A Cut Above The Rest

For Anna Bario and Page Neal, designing jewelry meant more than choosing the perfect stone — it meant making a lasting impact. Their company, Bario Neal, was born from the idea that “our most precious things come with a story,” and the beginning of that story is of utmost importance.

Sustainable fashion has eased its way into the growing culture of being environmentally mindful, and with this movement came an increase in jewelry companies focusing on how to source gemstones and metals without causing a devastating impact on the environment. For Bario and Neal, the principal and lead designers of their company, they sought to create jewelry with a meaning, saying, “to us, creating objects of lasting value means understanding their full impact and origins. [That means] the places the raw materials come from, all the hands that touch the materials and the jewelry as it’s made.”

The Philadelphia-based company creates all their jewelry pieces by hand, with all their diamonds and colored gems being traceable, mine to market products. The design process starts with the aesthetics of the piece, then to how it will be crafted and its functionality, says Bario and Neal. “Then we work out how to make it responsibly. That can mean researching new sources, new materials, or custom cutting.”

Along with supporting sustainable jewelry, the company, which mainly creates engagement and wedding bands, also supports LGBTQIA rights, working to “undermine and eliminate the presumption of heterosexuality that pervades much of the wedding and jewelry industry,” says Bario and Neal. “Supporting unity and advocating for human rights within the jewelry industry is a non-negotiable part of our mission.”

©Bario Neal Jewelry

Bario Neal

Photo by Daniel Johnson

Caitlin Cimino

Like Bario Neal, for Caitlin Cimino and her namesake jewelry company, the story of her ethically sourced pieces is essential to her craft. Cimino, who started her company in 2010, takes a hands-on approach when it comes to her creations. “When I create jewelry, I tie a mindful practice around the entire process — from collecting plant material to sifting through mine debris for gemstones.” Cimino started her ethical business knowing the connection between the jewelry industry and the gemstone and metal mining industries, two industries that are “environmentally and ethically damaging,” Cimino says.

All the gemstones Cimino finds are collected from a privately owned mine in California where her company is based. According to her website, unlike other mines that neglect their surrounding environment, the mine Cimino visits encourages local ranchers to utilize their mining debris in their orchards. The metal she uses is high-quality, up-cycled sterling silver with its impurities removed, making the quality similar to newly mined metal. Cimino describes her jewelry as “Medicine Jewelry™” and has created a process surrounding this ideal. “When I sit at my workbench, I perform different ritual practices like lighting herbs and incense, saying prayers or mantras and setting intentions,” Cimino says. “I do this because everything we involve ourselves in has a story and energy intertwined within, and I believe in the importance of making the story of my jewelry pure and positive.”

For co-founder of the jewelry company Puck Wanderlust, Ranelle Chapman, a core mantra pulls together the focus of her brand with it being “one of collaboration and the shared wealth of skills to create something unique yet mindfully made,” says the company’s website. “The interest in sustainability is at the heart of the brand — from packaging to production.” Founded in 2015 in London, the name is derived from “Puck,” a mischievous fairy in English folklore, and “Wanderlust,” a strong desire for travel and adventure. The company’s team traveled outside of its home country to India and Bali where its jewelry is handcrafted.

Sun Mandala bracelet in silver
by Puck Wanderlust.

A mix of different gold rings with onyx and moonstone by Puck Wanderlust. 

Photos courtesy of Puck Wanderlust

Moon Mandala pendant necklace in gold
by Puck Wanderlust.

 Puck Wanderlust works with small family-owned suppliers in these countries, their suppliers using recycled materials where possible while providing fair wages for their staff. According to the company, “we are committed to the ethical sourcing of our semi-precious stones and work closely with suppliers to ensure that they adhere to our code of conduct, which outlines strict standards of business behaviour.”

Puck Wanderlust also draws design inspiration from the countries that provide them with their materials. The latest “Bombay Deco Collection” is inspired by Indian Art Deco with geometric motifs and vibrant colors and patterns, according to Puck Wanderlust. In this collection, every design is handcrafted using 100-percent recycled silver and 18-carat gold vermeil, with each stone being “lovingly set.”

Niki Grandics, founder and designer of Enji Studio Jewelry in California, also sources her materials from around the world, buying them as close to the source as possible, she says, with rutile coming from a Pyramid mine in Bahia Brazil and her rich red rubies from Liberia. Grandics, who has always loved fashion and design, chose to ethically source her materials after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013. The devastating event killed over 1,100 garment workers and injured over 2,000 more people, shaking the fashion industry to the core and causing companies to change where they source their materials. “The factory produced clothing for large brands I shopped with at the time,” Grandics says, “and it was shocking to me that so many young women — most garment workers are women age 18 to 35 — died so that young women like me in the West could buy the latest trends.”

Puck Wanderlust

Photo courtesy of Enji Studio Jewelry

Grandics’s favorite recent creation, the Ankoma Pendant. It’s made of rutilated hematite stone and hand-fabricated with recycled gold. 

Enji — its name derived from Grandics initials “N” and “G” — goes beyond making modern and minimalist styles, but looks to shed light on issues in the industry that people may not be aware of, supporting projects that help end the use of toxic chemicals such as mercury, which is harmful to people and the surrounding environment.

Grandics’ future plans include putting together a map of where all the gemstones come from, creating “radical transparency,” something she believes fashion companies should start doing, along with becoming completely sustainable. “We only have this planet as far as I know and, given the scale of climate change, I think it’s imperative,” Grandics says. “If it can’t be reused, recycled, or biodegraded, it shouldn’t be in production, period.”

Photo courtesy of Enji Studio Jewelry

Aline Pendant: 2.25ct rutilated quartz and recycled 14k gold.

Paavo Studs: Recycled 14k gold, Montana sapphires and Canadamark diamonds.

Photos courtesy of Enji Studio Jewelry

Faustina Ring: Ruby slice, Montana sapphires and recycled 14k rose gold.

Upon learning that her engagement ring possibly contained a conflict diamond, CEO and founder of MiaDonna Anna-Mieke Anderson knew she had to make things right for herself and the jewelry industry. “I started sponsoring Ponpon, a 7-year-old boy in Liberia, Africa,” Anderson says. “It’s through our letters that I got a first-hand look at the realities of living in a diamond mining community. I will never forget the day he wrote to me and said, ‘I had a great summer because only one of my classmates was killed.’”

Anderson set out to source conflict-free diamonds the best possible way she could find: growing them in a lab. MiaDonna has led the evolution in the lab-grown diamond industry, with the company debuting the largest USA-grown diamond at the time, at 6.28 carats in 2016. To help combat the issue, Anderson created a foundation, The Greener Diamond, that works together with MiaDonna, and empowers communities to grow food instead of mining diamonds. With each purchase of a piece from MiaDonna, the money goes toward programs that restore the lives and lands of people in sub-Saharan Africa affected by mining.

©2016 Alex Milan Tracy

Anderson’s company, MiaDonna, is named after the two most influential people in her life: her daughter, Mia, and her late mother, Donna.

