December 16, 2019

Design Inspiration is All Around

Inspiration can be a fickle thing, often changing and evolving. This year, the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) Insiders—a cadre of design influencers—found ideas traveling around the globe, from old cities to the rainforest and the beauty of nature.

Rebekah Zaveloff, CKD, Principal Designer, KitchenLab Interiors

Travel is hugely important to me and my partner and husband, Nic. Nothing rejuvenates my creative spirit more than getting outside my comfort zone and experiencing new places, people, and cultures. We got married in Scotland, spent lots of time in France with side trips to Spain and England, cheated on France last year by going to Italy, and recently explored Mexico.

But this year, we had an incredible reason to visit Marrakech. 

Photography courtesy Rebekah Zaveloff. 

It’s been a place I’ve dreamed of going for most of my life. I’m a self-proclaimed tile nut and have always been drawn to the patterns and designs I’ve seen coming out of Morocco. I’ve also had an affinity for kaftans since high school—which my sister calls my “Mrs. Roper” look (for those of you too young to know what I’m talking about, this character from an old TV sitcom called “Three’s Company” walked around in nothing but printed muumuus.) So, when our friend was having her 50th birthday party in Marrakech and invited 40 of her friends to celebrate with her, there was no way we were going to pass that up. It was an incredible experience and by far the most exotic place I’ve ever visited. The people were beyond warm and hospitable. The architecture and gardens were incredible.    

The homes in Morocco are called riads, and they’re built around a central, outdoor courtyard. We had the pleasure of staying in two different riads in two different parts of the Medina (old city).  After wandering the souks (markets) all day, the quiet and intimate riads are a welcome escape of solitude from the hubbub of the streets.

I thought that going there was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but I was looking at Airbnb rentals the minute we were on the plane home. I cannot wait to go back!

Carolina Gentry and Beth Dotolo, Partners, Pulp Design Studio

This year, the team at Pulp Design Studio was inspired by a Desert Boho vibe—which of course, is itself inspired by travel. Their trips to amazing locales inform all of their projects. The Desert Boho look is all about sun-washed colors, bleached woods, artisanal and handcrafted goods—anything that has a unique and one-of-a-kind style. They both love to go to Mexico, so the traditional lines of architecture there and lime-washed stones and surfaces are things they love right now. 

Photography courtesy of Pulp Design Studio.

A trip Beth Dotolo took to Hotel San Cristobal in Baja, Mexico, this year gave the duo insight into an amazing washed green that will definitely show up in an upcoming project. And Carolina Gentry recently picked up an incredible vintage Moroccan carved camel saddle stool, made of rosewood. It’s that rare find they’re always looking for—something that will add a lot of personality to a home.

Photography courtesy of Pulp Design Studio.

Desert Boho is equally at home in any of their target markets, too. It can be played up with a bit of a Southwestern vibe for Dallas, given a laid-back look for L.A., or toned down to natural materials and cool colors for Seattle. They call it their new favorite style!

Richard Anuszkiewicz, Lead Designer, Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath Studio

My most surprising design find for 2019 has been the Bespoke Oven Collection by Monogram Appliances.  The oven styling and product is part of their new Minimal oven collection launching in 2020. That said, this specific series of Minimal ovens pictured are concept vehicles and were displayed at KBIS 2019. 

Photography courtesy of Monogram.

The customization in these units can be seen in their exotic and luxurious material execution. Each is unique, but tonally pulls inspiration from the Monogram brand palette. I personally got to work closely with their industrial design team as they were in the development of these units. I was really amazed at the thought process, time, and craftsmanship that goes into bringing a product like this to life. We often take for granted the investment that is made in energy and resources to bring something inspirational and different to the marketplace. This wall of ovens was surprising in the sense that it challenged expectations. In design, that is what we are here to do: challenge the predictable.   

Grace Jeffers, Design Historian & Materials Specialist

For designers who want to have it all—beauty, natural durability, and sustainability—there are very few product lines that can touch WholeForest. The Forest Block and Forest Floor solid wood products are based on combining the hundreds of tree species that grow in the rainforests of northern Ecuador into tapestries that reflect the natural variation and dappled light of the jungle canopy.

Photography courtesy of Whole Forest. 

This also results in a sustainability profile that is unrivaled, with each board foot of finished material securing ~1,000lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. This forest-driven process also results in intense depth; luxurious and luminous surfaces that are more than skin deep; and cutting boards, countertops, tables, and floors that can weather decades, if not centuries, of use. 

Photography courtesy of Whole Forest. 

The sustainable business model is based on three equally important pillars: 

Environmental impact, where ultra-low-impact logging methods and species variation drive the business, rather than the other way around.

Community ownership, where the local families and workers have a significant stake in decision-making and the outcomes at all levels.

Long-term profitability, where response to market and consumers is able to drive continual investment and job security. This kind of product can light up a room with the power of biophilia and thoughtful globalization.

One of the best places for kitchen and bath designers to find inspiration each year is the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS). This trade-only event is the destination to see new innovations, products, technologies, and design in K&B. KBIS 2020 is in Las Vegas, January 21-23.

Recent DesignWire