Last year’s “Floating Spaces” shelves featured nicely in this new concept, but enclosed in panels and shown in the more elegant 13mm version.  Note the integrated electrical sockets on the island end panel, and also the floor-grazing lower pullout fronts which highlight a very mono-block feel.

SieMatic S2 Floating Spaces Image Kitchen

A detail of the Graphite/Walnut display showing the shelf detail:

SieMatic S2 Concept with Natural Oak Floating Spaces Shelves

A very elegant SE/S2 Floating Spaces concept was shown in a new gloss lacquer, Agate Grey, mixed here with Black Gloss lacquer.  Almost a Beaux Arts concept, there was an abundance of sparkle from gloss lacquer, polished metal, mirror and glass.

SieMatic SE/S2 Floating Spaces Concept

Here is a close-up of the cooking area.  You can see the upper “bridge cabinets”, which featured in other displays this year as well.  The top cabinets do not match the lower, but have a randomized series of divisions for a fresh, unexpected feel.

Detail of SieMatic 8008/S2 "Beaux Arts" concept, Haus Fair 2012

The biggest news was perhaps the least sexy, from a display point of view.  SieMatic has shied away from continuous grain/book-matched veneer, until now.  For a premium over normal veneer prices, they will now do either vertical or horizontal continuous or book-matched grains on request.

SieMatic Contiuous Grain Veneer - News Haus Fair 2012

A view to the full collection of veneer from SieMatic.  These are all very useable, on-trend finishes.

Full Assortment of SieMatic Veneer

2012 marks 30 years of SieMatic in the United States.  The very first dealer, Euro Kitchens in Laguna Beach California, is still going strong.  Mr. Siekmann presented Euro Kitchens principals Claude and Fari Moritz with a special award for their amazing milestone.  I have worked with Claude and Fari on their displays and also some renderings for their clients.  Here are the three of us in one of the Haus Fair displays.

Mick Ricereto, Claude and Fari Moritz from Euro Kitchens, Laguna Beach CA.

We stayed in a couple of different small towns near the factory, both “bath towns” with natural springs and a long history of wellness.  Here is a building situated in the lovely public park in Bad Oeynhausen.

A public park building in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany

Our other town was Bad Salzuflen.  This city had a tremendous amount of character.  Walking the streets showed a variety of stone and half-timber small buildings, all in excellent shape.  Our hotel was a series of old buildings linked together, with the oldest from 1560.

Street Scene from Bad Salzuflen

In the middle of town is a large T-shaped wall of sorts.  For over two centuries, the mineral springs in this area have been mined for their salt (hence, the name Salz – meaning salt).  Water is pumped out of the ground and trickled over this structure, with the mineral deposits clinging to the surface as the water evaporates.

Bad Salzuflen Salt Structure

The walls are constructed of bundles of cut thorny brush, about 6 feet deep, placed in horizontal stacks.  Water just trickles down from the top.  As the mineral water cascades down, a refreshing seashore-like air blankets the town.  A local mentioned they replace the brush every 7 years.

Detail of Bad Salzuflen Mineral Wall

One pavilion has an interior fitted with benches for resting and taking in the air.  We tried it ourselves for a bit of jet-lag therapy.  Germans have a special “wellness clause” in their health insurance; if they need a break from the fast pace of modern life they can come visit a health resort town such as Bad Salzuflen.  I can attest that nobody was rushing around this little town – it was all about relaxing.  A detail of the interior showing the bundles of thorny brush:

Interior of Mineral Wall Structure in Bad Salzuflen, Germany

On the last night we shared a great group meal in a small timber-frame room at the hotel, drinking German wine and trying the local flavors.  It is always great to catch up with old friends at the shows, and also to welcome new people to the SieMatic family, such as the resellers from Montreal.  Speaking of Montreal, my design is being installed and the opening party is scheduled for October.  Be sure to return for those highlights later in autumn, as I plan to go back up for the final touches and to share in the celebration.

Lighting Project – “The Ice Cube” Sconce

I’ve been quiet on the product design side of business lately, at least when it comes to posting news.  But I have some very rewarding projects going, and one that just came to full fruition: the “Ice Cube” sconce, for Norwell Lighting.

I’ve done industrial design work for Norwell over the years – a great company based in New England that serves the architectural lighting community.  See their website here: http://www.norwellinc.com/  The Kathryn series of bath hardware and lighting is one of my highlights.  Last summer we worked on some concepts for new sconces and some outdoor too, and it looks like the “Ice Cube” bath sconce made the cut.  The object was to use a “standard”, popular shade; a square glass ice cube look.  Here are some concept renderings of the idea, working out the projection arm options and the overall feel.

Concept Sketch 1

This was the final concept sketch that I settled on; “flat bar no cups”:

Ice Cube - Icereto - Bath Lighting Concept for Norwell Lighting

There is a note on the single sconce about the projection arm.  I thought later to simplify the design, but the final worked out as sketched in the end.  So – how did the final product work out?  Here are pages from the new Norwell catalog.

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The name was a surprise – look at that – they dropped the first letter of my last name, the R, to get the word “Ice” – it’s awesome!  So, what is the proper pronunciation?  If we are feeling very Italian, it should be said “EEch-a-retto”.  It’s obviously close to my name, which would be said “Reech-a-retto”.  I have a feeling most will say “Ice-a-retto”, which is totally fine.  I love this!  Looking forward to more Norwell projects, and hopefully posting some of my other industrial design projects soon.