According to Anderson, people should become more aware of where their jewelry is coming from because “every time we make a purchase, we are voting with our money.” Anderson is proud of where her company is headed, recently becoming B Corp certified in America, the first lab-grown diamond retailer to do so. But she isn’t going to stop there, looking toward the planet, her cause, and more importantly, the people, as her reason for making a difference. “As for the little boy, Ponpon, he just completed University and runs our foundation projects in Liberia, Africa.”

Custom lab-grown diamond ring by MiaDonna.

Photos courtesy of MiaDonna

Paris ring set with natural recycled diamonds by MiaDonna.

Whether you’re hosting a clambake on Nantucket, enjoying a procession of edible jewels at a Tokyo sushi bar or simply shopping for a suburban supper, the days of consuming seafood with careless abandon are gone. The oceans are desperately overfished, and seafood lovers must be conscious of their own personal impact on the aquatic environment.

The best known resource for both suppliers and consumers is Seafood Watch, a program created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Northern California 20 years ago. Its regional consumer guides, identifying the most sustainable and most threatened species, are valued by consumers, chefs and eco-conscious corporations. “We use a rigorous, scientifically-based standard to come up with recommendations, result-ing in the most up-to-date, credible information,” states Maddie Southard, content manager for Seafood Watch.

So influential are these guides—60 million have been distributed to date—that when a particular item moves from the red (“Avoid”) category to yellow (“Good Alternatives”) or green (“Best Choices”), millions of dollars can change hands. Reflecting the thoroughness of Seafood Watch’s recommendations, flounder appears four times as a “Best Choice,” 14 times as a “Good Alternative” and 18 times in the “Avoid” column depending on the exact species, geographic origin and methods of fishing or farming employed.

©Monteray Bay Aquarium, Photo by Tyson V. Rininger.

“Consumers help drive change, and when businesses recognize what’s import-ant to consumers they respond,” reports Southard of Seafood Watch’s ability to engage corporations like Whole Foods and Blue Apron. The program’s restaurant partners transcend economic strata, from trendy Farallon in San Francisco to family-friendly Red Lobster restaurants across the country.

In its early days, businesses viewed Seafood Watch as a fringe movement but today participation is embraced and display of the organization’s yellowfin tuna logo can be a marketing asset. A Blue Ribbon Task Force, comprised of honored culinary authorities, enhances Seafood Watch’s relevance with diners. “The public admires chefs and culinarians, and we realized the impact they have on consumers,” offers Southard, who adds, “Chefs were some of the earliest supporters of the movement so this was a natural partnership.”

“Whenever I’m making decisions about what to put on a menu, I always ask myself, ‘What would Sheila do,’” says Los Angeles chef Michael Cimarusti, referring to Seafood Watch’s Sheila Bowman, who oversees outreach to chefs. Cimarusti, who has earned two Michelin stars at his flag-ship restaurant Providence, became conscious of sustainable sourcing issues as a young chef in L.A. 20 years ago, when a Gourmet magazine review admonished him for serving bluefin tuna.

“As I learned more about issues relating to sustainability, I became really passion-ate about it and wanted to become more active in the movement,” explains Cimarusti. “I was honored to be asked to sit on the Task Force and have learned a tremendous amount from Seafood Watch,” says the chef, who shares all of the program’s recommendation alerts with his staff.

Éric Ripert, chef/partner of New York’s Le Bernardin, takes sustainability as seriously as Cimarusti. “I spend my days with many varieties of fish, considering which are best for the restaurant, he says. Ripert explains, “This means more than just judging by flavor and composition, but includes the ethics and politics surrounding how they’ve been made available to us.” The Michelin three-star chef cautions, “If we don’t support the artisanal way of catching fish, it’s going to disappear.”

Michael Cimarusti. ©Jennkl Photography.

Courtesy of Whole Foods Market. 

Hugh Acheson, author and James Beard Award-winning chef with a family of Georgia restaurants, also sits on Seafood Watch’s advisory board and is a strong advocate for local, sustainable ingredients. He recalls that in the 1990s chefs addressed a severe threat to swordfish through a voluntary ban and use of more sustainable alternatives, allowing stocks to replenish. “It made me realize how much clout we have, as chefs, to mandate change when we act as a plurality,” states Acheson.

“I think Seafood Watch has succeeded in being a valuable resource for consumers, chefs, wholesalers, and grocery stores,” says the Canadian-born chef who has helped reimagine Southern cuisine. Acheson, who notes that swordfish continues to face challenges, suggests Seafood Watch would have been an invaluable resource decades ago, when many chefs were oblivious to sustainability issues.

An affinity for bluefin tuna (maguro) and eel (unagi), both largely on Seafood Watch’s “Avoid” list, and adherence to centuries-old traditions makes sushi chefs among the most reluctant to adopt sustainable practices. One sushi chef committed to sustainability is Bun Lai, chef/owner of Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut and another member of Seafood Watch’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. Some odd ingredients—every-thing from insects and invasive species to edible weeds—populate his voluminous menu, and the James Beard Award nominee relies on guidance from Seafood Watch.

Éric Rippert. ©Daniel Kreiger Photography. 

Hugh Acheson. Photo by Emily B. Hall. 

“Miya’s started working on sustainable seafood very gradually in the early 2000s,” reports Lai, explaining that unreliable data made conscientious sourcing challenging. “Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch changed all of that by creating a tool that helped people choose sustainable seafood in a market awash with imported seafood of mostly dubious origin and quality,” says Lai. “When I first discovered Seafood Watch, it was as if a light beamed into the darkness I was surrounded by,” he says.

Bun Lai. ©Alan S. Orling.

“I admire my heritage, but we must question our traditions, too,” states Lai, acknowledging sushi’s popularity contributes to overfishing around the globe. He cites Jiro Ono, the revered sushi master featured in the documentary film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, who lamented the demise of the majestic bluefin while continuing to serve it to customers.

“There are, however, sushi chefs filled with a passion for sustainable seafood like those café owners who pioneered fair trade coffee decades ago,” says Lai with optimism. With Seafood Watch’s guides and app available to chefs and consumers alike, good choices can be made on both sides of the bar.

Sustainable Sources

Hugh Acheson
www.hughacheson.com

Le Bernardin
www.le-bernardin.com

Miya’s Sushi
www.miyassushi.com

Providence
www.providencela.com

Seafood Watch
www.seafoodwatch.org

 

Surrounded by the natural beauty of the pink himalayan salt blocks, salt spa visitors are encouraged to focus on their breathing as they embrace the benefits of the salt-infused air. 

Dry salt therapy, or halotherapy, is a practice that originated centuries ago in the natural salt mines of Eastern Europe. Dry salt therapy is thought to provide an array of health benefits, helping with stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as skin conditions, arthritis and asthma.

“People are seeking more natural and alternative ways to feel better and relieve pain,” says Maryann Corcoran, co-owner of the Corcova Salt Spa in Genesee County, Michigan. “They are tired of taking pills and getting little or no relief and often additional ailments due to the side eff ects from their medication.”

 

 

Royal Salt Cave & Spa. Photo by Rafal K Gdowski. 

“With medications you have to worry about side effects and short- or long-term effects on the body, but with salt therapy, there’s none of that. It’s simply a healing process that also throws relaxation into the mix,” adds Izabela Przybyla, founder and owner of the Royal Salt Cave & Spa in Frankfort, Illinois.

