IMM 2015 – The Kitchens

In this third installment of my trip to IMM in Cologne, it’s time to show the news in kitchens.  My trip’s main purpose was to travel with SieMatic and work with their customers on future showroom planning.  Naturally, our first stop when arriving at the massive fairgrounds was to visit the SieMatic stand.

SieMatic Stand IMM 2015

SieMatic has a new category system to describe their offerings: Urban, Pure and Classic.  As we do in the best showrooms and studios throughout the world, the stand created convincing environments to illustrate each style.  The overall feel is unified by a single floor and ceiling treatment, and all the product finishes compliment each other in the relative proximity.

This first view is from the outside “long side’ of the stand, which was a freestanding rectangle positioned right at the front of hall 4.  This new Urban kitchen is in a fresh lacquer color called Umbra, mixed with Matte Black Oak.

SieMatic at IMM 2015

The feeling is very free and open.  Note the exposed drawers at right below, which coordinates with the shelves above them.  The island is anchored by a herb garden planter, which as you will see throughout this post was a very big trend this year.  (I’m proud to say I predated this trend 2 years ago with my Schindler Lovell Beach House concept kitchen – seen here).SieMatic at IMM 2015

I love the feel of this display, how casual and yet quite put together it is.  On the far left you can see the new SieMatic 29 sideboard; this new idea goes back to SieMatic’s origins to 1929 but in an updated, sleeker skin.

SieMatic 29 Urban Sideboard

This detail shows another 29 Sideboard in Titan White.  Note the flooring, the table and the glass wall in the above photo.  The main thrust of SieMatic’s new designs are to present a fetching and convincing luxury environment.  The stand’s feel was reminiscent of the newest design studios that we are executing around the world.SE3003R by SieMatic

This display, just in front of the previous on the long side, shows a little more of the stand’s architecture.  This is SieMatic’s new SE3003R, a very thin framed-type door which is very crisp in execution.  Seen here at the end of the last day (not crowded), you can get a sense of the minimalist lines and detail.  Note the chandeliers in each display, as SieMatic’s designers are very keen to use and align with the very best and creative furniture and accessory partners to get the right look.

SieMatic Classic Kitchen

 

Above is Classic, an evolution of the Beaux Arts series.  SieMatic could sit back on this successful line and be no worse for wear, but instead continually push the idea of what Classic is for today’s living.  The mix of materials and detail of surfacing is masterful.  This is a most modern “classic”, with only the presence of framed doors linking it to any sense of tradition.  The realm of possibility using the Classic style seems almost limitless as the combination of framed, flat and metal cabinet surfaces gives the designer many options to personalize with unexpected detail.

SieMatic 3003R

Above is a detail of the new SE3003R framed door.  This is a very thin frame of only 6.5mm.  Offered in lacquer colors and also this interesting Gold-Bronze, the integrated handle can be color coordinated or the door can be used with no handles at all (push latch).  This breakfront detail is a new trend; we used to pull cabinets forward a few years ago, to demarcate special areas and create visual interest.  I really like using this treatment but it can go overboard quickly in less judicious hands.

I mentioned environment and styling; here are two views of how SieMatic is using graphics to create emotion and tie into existing architecture and urban surroundings to illustrate the appropriate mood for Pure:

Cozy Seating at SieMatic

Using London’s Gherkin building nicely:

Styling at SieMatic IMM 2015

The styling is extremely important for presentation of interior products.  The visit to a studio or show stand should embrace you in a story of emotions unique to your particular brand.  A guest should feel like she is entering a series of inspiring apartments during an open house, with the sense you could move in yourself, or, that just by walking in you know what the people who live there are like.  SieMatic has created these convincing environments and I’m very happy to be continually involved with this exciting brand.

Let’s see some other kitchen brands; this is Ernestomeda.  Very nice details including creative use of stone for vertical surfaces.  The backsplash area of this island has compartments that can be used for cooking tools and of course, an herb garden.

