Monday, December 30, 2013

NEOLITH - The Next BIG Thing in Countertops?

Over my 20 years in the kitchen design industry, I've been introduced to many surfacing materials that tout themselves as being the next "big" thing.  Very few (quartz surfacing such as Caesarstone, Cambria, Silestone, Zodiaq, etc.) manage to stick around, the majority fail.  My recycling bin after a year of trade shows is proof of this.

So you'll understand when I'm not quite prepared to throw myself behind a new offering from TheSize called Neolith.  I've heard good things about it from people I trust, and Neolith will be at KBIS this February in Las Vegas so I hope to do some due diligence then (more on that trip later).

Neolith is available is 3, 5, and 12mm thicknesses with laminations available to make up various other thicknesses.  What I find really appealing however is the "extra huge" 3600mm x 1200mm format.  That's almost 12'!  Think of the islands that can be created without a seam.  Think of the seamless shower walls! They've also added a new 3200 x1500 format, especially helpful for wider applications. 

As far as performance goes, it seems to have all the characteristics of the higher end surfacing materials on the market:  colour fast, durable, food safe, recycled material content.  Take a minute and watch these manly men put Neolith through its paces:

Unlike quartz surfaces it's relatively lightweight; the largest sheet (3200mm x 1500mm) weights 30kg in a 3mm thickness.  This makes it a perfect material not only for horizontal surfaces, but vertical as well.  How about skinning some cabinet doors with a 3mm layer of Neolith?  Stone kitchen anyone?

I will be at KBIS 2014 in Las Vegas this year and will bring back my findings.  I'm hoping Neolith is as good as it appears because it's one of the first "new" ideas I've seen in surfacing in a while.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NIM: The Future of Light Control - or - Goldee Lightswitch and the Smart Bulbs

Excuse the delay of today's New Idea Monday, but the company that has created the product that is the subject of today's post has asked that information about it not be released until today, November 26, 2013.

The introduction of products like the Nest thermostat, smart products that learn and "anticipate" our daily routines are starting to become common place in the home. The team at Goldee (shown left) is hoping to capitalize on this, and I think they're really on to something great.

Goldee will work with standard wiring and standard bulbs to create a lighting system that learns how a particular home is used during the day. It can be programmed to slowly turn on the lights to gently wake you up, and will turn off lights once you've left a room. If you've been away from the house for an extended period of time, Goldee will start turning lights off and on based on what it has learned about your daily routine. No more programming automatic switches every time you leave for vacation.

The colour scenarios seen in the video do require an upgrade to Smart LED bulbs, but you were already going to do that anyway, right? 

Even though this is an amazing and useful piece of technology, what really impresses me about Goldee is how well designed it is. The simplicity of its shape combined with the elegant graphics will make it very easy to integrate Goldee into any decor.

As is this case with many new tech items, Goldee is looking for "jump start" financing, asking users to invest in the company and in return getting the opportunity to become early adopters and impress their friends with the latest gizmos. Just in time for Christmas!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Presentation House Fundraiser: Re-constructing Sedia 1

I joined the kitchen design team at Inform Interiors almost 3 months ago and I've been really struggling with coming up with new posts ever since.  I fear if I share work related things (and there are some amazing things here) I'll come across as a shill, and if I share non-work related things I may have a conflict of interest.  Fortunately something we discussed at a staff meeting this week avoids either scenario.

Presentation House Gallery in North Vancouver is hosting its annual gala and benefit auction on Saturday, November 23, 2013.  The items for this year's auction are really interesting and best of all you can come see many of them ahead of time at the Inform showroom in Gastown.

Sedia 1 creator Enzo Mari
Some of Vancouver's best artists, designers and architects have been asked to reinterpret and refashion Artek's iconic Sedia 1 chair. This minimalist self-assembled pine chair, originally produced in 1974, is a model of modernist furniture design, noted for its elegance and modesty.

The pieces we've seen in the showroom so far have been thought-provoking and beyond creative.  My personal favourite is Lukas Peet's treatment of the chair, assembling the contents of the Sedia 1 box like a tanagram.  Upon closer inspection you'll notice the subtle painting of the edges of each piece.