 

A man-made salt cave reproduces the climate of a natural salt mine. Surfaces are covered with layers of himalayan salt and saline aerosol is
dispersed into the room to create a space that feels authentic. 

“The salt cave is climate-con-trolled to recreate a micro-climate as if you were within a salt mine,” says Shannon Coppola, founder of Montauk Salt Cave in New York City. “Salt is super sensitive to heat and humidity. There is a very intricate climate-control system to ensure that the air is always moving and super clean to maximize the benefits.”

Chairs, whether recliners or loungers, are added for comfort and relaxation, while dim lighting is used to recreate a true cave-like experience.

One of the most well-known salt mines is the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland, which draws tourists from around the world. It was also the fi rst location to off er salt-related health treatments. In the 1830s, Dr. Feliks Boczkowsk began off ering salt baths when he began to notice the surprisingly good health of the local salt miners.

Mei Leung, a holistic healer at Montauk Salt Cave, uses Reiki and sound to help visitors feel calm and balanced. Photo by Mike Vitelli.

The historic Wieliczka Salt Mine began offering salt-related health treatments in Poland as early as 1830. Photo by Ryszard Tatomir. 

United States spa owners draw inspiration from Wieliczka Salt Mine, which has played a pivotal role in the rise of halotherapy. Cheryl Krouse and Jim Fittante, owners of the Samana Salt Spa in Lewiston, New York, traveled to Poland to gain a deeper understanding of the ancient form of wellness therapy. “We were able to see firsthand how the Wellness Center in the salt mine has been operating since the late 1800s,” explains Krouse.

Another notable salt mine in Eastern Europe is the Salt Mine Berchtesgaden, which is the oldest active salt mine in Germany. The mine attracts visitors, who are able to tour the mine and learn of its history while taking in views of the natural salt. “Enjoy the underground, starting with a train ride. Go down two long slides (which were used by mine workers in former times), take a raft ride over a mystic salt lake, and see traces of colored salt in the rocks,” says Peter Botzleiner-Reber, tourism manager for Salt Mine Berchtesgaden.

“I’ve known about salt therapy my whole life, since I’m originally from Poland. Salt caves have been popular in Europe for more than 70 years,” says Przybyla, who has seen the trend grow in the U.S. in recent years. “There’s no doubt in my mind that salt therapy is on the rise simply because it’s relaxing and beneficial to your health.”

Salt Mine Berchtesgaden is home to two long slides, which are surrounded by salt and were once used by mine workers. Photo by Georg Grainer Fotografie, courtesy of Salt Mine Berchtesgaden, Südwestdeutche Salzwerke AG. 

The salt used in halotherapy is antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial, according to Shannon Coppola. To fully take advantage of its ben-efits, Coppola suggests a 30- to 60-minute session in a salt cave at least once a week — preferably two times a week.

While most salt therapy sessions are a solo experience, Montauk Salt Cave also offers guided sessions with experienced healers. The healers elevate the typical salt cave experience — whether it’s promoting peace and tranquility through the use of tarot cards and astrology, a meditative soundscape, or Reiki therapy.

Luxury developments and real estate properties are also experimenting with the benefits of halotherapy. “There has been an increase in awareness of the benefits of halotherapy and in turn a rise in demand for locations to off er it,” says Alison Howland, vice president of wellness programs and resourcing at Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences in Riviera Beach, Florida.

The luxury development will soon debut its inhalation halotherapy chamber, which will off er residents the opportunity to experience salt therapy from the comfort of their homes. “The concept of luxury is changing. No longer is standardized luxury acceptable. Personalized luxury is the new standard,” says Howland of the develop-ment’s decision to open the salt chamber.

For luxury spa owners, the choice to open a salt cave is often much more personal.

“My daughter was my biggest inspiration for opening this business,” says Przybyla. “She struggles with asthma and severe allergies, which tend to act up a lot seasonally. I wanted to help get her healthier in a natural way.”

Coppola echoes a similar message. “Ultimately, our inspiration for opening the spa was our son,” she says. Coppalo and her husband discovered salt therapy in 2014 when searching for a cure for their son’s respiratory issues. “We had tried everything under the sun — nebulizers, chambers, adenoidectomy, tonsillectomy, Flonase, Nasonex, and more. A friend suggested salt therapy. After one session, he slept through the night for the first time at 4 and a half years old,” says Coppola.

For years, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has been at the pinnacle of style, class and design. What people may not be aware of is the company’s dedication and connection to art. The iconic luxury car company continued its expansion into the art world for a good cause in September, teaming up with famous British artist Marc Quinn.

 

The production line of Rolls-Royce in the founding location of Goodwood, West Sussex, England provided the stage for the company’s “Evelina Art for Allergy x Dine on the Line” philanthropy event where a generous £1.7 million was raised through an auction to support allergy research by Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

“Rolls-Royce was introduced to the charity Evelina London via connections in the art world,” says Jessica Persson Conway, manager of Art Programme & Philanthropy. As the largest allergy service of its kind in Europe, Evelina London provides specialized care to children across the country who suffer with an allergic condition.

 

De Pury led the successful night featuring Quinn’s mesmerizing work. ©2019 David M. Benett.

“Marc is a world-renowned contemporary artist,” Conway continues. “Rolls-Royce has great respect for his work and particularly admire his Iris paintings, which is the subject chosen for this collaboration.”

Everyone locked eyes on the big prize of the night, a Phantom designed with one of Quinn’s pieces from his collection entitled “We Share our Chemistry with the Stars.” The ongoing collection features large, colorful paintings of irises from eyes.

Art auctioneer Simon de Pury, who led the vivacious auction compared the artwork to that of the psychedelic Phantom V owned by John Lennon, calling it “the 21st century equivalent.”

 

Phantom is the apex model of Rolls-Royce and the company, encompassing the luxurious experience of driving and owning a Rolls-Royce.

 

“The car has been the canvas of some of the most extraordinary expressions of bespoke craftsmanship,” Conway says. “The Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective work hand-in-hand with patrons around the world to bring unique and highly personalized creative visions to fruition.”

The prized Phantom featuring Quinn’s artwork. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. 

The winning bidder of Quinn’s creation won the opportunity for the artist himself to create his own bespoke artwork featuring the iris of the bidder’s daughter, using the Phantom as the canvas. The drivable work of art raised an outstanding £888,000.

Rolls-Royce’s affiliation with art stems from its beginnings as a company, with the different models of cars becoming an “expression of creative will.” Conway noted that for over 100 years the bonnet, or front-hood, of each car is “graced with the Spirit of Ecstasy, a figurine created by sculptor Charles Sykes.”

The “Spirit of Ecstacy” by sculptor Charles Sykes. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. 

In 2014, the company founded the Rolls-Royce Arte Programme, an initiative made up of commissions with leading artists and institutions. Recently, the company announced a new vision for the program called Muse.

“Muse will further Rolls-Royce’s relationship with art through two new biennial initiatives, the Dream Commission and the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge,” Conway says.

The company also prides itself with its devotion to philanthropy, emphasizing how events, such as “Dine on the Line,” bring important attention to charity organizations.

