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Design Inspirations  Green Talk
            
 

 

Thursday
Jun022011

Upcycling - Design Trends Follow U.S. Psyche

UpCycling is a new trend that appeals to 'optimists' who reject waste, value craftsmanship and items with history.  There are actually four 'lifestyle' trends according to Fawn Chang of PPG Pittsburgh Paints.  Based on the compilation of extensive research, PPG analyzed the current U.S. psyche.  According to Chang, we are cautiously stepping out of the recession/depression that we have been experiencing and adding color back into our lives.  We are coming  from a 'recession prison grey' palette so we are retaining a lot of neutrals but with a pleasant addition of color.  

As a 'sustainable' designer I am familiar with the term UpCycling, but this is the first time I am aware of it coming into mainstream lifestyle images, colors and designs. I am intrigued that our acceptance and dedication to recycling (sending materials away to be recycled) is pushing the new trend of UpCycling.  UpCycling as a design concept is basically taking existing items and creating something new from them.  A stereotype of UpCycling that we may be familiar with is art that is made from bottle caps or plastic bags.  UpCycling is more than art, however, these are functional items  that are created from your existing collection of 'stuff.'  UpCycling as a lifestyle trend is all about living simply and wasting nothing. 'It embodies simple living, keeping only what is functional and personal.'

My friend and colleague Vidal Bitton created this wonderful outdoor seating for his new juice bar at Lakeview Yoga and Wellness Center.  Located on the Burke Gilman Trail in Kenmore, this juice bar and seating area is the perfect refuge on a hot sunny day.  

Bitton salvaged old plastic laminate tables, painted the plastic laminate (believe it or not, it looks great) and built wood benches that are permanently attached to the table.  Between the heavy table metal table base and the stained benches, these units are stable, weather resistant and UPCYCLED!   

As far as our renewed desire to include color in our surroundings, I defer to PPG's statement..."Our color choices are more and more about what makes us feel happy." 

And right now, I am very happy! Ciao!

Monday
May162011

The Future of Kitchens

We are always trying to predict the future, with questionable success.  However, some trends are evident (as explained by Kitchen Distributors reference to the National Association of Homebuilders study  on kitchen design.)  The trend will be towards smaller homes.   With smaller homes comes smaller kitchens.  With smaller kitchens there is a bigger premium put on EFFECTIVE storage solutions;  replacing the walk in pantry with 24" deep pull out pantries, using every corner, every inch of floor space.    Even using the space INSIDE of the wall (yes we can build shallow cabinets that fit between the studs) so that you can gain storage without infringing into precious floor space. 

Many kitchens  double as a passage way to other parts of the home similar to this galley kitchen.  With space at a premium, kitchen designers use built in finger pulls on cabinets doors to eliminate protruding handles.  Space issues will also promote the open concept (no walls) between the kitchen, living and dining areas.  With some kitchens that means eliminating a wall and replacing it with an island.  With other kitchens it means eliminating the island. 

With openness comes exposure.  All the MESS needs to be hidden...somewhere.  Everything that is on the counter will be seen by everyone.  (Do you really want to see the rice cooker from the living room sofa?)  New openness will force us to rethink our storage/cabinet needs as well as our cooking accessory purchases.  Remember that brief trend that had garage style doors that pulled down to hide the kitchen?  Well, that may be a little extreme.....

Contact me with your thoughts! Ciao!

Tuesday
May102011

Green Talk - Grid or No Grid

No matter what we say (in the US), we really appreciate our GRID.  GRID provides us with instant electricity, clean water for our homes and natural gas for heating.  It also provides us with telephone lines and cable tv.  GRID is like a parent that we have a love/hate relationship with.  When we dream about going 'off the grid' we are usually just wanting to conserve our use of energy and reduce our dependency on GRID.    GRID understands our desire for privacy from the 'invasive' reaches into our homes.  GRID likes to live in the big cities.  You don't have to go too far away to experience homes with wells, septic tanks, and generators and no GRID. Actually, if governments make no change to existing policies, 1.3 billion people, or 16% of the world's population, will still lack access to electricity in 2030.  (Did you ever experience Ray Anderson's Global Village presentation? If so, you remember the shock of how few people have clean drinking water in the world.)

