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.


Another Magazine Cover – Canadian Wood Industry

Another of my renderings was used for a magazine cover.  This time it was the October edition of Canadian Wood Industry, who used my Schindler Lovell Beach House concept in an artistic manner, for an article about working with Interior Designers.

Wood Industry Cover Rendering

My Lovell Beach house concept can be seen here:

It has been a busy year, with more renderings and great projects on my desk right now.  More updates soon, as projects develop.

A Kitchen Proposal for Schindler’s Lovell Beach House

Last autumn I entered a kitchen design contest by “re-imagining” a new kitchen for Rudolf Schindler’s iconic 1926 Lovell Beach House.  The house originally had a small domestic service wing with separate kitchen; my idea was to integrate the entire downstairs space to fit in with today’s kitchen/family room planning (all one big room), something that Schindler pioneered and perfected with later projects in the 1930’s and beyond.  Imagining one soaring space with views out to the ocean, I started planning the furniture and layout for this small but incredible little house.

A Kitchen Proposal for Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House; The Exterior

First, some details of Schindler’s masterpiece.  The Library of Congress National Engineering Record has a full set of plans online; I based my design on these plans.  The house is designed on a regular grid, with 5 huge cast-in-place concrete structural frames providing the backbone of the design.  The window walls are completely free and lay in and outside of the structure to bring in the breeze and view of the ocean beyond.  The kitchen is all the way at the back, above the garage.  Looking at the plans and sections below, you can get an understanding of how the house is put together.

Schindler's Lovell Beach House; Plan

The long facade (west) faces the end of a small street; the house is sited on a corner lot deep on the Newport Beach (California) peninsula.  The upper deck was originally sleeping porches but the client had them closed in a few years later as the area became developed and privacy became an issue.

Schindler's Lovell Beach House Elevation

The indoor and outdoor living spaces interlock and weave around the structure.  The window treatments give the house a De Stijl feel, or perhaps a little nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s decorative treatments.  Perhaps these embellishments turned contemporary critics cold, as the house was not well received among the profession despite its incredible modern structural concept.

Schindler's Lovell Beach House

This section shows how the double-height main living space allows a railing at the sleeping porch level.  Of equal importance to Schindler/Philip Lovell was to preserve as much of the site below the structure.  Hence, the raised beach house was born; raising the viewpoint for a great view of the ocean, preserving a sandy lot below and leaving room for the motor carriage below.

Schindler's Lovell Beach House Section

The house has remained private within the Lovell family since it’s construction, which means very few photographs exist of the interior.

Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House; Interior DetailI found some drawings of the divider/seating unit on the LOC site.  Schindler was to develop many intricate and important built-in furniture features throughout his career – the Lovell Beach House is an important early development in shaping interior space.  These details helped me envision how I wanted to detail the kitchen furniture.

Architectural Record published the house in the 1920’s; here is an interior view of the dividing wall, with kitchen space beyond, under the planter.  Also visible is a small servery window for which, presumably, the domestic help passed the meals into the dining area.

Schindler's Lovell Beach House Interior

So – with the introduction complete, on to my design for the kitchen.

I knew early on that I wanted to remove the wall between the dining area and service.  I retained the 6′-6 header across my opening (seen in picture above as the height of the exterior window), and the planter unit above.  A peninsula with breakfast seating faces back into the kitchen, while allowing a comfortable “assembly space” around the chef for informal gatherings.  A TV and electronics setup is directly opposite the breakfast seating.  The main storage and appliance areas are at the rear (left of plan), with main sink on the window wall above.

A Kitchen for Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House

The original foyer space must have been very cramped, so I wanted to address this “first impression” and open it up as casual as possible.  Little storage for beach gear or luggage was originally provided, so I took into account for some storage on elevation D, adjacent to the TV.  How my design would look upon entry:

A Kitchen Proposal for Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House

I placed a bench, mirror and shoe/bag storage at the extreme left.  This element was integrated with a tall cabinet to house the TV and audio equipment.  I envisioned the owners sitting at the breakfast bar or dining space with the TV up high, but opposite the beach view out the south and west windows.  Storage cubbies would be demarcated for each family member, with electronic charging and key/sunglasses storage in each box.  Because of the central location and the electronic functions, this area became known as the “command center”.  The elevation (click for better detail):

A Kitchen Proposal for Schindler's Lovell Beach House; Command Center Elevation

The view below is from the corner where the original “servery window” was between the old kitchen and dining space:

A Kitchen Proposal for Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House

From this angle, the wall of appliances is visible – but would be out of view from any point in the main living space, in order for the kitchen to “fit in” and still feel like built-in furniture.  The countertop would be a concrete-color quartz, with a drip edge at front and a raised 10cm backsplash at rear.  Behind this short wall are storage boxes with aluminum hatch doors which would have electrical receptacles inside.  Small appliances would be stored in these boxes, as well as knives and other kitchen tools.  In the foreground is an herb garden against the window.

The cabinet construction would be completely custom in white oak veneer, with a Schindler-esque finger cutout in the corner of each door or drawer.  With the wall of existing windows preventing upper wall cabinets (thankfully…), I made a new open shelf servery at the rear in the north corner.  An opposite bar complete with sink, wine cooler and glass storage makes it possible for family members to come into the space for drinks and not disturb the main meal-making area of the large sink and peninsula.

A Kitchen Proposal for Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House; Elevation A

I elected to use a downdraft vent with an induction cooktop to keep a sleek look and take advantage of the open space below for the exhaust.  With outdoor cooking and dining available all year in southern California, the kitchen would likely not be used for extensive meal making on an everyday basis.  An elevation view of the cooking peninsula:

A Kitchen Proposal for Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House

A view back to the cooking peninsula from the back of the kitchen shows how the view now extends beyond the living room, deck and out to the ocean view beyond.

A Kitchen Proposal for Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House

The servery and bar shelf storage is shown above.  Where utility is not needed (as on the servery at left), the furniture is all wood and is shaped a little more expressively to honor Schindler’s original details.

This was an intensely satisfying project to research, envision and complete.  I picked up every available book on Schindler’s work available, including early monographs and the latest critical evaluations.  I contacted the Schindler archivists at UCSB for additional material and was given a copy of the 1920’s Architectural Record article to help in my study.  Although I did not take any prizes in the competition, I now have a very deep appreciation for Schindler’s work.  I hope to take some time on my next trip to California to tour every available Schindler building and continue my study of this singular, modern architectural genius.