What is Transitional Design?

In recent years, traditional kitchen designs have been surpassed in popularity by transitional design.  Driven by a desire for people to spend more time socializing, kitchens today are expanding into living spaces.  In a world where people are working, socializing, and overall treating the kitchen as the heart of their home, transitional design is the perfect approach to designing a kitchen that will be used for more than meal preparation.

A Clean, Comfortable and Simple Aesthetic

The current trend of transitional design evokes a clean, comfortable and simple aesthetic. In this new world of kitchen design, everything may have a practical purpose, but the end result is a beautiful space where everyone feels at home.

Contemporary Styles with Cues from the Past

A transitional kitchen borrows elements or references styles of the past and combines them with contemporary features to produce something new and fresh. This trend has meant a shift toward a contemporary and very modern-looking kitchen, but with style references that feel familiar.

An Emphasis on “Blending”

Transitional design relies on built-in appliances that serve both a practical and aesthetic purpose—enhancing the usage experience while maximizing available space and creating a visually more pleasing environment. Instead of standing out, the appliances blend in, creating a cohesive, and more beautiful whole. These modern aspects of transitional design may manifest itself in a number of different ways, from stainless steel ranges and undercounter refrigerators to double sinks and stylish new dishwashers.

Source: U-Line

Transitional design combines elements of old and new.

Transitional design combines elements of old and new.

Wassily Chair

There are a plethora of stories here, but I want to focus on the chair as no other could achieve its appropriateness in this setting.              

Designed in 1925 by Marcel Breuer, the Wassily Chair was revolutionary in the use of bent tubular steel.  Breuer, inspired by the lightness of his first bicycle frame began to experiment using the material in furniture design.

With its minimal seamless steel frame and straps of leather forming the seat, back and arms, the chair’s openness allow the colorful book jackets to play a part in the composition.  The frame’s radiuses, curvilinear stair brackets, and railing’s scroll panels create an asymmetrical balance, where different objects have an equal visual attraction; its curves emphasizing the triangle formed by the stair's niche.   

As Picasso's photograph adorns the wall directly above the side table, I’d be remiss for not pointing out the chrome frame's highlights, the final touch a painter employs, giving life to their canvas.

The work exhibits an expert touch through the manipulation of spatial volume, surface treatment, product, and principles of interior design. 

My partner Monique is responsible for the design, and each time I visit this composition, I am reminded of her exceptional talent. 

It's All in the Details

I have the daily privilege of overhearing our interior design director, and enthusiastic associates discuss decorating ideas down to the smallest details.  Their team rigorously considers each design element for unity, balance, rhythm, emphasis, contrast, scale and proportion, and details before being considered.    

Yesterday, one conversation focused on a table lamp selection, the final design element concluding their client presentation.  After reviewing dozens of styles for lumen type, photo metrics, and CRI (bulb, beam spread, and color rendering index), the team analyzed each lamp's surface to eye level distance, shade length ratio, and shade diameter.  The remainder were then subjected to the seven principles of interior design to determine appropriateness.  

After much deliberation, the group chose a lamp designed by George Nelson, one of the most inventive minds of the twentieth century.  The inspiration for his Lantern Lamp stemmed from a photo of mothballed ships covered in netting and sprayed with a self-webbing plastic.  After spinning a skeleton of steel wires on a turntable and shooting it with translucent plastic, George wrapped the structure in a smooth, washable film.  After outfitting his creation with a lamp (bulb), he exclaimed: “it glowed.”  

In interior design, details are like jewelry.  From the pillow sham piping to the color and pattern of embroidery, each detail adds its distinctive feature to the overall composition.   As you may have guessed by now, even a lamp deserves much contemplation before making its debut.

Kitchen on the Cheap!

JRML was just commissioned to provide design and construction management for the Lambert’s Point Market renovation, a 100-year building anchoring the corners of Parker Ave and 40th Street in Norfolk, Virginia.  The site is adjacent to Old Dominion University’s campus.   Additional tasks include market analysis, regulatory, permitting, and study of student interaction within the built environment.

Our feasibility and structural analysis revealed 12-inch thick brick exterior walls, timber and steel beams, brick interior walls, high ceilings and windows, and an old safe.  The site also has a large side yard for off-street parking – a coveted asset.

Engaged in off-campus housing rentals to college students, the client requested a unique design but stressed cost efficiency.  We responded with an industrial style focused on durability, privacy, acoustics, energy efficiency, and security to allay parental concerns.

Our kitchen rendering illustrates restaurant grade stainless steel prep, sink table, and shelving for the cabinetry; a plastic laminate bar top; a recycled gym locker for the pantry; and standard appliances.  A focal point of glittering acrylic cast plastic resin completes the bar front.  

Total kitchen cost: $6,838.00!  A big impact at a small cost.

A Designer's Vision

In 1936, Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision for SC Johnson Company’s holistic workspace reached a crisis when the Wisconsin Industrial Commission denied Wright a building permit because they didn't believe a mushroom-like column could support the 12 tons of weight he suggested.  

To appease his critics, Wright staged a test, dumping sandbags on top of a column to prove its strength. Once workers reached 12 tons, they paused. Wright instructed them to continue, standing beneath the structure and tapping it with his cane for effect. Construction crews eventually loaded 60 tons of material atop the lone column, stopping not because the column failed, but because they ran out of space to add more weight. Wright was given his building permit.