GRID understands our struggle for independence.  GRID helps us break away by providing energy to factories that make solar panels, hydro pumps and cell phones.  Ironically, it is the power of new technology (powered by GRID) that allows developing nations leapfrog GRID.  In countries like Niger, where expensive infrastructures like telephone lines are lacking, cell phones are changing and improving lives.  In the past, farmers would travel from market to market to learn prices, wasting time.  Now, they call around on cell phones and obtain prevailing prices for their harvest.  In the case of emergencies, people can call for help from neighboring villages.  There is even a new form of commerce, called mobile money that allows rural people without access to banks to transfer money across long distances by phone.  The local cell phone provider began allowing people to transfer phone time that they had purchased to other customers.  This has become a de facto form of currency; people transfer phone time to pay their debts. 

So, GRID, I thank you for making our lives easier and safer, but I've been thinking that I would try to break a couple ties and try promoting housing with net zero energy use.  It's been nice, and believe me, it is me, not you.

To post a comment visit www.christinesuzuki.com

Tuesday
May032011

Not your ordinary kitchen sink

Are you familiar with apron front sinks?  They are usually installed in traditional kitchens, country kitchens and summer homes.  This year, APRON FRONT SINKS ARE BACK with zest!  And they are significantly different than the existing styles.  Some apron front sinks require custom made cabinets that can support 200 pounds!  Hand made sinks can have enough variance in dimensions that you have to wait until the sink arrives to start building the custom cabinet. NOT THESE NEW SINKS. 

Straight from KBIS (annual Kitchen and Bath show), is the new Apron-Front sink from Kohler; the Whitehaven self trimming under mount sink.  Kohler is smart;  they made this sink for both new construction and for remodelers.  This new, clean lined sink is available with both a 9" and a 7"  front that can fit into an existing 36" sink cabinet.  Available in all the standard colors it comes with a counter top cutout template for "perfect, predictable  installation results." 

  

I am REALLY excited about the new Vault sink.  This is a Contemporary Apron-Front Sink. Isn't that an oxymoron?  This sink is sweet, clean lined, under mount and contemporary.  PLUS, if one of your objections to apron-front sinks is the single basin feature, wait no more.  Kohler is smart again, they have a version of the Vault that has a low divide, providing division, but still retaining the apron-front sink look.   Even sweeter, they come with a metal bottom basin rack at no extra charge!  I'm sold!

For more information on the Vault sink visit our 'Featured Products' page on this website. 

I look forward to hearing your comments and responses to these products.  Please email, call or respond to this blog! 206.517.4424   Ciao!

Tuesday
Apr192011

Banquette Seating expands useable space

update to blog of February 28, 2010

I'm a big proponent of maximizing the space you are given. Banquette seating is great for the home with the 'small' eating space in the kitchen that really is never big enough for a table and four chairs.  Some people have very small dining rooms that also have the same challenge.     

We just finished a recent project that had this issue.  The clients wanted to be able to seat 8-10 people in their dining space.  We designed/built a banquette that fits nicely under the window sill, coordinates with the other furnishings in the home and accommodates the heat vent.  Plus, the fabric selected is anti-microbial and stain resistant!  A channel in the base funnels the heat from the duct on the wall to the new vent cover in the toe kick.

 

 

Both the seats and the back have springs in them similar to commercial grade restaurant booths keeping them comfortable but firm.   The fabric is pulled tight (no loose cushions) and there is a coordinating welt that marries the back of the cushion to the wall.  This contemporary style fits in nicely with the decor and architecture of the home.  It looks like it was meant to be there  - which is what we want.  :)

We have added Banquette Seating to our featured products page, as I am a proponent of locally made custom seating that maximizes space!     As usual, contact me with questions, Chiao!