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  • Self-Contained: Marvelous Mini Kitchens

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    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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Get the Look: Modern Kitchen Pendant Lighting

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    Modern kitchen lighting and black pendants

    Designing your kitchen, like any room of the home, is fun because you're creating your own personal environment. However, the most fun element of the kitchen design is the lighting because it's like the jewelery to a great outfit. It's the beautiful accessory to this functional space. To keep the space modern, pendant lighting is the way to go.

    There's many different types of modern pendants that will help you achieve a great look for your stylish space. The kitchen above uses a really fun mix of materials to balance out the wood and brick, the bold black drum shade pendants make a great addition. Also, a bold stripe could look amazing in this space.

    Modern pendant lighting

    Mini Mullberry Black Tech Pendant Light

    Modern pendant lighting

    Bold Black Stripe Pendant Light

    This kitchen below is much different than the first one. Here, the lighting is understated but stylistically just as effective. The barely-there glass pendants give the kitchen a whimsical yet modern feel while keeping it open and fresh.

    Modern kitchen lighting and glass pendants

    Modern pendant lighting and Clear Satin Nickel Pendant

    LBL Isla Clear Satin Nickel Pendant

    Modern pendant lighting and Clear Glass PendantJaime Young St. Charles Clear Glass Pendant

    You also have the option of allowing your lighting to become a statement piece, making it more art than a light fixture. This type of pendant is always fun to shop for since your goal should be to find the one with the most personality.

    Modern kitchen lighting and white kitchen

    Modern pendant lighting and White Flower Pendant Light

    Possini Euro Design White Flower Pendant Light

    Modern pendant lighting and White Cloud Pendant Light

    Possini White Cloud Pendant Light

    Have fun selecting your kitchen lighting while keeping function, scale and style in mind. You're sure to create the look you want for your modern kitchen with any number of different pendant lighting styles out there.

    Images: Plastolux, Cococozy, SF Gate

April, 2012