Omer Arbel seems to have developed a love affair with the sand-blaster used to shape his chair.  It has the appearance of something left over from a nuclear blast; something that would collapse if you looked at it the wrong way.

The event will be hosted at Secret Location at 1 Water Street in historic Gastown.  Full details are available at the auction website [CLICK].

In the meantime, follow Inform Interiors on Facebook, Google+, or Instagram to see more interpretations of Sedia 1.

Participating artists:

Monday, October 7, 2013

NIM: Integrated Technologies in the Home.

On new idea Mondays I’ve presented a number of gadgets related to the kitchen. Whether a prototype refrigerator or the latest way to text in your coffee order, technology is being used to improve the way existing tools work in the home. But what about the way we work with technology?

I’ve written about integrated technologies before, Control4 for example; controlling multiple devices with a central interface is great, but if you consider the way we access information technologies on our smartphones and handheld devices, making this available in our every day routines is a natural next step.

 Microsoft recently released this video to give us a glimpse into an integrated future. What I like about their vision is that it really isn’t employing anything new. We all search online for recipes, and use the internet to communicate with each other. What’s new here is how we will do that.

... while none of these ideas are meant to be predictive about our products, they do highlight some of the key trends we’re investing in, such as machine learning and NUI. They also give you a sense of where these technologies could lead us over the next five to ten years.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A New Job: Week One

The lunch you see set out on the island of the Varenna "Twelve" kitchen at 50 Water Street (second floor) is the product of yours truly.  It's indicative of an attitude that is very prevalent at Inform; you do what needs doing.

So today, because the showroom was quite busy and because we were a little short staffed, I took the leftovers from last weeks anniversary party (50 years for Inform & the owners' birthday parties) and put together lunch.  I'm not up to speed on the couches, so my culinary skills were more helpful at the time.

If you follow me on Twitter (@ArneSalvesen) you've had a bit of an idea of what my first week has been like.  If I told you I have been learning to design with two of the best lines of European cabinetry, that would sound pretty amazing.  The reality is I've been reading endlessly dull catalogues in PDF form.  Okay, it's not dull to me but it's sure not glamourous.  The reality of how much I have to learn is really starting to settle in.  I fluctuate between panic (usually when someone asks me what other fabrics a chair comes in) and excitement (when I realize what I'm going to be able to create with Boffi & Varenna).

I've also been able to start putting my stamp on the showrooms.  Last week, I did two site visits and was able to chat with two of the installers we use at Inform.  Today the owner and I were looking at the Varenna display and discussing how to stage it better.  "So do it!" she said.  And so I did.  Last week we received an electric grill from Gaggeneau that I was able to install.  No wiring mind you, but assembly was required.

What's been great about this sort of work is that I've been able to feel like I'm able to use the knowledge I've spent 20 years accumulating and contribute (and EARN my salary).  I know I'll get there ...

One last thing about the new job, the commute has taken some getting used to.  For years I've typically set my own hours, but also needed to be on job sites quite regularly.  A car was essential.  So far I've been able to be a happy commuter.  Well perhaps "happy" is a bit strong, but I'm really enjoying not having to deal with rush hour.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Three Minutes With - Tips From Cabinet Installer, Steve Begg

This is NOT Steve.  Steve is camera shy.
"Three Minutes With" returns to Useful Spaces this week with cabinet installer Steve Begg.

Steve and I have been working together for almost 10 years now, and if there's one trade that can make or break a kitchen project, it's the cabinet installer.  The installer is, in many cases, one of the last trades in and it's his/her work that will catch the eye of everyone who walks into the room.

In this interview, Steve talks about what he needs from the customer and from the designer in order to achieve the perfect installation

If the audio controller doesn't work, you can download the audio file here.

If you have any suggestions for upcoming episodes of Three Minutes With, drop me a line either in the comments below or on the "About" page.

Monday, August 19, 2013

LEGO Architecture Studio - Best Toy Ever

The LEGO Architecture series has typically featured recreations of notable examples of great architecture:  Falling Water, Sydney Opera House, Empire State Building.  They're beautiful models, but they go against the spirit of what LEGO is all about.  Creativity.  My favourite moments playing with LEGO involved sitting on the rec-room floor in the middle of thousands of the little plastic bricks and just building.  It didn't matter what I built, I just made it up as I went along.

