February 11, 2021
KBIS 2021: Manufacturers and Designers Collaborate on Bright Ideas for Kitchens and Bathrooms
Residential spaces get a fresh infusion of style when manufacturers develop products with innovative designers.
To understand the power of good industrial design, consider what makes the Olivetti Valentine (a cherry red typewriter designed by Ettore Sottsass in 1969) so memorable, even now in an age when few will ever see a typewriter up close? While it was never hailed for its function, the consumer appeal of the Valentine is a testament to the value of its good looks.
Today, aesthetic appeal is the norm and more manufacturers than ever collaborate with designers across product categories. New kitchen and bath products, including some that are launching at this year’s virtual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, remind us that no detail in the home is unworthy of designer consideration, whether it’s a bathtub or a blender.
For his new collection of C.1 faucets, tub fillers and shower heads, Swiss-Ghanaian designer Kurt Merki, Jr., has opted for a linear, fuss-free design that works well in a host of different bath environments. Sustainably minded buyers will appreciate the faucet’s low flow volume, too.
Interior designer Martin Kemp has collaborated with THG to craft a line of bath fixtures and fittings that pay tribute to Streamline Modern, a design movement that evolved from Art Deco. The collection draws on classic industrial and automotive detailing; the fluting in the soaking tub, for instance, recalls a car grille.
In a new line for Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, designer Daniel Germani discards cookout clichés in favor of candy-bright finishes and a furniture-like frame. (For traditionalists, a stainless-steel option without the powder-coat finish is also available.) The modular units offer integrated handles, drawers, and pass-through cabinets.
Warm austerity is the trademark of Norm Architects’ new line of cabinetry, hardware and surfaces for Danish kitchen brand Reform: pulls are integrated into the line’s drawer panels, making for clean lines and easy maintenance.
Sturdy yet graceful, Paik Sun Kim’s rectilinear forms for Aboutwater by Boffi and Fantini fall aesthetically somewhere between Brutalism and origami. Available in a matte gunmetal PVD finish, the collection includes fittings for bidets, showers, and bathtubs.
Breakfast, but make it fashionable: Architect and designer Michele De Lucchi’s appliance line for Alessi features a pleated motif that could look at home on a runway as well as a kitchen counter. MoMA Design Store, which currently offers De Lucchi’s kettle, plans to sell the entire suite starting later this year, including a blender, toaster, and toaster tongs. If you’ve got to have appliances on the countertop, hey, at least now they can look good.
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