Working in Sketchup

Like many designers (and also hobbyists), I have been recently enamored to Sketchup.  For those unfamiliar, Sketchup is a free* 3D design software associated with Google (but sold off a few years ago to a company called Trimble).  I have been using SU to work on environment design (as opposed to product design), as it is very quick to get ideas across and quickly develop views to communicate your design intent.

Seating Area Sketch

3 Minute “Napkin Sketches” – Essential to the Design Process

Most will maintain that drawing by hand is an essential function to working out your designs.  Many are familiar with the story of a “napkin sketch”, or a squiggly Frank Gehry concept drawing; there will always be a place for quick sketches.  With tools like free 3D design packages however, detailed hand drawings are becoming too difficult to justify.

SieMatic Beaux Arts 2 Kitchen for Client in Bermuda

Hand Rendering – Charming but time to move on?

Did I say *Free?  The basic program is free but a Pro version allows many more features including the full-featured Layout element which is similar to Paper Space in AutoCAD.  I use Pro as I would like to master the Layout feature and eventually move away from ACAD.

Entry 2

Sketchup – A Quick Design and Communication Tool

As mentioned before in previous posts, I’m well aware the time-consuming method of drawing by hand is charming but inefficient in today’s design world.  Although I can draw quite quickly in a loose fashion (napkin sketches and so on), more and more of my clients are used to seeing photo-realistic renderings and as this becomes the norm pencil and marker sketches just simply will not cut it.  It isn’t the speed and the efficiency alone that renders hand drawings obsolete (sorry), but the fact that realism is so easily obtainable and frankly expected in luxury interior presentations.  Worst is when you need to present a few options in the same space; this is where digital designing such as SU can manage things in a few clicks.

Classic Main Alt

Basic SU Presentation.  No Post-SU rendering needed for quick images such as this.

Although my screen shots show basic line work, you can always export your SU model to a rendering package (also inexpensive) to get into photo realism.  It should be noted there are consultancies – many in Eastern Europe or Asia – who do nothing but make renderings of complex buildings and other important 3D projects.  These “Rendering Farms” have super computers toiling away to make your models look like the CGI from Skywalker Ranch.

After working in SU for a year or two, it became quite clear that although I don’t need CGI-level rendering yet, the quality of materials representation and purchasable interior elements make a big difference to the quality of your design.  Looking at my screen shots above, I’m referring to not only the realism of the stone floor but the appliances, the paintings I placed on the wall (small replications of a friend’s work), the chairs – all the things we called Entourage back in the pens-and-marker days.  With hand drawings you draw these elements yourself, or Photoshop things in later.  With 3D design, you can insert scale models of products into your room.  One of Sketchup’s most powerful features is their database of objects you can download and use in your design; the 3D Warehouse.

SU Warehouse Image

A View to Mick’s 3D Warehouse Page

The 3DW is a user-uploaded repository of free models.  If it has been uploaded to the Warehouse, you can use it.  Some “power users” display entire buildings and iconic models they constructed in the manner of a gallery.  I have seen the Empire State Building, Endeavor Space Shuttle, Tie Fighters … there are some incredible models uploaded to the 3DW.  For me and other furniture designers/manufacturers however, the 3DW presents a unique opportunity to get our products in the hands of architects and specifiers.  By having your commercially-available designs in the 3DW, there is a very good chance of having your pieces specified when the design gets executed in real life.  With this in mind, I have recently been converting my product designs to the SU 3DW format and uploading them for other designers and hobbyists to use.  In the first week I had a couple of hundred downloads of some of my lighting designs.  Who is looking at/using my product models?  This I do not know, as there is not a feedback loop or way to track who is using what.

SU Screenshot

Screen Shot of Sketchup Interface – and the Popular Ilex SPAL24 Space Array Fixture

So far the most popular of my products is the above Space Array fixture, at over a hundred downloads by itself.  Not bad for the first week.  I looked at some iconic furniture pieces by well-known manufacturers and their downloads were in the many thousands.  Surely some of these model usages will result in actual sales, right?

How many of you, dear readers, are using Sketchup and the 3D Warehouse?  Do you use actual products you intend to specify for the final project?  Does the availability of a model on the 3DW increase your chance of using it in real life?

With dozens of lighting fixtures currently in production – not to mention the scores of Amerock hardware designs I did between 2004 and 2009 – I could put a huge amount of product on the 3DW.  I’ll continue to focus on the newer and better designs for now, with the hope of getting a wider audience for my more marketable designs.

If you are a Sketchup user please have a visit to my product gallery and try some of my lighting and hardware in your models.  I’d love to know how they work in your designs.

https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/by/MickRicereto

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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.

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 – 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.

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.

 

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.

Image

Image

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.