Ernestomeda at IMM 2015

I don’t have all the details in my notebook on each photo, so some of these I’m showing just because I liked the detail or layout.  This double perpendicular island is bridged with an eating surface – very cool:

Double Bridge Island IMM 2015

Note the LED lights at the finger grip, and the simulated (or possibly real) stone surface of the cabinet faces – big trends this year.

The placement of accent shelves in contrasting colors has been a strong movement for the past few years.  I liked this corner shelf arrangement.

Open Shelf Detail

This kitchen was essentially one big multi-function island.  Note the storage bins and ever-present herbs, great open shelf tower and integrated seating surface.

Creative Kitchen Shelves

I loved this tall blue shelf, which is reminiscent of the shelf cluster I showed from the furniture post last week.  The use of push-pull cabinets is very effective here, even in a small laminate L-shaped display.

Blue Open Kitchen Shelf

I mentioned Poliform in a previous post about IMM; here is their sister kitchen brand Varrena.  Similarly detailed architecture, which is to say, exquisite.

Varenna at IMM 2015

Like most of the Italian luxury brands Varenna really understands how to create environment.  You forget you are walking through a temporary show stand as you wander around and explore all the little details in this fabulous space.

Varenna at IMM 2015

The floor was the same as used in the Poliform side, which unified the entire space.  In fact, there was barely any perceived separation between the furniture, closets and kitchen presentation.  It really felt like walking through a series of apartments.

Detail of Varenna kitchen

I was particularly enamored with the above display’s use of open space and how this island did not engage with the wall.  When using flat surfaces it is often the joints or points of haptic connection where all the magic is revealed.

Varenna at IMM 2015

These end-panel treatments are from the Poliform closet display:

End Detail by Poliform

And a similar detail on the kitchen side:

Varenna Kitchen Detail

I’ve never personally used such dark colors in the kitchen, but this is definitely a trend in the industry.  We have moved on a bit from the “nightclub” look from a few seasons ago, but this is still very much a sexy urban apartment setting.

Varenna Kitchen IMM 2015

This detail of the upper shelf shows how much care was put into the styling.  Accessorizing a kitchen display is one of the fun parts of our business.

Creative Open Kitchen Shelf

Moving on, here is another use of stone surfacing, this time everything is covered in the same marble look:

Stone Kitchen Detail at IMM 2015

More stone laminate, this one a little unconvincing:

Stone Look Laminate

This is from Leicht, a very popular brand in Germany.  The stone look here is also laminate, this time in a simulated concrete look.

Leicht Kitchen at IMM 2015

The brand Eggersman had some nice details.  The walls were OSB – oriented strand board – painted black.  In contrast to this humble material, here were mirror-polished stainless cabinet surfaces:

Mirror Stainless Cabinets

In the reflection you can see a very strange stone finish, used again in a monolithic manner as a kitchen island.

As an aside, you can also see my red vinyl belt, which is made from old VW Beetle seat vinyl.  I love this belt – it was made by a guitar strap craftsman in California.  Anybody who has been in a 1950’s or 60’s Beetle knows this surface, and with it comes a unique smell.  However, it is not the vinyl that has the odor, it is the horse hair stuffing they used.  I know that smell with trigger a huge rush of memories the next time I sit inside an old Bug, which any reader of Proust would also predict.

 

Speaking of smells, the aroma of fresh bread brought us to the appliance side where Gaggenau was demonstrating their fabulous ovens.  The stand’s architecture used raw plywood in a creative way for the roof/cornice structure.

Gaggenau at IMM 2015

A detail of the interior:

Gaggenau at IMM 2015

Another brand used raw plywood, Schueller.  This stand was very large, and was a little village of buildings showing their collections of appliances.  Very creative.

Raw wood stand at IMM 2015

As I mentioned in a previous post, after the show our group took a train to Amsterdam to see the new SieMatic flagship showroom installation.  On the way over to the train station I started to get that achy feeling that a cold or flu was on the way.  Later that night I was in full-blown chills and didn’t sleep a wink.  Although my time in A’dam was mostly confined to the hotel room, I still managed to visit the showroom and get some impressions – I’ll cover this in my next post.

