Millennials’ Impact Seen Gaining for Kitchen & Bath Designs

Millennials’ Impact Seen Gaining for Kitchen & Bath Designs

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ Millennial clients – particularly those with children – are increasing in influence while the impact of Baby Boomer clients is gradually declining and Gen X is remaining constant, according to a 2022 Design Trends Forecast released this week by the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

The NKBA’s annual design trends forecast points to a gradual, yet palpable, shift in the primary customer base for new and remodeled kitchens and baths, after several decades in which the market was driven largely by a huge cohort of Baby Boomers (aged 57-75) and Gen Xers (aged 41-56) consumers.

While baby boom and Gen-X consumers remain the industry’s predominant buying force, the steady increase in business from Millennial clients (ages 25-40) is increasingly impacting both market share and anticipated kitchen and bath design trends, according to the NKBA, which said Millennials’ impact has “a high probability of increasing in the future.”

“Those working with Millennials see slightly less-expensive projects, but that’s likely driven by Millennials’ lower disposable income during their current life stage,” said the NKBA, whose 2022 Design Trends Forecast was based on a survey of approximately 650 designers, dealers, and other design professionals. The survey’s aim was to identify styles, features and materials that are expected to be more popular in the next several years; to identify the products that have the most dramatic impact on today’s kitchens and bathrooms; to assess if there are notable variations in designer client base profiles; and to predict if client base profiles are predictors of perceived design trends.

Among the overarching themes emerging from the NKBA’s 2022 survey is that kitchen clients generally want flex space for work, touchless fixtures, easy-to-clean surfaces, outdoor living areas, LED lighting and recycling storage. There is also a concerted desire for mobile-friendly spaces, healthy cooking, app-controlled appliances and voice-activated lighting, the NKBA said.

In the bathroom, consumers want a large shower, and are likely to remove tubs in order to allocate more space or access to storage/dressing areas, the NKBA said. There is also a pronounced need for energy and water efficiency, connected products such as water temperature controls, entertainment and communication, the association added.

In general, new kitchen and bathroom design is emerging from nature-inspired themes, the NKBA reported. “Organic, natural styles are prominent in both kitchens and bathrooms, especially among Millennials, (and) increased natural light with large, high-performance windows and doors for outdoor access will be prominent,” the NKBA said.

“Homeowners have a desire for spaces that can multi-function,” the NKBA observed, pointing to a growing trend toward large islands for food prep that also function as dining tables, homework and work from home; flexible space for home office activities; pantries that include space for storage and a working area for small appliances; and workstation sinks with built-in features (drying racks, cutting boards, etc.) In addition, bathrooms that connect to dressing areas and/or laundry facilities, and vanities and medicine cabinets with outlets are also experiencing increased popularity.

When designing new spaces, homeowners are generally thinking about the following:

n Cleanliness: easy-to-clean surfaces and countertops that are sanitary and non-porous. The current strong demand for quartz is expected to continue, as is the popularity of larger-format tile or slabs with less grout, and touchless faucets.

n Sustainable design: 100% LED lighting; a dedicated recycling area; low-E windows and doors; Energy star/efficient products; EPA WaterSense fixtures; VOC-free paint; products with recycled materials, and radiant flooring.

n Universal design: spaces that will allow for aging in place; curb-less showers; fewer free-standing tubs, grab bars, seats in showers and hand-held showerheads.

Although homeowners are excited about integrated technology, it is not being utilized in most projects. Specifically, only 30% and 21% of kitchen and bath projects, respectively, include integrated technology features, the NKBA reported.

“Designers have new ways to interact with their clients, especially Millennials,” the NKBA said. “Future design projects will include a mix of in-person and virtual meetings. In-person meetings both in designer’s offices and at the client’s home will be most prominent.

“Designers will (also) take advantage of virtual channels with video calls and video meetings with clients,” NKBA researchers added. “Millennials are more open to virtual meetings while Boomers are looking for regular onsite meetings at their home.”