So I was really excited when I heard about the new Architecture Studio set; and even more excited when my wife gave it to me as a birthday present.

The Architecture Studio features over 1200 pieces of white LEGO bricks, and a beautiful 272 page book containing insights from some of the top architecture firms in the world: REX architecture, Sou Fujimoto Architects, SOM, MAD Architects, Tham & Videgård Arkitekter, and Safdie Architects.

And that's it.  Go play.  Go create.  

It's beautifully simple and returns LEGO to it's roots, albeit in a somewhat haughty designer-y kind of way.  But I'm okay with that.  If you need a little bit of structure the book also features a series of exercises to help you explore the concepts being discussed.  The first exercise deals with abstraction - using various sources as inspiration for the design process.

Using the image of a bird as inspiration I first created a "sketch-model."  That's my bird above.  It seems my LEGO skills, although rusty, are still in tact.

Next, I imagined it as an architectural object.  It could be part of a bigger object, perhaps part of a city-scape.  Again, there were no rules.  My bird morphed into my plan for a new Coast Guard station in Vancouver (we just lost ours to government cut-backs).  There's a fenced in area for staging supplies, a landing area for the helicopter, and the glass areas are the observation tower.

All in all I spent about an hour working through the exercise, and it left me feeling a) like I was 10 years old again, and b) amazed at how similar the process I had just gone through with the bird was with the process I go through designing kitchens.  That's not to say I'm inspired by birds when I design a kitchen (although I could be I suppose) but I often use a design element in the room our house I'm working in to start on my kitchen design.

The Architecture Studio retails for about $150, which I am told is very close to the $0.10/brick rule of thumb employed by many LEGO fanatics.  Add the book and this set, while not inexpensive, is very good value.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A New Job: Like "Back to School" for Grownups

A couple weeks ago I announced that I was leaving the company I had been working for for 16 years to start a new job, but decided to wait before revealing my new opportunity.  The delay was perhaps a bit dramatic, but I had a couple jobs I wanted to complete and thought it was the most respectful way to handle things.  And so, today I am pleased to reveal I will be joining the team at Inform Interiors as one of their kitchen designers.

To say I'm thrilled to be working with Inform Interiors is a bit of an understatement.  They've been in business in Vancouver for over 50 years, and their new showroom (opened in 2006) has long been one of my favourite places to walk through and soak up some design karma, or soak up the sun on their rooftop deck.  In addition to being a leader in modern home furnishings, Inform Interiors also takes their kitchen design seriously.  This is quite evident when you cross over to their original showroom at 97 Water Street and visit their kitchen design studio.

The Inform Kitchens & Bath team has been creating beautiful spaces since 2006, working together with architects, interior designers, and homeowners. Starting August 19th, 2013, I'll have some of the best products the industry has to offer at my disposal: cabinetry, countertops and hood fans from Boffi and Varenna, plumbing fixtures from Agape and KWC, Sub Zero, Wolf and Gaggenau appliances (woohoo!), and Bisazza mosaic and glass tiles.

These lines of cabinetry are new to me, so I'll be going back to school so-to-speak and learning (in metric ... yay!) about how to fit the new lines into my projects.  I'll be sharing the experience with you here as I go along, but in the meantime, here's an brief summary (from the Inform Interiors website) of the lines I'll be working with:

Boffi’s collections are created in cooperation with leading designers, based on a distinctive company history and philosophy. The end products are state-of-the-art and aesthetically minimal. The result is outstanding design and innovative features.
Known for its purity of design, Varenna Kitchens combines function and originality. Varenna has its own research and design department as well as partners with world renowned architects to produce a range of contemporary kitchens to complement the Poliform lifestyle.

Agape is an industry leader in Italian bathroom design. They invest significant resources to pursue the company mission of making the bath a comfortable and stimulating space.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vancouver Street Food - A Rant

It's been 3 years since Vancouver started allowing food carts on the streets of our city.  Admittedly I had hoped to enjoy more of them by now, but with the majority of them being downtown and my work not ... well it's not been easy.  And if I'm being honest, those few times I've managed to go have not been the stellar food-loving experiences I've hope for.

