As I always say…”when a unique experience comes knocking” you owe it to yourself to explore the possibilities. While busy with design projects and heading to an industry trade show within days, a unique design experience came calling. Along with my Kitchen Design Network partner Lori Gilder and 5 other nationally recognized designers, we were selected for the 2015 Design Panel for DXV.
For those of you not be familiar with the brand, DXV is the luxury division of American Standard.
The Design Panel, at the time in its second year was comprised of a group of accomplished designers from around the country. We were tasked with creating new design vignettes for DXV’s national marketing campaign. The first year they started this project (now fondly-known as the DXV family) they had a pretty straight-forward design approach to create a luxury kitchen or bathroom. For our group, they added an interesting twist. We were to design two vignettes with using their products and a classic piece of literature as inspiration. We were to reinterpret the story through our designs.
We were tasked with two kitchen designs, the other designers completed bathroom.
Without hesitation we selected “Like Water for Chocolate”, a beautiful and emotional romantic tragedy whose story begins and ends in the kitchen at the time of the Spanish Revolution. The cinematography, set and shot with primarily sepia tones, shadows and darkness conveyed every raw human emotion of family, culture, love and loss and of course food.
Veronika Miller, CEO of Modenus and #DesignHounds is the visionary behind the collaboration between select designers and luxury brands like DXV.
She oversees the designer selection, charges them with their task and timeline to create sketches and conceptual plans for approval and she works with the design/build teams to ultimately build and bring our designs to life. The opportunity was incredible and left us speechless from the experience alone to the professionalism and creative talent of all involved. The whole process was so much fun.
To make the designers feel truly involved and part of the process, they brought us out to the creative studios in Minnesota for the final building of our set and the photo shoot.
Who knew Minnesota was a hotbed of creative labs and talent? Not I.
I feel incredibly lucky to have been invited to take part in this unique experience. As well, I’ve been enriched as a designer to have worked with such a talented group of other designers as well as all the people behind the scenes who took our ideas, understood our vision and built, shot and edited every last detail.
“Like Water For Chocolate” is a a story set around a traditional Mexican family at the turn of the century. It’s a story of forbidden love, passion, cultural traditions, food and family. The entire story unfolds at the kitchen table and the movie, almost in it’s entirety revolves around the kitchen table, the food and cooking. Ever-present is the power of food. Tita’s passion is transferred to loved ones through her food.
Our two designs, the kitchen interior and the outdoor wedding, literally became a modern interpretation of the main characters life, the materials a reflection of her emotions and passion.
Below are the indoor kitchen and outdoor wedding scene sketches sent to DXV to convey our design concepts.
As with our “real life” projects, the colorized rendering was done once we made our final selections for all the materials. Because this was a modern interpretation of another place in time, it was important that the materials reflect the past and the present.
Along the way while procuring materials, (yes …even we have budgets) slight alterations were made to the final design to accommodate design dilemmas (yes… we have those too) but the finished design was almost identical to our original conceptual design vision.
The team of people at the Earl Kendall Studio in Minnesota who worked with Veronika Miller to make our design visions a reality were nothing short of amazing. They worked their magic to make our material wish list a reality. We had food stylists, set builders and designers, an onsite chef who fed us daily, talented prop stylists, photographers and editors who made this story come to life. This luxury design experience was a career milestone and one I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of. A huge thank you to Veronika Miller and her team for their vision, generosity and hard work.
The indoor kitchen was all about the past and the present. We wanted to incorporate a mix of modern and traditional materials throughout and present some traditional materials in nontraditional applications.
For the indoor kitchen we selected the Pop Rectangle Vessel Sink from their Golden Era Collection with the Isle Pull Down Kitchen Faucet from DXV’s Modern Collection.
Above in the left corner of the kitchen is the Miele 24″ Gas Cooktop, perfect for any tiny home kitchen, city dweller or as a modular addition to a large kitchen. The addition of small appliances allows you to incorporate dual cooking areas for diverse cooking styles and needs. Above the cooktop is DXV’s Contemporary Pot Filler with clean modern lines.
When designing with architectural pieces like this, the point is not that any single piece jumps out at you but that there’s harmony and balance created between all materials. This story exuded passion and we knew we wanted a fiery tiled wall to convey that. It feels warm and sensual and had the reflective qualities we wanted. The tile found at Filmore Clark, an exclusive tile shop in the tony design district of West Hollywood, CA. A 4 x 4 beveled bronze glazed tile from Pratt and Larson was the piece de resistance. The black and white cement floor tile is from artisan tile maker Sabine Hill.
The second vignette is an reinterpretation of the wedding scene which we found moving, funny, sad, sultry and romantic.
At a favorite L.A. importer we discovered these unique copper vessels, already old with perfect patina that were just calling our names and we were sure they could become operational outdoor fountains like you see on many old world homes.
These fountains fed the DXVs Hillside 20″ Apron sink hung on the exterior stone wall fed by the Percy Tub Spout to transfer the water from the sinks to the lower fountain vessels using multiple Lyndon tub spouts.
There’s nothing quite like the tranquility provided by running water in a garden.
Thanks to Lori Gilder, my Kitchen Design Network partner for providing her own California kitchen that fed us for days and her kitchen table where we tirelessly forged through the design and details of these two vignettes for DXV.
It turned out to be a design experience filled with new friends and an opportunity to work with some of the nicest and most creative people in the industry.