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Sub-Zero, Wolf & Cove Design Contest Entry Deadline Nears

Sub-Zero, Wolf & Cove Design Contest Entry Deadline Nears


MADISON, WI — The 2019-2021 Sub-Zero, Wolf & Cove Kitchen Design Contest, which recognizes premier design professionals across the globe for their beautiful, innovative kitchen designs, has a final deadline of January 31, 2022.

The Contest’s Professional Categories are open to professional kitchen designers, architects, residential designers, interior designers, builders, remodelers, landscape designers and landscape architects only. For all Professional Categories, the design and construction of the project must have been completed in 2019, 2020, or 2021. Entrants may submit more than one entry in the various Professional Categories.

The Contest’s Student Category is open to students currently enrolled at an accredited college or university. Entries from students graduating before January 31, 2022 will be accepted only if their projects are completed and graded by their professors prior to graduation. The Student Category is limited to one entry per entrant.

Entries must be of a private, residential space only. Showroom, retail, commercial, hospitality, public recreational, educational and other non-residential environments are not eligible. All entries must meet national code requirements and restrictions, and include Sub-Zero refrigeration products and Wolf cooking appliances.

Contest entries are evaluated by a panel of esteemed judges. Each judge is a leader in the industry, from disciplines including architecture, interior design and kitchen design. The judges evaluate all qualifying entries on the following three criteria: Best function and aesthetic use of Sub-Zero and Wolf brand appliances; aesthetically pleasing overall kitchen design, and functionality of overall kitchen design. A fourth aspect is applied to the First-Time Entrant category during the judging process. In addition to the three aspects listed above, the judges will take into consideration which of the kitchen designs is the most surprising, fascinating, out-of-the-box and has a deep conviction to its vision.

Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove will award additional cash prizes to first-, second- and third-place winners in each of the Contemporary, Transitional and Traditional design categories. Cash prizes will also be awarded to one winner in each of the following categories: Small Space Kitchen, Emerging Professional, First-Time Entrant, Best Use Outside of Kitchen and Student. A cash award of $2,000 will be presented to each of the 29 professional finalists. Each of the 29 professional finalists and the Student Winner will also be awarded a trip for two to the Summit & Gala, which is currently planned for the Fall of 2022.

Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on January 31, 2022 in order to be eligible. For more information or to enter the Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove Kitchen Design Contest, visit subzero-wolf.com/contest.

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Stereotypes About Age & Design

Stereotypes About Age & Design

In recent years, there’s been an increasing focus on categorizing clients by age: the Millennials, the Gen Xers, the Boomers, the Mature Buyers. These divisions have become so pervasive that some experts suggest choosing one age group to focus on as a “specialty area,” similar to how a designer might focus on historic renovations, Mid-Century Modern design or kosher kitchens. There are even books about “decoding” customers by age and marketing firms that go strictly “by the numbers.”

But is age really the be-all and end-all of design?

In my family, we’ve always subscribed to the “age is just a number” adage. My 82-year-old father still teaches college classes, is often out ’til the wee hours of the morning playing trumpet with his 18-piece jazz band and bowls three nights a week. He lives his life more like an active 50-year-old than a man in his 80s. The exception occurs when he’s faced with technology – then, he falls into the stereotype of the computer-phobic senior, frustrated by screens that “magically disappear.” He is also still hanging onto his flip phone for dear life, despite offers for free smart-phone upgrades.

But even that isn’t as cut and dried as one might think; indeed, I almost fell off my chair when he told me that the pro shop at his bowling alley discontinued the ball he liked so he ordered it online. I didn’t even know he knew how to use the internet, no less find a discontinued item – “and I got free shipping and no tax, too,” he informed me smugly.

My 20-something nephew, by contrast, is all about the latest gadgets. Yet, as a self-described science nerd, he only takes school notes using pencil and paper. “I feel more connected to what I’m studying that way,” he explains.

And my 50-year-old plumber recently told me about his newest discovery – inspired by a 20-something employee who loves “those someone’s-always-watching-you reality shows.” He found an online network where people pay to watch others online…and he’s now making a tidy second income from people who pay to watch him do plumbing jobs.