Recently, we designed a steel hanger system to support girders fastened to each side of a column supporting a roof.  Our solution supported the weight and created a continuous load path, resulting in a clean aesthetic.  The City of Norfolk disagreed.  We replied citing the relevant building code provision and our interpretation.  Again we were denied.

Fortunately, we live in a different age than Wright.  Using modeling software, we proved to the building official that our solution was structurally sound.  After a few days, the city granted us a building permit.  

As an International Code Council member, I informed the official that we would pursue the inclusion of our system in the next code update. 

Kitchens 2017: What's in and What's Out

1.    Contemporary kitchens overtook traditional styles.  Transitional designs still reign.
2.    White and gray painted cabinets and color schemes dominate; blue and black are
       emerging.
3.    Mixed colors and materials are trending, with exaggerated two-toned effects.
4.    White wood cabinets rule current tastes, but metal cabinetry is growing.
5.    Furniture-look pieces, roll-outs, pullouts, and LED lighting are popular, as are bigger
       drawers.
6.    Quartz countertops are king while granite trends downward.
7.    Induction cooktops convection ovens, and microwave drawers proliferate, same for
       steam ovens.
8.    Technology and integration are on the rise.
9.    Barn and pocket doors are growing in popularity.
10.   Clients are also requesting accessible and universal design features.

 

Yet Another Divider Solution

Often, in an open setting, the need arises to separate one space from another.  We have an entire section in our resource library devoted to what we call "dividers."  

From woven wire cloth to translucent or laser cut panels, the choices are many.  Just when we think we have exhausted all options, a new product is introduced, adding another design tool to our toolbox.    

In our constant search to discover the perfect solution, we found this linear pendant fixture.  Formed by transparent alternating glass elements, the assembly allows for infinite designs.  And for larger spaces, the units can be combined.  

The wiring is hidden in the globe's shaded area to conceal the light source.  LED spot lights, embedded in the ceiling canopy, illuminate the assembly from above.

We just love the fixture's interstice, for a deconstructed view of the adjacent space's furnishings, accessories, and art. 

  •  

Flow

In search of an unusual accent piece for a client, we settled on the Flow Vase designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid.  The Flow, an experiment in coupling advanced 3D modeling techniques and rotational molding technology defined a new typology in product design – an object that is both vase and sculpture – a sinuous item through which Cartesian geometries are blended in a continuous three-dimensional form.  Flow's height and curvy, elegant shapes make it unique and continually changing based on the angle of observation. 

The Most Lucrative Interior Remodeling Projects

Along with making the home look better, refinishing hardwood floors provides the highest money-back value of all the home improvement projects.

NAR’s Economists’ Outlook blog listed the five remodeling projects that receive the best overall value for sellers, based on a survey of consumers, real estate agents, and professionals in the industry.

New hardwood floors cost $2,500 but increase the value $2,500 for sellers, meaning an owner can recoup 100 percent of the costs. Upgrading insulation (95 percent of the $2,100 cost), adding new wood flooring (91 percent of the $5,500 cost), replacing the HVAC system (71 percent of the $7,000 cost), and converting the basement into a living area (69 percent of the $36,000 cost) are other ways to get the best bang for the buck.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Portable Unbreakable Solar Panels

A typical solar panel—more than five feet long and encased in glass—isn't exactly portable. But a new type of solar technology, miniaturized so that each cell is the size of a piece of glitter, could be used anywhere. 

The tiny cells are made from high-efficiency silicon, like standard solar panels. But the new form means that they're not only small but flexible, and can be folded up for transportation, incorporated into clothing, or easily used in electronics.

Conventional solar panels "are brittle because they're crystalline," Murat Okandan, CEO of mPower Technology, the startup making the new technology, tells Co.Exist. "If you bend or flex them, at some point they'll just break and shatter. By making our cells small and then interconnecting them we're able to make them almost unbreakable."

A satellite could carry a tightly-folded solar array into space, and then deploy it when it reaches orbit; a drone could carry a folded array on its wing. Someone on a camping trip could easily fit a large folded array in a backpack.

"You can charge your devices when you're out backpacking, fold it back up, put it in your backpack, and just go," Okandan says.

The technology also has some advantages for solar power on rooftops. The lightweight cells are easier to move around and faster to install, helping reduce the cost of installation.  Because the cells are arranged in a dense mesh network, they're more resilient; if one cell loses power or is temporarily shaded, it doesn't affect the whole system. Since the cells are more durable than traditional panels, they'll last longer, making the cost of power cheaper. The design also requires less material for the same amount of power.

Okandan first developed the technology at Sandia National Laboratories, which has a program that allows scientists to leave to start new tech companies (while still guaranteeing their job for three years, if they choose to come back). Potential customers are currently testing prototypes of the technology, called Dragon SCALES ("SemiConductor Active Layer Embedded solar"), or, informally, "solar glitter." 

The cost of solar power has fallen dramatically over the last decade, and installations broke records in 2016.  But the new technology could help it become even cheaper and scale more easily, particularly in novel applications.

Adele Peters

Solar Technology