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  • Self-Contained: Marvelous Mini Kitchens


    Boffi Mini Kitchen

    I love the challenge presented by small spaces, perhaps nowhere more than in the kitchen. How do you squeeze a functioning galley into a small space and still maintain a certain level of aesthetic in the process?

    The standard bearer of the self-contained mini kitchen is Boffi's Mincucine (pictured above). Designed in 1963 with a volume just shy of 11 cubic feet, this mini kitchen covers cooking, refrigeration and storage in a space the size of an office desk, wrapped in a brilliant, minimalist design.

    The original Minicucine was updated in 2007 with a gorgeous matte Corian finish.

    Boffi minicucine

    Students at ENSCI, the famed Parisian industrial design school were clearly influenced by Boffi when they designed their Modern Space Saving Mini Kitchen. Sliding counters and a streamlined design give the concept piece a Star Trek allure.

    Mini Kitchen

    With storage, prep and cooking all wrapped into a single, mobile unit, these kitchens contain everything but the lighting. Mini-pendant lights are a great way to light these minimalist wonders without overpowering their diminutive size.

    Mini-Pendant Lights

    Hinkley Hampton Wide Nickel Mini Pendant Light, (left) Polished Nickel Hybrid Mini Pendant (right)

    Mini kitchens can seem almost automotive in their presentation. Concept photos show gleaming stand-alone pieces with doors swung open and there's a distinct emphasis as much on performance as on form. Designers Adriano Conti, Corrado Galzio and Alex Innamorati pack a lot of punch into their design, including a vegetable washer, dishwasher, refrigerator, small pantry and oven. At approximately three feet in diameter, this design could be tucked away into a closet when house guests arrive. Or as the photo shows, it makes a decent cocktail table too.

    Pocket Kitchen

    A trend toward higher density living no doubt necessitates small living solutions, yet as logistically accomplished as compacted island kitchen concepts are, more conservative back-to-the-wall designs may be best suited to widespread use. The K1 Kitchen from French company Kitchoo is a minimalist bureau design that integrates easily with a variety of hospitality and home projects.

    Kitchen cabinet

    When space is an issue, modularity often carries the day, offering flexibility that stand-alone mini kitchens do not. Forget about what's on the stove, Snaidero's modular Code kitchen system is worth salivating over. It looks great with ample floor space, but can be scaled down to fit a much smaller footprint.

    Snaidero modular kitchen

    The Library Kitchen system, designed by Phillipe Starck for Warendorf, wraps the kitchen appliances in bookshelves, merging the cultural and the culinary for tight spaces. 

    Philippe Starck kitchen

    When counter space is tight, it can be critical to utilize air space. Use stemware racks, recessed under cabinet lights and hanging pot racks to help keep cabinets and counters free. 

    Living small requires living smart. With a variety of excellent plug-and-play and modular systems out there, living small can mean living well too.

    Images:  Informinteriors, Doublemesh, Freshome, Snaidero, Home Designing

  • Barbara Bestor Shakes Up the Design at Pitfire Pizza


    Bright Red Steel Brick Oven and Yellow Powder Coated Barstools

    Barbara Bestor has always been one of my favorite Los Angeles Architects and she proves herself to me once again. If someone was going to successfully transform this old concrete-box Shakey's Pizza surrounded by an asphalt parking lot into a fun and modern hangout, who else would it be? Well, Bestor Architecture did just that for Pitfire Pizza in this Culver City location. The space was completely stripped down to it's bones to reveal the industrial elements of the space and fully opened it up to the exterior. The results... an incredible light filled space with artisan elements as delicious as the pizza and elements of pop as playful as the price!

    Red Brick Oven Pizza Douglas Fir Tables Exposed Beams

    Bestor was inspired by Lina Bo Bardi as she created this bright red steel brick oven. This bold statement truly defines what the space is all about. The marine plywood walls and douglas fir tables keep with the natural aesthetic of the brand while the bold accent colors of the powder coated barstools (designed by the firm) really show it's all in the details. Bright yellow furniture and lighting accents pop throughout the space. 

    Vintage Chairs Douglas Fir Table Concrete Bench with plywood Back pendant lights with exposed bulbs

    The Douglas Fir Table and espresso finish vintage modern dining chairs stand out as the silver vinyl cushion disappears into the concrete bench. The exposed bulb lighting fixtures hang simply throughout the space to create a nice elegant glow.

    Exposed Ceiling Bold window graphics douglas fir tables vintage chairs

    The space now fully opens to the landscaped patio. The natural light floods the space and the interior lighting only needs to be turned on in the evening.  

    Open Kitchen Plan Red Steel Brick Oven Pizza Exposed Ceiling and Powder Coated Bar Stools

    The open interior plan provides a very easy-going atmosphere suitable for family and large groups.  