All of this reminds me how careful we have to be when we assume we know where someone’s coming from or what people think, want or need based on their age alone. Of course there are generalizations that often impact the design process – the senior homeowner for whom aging in place factors into the design, the millennial couple who want their kitchen to be the command center for their connected home (see story). But when asked about design preferences by age for a recent story, designers admitted that they’re often surprised by client desires, many of which defy those age-related stereotypes.

In fact, as one noted, a lot of bathrooms designed for people in their 70s and 80s aren’t so different from those designed for people in their 30s, 40s and 50s. That’s partly because the concept of Universal Design has focused a spotlight on design elements that make sense for everyone, from non-slip flooring to motion-activated bathroom lighting. And, of course, good design isn’t age specific – after all, everyone finds value in organized and accessible storage, well-designed task lighting and flexible appliances.

Additionally, taste is a very personal thing; a younger consumer may crave something warm and traditional, while an older consumer may decide to play out their color fantasy in unexpected ways.

Nor is it just about design; age can certainly factor into financial means, but as John Morgan points out in his Future Forward column (see story), often it’s more about life stage than years on the planet. The most profitable prospects, he believes, are at a point in their lives when they’re ready to focus on their own lifestyle needs – after the kids are done with college, before they’re in “capital preservation” mode and when enough of the mortgage is paid off that they feel confident investing in upgrading their homes to make them just the way they want them.

Certainly, many of these clients are within a certain age range, but some are older or younger, based on how long it took them to get to that life stage.

So, while it’s useful to understand the subtle nuances that different age groups bring to the table, it’s always wise to avoid letting stereotypes guide your design, sales or thought processes. In the end, age is only one factor of many that makes your clients unique.
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Scenes from supersalone

Scenes from supersalone

Though this fall’s gathering at Salone in Italy was an abbreviated version of the annual event, visitors were wowed by what they saw and got a taste of what is to come. According to Maria Porro, the new president of Salone del Mobile.Milano, supersalone was not to be viewed as a smaller event, but rather as a special edition of the massive event – “the trade show reimagined.”

Held in September at the Rho Fairgrounds in Milan, the whole show – which was planned over the course of three months – had a different vibe than its predecessors. Held in just four exhibit halls, booths were scaled down and encouraged to follow an “art gallery” theme, allowing visitors to view displays from a comfortable distance if preferred. All surrounding rest and eating areas were fabricated from raw wood, a commitment to sustainability that allowed all of the materials to be disassembled and used again.

More than 60,000 attendees walked the floor, 30 percent of them from 113 countries other than Italy. All attendees adhered to a strict COVID-19 protocol, which included a check of vaccination cards or COVID testing at the gate and masks worn within the halls. Exhibitors included 425 brands, 18 percent of which were from countries other than Italy.

The new Salone del Mobile.Milano digital platform also played a decisive role during the event, used by an unprecedented number of visitors both at the fair and remote, noted show organizers.

“It was important to take that first but decisive step, to make our presence felt and send a signal to the country as a whole,” stated Porro. “Deciding to go ahead with this ‘supersalone’ took a good dose of courage and meant taking on a lot of responsibility – for the system as a whole and for the entire supply chain, which needed a physical and concrete occasion, not just symbolic and digital, to press the accelerator for a restart.” She added that the show organizers will use what they learned from this event to discover what works and what doesn’t, as well as what is missing. The result will be reflected in the full-sized 60th edition of Salone del Mobile.Milano, planned for April 5-10, 2022.
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Scavolini
Photos: Cammi Shaw

TREND: Metallic Finishes, Textured Finishes, Bold Colors

Cabinets got new life, with textured finishes, bright colors and matte surfaces among the displays. Metallic looks drew significant attention for cabinets, with copper tones and patinated metal looks interpreted on doors and drawers. Bright colored surfaces made bold statements in a number of other product categories.