I have two simple rules when it comes to street food (yes, I am the almighty creator of the rules for street food ... now you know):

Rule #1:  You should be able to eat it with one hand.  Holding the item (wither wrapped or in a container) with one hand while eating it with the other (wither with the fingers or a utensil) is acceptable.
This seems like a pretty obvious one to me.  It's called "street food" meaning you should be able to eat it while you are standing on the street (or sidewalk as the case may be).  Things like sandwiches, pizza, hot dogs, fish balls on a stick, etc. are perfect.  Boxes of noodles (e.g. mee goreng), fish and chips in a paper cone, also work.

However, a plate of food that requires you to find an outdoor table or sit on the sidewalk and use a knife and fork do not.   I've seen some carts try and circumvent this rule by building a small patio onto their cart complete with tables and chairs.  Nice try, but much like how your elementary school teacher treated chewing gum, unless there's enough for everyone you've got to get rid of it.

Rule #2:  You should be able to order, purchase and receive your food in as short a time as possible.

The majority of food carts in Vancouver are in the downtown core.  It stands to reason.  There are a lot of people looking for lunch in the downtown core, so putting your food cart there makes good sense.  So why do so many many cart owners fail to realize most people only have one hour for lunch?  3 years ago I experienced a 20 minute wait for a dessert crépe.  Yesterday, I waited over 35 minutes for a sandwich.  It was a damn good sandwich, but I was with my wife who needed to get back to work.

Now before you food cart owners start flooding my inbox with hate emails, I understand you have limited space, and limited facilities.  I do not care.  I didn't decide to go into the food cart business; you did.  Besides, there are many other food cart owners who seem to have it figured out.  2 or 3 items on your menu are all you need.  Beverages?  Canned pop, bottled water, and one type of specialty drink (pre-made) will suffice.

My wife and I just spent the BC Day weekend in Portland and marvelled at the variety and quality of food carts in their downtown core.  We stopped at The People's Pig for a quick snack.  They offered 4 sandwiches, and we received our food five minutes after ordering it.  One guy was working the kitchen.  In fairness it was a Sunday so I expect mid week, lunch hour waits would be longer ... but nowhere near what I experienced at lunch yesterday.

What I fear is that Vancouver's food cart scene has become more about coming up with "creative" items than making sure the basics "rules" of food carts are being met.  It's important to remember that food carts are supposed to be filling a niche not filled by conventional restaurants.  If they're not, they're simply  a restaurant without walls, ceiling floor, tables, chairs, lighting, etc ... and for that, I can picnic.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Modern Take On Wine Storage

In my most recent project, my client asked me to incorporate some wine storage into the kitchen design. I was working in a condominium, so I was faced with the dilemma of not giving up too much cabinet space as storage was at a premium.  We were also trying to keep the design as contemporary as possible, so the typical "criss-cross" wine rack was not the best solution.

Enter Vin de Garde and their Nek-Rite system.  I've written about Vin de Garde before, but had never had the opportunity to use their products.  Nek-Rite is a very simple system they have developed that uses aluminum rods (or black powder-coated) to store bottles parallel to whatever surface you want to use.  They are available in single, two, or three bottle configurations.  Simply decide the number of bottles you want to store and where you want to store them.  No cabinetry is needed; the only consideration is how to attached the rods to the mounting surface.

For this application I had a nook framed into the corner of a wall, and had the framers install 3/4" plywood backing between the studs.  I then had a 3/4" thick panel painted to match the cabinetry and  installed the rods.  The panel is secured into the opening with the top and bottom rods that have a lag bolts attached and are threaded into the 3/4" plywood backer.

Vin de Garde is based in Vancouver, but all of their modular products are available for purchase through their web site.  The systems are all quite customizable but the staff are quite willing to work with you to come up with the solution that works for you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Breaking News: A Move Is In the Works

I started working at Paradigm Kitchen Design after being introduced to the owner while watching the Canada - Czech Republic hockey game at the Nagano Winter Olympics. Even though Canada lost the game, that meeting resulted in a new job for me at an up and coming design firm. It was good timing for both of us.  Paradigm was expanding and I was looking for a place to grow my skills beyond what working with a semi-custom brand of cabinets afforded me.

