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  • Bread, Espresso &...Design

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    contemporary cafe designs

    When the idea struck to cover my favorite cafe designs across the globe, Tokyo's uber-chic bread and coffee hot spot Bread, Espresso & was a shoe-in to lead the story. This design savvy cafe typifies today's resurgence in artisanal bread and coffee and the increasing focus on design that seems to accompany the resurgence.

    Located just blocks away from Bread, Espresso & is Omotesando Koffee (pictured below). Housed in a traditional Japanese residence in Tokyo's Omotesando district, it originally opened as a pop-up space to showcase barista Eichii Kunitomo's skill (although the cafe recently announced a two year lease extension). The box-like kiosk design and a charming paper note chandelier nonetheless point to the cafe's temporary nature.

    mid-century modern chandeliers

    If paper notes and binder clips aren't your thing, the Possini Euro White Flower (pictured above right) offers a more permanent chandelier solution.

    In the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mar Vista, Earl's Gourmet Grub leaves no detail unturned, with a gently torqued ceiling design. Drop sky lights provide natural light, while recessed lighting illuminates the plywood fans down the length of the cafe.

    Contemporary Restaurant Designs

    Earl's architects, LA/NY based Freeland Buck, applied computational methods usually reserved for skyscraper construction to the restaurant's interior details, as in this alpine inspired design that runs along the wall of the space. 

    Computational Architecture Rendering

    Similar to Earl's Gourmet Grub, a torque motif defines the direction at a Starbucks back in Tokyo, yet again in the Omotesando neighborhood. Designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates, this design arranges timber into a cornucopia shape across the ceiling, resulting in contemporary yet naturally comfortable interior.

    A similar organic flow of materials could rightly be used to describe the cafe by designers B3 which debuted at the 2008 London Design Festival. Constructed entirely from carboard boxes, this truly is a pop-up cafe. Folded, it can be transported in a single car. As with Kengo Kuma's Starbucks, directional and track lighting help to expose the textured design without overpowering it.

    Pop up cafe designs

    At Munich's Das Neue Kubitscheck (by Designliga) rectangular motifs dominate as well, offset by charming pastels in this comfortable neighborhood cafe. 

    modern european cafes

    The above examples are my favorites. When it comes to good coffee and good design however, they're just the tip of the iceberg. I invite you to discover your own, and by all means, share them with us.

    Images: Cafe Snap, Spoon & Tamago, Tokyoblog, Freeland Buck, JapanOnline, designboom, Design Made in Germany

  • The Modern Dining Room

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    Loft style dining room

    Smooth and sophisticated, the modern dining room has clean lines, cool art and lots of style! This Mid-Century Modern dining room is designed with the "loft" aesthetic, making use of one large room divided into multiple spaces. Modern pendant lighting helps highlight the dining area.

    Colorful kitchen cabinets

    The loft look is popular, but so is color and when it comes to color, this kitchen does not disappoint! The colorful kitchen even doubles as art for this modern all-white dining room.

    Vicente Wolf dining room

    Mixing and matching modern dining chairs with a classic table is another hot dining trend. These stark white modern dining chairs paired with this heavy wood table, all set against Spanish tile floors makes for one perfect design collision.

    There are no rules to modern dining room design, whether its one room or one larger space. Mix materials, use lots of color or just keep it simple and clean... it all looks amazingly stylish and modern!

    Images: Tendir, Home Designing, House & Home

  • Best Kitchen of EuroCucina 2012

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    Black metal kitchen

    My choice for the Best Kitchen at EuroCucina 2012 was the debut of Natural Skin and Mina from Minacciolo. The lines explored a range of finishes and details that were incredibly classic in style, but extremely innovative in function and use of materials. I expected that I just might see more of this style of kitchen at the show, but I did not! And this is why Minacciolo gets my vote for best in show! Oh and by the way, their booth was incredible as well! Imagine about 20' high walls of deliciously red fresh tomatoes in beautiful natural wood crates with black steel frames. A perfect blend with the lines introduced!

    Black metal kitchen with knobs

    "Once upon a time there was a stove... Mina, the new concept of multifunctional composition: the taste of tradition is dressed by new technologies, refined details, and Italian craftsmanship. The purity of black metal and the essence of shape become absolute and timeless, giving rise to the new object of desire for any type of environment: minimalist, traditional, classic."

    Red Knobs in the Kitchen

    The red knobs against the matte black surface were a stunning detail!  

    Red Knobs and Modern Kitchens

    Red accents are always powerful accessories whether it be red lighting or hardware.

