Good Design

How will the ongoing recession affect our interest in good design?

This is a question many designers are thinking about right now.  Without a doubt we are spending more time in our homes.  Our home is where we feel safe in an uncertain world.  Staying home and entertaining at home also saves us money.

Trend analyst Faith Popcorn pointed out how people were living in a recessionary climate before the economists would admit that the recession existed.

“The overwhelming reaction is to pair down, to simplify…Nearly everyone is considering opting for a simpler life as we believe there is a real relief in getting off the consumer treadmill.”

Our time is very precious these days and we want our homes to be convenient and help us relax.  Good design is critical in helping a person feel connected to their home and insulated from the problems outside their door.

A recession can have a positive side in that it makes us (whether we’re willing or not) re-assess, and chose to do things more intelligently next time.  The interest in renewable resources, repurposing and eco-friendly products is at an all-time high level.  While it seems only 30% of people are willing to spend more for Green products, the interest keeps pressure of companies to reevaluate their raw materials, manufacturing and packaging.

Instead of “Keeping up with the Joneses”, people are now in a competition to keep down with the Joneses.  This battle to see who can do with the least has created a cultural mindset that less is more.  As Faith puts it, “it’s cooler not to spend.” 

As a designer I am forced to step up my game because people still want and need an emotional link with the spaces I design.  The trick is to find and incorporate the one item they are excited or sentimental about.  This can include designing an heirloom hutch into a new kitchen or resurfacing the ball and claw tub from the salvage shop for the master bathroom.

The one area where I find people are spending more is in organizational tools and storage aids.  One reason is due to families downsizing their homes.  With individuals moving into smaller homes, more creativity and organizational skills are needed to store their belongings.  Another reason is due to the popularity of minimalist design and the desire to have things put away instead of out in the open.

 As a person who admittedly tends to hold on to things too long and live amongst (some) clutter, I embrace this chance to rediscover what it is I really need.

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Where to store the toilet paper

Often when homeowners remodel a bathroom they choose to do it in a contemporary style. One of the reasons for choosing a contemporary styling is for it’s clean and uncluttered appearance.  It’s much easier to relax and enjoy the serenity of the new bath when there are no distractions.

One of the huge hurdles homeowners face in planning for their new bathroom is how to cope with the decrease in available storage area.

Hopefully your bathroom has a linen closet.  If it doesn’t then you may want to consider adding a cabinet beside or even under your vanity like this example below showing the Deko vanity from the Idea Group.

Another option is to choose accessories that can give you storage for items like toilet paper and hand soap.  This next picture shows a few accessories on a small shelf keeping the bathroom very sleek.  Hiding the toilet paper in the canister is a convenient way to keep it close by.  This is not the toilet paper cozy your Great Aunt used to keep on the back of the toilet.

 If you find the previous examples still have much clutter, and you want the most minimalist bathroom design possible, then you will be glad to know that Kohler offers an extra deep medicine cabinet.  This simple mirrored cabinet recesses into the wall and has a small reveal to allow extra depth for the storage of toilet paper and other items you might need handy.  This is also a great option if your bathroom project has a small budget.  Both the aluminum and polystyrene option are under $200.

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Petra Kitchen

Gianluca Tondi, owner of TM Italia Cucine, designed the Petra Kitchen presented at the Abitare il Tempo trade fair. Petra is a new type of custom kitchen that conceals the working components when not in use. A remote control opens the travertine top to reveal the cooktop and downdraft ventilation. The faucet and oven are also mechanized to raise and lower.

TM Italia Cucine calls their home automation system (domotics) “TM_touch’n’go”.  With the touch of a button you can open the kitchen and view the monitor, “TM_Vison,” for watching television or use the Internet connection for searching the web. 

The monitor is show raised on the left end in the first two photos. The tall cabinets are also sleek and have no decorative hardware housing dishes and the refrigerator.
I would love to have seen this in person.



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Low-Relief CaesarStone

CaesarStone has developed a sandblasting method for applying detailed stenciling to its quartz-engineered stone. The technique creates an extremely low-relief, tactile motif, playing polished against matte surfaces.

The sandblasting technique, made possible by CaesarStone’s immense strength, uses specialised machinery where dry abrasive sand is blasted at the material at high pressure allowing it to etch the surface. Decorative patterns can be applied to an entire slab, as a boarder or feature panel. Highly effective, this stunning textured surface is ideal for vertical surfaces, feature walls, counters tops, furniture or partitions in both commercial and residential design.

The textured sandblasted surface does require a little more care when cleaning; however it retains CaesarStone’s scratch and water resistant qualities.

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