Paradigm not only designed kitchens, but did full remodels as well. To say I was pushed outside my comfort zone when I ran my first remodel is an understatement. But I was given the flexibility to try out new things, to fail and then learn from them, and eventually grow into the design professional that I am today. I am extremely proud of everything I have accomplished in my 15 years with the company. 

But there comes a time in every career that one needs to grow in a new and different direction. For me, that time is now. And so it is with great reverence that I announce I am leaving Paradigm Kitchen Design to pursue the next stage of my design adventure (details to come!).  I am forever indebted to everyone I have worked with during my time at Paradigm, and wish you all continued happiness and success. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DIY Remote Control Light Switch ... OR ... A WeMo Way

I have a love-hate relationship with Bluetooth.  I love how Bluetooth makes it possible to effortlessly stream my favourite songs from my iPhone through the car stereo and answer the phone without taking my hands off the steering wheel.  But I absolutely hate my Bluetooth mouse (it constantly cuts out in the middle of Sketchup sessions) and I am gobsmacked that Apple will not allow a Bluetooth connection between the iPhone and my MacBook Pro.  I don't care what your reasons are Apple, it's just STUPID.

What does this have to do with this light switch.  Nothing, except that I was relieved when I learned about a new device from Belkin that has given Bluetooth a kick to the curb and opted for WiFi  to allow you to control a light switch with an app on your iOS or Android device.  Even Belkin thinks Bluetooth sucks!  With the free app you can control any light in the house, schedule them to come on or off, or just freak out the baby sitter when you're out for the evening.

The device is easy to install for any DIYer, or just hire your favourite electrician if electrical stuff scares you.  For $50, the WeMo is an inexpensive introduction to home automation.  For more information on WeMo, check out the Belkin website.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Railtown Design District Open House - July 10, 2013

Paradigm Kitchen Designs is a proud member of the Railtown Design District. Starting this month we're pleased to be participating with an exciting new event:

The RDD Open House

Starting next Wednesday, July 10th we are kicking off a new monthly event – the RDD Open House. Every second Wednesday of the month, visit any of the RDD showrooms and enjoy light refreshments, peruse our latest product offerings and earn a chance to win fabulous prizes! This is a great opportunity to bring your clients for a tour of all the amazing products and resources available exclusively to you through the RDD!

During the Open House you will be provided with a RDD Passport; visit all of the RDD showrooms to receive a stamp. Once you’ve completed your Passport, drop it off at your last showroom stop and you will be entered into a draw to win a $500 prize. This month's prize comes from us!  Paradigm Kitchen Design is donating a Toto “Guinevere” widespread lavatory faucet in a polished chrome finish.

A friendly reminder: Our neighborhood is under construction! Powell Street is closed from Hawks Avenue to Clark Drive, so plan an alternate route. Check out this link for more info.

The first Open House is on Wednesday, July 10th from 1-4 pm! Each of our five RDD showrooms will be open to you and your clients.

Make sure to stop by at each - Colin Campbell, Layers and Layers, Tritex Fabrics, Crown Wallpaper & Fabrics, and Paradigm Kitchen Design - to fill your "Passport" to enter to win a prize worth $500!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

An Uplifting Countertop Installation

One of the benefits of quartz surfacing is the standard sheet sizes available.  Sheets as long as 120" allow designers to specify longer runs of countertops and larger island tops without having to also specify a seam.  This is a major benefit to the designer and the home owner, but can create some problems for the installers.

This is a kitchen I'm working on in the False Creek neighbourhood in Vancouver (click on the image for a full sized view).  It's a second floor suite, and therein lies the problem.  The customer (and I) wanted this run to be seamless resulting in a run of 111", a size that can be produced without a seam in the Cambria quartz we have selected.  The trouble arrises when you try and figure out how to get this very large piece up to the second floor.  111" is too long to fit into the elevator, and the stairwells in the building have too many twists and turns to walk it up the stairs (not even considering how heavy this piece is!).