 

“Patrons of Rolls-Royce are often highly successful, noteworthy individuals, many of whom are major philanthropic donors,” Conway says. “It gives us great pleasure to introduce the Rolls-Royce network to such a worthy cause.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF VRBO

More travelers than ever seem to be eschewing traditional hotels and considering lavish vacation rentals for more authentic and comfortable experiences.

Vacation rentals, from cottages to castles, can elevate the overall experience of traveling while avoiding that unsettled feeling of being away from home. Travelers can relish in the privacy of their own space and choose a rental that offers the peace and downtime traveling requires, all the while taking advantage of the same amenities and luxuries offered at a hotel or resort.

“The best luxury rentals can offer fine architecture, artwork, and furnishings that can rival the decor of any 5-star hotel, but without the transient feeling of being in a hotel. It’s as if you’re living in a place that is meant to be lived in, which can emphasize the sense of a place,” says Carol Perehudoff, an award-winning travel writer based in Toronto for the travel site Wandering Carol.

Whether you’re staying for the weekend or a few weeks, skip hotel rooms that can feel secluded and away from the excitement and embrace the idea of your own schedule and space.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF VRBO

An Authentic Experience

Luxury travelers are looking for a more authentic adventure when they visit a new place. They want to experience profound architecture, personalized activities, and the overall culture in an area. “Travelers can have an all-inclusive resort-like experience with the added bonus of space and privacy to completely relax and spend quality time with their loved ones,” according to Alison Kwong, travel expert for Vrbo (Vacation Rental by Owner). Renting a vacation home immerses you in the surrounding culture to create your home away from home. “Oftentimes a vacation rental can be a better all-around experience. We use high-end vacation rentals as a base of operations for custom-built adventures,” says Dan Austin, the president of Austin Adventures.

Vacation rentals make authentic travel seamless. Visit hard-to-reach places or lesser-known destinations in a home rather than a hotel. Easily submerge yourself in a residential area rather than skim the surface of the commercialized options typically available for tourists. “You’re often staying in neighborhoods where residents live, rather than in tourist zones,” says Perehudoff. She describes one luxury vacation rental in Venice as being “as much of a cultural thrill as visiting a famous museum or palace.”

 

Space and Privacy

Space is a significant component to consider when vacationing with family and friends. There are endless rentals that sleep large groups comfortably, which means your party can stay together without feeling crowded or overwhelmed. “Vacation homes are ideal for traveling with family because they allow everyone to stay together under one roof,” says Kwong. Similarly, Austin says, “you can create a better “gather” type of environment … to create bonding moments.” He notes, “one of the biggest benefits is privacy.”

Lounge by the pool, fit in your morning workout, enjoy an afternoon snack, or take a midnight swim all in the privacy of your own space. Forget overcrowded hotel pools, spas, and restaurants when you have easy access to your own private pool, at-home theater, sauna, and other amenities.

Freedom with Amenities

Forget dining on a schedule or mid-morning interruptions. Renting a home offers the desired freedom on a vacation that runs on your own schedule, without sacrificing any of the luxuries. “Travelers can still enjoy special amenities, like private chefs, daily housekeeping and concierge services that organize itineraries full of activities personalized for guests and their families,” says Kwong. Everything from welcome baskets to day excursions and transportation are available.

The Right Choice

Vacation rentals can provide accommodations for groups without the financial strain of booking several hotel rooms. Family and friends can split the cost of a home with the added bonus of endless amenities at your fingertips. “Travelers are increasingly drawn to vacation homes instead of hotels or resorts when going on family or group trips because vacation homes provide the same value at a compelling rate. When renting an entire vacation home, travelers also have access to more space and privacy, better amenities, and the chance to stay in some truly unique properties that aren’t available just anywhere,” according to Kwong.

©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / SHIRONOSOV

Vacation rentals are perfect for large parties who want to create gather experiences without feeling crowded.

 

 

 

Hotels can become a necessity rather than a welcome addition to your travels. Vacation rental companies have their own special niche, while the overall goal of each is to craft a unique, authentic experience for travelers.

Companies with a Purpose

Vrbo is based on the more traditional sense of a vacation rental. Families and friends are offered the privacy that large gatherings crave. Forget overloaded resorts and stuffy hotel lobbies. Instead, stretch out in front of your own fireplace with a book, make a cocktail in your private kitchen, and head out to the pool or spa where you and your guests can relax in privacy.

“Over the last 25 years, Vrbo has grown into a global community of homeowners and travelers with more than 2 million unique properties around the world, ranging from cabins to beach houses and every kind of space in between,” says Kwong. The site began in 1995 and has only expanded over the years, now offering easy-to-use technology to plan a dream vacation.

©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / SHIRONOSOV

Rental sites offer the opportunity to stay in one-of-a-kind homes all over the world for a unique experience.

“One of the newest features Vrbo has added to the site are virtual tours, which pro-vide immersive, 360-degree views of vacation rental properties directly from the listing page,” according to Kwong. “Vrbo makes planning a trip together feel as effortless and enjoyable as being on one. Recently introduced, trip boards is a collaborative tool that allows multiple people to share, vote and collaborate about their favorite properties. That way, everyone is involved in the decision-making process and travelers feel confident that the vacation rental they choose is suitable for everyone.”

The trusted brand Airbnb is one of the more well-known services when renting a space, whether it’s for vacation or business. The luxury facet of the company, Airbnb Luxe, offers a trip designer for personalized activities that are specifically crafted for you and your guests. In tandem with activities and amenities, these ultra-luxury properties appeal to those with an interest in design and have been carefully chosen for that very reason.

PlansMatter is a platform that provides architecturally significant hotels and vacation homes for rent. For those with a special interest in spectacular architecture, travelers can choose from the likes of Pole House, a home in Australia that is suspended 40 meters above Fairhaven Beach; Vila Vals in Switzerland, which is built directly into the mountain scenery; the circular Solo House in Spain, and many more. “One of the highlights of a vacation rental is being able to get away from the crowds and enjoy more natural surroundings,” says Perehudoff. This is a component that can be overlooked when the simple convenience of a hotel is presented.

PlansMatter provides comprehensive information about architects and the properties that will boost the overall experience from the very start of a trip. Everything needed to decide, from photos and customer reviews to blueprints of the home, even a chance to read about the architects, is available.

Vacation rentals are growing in popularity today as a smarter way to travel for groups and for those searching for an authentic experience, but the concept has long attracted savvy and avid travelers. Founded in 1986, Windows on Italy carefully selects prestigious villas and apartments throughout Italy. From Florence to Rome, the countryside to the seaside, rentals with private pools, frescoed lofts, antiques and more will enchant travelers. The brand is another that focuses on one-of-a-kind, top-tier properties that heighten the overall travel experience.

©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / SHIRONOSOV

Experience profound architecture when staying in homes such as this gorgeous Scottsdale, Arizona property.

     

This editorial originally appeared in The High End Winter 2020.

PHOTOS FROM WABI-SABI: FURTHER THOUGHTS BY LEONARD KOREN

The ancient Japanese design philosophy of Wabi-Sabi turns “the not-beautiful into the beautiful.”

What happens when a new design trend highlights the beauty of imperfections?

The aesthetic of wabi-sabi was originally related to the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, but has since been developed into a design style, highlighting all things “opposite of perfect.” Unique and striking by nature, this style derives from a deep understanding and respect for time and recognizing the beauty in the understated.

