When we think about interior design, we tend to focus on the visual aspects. Magazines, home improvement shows and retailers highlight “wow” spaces, focusing on the final touches and products deemed essential for beautiful results. Other aspects such as functionality, comfort, ergonomics, health or safety, are often an afterthought, if we consider them at all.
Island workstations, smart appliances, accessible cabinets, touch faucets, lighting innovations—the list goes on and on for what’s new in kitchen design! Eric McRoberts and Jessica Jack attended this year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) to see the latest innovations and products that manufacturers are featuring, especially since their top picks are typically based on consumer demands, color trends and emerging technologies. The following are a few of our favorite concepts which can be applied to kitchens of any size.
According to Wikipedia, the chair has been used since antiquity, although for many centuries it was a symbolic article of state and dignity rather than a functional item for ordinary use. Once chairs emerged beyond privileged status, they became ubiquitous in many cultures leading up to today where chairs are an integral furnishing selection for homes, offices, schools, restaurants, meeting spaces, theaters, and numerous other settings. Design considerations include durability, ergonomics, functional features (e.g. stackable or folding, task specific heights or styles, etc.), maintenance and, of course, design style.
Tiny living is having its day, with more people than ever taking on the challenge of living small or at least paring back to focus on the essentials. By now most of us are at least somewhat familiar with Marie Kondo’s recommendations for getting rid of items that no longer “spark joy.” Even thrift stores are feeling the effects of her books and Netflix series with donations trending up from previous years.
Record-breaking lows, wind chills, snowstorms and precipitation mixes can make the winter months seem long in much of the United States. Even places like Phoenix, Arizona and Southern California have recently experienced unusual snowfalls. As many of us are already looking forward to the arrival of spring in the next month or two, there are a number of ways to brighten interior spaces during the remaining cold and dark days of winter.
January seems like a good time to highlight yellow–the color associated with warm, sunny days. As with any color, yellow elicits a variety of responses and the emotions evoked are typically related to the specific hue and extent to which it has been applied. Lighter, muted tones work well as a soothing background neutral. More saturated, vibrant options can help to brighten spaces and create the illusion of light.
Signs are a fundamental aspect of commercial interior spaces. Most of us barely notice the many signs we encounter in any given day—until we find an example that’s poorly executed. Getting it right not only involves understanding current building codes, but also working closely with clients to develop functional, appealing and brand-consistent solutions—whether building code-required evacuation plans, room labels or directional signage, venue-specific signage or donor acknowledgements.
While some have questioned their long-term viability, both public and private libraries are reinventing themselves and, according to the 2018 American Library Association report, continuing to serve as a valuable resource for diverse groups of people. Libraries face many similar challenges to those of retailers, as large numbers of people turn to digital resources. However, the convenience of digital shopping, reading, learning, communicating and so forth can be isolating and less rewarding. This is where public libraries can step in to provide positive interactions, teachable moments and a collaborative community experience available to everyone regardless of their financial status.
Many designers will tell you that great ideas are built upon the concepts and creators that came before them. This month we are highlighting a few of the earliest innovators who paved the way for today’s interior design professionals. Although there were certainly others who came before these few we’ve highlighted here (in fact, some sources trace interior design all the way back to ancient India), the following individuals have been heralded as some of the earliest American influencers for what has evolved into the contemporary interior design profession.
Furniture, accessories, color – these things are typically among the first that come to mind when we think about interior design. However, these terms relate only to interior decorating rather than the full breadth of interior design. While interior design does involve these important final touches, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface that can have a tremendous impact on how a final space feels and functions. We’ve asked a few of our designers about some of those behind-the-scenes features that can easily be overlooked.