    Metal rail on top of cabinetry

    The steel rail wraps the island and is the perfect functional detail in any kitchen!

    Hand sawn knotty pine cabinetry

    "A warm, natural skin that covers a totally black structure... Natural Skin gives the possibility to create new surfaces puncuated by minimal plate inserts. A kitchen to live, synthesis and perfect combination of nature and modern technology, to serve also the most demanding chef. Wood and metal merge and become harmonious contrasts."

    Rough Sawn Knotty Pine Pantry with integrated appliances

    The hand sawn knotty pine with the slab front doors and modern integrated handles was an incredible look. The knotty pine adds so much character and still remains very modern in aesthetic.

    Knotty Pine Pantry with integrated appliances

    The cabinet interiors are decked to the nines! 

    Rough Sawn Knotty Pine Detail

    Take a close up look at the hand sawn knotty pine. This is all the rage right now in hardwood floors and contemporary lighting, but the use of this material on the cabinet doors is really interesting to me.   

    Tomato crate walls at Best of EuroCucina 2012

    Look at those tomato crates!! 

    Black Stained Rough Sawn Knotty Pine cabinets with metal cabinets

    Oh and do you see those vent hoods! You can see my photos of the black version of the knotty pine, which was my all time favorite. I thought that I would've seen way more of this at the show, but I didn't. Which is somewhat exciting because I really hope I continue to see more!

    Images: Minacciolo, DesainerAnnie May

  • Modern Kitchen Design Done Artfully

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    Art in kitchen

    Who says you can't put art in the kitchen? No room should be forgotten when it comes to adding art on the walls. It's a beautiful way to add color, personality, and in this case... vegetation!

    Framed art in the kitchen

    The placement of home decor accessories in the kitchen, like art doesn't have to be dominating or a major statement piece, it can be subtle. Adding just a few pieces alongside some glass and ceramic containers on open shelving is a nice addition to any kitchen.

    Gold finish framed art in the kitchen

    The use of mixed materials is a statement in itself, but this art piece flanked by two modern pendant lights really makes this kitchen stand out.

    Images: Drago Capital, The Marion House Book, Home Sweetness

  • The Materials of EuroCucina 2012

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    Marble countertops black porcelain bar top and cutting board.

    It's been an amazing week in Milan. Still jet lagged and trying to get this electrical situation straight, but it's all OK. Because I was not able to charge my battery on my camera, I'm delivering you some shots of the fabulous products at EuroCucina via my not so fabulous camera phone! There were some amazing new materials introduced this year and I'm extremely excited about them! Also, the combination of materials was stunning and created so much dimension. The kitchens really became one with nature without having that reclaimed feeling we've been seeing for the past few years. The above kitchen mixed thin black porcelain tile, marble slabs, and butcher block to create this piece of art, standardly called an island. The porcelain tile wraps the modern faucet, the marble caps the downdraft, and the cutting board rests and slides along the length of the island. It is pure genius!

    Concrete cabinetry with concrete countertops

    This concrete kitchen was one of my absolute favorites from the shows. You may think that the doors are going to weigh a ton, but not with the new technology! The concrete material is basically veneered on a solid panel. This gives you the complete look of concrete, but without the weight. The drawers operate smoothly and the look is something that is so unique! The contemporary lighting options for the concrete are endless, but personally I love it with modern industrial floor lamps. Big things to come with concrete cabinetry and concrete furniture.    

    Stone Veneer Cabinetry and Wall Panel with Oak Cabinetry

    The thin stone veneer panels make beautiful drawer fronts! The mitered edges on this cabinet work so perfectly with the clean and perfectly straight edges of the stone veneer. The drawer fronts are durable and one of the most amazing parts is that it can also be used as the countertop which creates, in this case, an island that is a solid volume within the space. The material is then used again on the wall and allows the natural wood veneer to contrast with such elegance.  

    Thick marble countertop laquer island and smoked oak tabletop

    Porcelanosa did a great job of combing materials to create a sculptural look that breaks up the length of the island. It's a genius selection of marble countertops, white laquer cabinetry, and a smoky oak wood veneer table that is combined with impeccable detail.  

    Natural Stone Countertop with Rough Edges with Steel Cabinetry

    Another one of my all time favorites was the use of corten steel on cabinet drawer fronts. This application is such a great alternative to your standard stainless drawers and you don't have to worry about fingerprints! It mixes great with a sleek clean edge of natural stone or like as it was displayed at this booth. The thick raw edge of the natural stone is an incredible look.

    Image Source: Annie May

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