The solution was to bring the countertop material up the outside of the building ... with a crane.  My fabricators, Colonial Countertops, had obviously done this many times before because they called me well before the installation with the solution and the associated costs.  Yesterday was installation day and out of curiosity and fear I had to watch 1000's of dollars of quartz go airborne:

If you don't want to watch the entire video (feel free to skip to the end) everything went perfectly.  I think you'll agree the anxiety I felt watching the countertops get craned in was worth it in the end.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dwell on Design Cookoff 2013 - RESULTS POST

I'm just back from the 2nd Annual Capital Cooking Blogger Cook-off at the Dwell on Design Conference in Los Angeles.  The conference is the largest gathering of interior designers and design related industries in North America, so it was a great opportunity to catch up with the latest in the industry, as well as spend the afternoon cooking with some great people.

The competition was a head-to-head single elimination format, and to add to the pressure I was paired with a "surprise guest", Twitter legend Alexandra Williams (@AlexandraFunFit).  Alexandra came in with all the flair and panache of a celebrity chef and did her best to knock me off my game with her infectious personality.  She was an absolute blast to cook with (against) but despite her best attempts to bride the judges with her Tootsie Roll offerings I advanced to the next round.


At this point, last year's Cook-off Champion, Lori Gilder entered the competition having earned a first round bye.  Please excuse the pun, but at this point things really started to heat up.  What was ultimately friendly gathering of food loving design-bloggers began to get VERY serious.  Trash talking, sabotaging.  I mean, just look at the steely resolve in Lori's eyes as she knocks Chef Doug Fletcher's hand out of the way!  What a competitor!

Okay I'm taking some poetic licence here.  It was an amazingly fun afternoon and the more time we spent cooking together the more we started cheering for each other.

Round two was the omelette round, and what my competition didn't know was that I ROCK at omelettes.  We were given an opportunity to request some special ingredients and mine came into play for this dish:  blue cheese and pears.  It's a classic combination and makes a surprisingly good omelette. Stacy Garcia and I were in one group, and Brandon Smith and Lori Gilder were in the other.  The results were a bit controversial in that both Stacy and I advanced to the final round.

Before I get on to the final round I really feel a need to say something about the ranges we were cooking on.  The Culinaria by Capital Cooking is without a doubt the closet thing to a commercial range I have cooked on that wasn't a commercial range.  All burners are rated at 23,000 BTU and since they are open burners the heat is distributed evenly across the bottom of the pans.  Even with all that power you can achieve a very nice simmer (145F) which came in very handy in the marinara round.  We didn't use the ovens so I can't really speak to their performance, but if they're anything like to burners this is definitely a range I would consider for my next kitchen, and won't hesitate suggesting it to any clients who love to cook.

Those BTU's were going to come in handy in the final round because we were about to bring out the wok's and put together a stir-fry!  Asian cooking really needs high heat to succeed because everything happens so quickly.  If your pan cools down you end up making mush, and much doesn't win cooking competitions!

Stacy went to beef & snap peas, I went for chicken & brocolli.  I'd love to tell you the rest of what I put into my dish, but it was all such a blur I can't remember.  Whatever ended up in the wok came out looking pretty good.

The results?  I'll let the judges make the announcement:

Thanks again to Capital Cooking for including me in what was a really cool afternoon.  And what did I do after winning the 2nd Annual Blogger's Cook-off?  My wife & I went to ...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Asbestos & Renovating Older Homes: What I Learned

Asbestos is hardly a new issue in the renovation business, but the fact is until a recent project (gallery forthcoming) I had never had to deal with it.  That's not to say I'd never come across it, but unless you are going to remove or otherwise disturb the asbestos-containing material, in our jurisdiction you can just leave it as is.  And that's what we chose to do ... "let sleeping dogs" lie and all that.

But for the project in question we were going to have to remove some walls, strip out the old floor down to the subfloor to allow for a new hardwood floor throughout the hose, and change the location of a window and door.  Asbestos, if it existed, was going to get disturbed and that's bad.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that in the past has been used as fire protection, insulation, and a strengthener in plaster.  Trouble is it has also been shown to cause lung cancer and other health issues.  It had been used up until the early 1980's (pretty much banned as a building material since) so any home you're looking at that's older that this asbestos will be a potential concern.