Author Leonard Koren describes this distinctive philosophy in multiple ways, from the “antithesis of the Classic Western aesthetic notion of beauty,” to the “beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete; of things modest and humble; of things unconventional.” Before writing two books on wabi-sabi, Koren first learned the term during his youth in the 1960s. As he describes in his book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, to him the term initially seemed to be “a nature-based aesthetic paradigm … a perfect antidote to the pervasively slick … corporate style of beauty that I felt was desensitizing American society.”

Koren notes that when physically manifested, wabi-sabi is related to the “entropic processes that all living things are subject to,” meaning that it embraces the method of showing objects that are worn or time-weathered. Antiques, for example, are generally imbued with qualities of wabi-sabi, Koren says. “An 18th century Italian desk, for instance will have evidence of hundreds of years of human use and misuse — along with the discoloration and natural deterioration that comes with age.” Further, he reminds us that despite its appearance, the character and merit of the desk “is not diminished by these ‘imperfections.’”

Another aspect that Koren stresses is that wabi-sabi art or design pieces are often initially perceived as ugly. “It is the transmutation of the not-beautiful into the beautiful that is part of the magic of wabi-sabi,” he affirms. He adds that every person perceives this aesthetic in different ways and applies it where they think it best. Though not as well known as styles like Modern or Contemporary just yet, designers and artists are appreciating the freedom and creative liberties of wabi-sabi and are finding ways to apply it in various ways.

Passionate about Japanese culture for over 10 years, Ukranian designer Sergey Makhno calls himself a devotee of minimalism and wabi-sabi, calling it a “manifesto of nature and tradition, simplicity [and] tranquility.” Makhno, like Koren, relates the philosophy to the impermanence and imperfections of man, asking that if man is imperfect, why should the place he calls home be perfect? As the founder of Makhno Studio, Makhno works on a multitude of projects, but his first venture in applying wabi-sabi principles into a physical space was in his own home.

“I had to make sure that the design philosophy was practical,” he says, and from its first installation it was a success. The project, titled Wabi-Sabi Apartment, has won multiple interior design competitions and showcases qualities that Makhno chose to highlight: honoring nature, remembering history, loving art and showing courage.

From the moment you walk in, the Wabi-Sabi Apartment boasts a carefully designed interior that is in stark contrast with the concrete cityscape outside. The walls are finished with clay, in a technique seen in older Ukrainian homes, while the wooden beams that support the ceiling and doorways are left looking rough and rustic. Nature is also represented in bonsai trees and a small roof garden.

PHOTO FROM WABI-SABI: FOR ARTISTS, DESIGNERS, POETS & PHILOSOPHERS BY LEONARD KOREN

Much of the furniture and art also display the aesthetic in simple yet functional ways. For example, the metal lampshades hanging in the home help integrate a contemporary element to the overall earthy, natural interior. “Their own imperfections also demonstrate how the ancient philosophy of wabi-sabi can find new applications in contemporary design, making us appreciate the beauty of handmade objects through the use of natural materials,” according to Makhno Studio.

Makhno says wabi-sabi provides simple principles that anyone can follow. From the use of natural materials that show signs of wear, as well as colors that tie closely to the earth, to incorporating nature itself, Makhno stresses that “things live with and for the person; a person does not live for the sake of things.”

Another design choice Makhno mentions is the incorporation of kintsugi pieces, or kintsukuroi, which roughly translates into “golden joinery.” These pieces are created through the traditional Japanese practice that joins broken fragments of ceramics together with gold, which according to ceramic artist Tomomi Kamoshita is viewed almost as a reincarnation of the original object. “When cherished pieces are broken, we save them and transform them into keshiki (the restored piece),” she says, giving the ceramic a “new life.”

PHOTOS BY ANDREY AVDEENKO

Kamoshita agrees that kintsugi is similar to wabi-sabi, as both practices aesthetically represent imperfect beauty that prevails despite wear and time. “All things continue to change. Even ceramics,” she says. “Anything can break for any kind of reason. It’s sad, but you can revive it with your own hands,” giving it back a sense of adoration and cherishment. This new life further continues an object’s story and embodies beauty in simple things, which encompasses wabi-sabi. As Makhno himself notes, “the story is that things can be repaired, not thrown away.”

PHOTO BY ANDREY AVDEENKO

     

This editorial originally appeared in The High End Winter 2020.

Whether working in busy urban studios or quiet countryside spaces, there’s no denying that makers and creators remain an integral part of Ireland’s culture and workforce. From painted canvas and chiseled stone to woven tapestries and hand-sewn clothing, the art of the handmade item is alive and well.

In fact, General Paints Group is telling the story of what it means to craft and create in Ireland in the only way it knows how: through color.

The company’s new Curator collection features 144 unique paint colors developed and sourced from artists who focus their creative endeavors in Ireland. The palette presents everything from neutral hues that speak to the quiet woodlands of West Cork to bolder shades that evoke the country’s strength and spunk.

“From the very beginning, we wanted to make a collection that was authentic, special and genuine,” says Rachel O’Connor, expert director for General Paints Group and one of the developers of the Curator brand. “[The artists] all had colors that really meant something to them and inspired their work. And for a lot of their work, their muse was Ireland and our lovely landscape.”

O’Connor, who is also heading up Curator’s U.S. presence, says that develop-ing and sourcing the palette was a nearly five-year journey. After extensive searching, the team worked with 29 Irish designers and artisans to discover the history and heritage behind the colors that inspired them. Although the concept of the palette changed along the way, O’Connor says the goal of capturing “the passion they bring into their work” remained a driving force

 

O’Connor, who is part of the third generation of General Paints Group’s 65-year history, also points to her company’s own entrepreneurial spirit as part of the collection’s inspiration.

“We’ve always had an admiration for artists and craftspeople. Many are solo entrepreneurs who are doing what they love. We worked with a broad range of artists — potters, millers, sculptors — and although they’re all different, they had one thing in common, and that was color,” she says.

 

Ronnie Graham.

O’Connor speaks fondly of the stories within the pigment and describes some of the bolder colors in the palette. There’s Ancient Black, inspired from the creations of sculptor Ronnie Graham. O’Connor describes the lore of this deep, moody color as “haunting and mystical.”

“[Ronnie] works with what’s called buried oak — it’s oak that’s been buried in a bog for thousands and thousands of years. During the preservation process it turns a beautiful charcoal color,” O’Connor says. “Ronnie believes it emits a mystical power — and he tries to capture that in his sculptures. Interestingly, it’s been one of the most popular colors in our market.”

The Curator collection was intentionally designed to easily discover and combine complementary shades. Here, Ancient Black is paired with Kerr’s Pink and Rose Mantel.

Carol Cronin.

O’Connor also suggests the colors can be used seasonally — such as on flower boxes and planters, furniture or even doors; she describes charming Irish neighborhoods with bright pink, turquoise and other colors adorning the front doors of homes. “But we don’t like to be too prescriptive. There’s no such thing as a wrong color combination,” she adds.

Even the palette’s more traditional hues have a story that is anything but. Horseshoe, for example, is a stone-gray shade, aptly named for Horseshoe Mountain in County Sligo, Ireland, that inspires pottery artist John Ryan.