Products Inspired by Nature

Booths and products embraced the great outdoors, with bold prints and natural settings acting as backdrops to earthy colors and nature-inspired products. Weathered woods, rugged stones and all things green were front and center, including a tree that acts as the focal point of the kitchen.


Caranto

Stylish Storage

The juxtaposition of open display and hidden spaces was a key theme on the show floor. Beautifully lit shelving and glass-front cabinets with modern trim were prevalent, providing opulent opportunities to show off prized possessions. Just as captivating was the clever and discreet storage, or the kitchens that disappeared completely behind elegant doors and sliding countertops.


KALDEWEI

Spa Products

In an atmosphere of safety, wellness continued to be top of mind, and products on the show floor did not disappoint. Whether the interest was in totally decked-out pampering with custom designs or a more whimsical take on taking care, a range of products were examined and noted by show attendees.


Castro Lighting

Lighting it Up

Accessories and lighting delivered a modern vibe, with LEDs expanding the scope of what is possible in design. The finishing touches to any space, on display were products that can add significant impact or just the right element to complete a room.

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Elegant Essentials

Elegant Essentials

Beautiful finishes, exquisite detailing and exceptional functionality are all integral to the design of luxury products. The high standards for these products are not only constantly met but exceeded by the companies that produce them.

Choosing the best products introduced into the luxury market is no easy task, but the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association assigned a team of industry experts to do just that for its 2021 Product of the Year Awards. The program recognizes uniqueness, design, functionality, innovation and technological superiority and taps the winners in a range of categories. This year’s independent panel of judges included: Mary Jo Peterson, principal, Mary Jo Peterson Design in Brookfield, CT; Eliot Sefrin, founding director and publisher emeritus of Kitchen & Bath Design News; Alissa Ponchione, executive editor at Hospitality Design magazine; Molly Switzer, creator, Molly N. Switzer Designs in Portland, OR, and Alena Capra, owner, Alena Capra Designs in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Award winners were presented in seven separate categories: Plumbing Fixture, Water Delivery, Furniture, Accessory, Door Hardware, Cabinet Hardware and Technology. The Products of the Year were announced at DPHA’s annual conference and product showcase held this past fall.
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Water Delivery

Winner

Brizo: Frank Lloyd Wright Single-Function Raincan Showerhead


Drawing on the famed architect’s philosophy of organic architecture, Brizo’s Frank Lloyd Wright Single-Function Raincan Showerhead features the distinctive rush of the Canopy Spray, which activates a built-in LED light powered by a hydroge- nator for a dramatic effect. The Spray releases thousands of fine droplets, creating a down- pour that leaves a light tingling sensation. The showerhead can also be surface mounted to the ceiling or pendant mounted on a shower arm. A number of metal finish options highlight the natural beauty of the available wood.

Honorable Mention

California Faucet: Corsano Culinary with Squeeze Handle


Designed to give cooking enthusiasts a professional look, the Corsano Culinary Faucet with Squeeze Handle includes an easy-to-squeeze lever that activates a powerful spray. Available from California Faucets, the kitchen faucet is offered in 25-plus artisan finishes, plus the ability to finish the coiled spring to match the rest of the faucet. The uniquely engineered insulated sprayhead ensures that it’s never too hot to the touch, even with scalding water. Easy-to-clean spray jets withstand mineral build-up, notes the firm.

ccessory

Winner

Sterlingham: Marble Heated Towel Rail


The Sterlingham Co.’s Marble Heated Towel Rail pairs marble with the brand’s signature brassware in a rail designed to gently warm towels. Part of the Cascades Collection, the single rails – which measure nearly 24″ long – may be hung alone or stacked and arranged in nearly any formation. The marble accents are patterned and versatile, and available in five distinctive marbles: Nero Marquina, Bardiglio Nuvolato, Bianco Carrara Venatino, Calacatta Gold Calo-Bett and Giallo Sienna, along with 16 metal finishes.