    Bright Yellow "Yes" Graphics Bright Red Brick Graphic

    The exterior has been stripped down and she has created a play on the existing concrete block. "A bold graphic move sets the atmosphere and allows you to be fairly minimalist with the rest of it," she says. 

    Bold Graphic Extra large Brick Pattern Modern Architecture

    I'm definitely going to say "YES" next time I drive by! 

    Images: Bestor Architecture

  • FASTViNIC Goes Green in Barcelona


    Turquoise Window with red graphics

    After Milan I took a little trip over to Barcelona and although I only had a few days to wander through these amazing streets, my experience was incredible. The food was great, the people were so nice, the architecture was stunning, and the level of design was far above par. As I was wandering home on my last day there after visits to many gorgeous museums, the boqueria, and my favorite the Gothic Quarter, I stumbled upon this little gem of a restaurant. It was the bold red graphics and the turquoise window frame that made me peek in. FASTViNIC is a food haven in Barcelona with an interior as mouth-watering as the food!  

    Modern restaurant Design and Barcelona

    The restaurant is 100% organic in style and selection of materials, down to the organic utensils. Alfons Tost took this idea of creating an extremely functional design that is comfortable and organic and is sure to make everyone feel welcome and implemented it to the max. Fastvínic uses the finest local produce and wines and this is evidence to their strong commitment to sustainable development. Environmental sustainability is fundamental to Fastvínic.This unshakable principle is based on three pillars: the choice of food, the selection of wines, and the design and functioning of the premises.

    Modern restaurant design and modern shelving

    The french linen pillows so cleverly suspended from the natural wood shelving above was one of the first things to catch my attention as I looked inside. However, the focal point of this design is the "perimetrical dexion racking," which as shown in this design is very flexibile in its usage. It works perfect for the seating, shelving, and as racks for the plants and pots, shelves and wine rack. The simple curves on the modern white dining charis are a very nice contrast to solid linear forms.

    Minimalist restaurant design in Barcelona

    Modern Restaurant and Barcelona

    The simple white metal pendant lighting is a perfect contrast to the wood cladding and turquoise walls. The repetition of the white pendant lighting balances and softens the white frames throughout the restaurant. It's a perfect combination!

    Modern Restaurant Design

    Go in, get cozy, and experience some fine dining while enjoying the beautiful surroundings! Good design has a huge impact!

    Images: Yatzer

  • Nest Studio: Where Design & Products Merge


    Modern hardware by Nest Studio

    Allow me to introduce you to the new modern hardware line by Nest Studio. The sleek materials used for this line include nickel, brass and lucite. The designer behind this super chic product is Jessica Davis, an Interior Designer by trade, but she is also a blogger, product designer and mother. I had the opportunity to sit down with Jessica and talk about everything from her new line, to being a mom and where she gets her inspiration.

    Cori:  When and how did you fall in love with design?

    Jessica:  I’ve always been a design geek. When I was a kid I would make my parents buy those home design plan magazines and I would study all the plans in great detail. In middle school, when we lived in Dallas, I did a series of backyard landscape design plans and actually sent them in to Southern Living in the hopes they would give us a backyard makeover.  No dice, but the editor was kind enough to write me back and encourage me to go to design school.

    Cori:  What is your design background… school, first design jobs, etc.

    Jessica:  I majored in Art History in college but I focused my studies and wrote my thesis on architectural history and specifically contemporary urban planning and residential design. From there I went on to work for Bob Vila’s Home Again on the production side. I was exposed to so many great products and construction methods while working at BVTV. After that I decided I wanted to be on the design end and went back to school at the New England School of Art & Design for my Masters in Interior Design. Since then I’ve worked for Wilson Associates in Dallas, New York, and Los Angeles designing hospitality projects around the globe.

    Modern hardware pulls and Nest Studio

    Cori:  What triggered the desire to start your own product line?

    Jessica:  I guess I was getting a little tired of working on projects that were far away and that never really materialized into my vision (one of the bi-products of the economic downturn and ending up doing so much work overseas).  I wanted something that was uniquely my own and that I would have complete control over. Also, I saw a need in the market. Bedding was my first foray into product design, but I realize now that it’s really hard to compete with the West Elms and Dwell Studios of the world. Soft goods are a little like fashion where trends can change at the drop of a hat. Hardware on the other hand is more permanent, possibly because it requires more investment to produce and more technical knowledge to create. I felt that there was a niche waiting to be tapped in the residential hardware world and I had the unique set of skills to be able to do it.

    Cori:  Where do you find your inspiration?

    Jessica:  Pretty much everywhere in the urban landscape. I guess I’m more of the kind of person who draws inspiration from looking at man-made things more so than nature. A clasp on a watch or a bag might inspire some piece of hardware or lighting. For example, one of my new pieces was inspired by the grab bars on subways, buses and the joinery you see on them.

