30 September 2013

My life on Instagram

In the last year and a half I've posted 642 photographs on Instagram and in the process, learned that I'm not a bad photographer. I've learned plenty more than that of course, but that's been my big takeaway.

When I started Instagramming I was a real stickler about only using my telephone's camera and only using the editor that's built into the app. I'm not not so picky anymore. I still use my phone's camera from time to time but there are two other cameras I've been using too. I never identify my equipment just to keep people guessing.

I used to look to this blog as a way to document my life but more and more, it's what I'm starting to depend on Instagram to do.

If you're not an Instagrammer, give it a shot. maybe it'll speak to you the way it has to me.

Here are ten photos from the last couple of months that have made it onto my personal favorites list. If you click on my name, the link will jump you to my Instagram profile page. Follow me and I'll follow you back.

All of the photos in my stream are available for purchase as either a hi-res file or as a 6"x6" or a 12"x12" print. Shoot me an e-mail if you're interested.

27 September 2013

Use Thermador appliances, win valuable prizes

Hey designers, The Thermador Kitchen Design Challenge is back and it's better than ever. Oh and when I say "hey designers" I mean to include all  professional designers, architects, builders, remodelers and kitchen dealers in that blanket term.

The contest this year has been expanded pretty significantly; the cash prizes on the line this year amount to $100,000 and the way to enter is as straightforward as it's ever been. There's no fee to enter and if you've been specifying Thermador you have no excuse not to enter.

Sixteen regional winners will receive a $2,500 cash prize and an expense-paid trip for two to a magnificent gala celebration in the fall of 2014 to compete for national prizes. How it works is this:

Regional Winners

  • 12 regional winners competing within six defined sales territories will receive $2,500 cash for the best overall use of Thermador appliances in any style kitchen design and will compete for national prizes.
  • 4 regional winners will receive $2,500 cash for the best use of Thermador built-in refrigeration in any style kitchen and will compete for a national prize.
  • All regional winners will also receive a trip for two to a magnificent celebration weekend in the fall of 2014.

National Winners: Traditional/Transitional

  • The regional winner with the best use of Thermador in a traditional/transitional kitchen design will receive a grand prize of $15,000 cash. One second place winner will receive $10,000 cash.

National Winners: Contemporary/Modern

  • The regional winner with the best use of Thermador in a contemporary/modern kitchen design will receive a grand prize of $15,000 cash. One second place winner will receive $10,000 cash.

National Winners: Best Use of Built-in Refrigeration

  • The regional winner with the best use of Thermador built-in refrigeration will receive a grand prize of $10,000 cash.

All you have to do is set up a profile, complete the online entry form, write a narrative of no more than 300 words, and upload your photos. March 14, 2014 is the deadline to enter.

The expanded version of the requirements and the general rules are:


  • The 2012-2013 Thermador Kitchen Design Challenge is open to professional designers, architects, builders, remodelers and kitchen dealers.
  • Individual, team and company entries will be accepted.
  • There is no limit to the number of entries that can be submitted by an eligible Entrant as long as each Entry features a unique Kitchen Design. However, each entrant is only eligible for one regional prize and one national prize.

The Kitchen Design:

  • The kitchen design must include at least three Thermador appliances.
  • Kitchen designs may include non-Thermador appliances only if Thermador does not offer a similar product in our lineup. Non-Thermador ventilation will be allowed depending on the application.
  • All design and construction must be fully completed within the contest period of December 1, 2011 to December 31, 2013.

Entries must include all of the following:

  • A headshot of the entrant.
  • A minimum of two high-resolution photographs of the completed kitchen design in .jpg format. Additional photos are welcomed to show various perspectives, details and "before" shots. Blueprints, floor plans, elevations and perspective drawings may be included but will not be accepted as the only means of entry. Files should be no larger than 20 mb.
  • A written narrative of no more than 300 words describing your kitchen design.

You can find Thermador's complete rules by following this link.