Honorable Mention

Infinity Drain: Next Day Custom Linear Program


Infinity Drain’s Next Day Custom program eliminates costly and lengthy installation delays by offering custom-sized drains for the shower within a day. Next Day Custom Linear Drains are available in lengths up to 72″ and are offered in two finishes, three grate styles and for all installation waterproofing methods. Custom orders received by 10 a.m. ET ship the following day.

Plumbing Fixture

Winner

MTI Bath: Bowie Freestanding Tub

Featuring pleated exterior detailing, MTI Bath’s Bowie Freestanding Tub adds unexpected texture to the bath. Developed in collaboration with the design firm Source, Bowie is handcrafted from MTI’s SculptureStone material, which is primarily an organic mixture of ground natural minerals and resins that presents the look and feel of molded stone. Bowie provides space for two bathers, is offered as a soaker or air bath and is available in white or biscuit with eight different exterior colors in matte or highly polished gloss finishes.

Honorable Mention

Native Trails: Amara Fireclay Sinks


Handcrafted by Italian artisans, Amara fireclay sinks from Native Trails feature a rectangular profile glazed in 24k gold, platinum and silver in honor of the company’s silver anniversary. The sink is created from rich clay soils sourced from the Umbrian region of central Italy that are molded using ancient ceramic techniques dating back to the Bronze age. The sinks can be installed as drop-in or undermount, and deliver a stain-resistant, non-toxic coating that resists tarnishing and fingerprints.

Furniture

Winner

Stone Forest: Elemental Crossbar


Designed for the bath, Stone Forest’s Elemental Crossbar uses a locking collar system that affords the flexibility to customize each setup to suit individual needs and preferences. The knurled locking collar supports modular components at desired heights on the brass pipe legs for seemingly endless options. Elemental Crossbar allows users to combine integral stone sinks, wood drawers and steel, wood or stone shelving in various combinations. It is available in all finishes, including a new walnut finish option for drawers and shelves.

Honorable Mention

AD Waters/Simas: Agile Vanity


Handcrafted in Italy, the Agile wall-hung console vanity from Simas exhibits clean lines and squared-off edges that evoke both simplicity and purity. Available in the U.S. from AD Waters, the piece includes a washbasin fashioned from Italian porcelain, showcasing craftsmanship and cultural authenticity. Agile is available in eight colors.

Door Hardware

Winner

Accurate Lock & Hardware: SmartEntry, Self-Latching Mortise Lock


The SL-SM9159E brings the convenience of smartphone locking control to space-saving sliding and pocket doors. The lock, from Accurate Lock & Hardware, combines mechanical expertise with cutting-edge technology. Paired with the SL9100 Self-Latching Mortise Lock, it is available with a variety of trim options including Sectional Trim (lever and rose), ADA Trim (lever and escutcheon) or Flush Pull Trim for Pocket Doors.

Honorable Mention

OMNIA Industries: L.D12943 Smart Lock


OMNIA Industries has partnered with Level to deliver smart deadbolt locksets, including the L.D12943 Smart Lock. The hardware designs are crafted in the Italian tradition and powered by the Level Bolt invisible smart lock. Level Bolt is powered by one CR2 lithium battery and works with the Level app to provide safe and secure keyless entry. Users can automatically lock and unlock a door, see who’s come and gone, access from anywhere, use with other devices, control with voice, create home automations and more.

Technology

Winner

Airmada: Shower Drying System


The patented Airmada Shower Drying System prevents mold, mildew, slippery floors and after-shower humidity, reduces watermarks, and the need to use harsh cleaning chemicals, notes the company. With the push of a button, air flows into the space from Air-Jet nozzles installed into the walls and ceiling. Installed at rough in, nozzles are placed throughout the shower space, typically in the ceiling, on the wall above any benches and low on walls to dry across the floor. An array of finishes to match tile, and complement other features, is offered.