O’Connor’s personal favorite paint is also bright and bold: Running Tides, a bril-liant aquamarine unique to the seascape paintings of Irish artist Carol Cronin, who has captured the Atlantic Ocean on canvas for decades. (“You might think you could get bored of painting waves, but [her works] are stunning,” O’Connor says.) These brighter, livelier shades off er the “pop of color” that O’Connor sees throughout the commercial interior design market. 

“People are starting to be less afraid of taking risks with pops of color. We’re seeing a lot of restaurants, hotels and public spaces take bolder risks. We think it’s a great trend,” she says.

 

The collection boasts shades like Pulled Rhubarb, Tailored Tweed and Dried Kelp (painted on chairs left to right) that ad richness and depth to ordinary spaces.

John Ryan.

“[Ryan] is immersed in the landscape surrounding his workshop, and it inspires these stunning creations,” O’Connor says of the potter’s handmade ceramics. “The color really shines through in his work.”

The collection made its U.S. debut ear-lier this spring in Connecticut and arrives on the West Coast in the fall, including southern California, Portland, Oregon; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Seattle.

 

 

Ultimately, the collection aims to not only honor these artists, but to inspire others to use color to express creativity and passion, says O’Connor. And in a way, that allows the consumer to play curator and tell their own story.

“The collection [is a] showcase of Irish craft and talent, but it goes beyond that,” O’Connor explains. “I think home is deeply personal to people. You want it to reflect your identity and personal style. When you bring a color into your home, you’re looking for more than just paint. In our collection, every color has a meaning and personality. [It’s] allowing the customers to be their own curator.”

The collection is currently sold at Ring’s End as well as McDermott Paint & Wallpaper in Connecticut, and is also available for purchase at curator.com.

All photos and featured photo courtesy of General Paints Group / Curator.

This post originally appeared in the Fall ’19 edition of The High End.

Maximalism

From patterned wallpapers and dark paint to a velvet sofa with a mix of textures pillows, Maximalism calls to be courageous in design and embrace “more."

Better Than Streaming

In a world of commercial-free marathon-watching, a night out at the movies is a luxury. These otherworldly theaters take entertainment to a new level.

Sweet Sustainability

Some of the world’s finest hotels have accepted hundreds of thousands of new guests: honeybees that reflect a commitment to sustainability.

Diagram This

John A. Peralta, a self-taught artist based in Austin, Texas, has a unique taste for both science and how things work as well as art.

Featured Agent: Dylan Smith of Chris Smith Realty

Meet featured New Jersey agent, Dylan Smith, and find out what he believes is his strongest asset for being a realtor.

Castle in Oklahoma City to Sell with No-Reserve on October 31 with Supreme Auctions

This state-of-the-art modern castle is truly a rare find and is being offered at auction, selling to the highest bidder on Halloween.

A Cut Above The Rest

Sustainable jewelry companies weigh the impact of their creations, in more ways than one.

A True Family Center in Massachusetts

On “Fluen Point” in Marblehead with deeded beach rights, a dock and potentially a mooring in Salem Sound, Massachusetts, this home offers a relaxed lifestyle.

Safe & Sound

When it comes to kitchens, the popularity of all things smart and sanitary is soaring, as consumers gravitate toward antimicrobial features.

Quiet Beauty and Panoramic Views in Pennsylvania

Set on 24 conserved acres in the Radnor Hunt countryside, in Newtown Square Pennsylvania, Chester County’s Delchester Farm offers panoramic views. The well-maintained estate, with its elegant home, stone-and-wood barns and a guest cottage, exists within a landscape of quiet beauty.

Quiet Beauty and Panoramic Views in Pennsylvania

Set on 24 conserved acres in the Radnor Hunt countryside, in Newtown Square Pennsylvania, Chester County’s Delchester Farm offers panoramic views. The well-maintained estate, with its elegant home, stone-and-wood barns and a guest cottage, exists within a landscape of quiet beauty.

Sophisticated Luxury in Holmdel, New Jersey

This luxury home has a number of amenities and is in an ideal location, close to New York City and the famous Jersey Shore.

A Rare Find in Sestri Levante Italy

On the promontory of the Sestri Levante peninsula in Italy, this villa is surrounded by the sea at 270 degrees, guaranteeing the maximum level of privacy

Breathtaking Beauty, Uniqueness and Exclusivity in Portofino, Italy

This spacious apartment in Calata Marconi features two levels with four windows (two on each level) overlooking the sea — a true rarity in the most exclusive and well-known village, positioned at the heart of a green promontory surrounded by the bluest sea.

Luxury Waterfront Property on Hilton Head Island

Only once in a lifetime does a legacy property like 136 Fort Walker Drive on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina become available!

Resort Living in New Jersey

Looking for an at-home getaway? This Holmdel, NJ home exudes resort-like living with high-end features.

One-of-a-Kind Residence on Lake St. Clair in Michigan

With approximately 445 feet of water frontage, this property is set on 4.3 acres in Grosse Point Shores, Michigan and showcases panoramic views of Lake St. Clair.

Elegance, Luxury and Sophistication in Michigan

This captivating Michigan offering features luxury living indoors and out and can accommodate a guest house and/or boat house on Bay Harbor Lake.

Elite 2020: Stars of Santa Fe

Listed by Sotheby's International Realty agent Darlene Streit, this star property situated in Las Campanas is a prized jewel in Santa Fe real estate.

A Peaceful Paradise

Tired of being cooped up working from home? Make your summer of 2020 as enjoyable as possible on peaceful Isle of Palms at this luxury rental paradise!

A Cut Above The Rest

Sustainable jewelry companies weigh the impact of their creations, in more ways than one.

Green Dreaming

The color green symbolises life, renewal, harmony and growth and is set to steal the limelight of new interior design concepts in the year ahead.

Give the Gift of Sustainability

Ethical and sustainable jewelry companies are adding some sparkle to the world of fashion.

Flowers & Diamonds

The delicate and fleeting beauty of nature has been preserved in Earth’s hardest natural substance resulting in the perfect combination of jewelry and flowers.

Sustainable Shoes and More by Nisolo

Nisolo, a sustainable fashion brand, shares its impact report online and offers everything from jewelry and accessories, to heels, boots, bags and more. This company focuses on more than low prices. The handcrafted process involves intentional designs, an ethical work environment, and comfortable fashion that can be worn every day.

Aston Martin is once again wowing drivers with two new vehicles that have all the pizazz and none of the pollution.

The luxury carmaker held its inaugural Electric Future event in late June to showcase two all-electric models — The Rapide E and Lagonda Vision Concept — at Aston Martin Mayfair in London.

Relaunched as the world’s first zero-emission luxury brand in 2018, Aston Martin’s Lagonda line aims to leverage the latest advances in electrification and autonomous driving technologies while maintaining “a unique niche in the market,” says Marek Reichman, chief creative officer at Aston Martin Lagonda. 

Aston Martin Lagonda Vision Concept. 

“We set ourselves an ambitious target to be the world’s first luxury electric brand,” he says. “[Lagonda] is for the high-end luxury customer who wants to explore and be autonomous while remaining mindful of the impact they are having on the enviro-ment. Lagonda will achieve this but it will also delight the people who get to enjoy its unique internal environment.”

