Category Archives: wine

Food, Wine and Inspiring Design – San Francisco Style

Recently I was invited to experience a few days in San Francisco as part of the #zephyrbloggerretreat2016

Zephyr, an innovative range hood and ventilation manufacturer, had much to offer us in both product knowledge and company culture.

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The amazing few days included a  farm to table dining experience at Boulettes Larder, an educational in depth wine tasting and proper pairings at the Joseph Phelps Vineyard, an understanding of the beauty of the Napa Valley vineyards and wine grottos (as well as a wonderful lunch served in a wine cave), at the Rutherford Hill Winery and some truly incredible art and more wine(!) at the stunning Hall Winery which has thought provoking sculpture gardens. “But wait- there’s more!” Yes, there is more……..an inspired interior design walk through the design district of San Francisco (our group was welcomed by the Nido showroom, the Daltile showroom and the Coup d’Etat showroom), and the highlight of these action packed few days, a look into the design thinking and philosophical mind of Zephyr collaborator Fu-Tung Cheng, at the Zephyr Showroom.

The presentation was engaging, enlightening and seriously inspiring as we were shown through years of philosophy and design thinking resulting in some intense architectural outcomes.

I felt the emotion of Fu-Tung’s personal victory as the work of seven years concluded in the “Moon Door” entry to his family garden. I understood organic modernism in a new way as I watched a home take shape during the presentation. I felt Fu-Tung’s love of concrete as a design medium as well as building material with the introduction of Shapecrete, his venture into sharing that love in 20LB pails.

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The Cheng Design philosophy, the organic connection of things, ease of living and homage to natural elements is a perfect pairing with the Zephyr Brand. The designs are simple yet thought provoking and at times playful. A model meant to be reinterpreted by applying decorative surfacing is actually lovely enough in shape and style that the majority left it as is. Another model, Horizon, the brainchild of Zephyr collaborator, Robert Brunner, is truly a sleek glass wall sculpture. It evokes that mood of organic modernism that works so well with the current trend of design for living interpreted as simple, personalized, functional art as home or common space.

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So impressive to me is the Zephyr company culture, the how and why of their organic design philosophy, collaborations and marketing instincts. The generosity in sharing the things that they value that create that company culture is impressive down to John Smilanic, the showroom manager, creating our custom Zephyr pumpkin desserts as part of our showroom experience lunch.

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While the shapes and finishes of the Zephyr product line are thought provoking, the quality of the product is also extremely noteworthy. The DCBL suppression system technology used in the product makes the ventilation quieter, more energy efficient and practically silent.  A demonstration of this was a hood holding a piece of paper to the bottom while we were being shown the features. We could not even hear it. Better ventilation creates a healthier home environment. It seems to me that the culture of slow food, farm to table and healthier living will certainly embrace this technology in home design.

My brand of design is to bring out the passion of the inhabitants, pay homage to the lifestyle and enhance the environment of the space. I begin a home design with the kitchen and let the flow of the lifestyle emanate from that place where we feed our family, friends and ultimately our souls.

My takeaway from this experience is that Zephyr is a brand worth investigating when beginning the re-imagination of the home. Ventilation is a key ingredient to healthier living.

-Toni :)

Tidbits & Trends from Design & Construction Week 2015

DSC_4711 KBIS (17) It’s a few weeks after design and construction week and I still can’t stop talking about it. Held in Las Vegas and comprised of several shows featuring the best in home furnishings and construction materials, this is by far the best trade show I have ever been to. The trends for simple lines, glitzy lighting, lush textures, fab faucets and fittings and amazing appliance configurations are all things that make me smile. My unabashed enthusiasm for the Thermador brand continues full force with the introduction of an apartment sized gas range with 5 star burners and the beauteous collection of refrigeration and wine columns that are the stuff “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” are made of! Can I really mean “gorgeous refrigeration’? YES! And what about wine? It seems that our “wine culture” is growing rapidly! Cooking with wine, wine pairings, wine dinners, and tastings are all on the rise and the home entertainer is taking note! With these beautiful columns, you can really add that entertaining experience so easily by creating your own custom wine and refrigeration wall. These pieces can be customized in so many ways………. and really integrate with any home fashion statement.

As a kitchen designer that believes in kitchen-centric living, I was happy to see continued trends for open floor plans that integrate the kitchen and more cabinetry millwork to adjacent spaces. There is also an increase in the popularity of banquettes. This casual dining idea is cozy and a great space saver. Welborn Cabinetry showed this trend well with a display that made you want to move right in!

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Another trend I see is to have less kitchen wall cabinetry in favor of more tall cabinets, open shelving and walk in pantry space. The New American Home has a stunning kitchen great space that is an attractive example of this streamlined trend.

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Other trends that I saw both on the show floor and at the this incredible show house were floating vanities and freestanding tubs. For more on my visit to The New American Home, please see the K+BB online blog http://kbbcollective.kbbonline.com/nahb-new-american-home-makes-a-statement-during-design-construction-week.html

And for my thoughts on bath trends please see the February/March issue of Embark Magazine…I am overjoyed to be a contributor to this exciting new platform.

I am truly captivated by the stunning array of new fashion forward products available from so many manufacturers. Brizo has a line of faucets by Jason Wu and Walker Zanger has put out Sterling Row, a tile line that actually includes houndstooth! I love it!! Rich textures, metallics, vibrant colors, and sexy silhouettes can all be found at the building supply! Design and Construction week is beginning to feel like “HOME Fashion Week” to me and I can not wait to see what the new looks are next year!