Honorable Mention

ThermaSol: HydroVive


ThermaSol’s HydroVive is designed to bring the multi-sensory powers of light, sound and water under the user’s control when paired with ThermaSol’s Smart Shower Valve and ThermaTouch interface. Key features include a ceiling-mounted light, sound and rainhead environment system in one module; a rainhead shower that delivers a gentle falling water sensation with 300 neoprene jets; sound settings that include volume, treble, mid-range and bass; stereo RCA input; 200 full-color spectrum luminous LED, and built-in Bluetooth.

Cabinet Hardware

Winner

Waterstone Faucets: Industrial Appliance Pulls


Inspired by the company’s Industrial Contemporary bath collection, the Industrial Appliance Pulls and cabinet hardware from Waterstone Faucets feature diamond knurling detailing. Fashioned from U.S. solid brass bar stock, the hardware features more of an oval shape for a comfortable feel in the hand. There is no knurling on the underside, which adds to the smooth aesthetic. Split finish designs are available.

Honorable Mention

Turnstyle Designs: Hickory


Inspired by North American hunting knives, the Hickory lever, pull handle and cabinet knob are hand-cast in Turnstyle Designs’ Amalfine material, which preserves the fine details of the timber and wood grain design. Available in 48 combinations of Amalfine and solid brass, the pieces are set on a solid brass plate or strip and have a circular button. The circular buttons are a take on a nail, creating a contrast between the smooth brass finish and the textured Amalfine surface.

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Daltile Celebrates Austin Showroom Opening

Daltile Celebrates Austin Showroom Opening

Dallas, TX Daltile recently held the official grand opening event for its newest showroom, located in the South Lamar area of Austin, TX.  The brand’s newest 4,000+-sq.-ft. showroom delivers easy access to the hottest tile products for Austin’s interior designers and architects, notes the firm.

“The design scene in Austin is really electric right now, with a lot of new build residential and commercial construction happening as well as a constant stream of remodels,” said Katy Ebbert, manager of Daltile’s new Austin showroom and licensed interior designer with 20+ years’ experience in commercial and residential interior design. “Austin itself is so exciting and that energy flows right into our city’s design scene. Austin is a melting pot of people and artistic ideas. There is a constant exchange with everyone bringing fun, unique ideas to the table when it comes to design.”

“The Austin design vibe is definitely unique,” said Brian Smith, senior marketing manager, Dal-Tile Corporation. “It’s kind of a funky, hippy, organic vibe. We nod to Austin’s personality with special features designed into our Austin studio location. As you enter our studio, you are greeted by a big tie-dyed tile wall, complete with the phrase, ‘Keep Design Weird’ in neon lights above the mosaic. Part of our studio is dedicated to outdoor design, where we prominently feature a favorite phrase of a well-known Austinite, ‘Alright, Alright, Alright.’ We have also transformed the front brick wall of our building outside into an impressive mural, designed and hand-painted by professional artist Daas. Daas took his original inspiration for the mural from Texas wildflowers and expressed this idea in a modern take that includes geometric tile shapes and perfectly reflects Austin’s unique flavor.”

“We have designed our new Austin showroom to focus on our high-end products and showcase these tiles in a unique way,” said Paij Thorn-Brooks, v.p. of marketing, Dal-Tile Corporation. “In addition to an easy-to-peruse showroom filled with product samples, our Austin studio features a generous number of vignettes throughout the showroom as well as story boards, flat lays, and generous slices of product. Accessing take-with product samples is very easy for the interior designers, architects and homeowners who are visiting our studio.”

“Daltile has also designed this studio to be an extension of our customers’ business,” advised Thorn-Brooks. “We encourage our local designer and architect customers to bring their own clients into our showroom. Not only do we put all of the hottest tile looks right at the professionals’ fingertips, making it easy to help their clients select just the right tile, but the stylish atmosphere of our studio, complete with work tables and conference rooms, provides such an inspirational ambience for a meeting. Although this particular studio focuses on showcasing Daltile’s high-end products, our entire product line is accessible to choose from during a visit to the Austin studio.”