Aston Martin Rapide E.

The Electric Future featured the Rapide E, the company’s first electric sports car, as well as the Lagonda Vision Concept, the latter of which first turned heads at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018. The sleek vehicle’s four-passenger interior doubles as a stylish space, with cashmere interiors and swiveling fronts seats. The Vision Concept is designed as a self-driving vehicle, and it’s expected to enter production around 2022.

Meanwhile, the Rapide E has already delighted drivers across Europe and Asia, making a flashy debut in Morocco and Shanghai in spring. With a design that was based on its V12 predecessor, the Rapide AMR, it’s no surprise that the Rapide E clocks in at a max of 155 mph — all on an 800-volt battery. 

The car boasts twin electric motors that produce 610PS and 950Nm of torque, allowing it to zip from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds, and can manage the jump from 50 to 70 mph in 1.5 seconds.

On the inside, the car’s digital gadgets include a sleek display for battery and energy information, and Aston has also developed a smartphone app to monitor the car’s battery life and parking spot, among other features.

According to John Caress, vehicle line director, the Rapide E drives a little more than 200 miles on battery power alone, which can then be recharged from 0 to 80 percent in just 35 minutes — so you’re back up and on the road in no time. It’s expected to enter production at the end of the year, with a limited run of 155 vehicles.

Aston Martin Rapide E interior. 

Aston Martin Rapide E charges at its electric port. 

“Rapide E is proof of Aston Martin’s commitment to its Second Century Plan. Having an electric powertrain is no longer just a vision for our company, it’s reality. We are producing fully electric vehicles which will form part of our future strategy that will culminate when the first Lagonda vehicle enters the market,” he says.

Pricing is not yet available for these models. Explore all Aston Martin vehicles at astonmartin.com.

All photos and featured photo courtesy of Aston Martin. 

Exploring the world on two wheels offers an experience like no other, providing an addictive free-wheeling freedom that you just can’t get from the confines of a typical automobile. These high-end motorcycle models set in motion the future of contemporary riding. Designed by some of the most iconic American motorcycle manufacturers, and European competitors, these bikes promise a variety of devil-may-care cruising — from smooth, solitary highway grand touring to gutsy track-inspired journeying across unpredictable curves and stretches. There’s nothing like the open road.

Indian Roadmaster Elite. Photo courtesy of Indian Motorcycle. 

Photo courtesy of Indian Motorcycle.

Indian Roadmaster Elite
Starting at $36,999

The Roadmaster Elite from iconic American motorcycle manufacturer, Indian, is packed with the comfort and force needed for the open road, making it the ultimate master roadster. The luxurious machine features two-tone paint in “Red Candy” over “Thunder Black Crystal” that takes a whopping 30 hours to complete and fi nish by hand; and the logo badging is embossed in 24-karat gold leaf trim, sure to catch the sunlight in the passing lane.

Photo courtesy of Andy Mahr, Harley-Davidson Motor Co. 

Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
Starting at $43,889

An enduring symbol of Americana, Harley-Davidson ensures time-honored performance and design that lives in the realm of cultural icon. The 2019 CVO Limited offers loyal Harley-Davidson riders the grandest experience of American touring by fusing contemporary elements with classic design. Technology-forward integrations allow for a plugged-in cruise atop the most powerful V-Twin engine ever offered from the company — the Milwaukee-Eight Twin-Cooled 117 Engine, which is only available in CVO models.

Photo courtesy of Triumph Motorcylces LTD.

Triumph, Rocket III Roadster
Starting from $15,775

The signature twin-headlights look of British motorcycle manufacturer Triumph’s Rocket III Roadster has just as much impact as its powerhouse engine. This premium flagship bike’s blacked-out silhouette, chrome headers and detailing confirm that looks, can in fact, kill. If you live to start the engine, hold a solid grip because the world’s largest production engine has more torque than ever. Fit with a three-header exhaust that growls deep to make your presence known on the road, this cruiser is all about free and easy riding.

Photo courtesy of Arnold Debus.

BMW, K 1600 GTL
From $25,995

The K 1600 GTL by BMW is one of the fastest and most luxurious touring bicycles on the road. Prioritizing comfort, the motorcycle features a significant amount of space to easily conquer a long journey with a partner along for the ride. With cutting-edge sport touring technology, a six-cylinder in-line engine, and a multi-controller concept that allows you to switch functions without ever taking your hands off the handlebars, this bike was made to go the distance — in any weather condition. The K 1600 GTL is for the traveler who desires a reliable bike for a relaxing and equally high-end experience. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Photo courtesy of Ducati Motor Holdings S.P.A. 

Ducati, Panigale V4
Starting at $21,295

The Panigale V4 by Italian company Ducati is one of the fastest road-legal racing bikes to hit the market. The aggressive frame allows riders to throttle through curves and launch on straights; sophisticated electronic controls unlock the reigns beyond standard limitations. The bike is a true celebration of Ducati’s long-lasting racing spirit. Designed to treat the freeway like the track, this efficiently aerodynamic bike is for the true daredevil motorcyclist.

Colors, materials and the overall aesthetics often take the spot-light, while functionality takes a back seat. But storage, organization and tech-enabled appliances are as much the heart of kitchens today as cabinets and hardware. 

As the overall look for kitchens becomes more cohesive, functionality might be even more important, as maintaining a sleek aesthetic requires a subtle integration of storage and dedicated zones for everything from baking to beverages. Equally transformative is a growing array of tech enhancements that promise real value for consumers. All of which ensure the most beautiful kitchen also will be up to the tasks required of the hardest-working room in the home.

“Regardless of the size of the kitchen, the main design challenge is to balance space given to appliances, storage and work surfaces,” says Mary Jo Peterson, an award-winning author, educator and designer and president of Mary Jo Peter-son Inc.

More windows and fewer walls moved storage to base cabinets. Interior storage solutions tailor a kitchen for an individual’s lifestyle and preferences. Photo courtesy of Masterbrand Cabinets. 

“It’s a functional area and how your work in the kitchen is an important consideration,” says Stephanie Pierce, director of design and trends at MasterBrand Cabinets. Especially with high-end clients, she says, designers’ conversations have evolved to be more about lifestyle than appearance and style preferences. This all ties into the shift toward personalization of both aesthetics and function in homes.

In the last 10 years, she says, the industry as a whole has tripled the storage solutions offered to consumers. Additionally, there is a much greater focus on customization and adaptation for specific uses, which enables consumers to create the amount and the type of storage uniquely geared toward their use of the kitchen and their lifestyle. As an example, Pierce points to a cabinet designed specifically for dry goods. “That’s not something we would have seen five or six years ago. We would have tried to do something that was much more versatile and generic that could work with anyone’s objective.”

Amping up the need for enhanced storage and organization is an ongoing change in kitchen design. Several years ago, Pierce says, they identified an emerging trend of adding add light to kitchens with more windows and fewer walls. The end result? Storage moved to base cabinetry and, more recently, to floor to ceiling cabinets. Pull-out drawers offer the most versatility, according to Pierce, and recent research shows 79 percent of designers identified wide drawers as the top kitchen feature.