For my project we had the flooring, plaster, insulation and exterior stucco all tested.  We gathered samples from each area, sealed them individually in Zip-loc bags, and brought them to a local testing lab.  There's a small fee associated to test each sample (our total was around $300) and we had the results in a week.  The only area with asbestos was the floor.  Old linoleum tile is a frequent culprit it seems.

The next step was calling in the abatement contractor.  I don't know about you, but the word "abatement" used to invoke images of men in space suits and a building draped in white plastic à la "E.T.".  Turns out that only the most extreme cases involve this.  The real issue is containing the area with the asbestos, and ensuring there is a pressure situation that forces all the potentially contaminated air through a filter.  Workers all wear appropriate protection (masks and suits) and once the work is done the air is checked and re-checked to ensure there are no asbestos particles in the air.

The work in question only took 3 days ... I had the abatement contractor remove all the plaster and insulations as well (while they were in there).  In the end I received the reports the abatement contractor submitted to show the work was done properly and completely.  All in all a very painless procedure.  True there is an added cost to your project, but the safety of the workers and homeowners make it more than worth the expense.

For more information on asbestos and home renovations, have a look at this terrific summary provided by WorksafeBC.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dwell on Design Cookoff 2013

I'm away next weekend to attend another designe trade show.  This time it's Dwell on Design, North America’s largest modern design event.  I'll be in sunny Los Angeles having a look at more than 400 exhibitors, 2000 products, and taking part in the 2nd Annual Dwell on Design Cookoff!

On Saturday, June 22 2:00 at the Capital Range Booth (Booth #1331 if you're going to be there) I'll be crossing knives and sauté pans for the Battle of the Bloggers.  You may recognize some of my (so-called) competition from previous blog and designer events.  Rest assured, as the only resident Canadian in the competition I'll be pulling out all the stops and fighting for this one like it was my own version of the Brier (yeah, curling is BAD ASS!)

Erica Islas

Lisa Smith
Lori Gilder

Brandon Smith

Stacy Garcia

Arne Salvesen

Capital Cooking Equipment is the gracious sponsor for this event, so in addition to watching the competition crumble at my super awesome knife skills, I'll get to cook on some pretty amazing product. I'll let you know about their latest offerings in the same post I show off my trophy!

Friday, June 7, 2013

LEGO Museum ... Designed with LEGO?

As a self-professed LEGO appreciator, I was thrilled to see this conceptual video from Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.  His firm BIG is in the process of designing the new LEGO museum being built in Billund, the birthplace of LEGO.


The building will express the 'systematic creativity' of the modular brick toys and is projected to attract 250,000 visitors annually. Set to open in 2016 in denmark, the museum will use the built form to convey the tenants of LEGO play-- stimulated learning and connective thinking. Source 
 What's really amazing to me is how the techniques used in LEGO building are incoporated into the design of the museum.  What would be better?  If the building units could be re-arranged and if my tour  guide was this guy:


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bi-Fold Shower Door

I'm finishing up a bathroom project this week and wanted to share a detail that was a true collaboration. I started with an idea, which was modified by another idea my client picked up from my glass fabricator's web site (which turned out to be an idea my glass fabricator borrowed from another fabricator) and finally morphed into the shower door you see here:

The idea I started with was based on the shower "shields" you find in many European washrooms; a partial glass shield that prevents the shower from spraying all over the bathroom without completely blocking access to the tub.  

It was a good idea, but the client said he planned on using the tub more than the shower and didn't want to feel "closed in".  The hope was to have the glass fold out of the way. However, if we kept the shield at a size that would prevent shower spray it would be to big to fold, and if we made it smaller it wouldn't stop the spray.  So we added the bifold:

This is how the shield will spend most of its time; folded up against the wall.  It should be noted that in the open position the shield is not secured in place.  If you lean up against it you will come tumbling out onto the floor.  As such it's not a great solution for someone with any balance issues, but for this client it was the perfect answer.
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