 

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BlueStar Names 2021 Contest Winner

BlueStar Names 2021 Contest Winner

BLANTON, PA – Rasmussen/Su Architects of Philadelphia, PA has been awarded the grand prize in BlueStar’s annual design competition. This contest recognizes designers, architects, builders and remodelers from across the country and shows how performance, color and customization come together to create a bespoke, highly functional and luxurious kitchen space, notes the firm.

“The BlueStar design competition celebrates talented kitchen designers who are pushing the boundaries of color and creativity to help their clients realize their dream kitchens,” said Eliza Sheffield, president, BlueStar. “With our distinctive combination of restaurant-grade performance and unrivaled customization options, including 1000+ colors and finishes, BlueStar offers trade professionals truly unique options for clients looking to create statement kitchens.”

Grand prize winner Rasmussen/Su is an award-winning architecture firm specializing in custom residential design. Working together since 1995, firm principals Kevin C. Rasmussen AIA LEED AP and Vivian M. Su LEED AP bring diverse backgrounds and a collaborative spirit to the design process. The award-winning eat-in transitional galley kitchen features light wide-plank oak floors and dark blue Shaker cabinets and a 60-inch BlueStar RNB range with a Manhattan kitchen hood.

“We often are working on old townhomes in Philadelphia and it’s always a dimensional challenge to maximize functionality, light and space, and make it feel connected to the rest of the house. This kitchen is only a little over 14’ in width, but by expanding the views and consolidating closed storage we made it feel like an expansive kitchen, with the gorgeous 60″ BlueStar range as the centerpiece,” said designer Vivian Su.

The Grand Prize winner receives BlueStar appliances for his/her home kitchen and the title BlueStar Kitchen Designer of the Year.

Five finalists also were honored for their designs and use of BlueStar appliances:

Angela Free and Lillian Byers, Angela Free Design, San Francisco, CA, www.angelafreedesign.comSteve Cooper, Cooper Pacific Kitchens, West Hollywood, CA www.cooperpacific.comHillary Gilkey, HGC Development Group, Tampa, FL www.hgcdesignbuild.comCarolyn Michaelson, Carolyn Michaelson, RA LEED AP, Covington, KY www.cmichaelsonra.comKaren Swanson, New England Design Works, Gloucester, Mass, www.ne-dw.com

The judging panel included Regan Baker, Regan Baker Design, San Francisco, CA; Caroline Smith, Caroline V. Smith Interiors, Memphis, TN, the 2019 Design Competition winner; and Lynn Kloythanomsup, Landed Interiors & Homes, Berkeley, CA and last year’s Grand Prize winner.

The 2022 competition is open for entries from now through July 20, 2022. The kitchen design entry can be any style kitchen. A minimum of one BlueStar cooking appliance as the primary cooking appliance is required. Ranges, rangetops, refrigerators, gas and electric ovens and cooktops meet this requirement. Official rules and entry criteria can be found https://bit.ly/2LDUeCy. For general product information, visit BlueStarcooking.com.

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SEN Design Expands Educational Access

SEN Design Expands Educational Access


CHARLOTTE, NC — SEN Design Group, the Charlotte, NC-based kitchen and bath industry buying group and business education resource, has revamped its membership structure to increase access to business education opportunities for industry professionals, the organization announced.

“Under our previous structure, the majority of our educational opportunities were add-on expenses for our members, but we wanted to make sure our members had access to as much educational content as they wanted without added expense, so we have updated our membership structure to provide this much-needed resource at a minimal monthly investment,” said Catherine Daugherty, director of membership at SEN Design Group.

SEN Design Group will now offer three tiers of membership with differing benefits based on the member’s specific needs:

Associate Membership includes basic access to industry-specific business and sales education opportunities; this level is targeted for industry firms and independent designers who may not want to participate in a buying group or attend semi-annual conferences.

Signature U Membership includes increased access to industry-specific business and sales education opportunities, as well as access to SEN Design Group’s purchasing power and networking community.

Executive U Membership ($399 per month) includes everything in the Signature U Membership with additional benefits for industry leaders, such as dealer roundtables, a business development manual, personal profiling assessments for better hiring and communication, maximum quarterly rebates and more.