Kitchens have not only become a main place to entertain, but also a hub for a range of activities from charging devices to home-work to functioning as a home office. This is not a new trend, but Annelle Gandelman of A-List Interiors says, “lately, more peo-ple have been asking for dedicated spaces within the kitchen that cater to guests specifically. We get a lot of requests for coffee bars, butler’s pantries, and even breakfast bars filled with specialty appliances integrated into the cabinetry.”

Phil Kean sees a bar for liquor and wine gaining interest among consumers, which also moves some entertaining into areas adjacent to the kitchen. The New American Home 2019, a concept house designed and built for the home builders’ annual trade show, featured a large bar situated between the kitchen and great room that functioned both inside and outside the home. This year, Thermador introduced a dishwasher just for glasses. Kean says it’s interesting to see an appliance with such a specific function. “I think we’re going to see that more often. People might want to have a second dish-washer in their bar.”

Other specialty appliances requested for bars and beverage centers include refrigeration drawers, ice makers, instant hot faucets, drawer microwaves, convection ovens and wine refrigerators, according to Gendelman. Interestingly, one appliance that’s become a “must have” for upscale kitchens is a built-in coffee and espresso maker. Introduced at the kitchen and bath show (KBIS) this year was a faucet that delivers filtered boiling water as well as sparkling water and normal filtered water.

For high-end kitchens, the big story currently revolves around butler’s pantries and second kitchens. “We find that even people who don’t cook will invest heavily in their kitchens because it’s not just about function and food prep but also where people spend most of their time. As a result, the messier, uglier parts of a working kitchen are being moved into pantries and smaller back kitchens. These spaces are where the toaster ovens, slow cookers and ugly appliances are being hidden,” says Gendelman.

Pierce agrees. “We’re seeing fewer countertop appliances being visible,” she says. Another emerging addition to the kitchen is something Pierce calls the “walk-through pantry,” which essentially looks like a traditional cabinet door to a pantry. But open the door, and it takes you to an entire secondary kitchen that she says can be “massive.” Often it will have a sink and a second refrigerator. “It’s basically a prep kitchen that is also designed toward food storage.”

Dedicated spaces for entertaining, such as this wine cabinet, please both hosts and guests, easing congestion in the main kitchen. Photo courtesy of Masterbrand Cabinets. 

“Convenience is luxury,” observes Gendelman. Motorization is a convenience, particularly in contemporary kitchens, where cabinet doors, even some appliances, open in response to a slight push. Additionally, manufacturers have introduced a range of ways to open cabinets, including doors that tilt upwards, allowing users to leave cabinets open without interfering with traffic patterns.

Consumers also see the value of technology as a way to create convenience. In research from the National Kitchen and Bath Association, 72 percent of consumers believe technology “adds market value to my home.” “Saves me time and steps” was perceived as a main benefit of kitchen technology by 70 percent of those surveyed. A majority also said kitchen tech is important because “it makes my life easier.”

In this research, consumers outpaced designers in their enthusiasm for and understanding of technology. There was strong approval and interest in smart appliances and tech solutions that enable consumers to control various aspects of the home from the kitchen, as well as solutions that make meal ideas/preparation easier and more enjoyable. Very appealing tech features for a large majority of consumers include appliances/faucets that send remote failure/leak alerts; cooking appliances that sense over-cooking or being left on; hands-free faucets with Wi-Fi interconnectivity; appliances that can be activated remotely; and sensors that can monitor/communicate food inventories in your cabinets.

 

Now you see it, now you don’t. It’s the messy kitchen. Cabinet doors open to a second space for prep, storage and even cooking. Photos courtesy of Masterbrand Cabinets.

For consumers, the timing might be right. Smart-home technology has changed in only a few years, moving from a nice-but-quirky gadget to something worthwhile. “Smart is the new green” was the consensus of a trio of kitchen design exerts speaking at KBIS.

Ryan Herd is a tech veteran, NKBA industry insider and author of Join the Smart Home Revolution. He sees technology finally turning the corner, moving from a nice-to-have gadget to something offering real value to consumers. “Things are knitted together better” is his take on the cur-rent state of technology for the home and also for kitchens. Knitting together refers to ways different applications, devices and even appliances work together to produce outcomes consumers find beneficial. Some, such as the number of cooking apps integrated into appliances (highlighted at KIBS this year), are already in the marketplace. Others are on the cusp of being introduced. Appliance manufacturer Miele introduced Con@ctivity 2.0, which connects an induction cooktop with a ventilation hood. When the cooktop is turned on, the information is transmitted to the hood, which turns on. It continues to run for a few minutes after cooking is completed and then automatically turns off.

Bosch, along with Thermador and Gaggenau, introduced a line-up of voice assistants, all part of their smart, open-platform Home Connect. “All within one app, Home Connect empowers consumers to personalize the way they interact with appliances through any number of our partners and services, such as waking up to a fresh cup of coffee each day when the alarm goes off, setting the lights to flash when the washing machine cycle is finished, or selecting a recipe that will communicate with the oven to ensure it’s utilizing the right program and temperature for optimal results,” said Patrick Palacio, director of innovations for Home Connect. Partners includer Kitchen Stories, Drop and Innit. Chefling is the first AI powered kitchen assistant that provides pantry management, online shopping and recipe instruction.

Photo courtesy of Whirlpool.

Photo courtesy fo Thermador. 

Whirlpool won innovation awards at CES this year, including an innovation award in the Smart Home category for Kitchen Aid’s Smart Oven+, which includes grilling, baking and steaming within one appliance. The KitchenAid App gives status updates, and through the Yummly app users can send cooking instructions directly to the appliance. Voice control via Alexa or Google Home is another innovation.

Designers and manufacturers are look-ing for ways to remove the tangle of cords when multiple devices are being charged. Look for more ways to plug-in, with sockets and charging areas that pop up from countertops or can be installed in drawers. And also to not plug-in, using materials that charge wirelessly, such as a countertop material recently introduced by Corian.

Connectivity also means a manufacturer can detect a problem with an appliance, sometimes even before the consumer does. Herd uses the example of a wine refrigerator that has all the functions one would expect but also includes an app to scan the bottles and maintain an inventory. It has social aspects to facilitate collaboration with friends. The app also enables the manufacturer to monitor the compressor and other mechanical elements and alert consumers (along with scheduling service) if there is a problem, which Herd says is particularly valuable if you are storing $100 bottles of wine.

Winning a top award from NKBA was Flo by Moen, which detects and stops leaks from toilets, showers and faucets, to the pipes in the foundation and behind the walls. Not only does the device alert consumers to leaks, but it can then also turn off the water remotely.

In the not-too-distant future, a smart refrigerator will not only allow you to remotely see what’s inside, it will also keep an inventory that is updated every time something is added or removed. Eventually, cabinets will have a similar capability. “That’s where you get the stitching together,” says Herd. In the next step, the entire kitchen knows everything. Apps will not only keep track of what’s on hand, but they will also make meal suggestions and possibly tailor those suggestions to any specific preferences or even the allergies of guests.

Kitchens and appliances are long-term investments, and some might be reluctant to invest in technology. However, for upscale consumers it’s easy to envision a time when the convenience afforded by technology will far outweigh the cost.

Style Selector
Select the layout
Choose the theme
Preset colors
No Preset
Select the pattern