    Robert Vega photography

    Cori: How do you balance interior design projects, product design, managing your blog and being a mom/wife?

    Jessica: Ha! Whenever people ask me this I have to laugh. I have a lot of plates spinning and sometimes I feel like they are all going to crash down around me. Things are definitely moving slower because there is a little one at home now. There are blog posts I wish I had time to write, hardware promotion I wish I had time to do, new products I wish I had time to sit down and sketch. I just try to fit it in where I can and not stress too much if it doesn't get done or if it isn't perfect.

    Stay tuned for Part II of this interview where we'll take a look at some of Jessica's interior design projects and she'll show us a couple of her favorite modern light fixtures.

    Thanks Jessica!

    Images: Inlight, Robert Vega

  • Part II: Nest Studio's Design Projects


    Modern living room design

    Modern dining room with red chairs

    Yesterday, I introduced you to Jessica Davis, the designer behind Nest Studio. We showed you her new modern hardware line, which is a must-see! If you missed yesterday's post, you can read Part I of this interview: Nest Studio: Where Design & Products Merge. Today, we get to chat a little more with Jessica and see some of her amazing interior design projects.

    The images above are from a residential project that Jessica did in Marina del Rey, California. I'm loving the modern dining chairs that add a punch of color to the space. Here's what she had to say about it.

    Jessica: This is a home I did for a client in Marina del Rey who was not afraid to let me use bold colors. I  had so much fun adding personal touches, like the photography over the sofa. It was rewarding to create something that truly reflected the owners.

    Modern baby nursery

    Modern baby nursery

    As I mentioned in Part I of this interview, Jessica is also a new mom. Here's what she had to say about designing her son's nursery. I love the map Jessica used for an artistic backdrop to her modern crib.

    Jessica: My latest personal project was my son Bryan's room. I guess it helped to have a deadline (delivery date!) to get it all done by. Bryan's room is fun and playful. I tried to design a space that would grow with him, using a lot of fun vintage, Etsy, and IKEA finds to keep it all in budget.

    In addition to her residential and personal design projects, Jessica is a designer at Wilson Associates, a top international hospitality design firm. Here are some of her very cool projects that she has designed with her Wilson team.

    Modern hotel lobby

    Modern hotel bar

    Jessica: These images (above) are the Lobby and Bar areas from the MGM Grand at Foxwoods that I worked on for three years while I was in the (Wilson) New York office. It was challenging to take a concept that was really high design and then pare it down to fit in the budget. But we did it and the results turned out nicely.

    Modern hotel lobby

    Modern hotel guestroom

    Jessica: These two images (above) are the Lobby and Typical Guestroom of the Crowne Plaza Times Square that I worked on prior to leaving the New York office (Jessica now works at Wilson, Los Angeles). It was a really challenging renovation project with a tight budget. The hotel lobby was so dated and we managed to really freshen it up.

    While discussing these projects, Jessica and I also talked about the difficult task of selecting lighting for a project and how she's goes about it.

    Cori:  For each project, at what stage do you select lighting?

    Jessica: Lighting is integral and I always start selecting it as soon as I begin the design process, along with the other furniture items and finishes. Just like any other piece of furniture, lighting is both functional and decorative. It's an important element in developing how the space is perceived.

    Modern chandelier

    Robert Abbey Candelaria Chandelier

    Jessica: This Robert Abbey chandelier is a great modern retro alternative to a traditional chandelier, but still has a lot of sparkle. I need to find a place to use this!

     Bronze Swing Arm Light

    Holtkoetter Bernie Turbo Series Bronze Swing-Arm Wall Lamp

    Jessica: I’m kind of obsessed with swing arm sconces right now. They free up space on a nightstand and work great for reading in bed.

    As if she didn't have enough to do as a designer and a mom, Jessica is also a blogger. Here's what she has to say about her popular site.

    Cori:  Can you tell us a little about your blog, The Eagle's Nest?

    Jessica: My blog is a journal of sorts, documenting my ideas on everything design related - interiors, fashion, landscape, and of course the trials and tribulations of renovating our 70 year old house.

    Cori: What do you see in the future for Nest Studio?

    Jessica: In addition to developing my e-commerce site, I’m working on more Nest Studio hardware pieces with a mix of fun materials and hoping to do a line of metal tables and other small furniture pieces. I’m also looking to develop a plumbing line to complement my hardware. So be on the lookout for those in the coming months.

    Thanks Jessica! We'll be on the lookout for exciting products from Nest Studio and more cool design projects from you...

    Images: The Boo & The Boy, The Eagle's Nest, Wilson Associates

April, 2012