Additional details are available at www.sendesigngroup.com.

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Thermador Cites Student Design Winners

Thermador Cites Student Design Winners


IRVINE, CA — Thermador, the Irvine, CA-based luxury home appliance brand, has announced the inaugural student recipients of the company’s “Diversity in Design Pipeline” initiative, launched this year to empower a new generation of talent from underrepresented communities.

The Thermador Diversity in Design Pipeline Initiative, created in partnership with the Interior Design Society, was designed to support students in their senior year at an accredited interior design program to aid the transition into a successful, burgeoning career. The program was informed by a survey commissioned by Thermador that found mentorship and financial support to be the greatest obstacles for students of under-represented backgrounds to become professional designers.

The winning students include Aleah Mazyck of UNC Greensboro, Kayla Martin of California State University, Raquel Rodrigues of Texas Tech University, Jonathan Martin of the University of Northern Iowa and Chrystal McLeod of Georgia Southern University.

“Thermador is honored at the opportunity to work with these talented students as part of our brand’s commitment to opening more pathways for underrepresented communities in interior design,” said Beatriz Sandoval, head of brand marketing for Thermador.

The mentorship program pairs students and mentors who will meet monthly to discuss the essential and tangible skills needed to be successful in the world of design. Students also receive $10,000 toward tuition and a student membership with IDS, Thermador said.

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Designer Crafts Thoughtful Brand

Designer Crafts Thoughtful Brand

Salisbury, NC — When Sara Lee started her design business in Salisbury, North Carolina, she knew just what to name it – SISU Home Designs. “SISU is personal to me,” says Lee. “It is a word used by my grandmother and mother of Finnish and Norwegian heritage. In one word, it embodies determination, potential, grit, freedom, courage, preparedness, strength, community and heart.” She adds, “In the business of design, there is inherent potential for what is possible.”

This inherent potential of design has, according to Lee, always been part of what drives her. “I always enjoyed setting up rooms and drawing house plans, even as a child,” she says. “Design school was a natural decision, and I specifically fell in love with kitchen and bath design. There is so much technicality, plus creativity. It’s problem-solving, communicating and wonderfully challenging.”

Branding a journey

Like most in the industry, Lee worked her way up from the bottom. “My first opportunity was with a large cabinet manufacturer, and I worked in marketing and sales, drawing plans for nationwide Lowe’s store displays and ‘The New American Home’ projects.” After a subsequent stint with a small dealer in order to gain more sales experience, she moved to Washington, DC to get a feel for the luxury market at a high-end showroom.

“A move to North Carolina in 2013 gave me new opportunities to serve a uniquely southern clientele,” she continues. “I thrived and felt a new confidence for what I could do for people and their spaces.”

When it came time to hang out her own shingle, Lee was careful to take her personal journey in the industry into account, working with an expert to create a cohesive narrative across all her digital channels.

“The branding [for SISU] was created by a lovely woman in London – we had much communication about who I am and what SISU represents,” she says. “The brand experience engages the senses and imagination through a visual narrative that is timeless, elegant and full of intentional detail – a visual identity that speaks with poetry and textural appeal to communicate inherent possibility and expertise.”

She adds, “Consistency is important. The brand carries over into social media and, I believe, sets a standard of credibility.” The Instagram presence of SISU in particular features a balance of crisp, beautifully staged project imagery, personal touches and anecdotes and graphics featuring the company’s sprouting plant-inspired logo.

New growth

Like the little sprout featured in SISU’s logo, Lee cultivates her client relationships carefully. “I get to know my clients through many meetings, calls and even texts,” she notes. “I have the privilege of going into people’s homes, and that requires trust, and I honor that. Our welcome packet actually goes over the entire process from beginning consultation to photoshoot day! It gives my clients a nice road map of what will happen over the course of the next few months.”

Looking ahead to the new year, Lee anticipates growth for her business. “Plans for 2022: I would love to hire some help and continue moving toward having a fantastic showroom.”
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