 

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IMM 2015 – Part Two

In my last post, I was reviewing my visit to IMM 2015 in Cologne, Germany.  We left off looking at living room environments with an eye on interesting black & white patterns and 1970’s influences.  Let’s continue with some Italian makers:

1970's Tropical Salon at IMM 2015

Last week I talked about the ’70s feel and an overall softness to new furnishings around the show.  This was a strong theme with the Italian design leaders, like this comfy environment above.  This room looks like it could have been plucked from a disco-era Milano apartment.  The lush tropical plants definitely have an impact and again, this was a reoccurring theme of the week.  Interestingly, a recent article in the New York Times about reducing clutter and the simplification of our domestic environments noted that Italian interiors tend to be the most busy, typically filled with family heirlooms and objects of decorative curiosity.  Here we are above, owning it.

This dining room is a little more restrained but still lush and inviting.

Lush dining space at IMM 2015

Very bold use of lavender and green tones here; I could not confidently use these colors together.

Gallotti & Radice at IMM 2015

This next brand is Gallotti + Radice.  I loved the feel here; again a retro feel but more subdued and curated.  It’s like my hip Italian grandmother decided to clean up a little before we come over before Sunday brunch.  The grey-blue wall color was so deep I felt like taking a swim.  Mixing of metals and soft furnishings along with expert accessory work kept the eye moving slowly and enjoyably.

Gallotti + Radice at IMM 2015

The grey oak laminate floor is my latest underfoot crush; this look is popping up everywhere but rightfully so – neutral enough to go with everything but a solid base tone that holds it all together.  These shelves are heavily accessorized but the realism of this room is enveloping and I indeed lingered for quite awhile, relaxing in all the seats I could.  Looking back, the lighting was also well done which really helps hold an exhibit together.

Soft colors at IMM 2015

Note the darkness on this velvety-soft little sofa.  The lighting highlights the edges, art and shelves.  Nice touch.  Of particular note at Gallotti + Radice was the artwork and the carefully curated reading materials about.  Altogether, a welcoming place to be.

Moving to a more minimalist vein, we walked over to Poliform.

Poliform Bedroom

I could never be tired of this Poliform bedroom.  The dark walls and floor, the careful use of color and the way the sheets are ruffled is all so perfectly composed.

Relaxing in the Italian Modern Chair

Here my friend Kelly Carpenter looks adorable in a comfortable chair/ottoman combo.  I was pretty jet lagged here so it’s good she is sitting and not me – I might not have got up.

Shelves at Poliform, IMM 2015

Plain floors and textured walls.  The use of simple carpets on dark floors is very popular and as mentioned above, works well in every room.

Poliform Shelving

Tall shelves were everywhere at IMM.  Combined with other elements – low pieces and also with lots of open wall space – keeps the eye entertained and helps demarcate space into human-size chunks.  A company called Capod’opera had a nice display with some remarkable shelf ideas:

Capod'opera at IMM 2015

That tall cluster to the left contained some astounding millwork detail.  A combination of open and closed boxes in a range of blue-grey, composed in the still-fresh random arrangements I have been seeing the past few seasons.  Here is a detail:

High Shelf Element by Capod'opera

We’ll see more interesting shelves in kitchens with the next post.

Although my notes fail to remind me of the makers, I was impressed with the color, accessories and furniture detailing in these vignettes:

IMM 2015

Nice vignettes at IMM 2015

Another nice shelf design, this one by 1920R, who specializes in solid-hewn timber furniture.

1920R Shelving at IMM 2015

I’ll move into the most exciting part of the show – the kitchens – in the next installment.  Before closing today, a peek at the Koelner Doem – the Cathedral.  I have been to Cologne many times and of course I walk over to this masterpiece.  I had done a paper/study on this building in Art History III and visiting it the first time was massively impressive.  Repeated visits do not disappoint.

Interior of Cologne Cathedral

So, with kitchens next I’ll also show some pictures of our side trip to SieMatic’s new flagship showroom in Amsterdam, an masterstroke of environment design integrated into a wonderful old 2 story building near the Museumplein.

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.

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