A New Year of Design Possibilities

David Rockwell knows more than just a bit about injecting a sense of theater into every project he designs.

The head of a noted New York-based architecture firm, Rockwell has been the driving force behind the creation of dozens of trendy restaurants, upscale hotels, theaters and other structures all of which combine energy and imagination with a visual daring that appeals to both the intellect and the heart.

Just like you might see in a Broadway play.

This dynamic, theatrical approach to design, as you might expect, has placed Rockwell's company squarely in the public eye. His team of architects, designers, sculptors, artisans and craftspeople are responsible for the dazzling Mohegan Sun casino. They're the creators of the Academy Awards' new Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, the Detroit Tigers' new stadium, Comerica Park, and the facility that houses the Cirque du Soleil.

At the same time, Rockwell's passion for the theater has resulted in the creation of the sets for several hit Broadway shows, including the current musical, Hairspray.
So, when Rockwell suggests that kitchen and bath designers should consider injecting a dose of theater into their work, it's a suggestion that should become more than simply a passing thought.

That advice is precisely what Rockwell offered during a keynote speech intriguingly entitled

"The Pleasure of Dreaming" at the recent Luxury Kitchen & Bath Collection trade show in New York

He spoke, for example, about how design should, simultaneously, seduce, comfort, entertain and stimulate.

Just like in the theater.

He spoke about obsessing over little details. . . about collaborating with smart, talented people . . . about seeking to create projects that genuinely connect physically and emotionally with people.

Just like in the theater.

But Rockwell's approach goes beyond even those innovative notions of design.
He suggests, for example, that designers should worry less about what a space "should" look like than about what its users are truly passionate about.

He observes about how breathtaking, highly functional designs can result when dissimilar elements collide in a way that surprises and delights.

He speaks about how design inspirations can be drawn from such disparate, "out-of-the- box" sources as history, nature, film and pop culture.

He talks about how important it is to take on projects that are different . . . to take risks
. . . to wake up each day feeling simultaneously thrilled and terrified about your work.

All these, of course, are very refreshing insights for kitchen and bath designers to think about as another challenging, stimulating New Year begins.

Intelligent, cutting-edge design will remain, in 2004, at the very heart of the industry's growth, and at the very forefront of its public face. It also represents a major competitive edge for every kitchen/bath specialist in the trade today.

It's important to take suggestions like Rockwell's to heart and to the bank.
Rockwell's approach to the art and craft of design, in fact, should probably be incorporated, in some form or fashion, into the New Year's resolutions of every kitchen/bath designer in the trade.

When he suggests that kitchens and baths can literally become a stage set that can transform everyday experience into something very special, it's a design notion that's very powerful. It's also an idea that's well worth remembering.

Editor's Note: Speaking of design and creativity, Kitchen & Bath Design News is pleased to introduce another exciting new feature this month, with the publication of "Designer's Notebook," written exclusively for K&BDN by Ellen Cheever, CMKBD, ASID.

Ms. Cheever, who is probably the most well known and respected kitchen design authority in the nation, will write "Designer's Notebook" four times a year for K&BDN. The feature will spotlight a specific, commonly faced design challenge, and offer creative solutions for addressing it. This month's feature on designing multiple-height cabinet elevations is just one example.

Additional "Designer's Notebook" features will be published in April, July and October.
K&BDN is privileged to once again be associated with Ms. Cheever both in print and through our 2004 seminar series, "Designing for Profit," co-produced with the NKBA.
We hope that K&BDN readers will benefit from her insights and expertise.