Environmentally sensitive gardening, kitchens with horsepower, luxury grab bars for the bathroom, subtle metallic designs for outdoor furniture.
The Porsche Of All Kitchens
According to recent research, more and more men these days can be found behind the stove. To capitalize on the phenomenon, kitchen companies are looking to big names in the auto industry for designs that appeal to this new breed of cooks. The result? Some pretty hot kitchens.
Case in point: Poggenpohl recently teamed up with the Porsche Design Group in a joint effort to create a kitchen (pictured above) with an innovative framework, sleek styling, and high-quality materials (including appliances by Miele and Cie). You’ll find plenty of aluminium (a material long favored by Porsche), lots of glass (which embellishes the front surfaces or fills the frames), and cabinets that open without handles, thanks to built-in systems that release with a light push. Perhaps the component most geared to this driver of new design is a high-tech audio-video system, with the electronics of the built-in LCD module installed behind glass to protect them against dirt and splashing water.
Snaidero Kitchens + Design has long known how sleek auto designs translate into kitchens with sophisticated aesthetics. The company, which is most recognized for its modern collections, has collaborated for years with designer Paolo Pininfarina (who has worked with Ferrari, Maserati, Peugeot-Citroën, Renault, Jaguar, and Alfa Romeo) on kitchens that go the extra mile.
a green thumb
Former set designer and Ossining resident Hallie Flanagan Wolfe (above)has been designing and maintaining gardens in Westchester and Connecticut for nearly 20 years. But the landscape designer has more than an eye for gorgeous garden design; she harbors a heart for the environment. With spring just around the corner, we asked Wolfe, owner of Hallie Flanagan Wolfe Gardens, Ltd., for tips on environmentally sensitive gardening.
Buy a compost bin or set one up. Put all of your garden, lawn, and kitchen vegetable refuse into it. Let it rot and—voila!—you’ve transformed trash into gardening treasure. If composting isn’t your preference, buy it bagged. “Use as much as you can afford and turn it into the soil for new beds or top-dress with one or two inches on existing beds,” Wolfe advises.
Cut back perennials and remove last year’s leaves and trash; those bits of organic material provide cover for unwanted insects and disease. But don’t dump it; compost it instead. A good compost pile naturally will kill unhealthy organisms.
Established plantings don’t need to be watered except in times of severe drought. New plants should be mudded in (watered profusely) at planting time, but then don’t require watering again unless they appear to be wilting. In that case, they should be given at least one watering can full of water (or more) and left alone. “Constant watering develops shallow root systems,” Wolfe says.
Mulching conserves moisture and breaks down to add organic material to the soil. Use at least three inches of the covering, but don’t let it cover the crowns of plants or touch the bark of trees and shrubs. (Put it on top of the compost.) Sweet Peet is a coarse compost mixed with wood chips that works incredibly well. Mini wood chips, straw, and grass clippings are also good, but first put down a nitrogen source—such as manure or dried blood—because the decomposition of organic products can reduce the amount of nitrogen available for the plants. Just use it sparingly.
If your soil is healthy—that is, full of organic material and well drained—you never should need fertilizer. “If you must, use one by Hollytone or other organic products, or make your own from dried blood, bone meal, and seaweed or greensand,” Wolfe says. “Inorganics build up salts in the soil that can cause problems.”
Select plants carefully.
Use natives when possible, growing them from seeds for healthier plants, and other plants that will be useful to birds (echinacea and rudbeckia seeds, rose hips, and sunflower seeds, for example) and butterflies (fennel, dill, butterfly weed, and milkweed).Grow vegetables in your perennial border, such as multicolored lettuces and kales, which are both tasteful and tasty. Want suggestions? Wolfe says: “Patio tomatoes provide great color, okra has a beautiful flower, and nasturtiums are lovely and have a tangy flavor.Herbs are very ornamental.”
Use organically acceptable pesticides.
Even when using those, employ discretely. There are lots of insects that are useful in the garden, including ladybugs, praying mantises, and (believe it or not) wasps, which eat cabbage butterfly larvae among other notorious grubs. Most pesticides kill the good insects with the bad.Hand picking, predatory insects, a bird-friendly environment, and healthy plants help limit the need for pesticides.
Using plastic pots? Glass jugs? Bagged mulch? Whenever possible, don’t forget to recycle.
raising the bar
It was inevitable that designs for aging in place—one of the hottest home-design and architecture trends of the 21st century—would eventually go chic. One example: JACLO’s luxury grab bar collection (above), tailor-made for the most discerning of homeowners who don’t want their safety fixtures to distract from their bathroom design. JACLO’s line, with decorative accents, quality brass construction, and numerous finishes, is so sleek that the products can even double as chic towel bars and accessories.
a polished garden
When it comes to accessorizing, the top tune remains heavy metal (just check out all those celebs with platinum hobo bags and silver-strapped Jimmy Choos). But while it feels natural to throw on a pair of gold pumps with your little black dress, how are metallics best incorporated into outdoor designs? Here are some tips from furniture manufacturer Gloster, which recently came out with two new collections, Scoop and Chorus, that subtly incorporate shades of copper and bronze for a dazzling outdoor look.
A little gun (metal) shy? For a more subtle approach, start small, with a teak-topped side table on an indulgent metallic woven pedestal. The glimmer it creates will add a glow to your outdoor retreat without overdoing it.
Tradition with a Twist.
Mix contemporary metallic chairs with solid accent pillows to wake up an outdoor conversation area and ensure that the space isn’t too industrial or austere.
Let the old rules—silver with silver, gold with gold—die with etiquette about wearing white after Labor Day. “Warm shades of bronze and copper highlight the cool edge of stainless steel,” says Chorus designer Povl Eskildsen. Add copper sling dining chairs to a table with sexy stainless-steel legs to create an industrial-chic dining set.
Mix it Up.
For more personality (and an opportunity to highlight today’s eclectic looks), mix metallic pieces with classic collections. Add pieces of natural teak, sling, and all-weather woven materials in matte finishes.
Less is More.
Too much of a good thing can be, well, just too much. “If you‘re using a metallic bronze statement piece, avoid accessorizing with copper side chairs,” warns Scoop designer Mark Gabbertas. “These hues should shimmer, not shout.”
the hot seat
The lucky winners of a furniture competition open to studio furniture makers, artists, architects, and industrial designers will be exhibited at the Neuberger Museum of Art/Purchase College, State University of New York, from June 15 through August 10, 2008. The competition, titled “Multiplicity: The Art of the Furniture Prototype,” is jointly sponsored by the Neuberger, The Furniture Society (an international membership organization) and Purchase College’s School of Art + Design.
Jurors for the exhibition include Neuberger Director Thom Collins, I.D. Magazine Editor-in-Chief Julie Lasky, Michael Fortune Studio Principal Michael Fortune, and Dennis Miller, principal of Dennis Miller Associates. A full-color catalog of the exhibit with contributed essays will be published and distributed by the Furniture Society. Prizewinning pieces will be displayed at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in May. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students, and free for Purchase College students and staff. For more information, call the Neuberger at (914) 251-6100.