In an industry heavy with design competitions and prizes, this one's the most straightforward. If you worked on a Thermador project or two recently, go ahead and enter. If you haven't then start specifying Thermador!

25 September 2013

Want to win a Discovery WineStation® from Dacor and the Decor Girl?

This is a Discovery WineStation® from Dacor.

This is Lisa Smith, the Decor Girl.

Isn't that a great shot? Kudos to my good friend Courtney for that one.

Together, Dacor and my friend Lisa are teaming up to give away one of Dacor's new Discovery WineStations.

What is a Discovery WineStation®? It's a combination wine chiller, wine preserver and wine dispenser --an at-home version of the chiller/ dispensers you see in wine and tasting bars.

Here's a description in Lisa's own words:
Introducing the first four bottle, automated, temperature controlled, wine preservation and dispensing system designed for the home. Small enough to sit on a countertop, this would look smashing on the home bar! There is also a trim kit for those super chic wine collectors wanting a flush built-in look. Enjoy the right wine on your time schedule. Imagine being able to maintain the quality of an opened bottle of wine for up to 60 days. Share a taste, a half glass or a indulge in a full glass of wine – you choose. Perfect for entertaining! Speaking of entertaining, this is going to completely wow your techno gadget friends. Individually program the display for each bottle to show wine type, wine year and varietal. With the dual zone temperature accessory, you can even split the temperature by 10 degrees.
It sounds pretty slick and it's certainly the first one of these to show up in the consumer market. These wine appliances retail for around $5000 and that's where Lisa comes in.

Decor Girl and Dacor have teamed up and are hosting a contest to give away one of these units. The contest is pretty simple and straightforward.

Take a picture of your favorite bottle of wine, maybe where you would put the wine station, a glass of wine, people enjoying wine – anything which would fit into the wine theme and email it to me.  Have fun.  The contest runs September 25 through October 4, 2013 and you’ll need to click here for the contest rules. Creativity will be rewarded and PhotoShop's fine. remember, e-mail your photo to Lisa (not me) by 4 October to be considered.

Once all of the photos are submitted, they'll then go to a panel of some of the smartest people on the planet. I'm on the panel so I can say things like that. Once we come to a consensus, Lisa will announce a winner and somebody gets to be the envy of their in-laws this Thanksgiving.

Give it a shot and while you're at it, follow Lisa on Twitter and Instagram and then like her on Facebook. It can only help.

24 September 2013

Wow Brizo, now that's a shower!

This is my brand new Hydrati™ 2|1 shower from Brizo. It arrived yesterday and I installed it in about five minutes last night.

I tested it after I installed it to make sure I had no leaks and waited to take a full shower with until this morning. Holy cow. Now that's a shower.

As a matter of disclosure, Brizo gave me this shower head. With that out of the way, let me describe some of the Hydrati™ 2|1 shower's features and benefits.

The new Hydrati comes in four primary styles and what I'm showing above, the "Euro Round," is the one I have. The head's certainly large enough and through a combination of button pushing and lever selecting, the Hydrati™ allows a user to select from four settings. They are: full H2Okinetic spray, massage, H2Okinetic spray with massage and pause. I'll explain what H2Okinetic in a bit but in the meantime I have to say that the pause built into this shower system is something my father would approve of.

When I was a kid he maintained that proper showering consisted of getting wet, turning off the shower, soaping up with the shower off and then turning it back on only to rinse off. We thought his suggestion was ridiculous of course but he did have a point. Brizo's pause function allows anybody to follow my father's suggested showering method without having to readjust the water temperature.

The Hydrati™ 2|1 shower gets the two in one portion of its name from the fact that it's a convertible --it's a wall-mount and a hand-held shower and the spray patterns are adjustable on each component.

Here's an example of a Hydrati™ 2|1 Euro Square in the middle of uncoupling.

The independent function of the hand-held and wall-mount components allow a user to turn off the main head and use the hand shower, use the main head only or to use them both. When the hand-held shower's not being held in someone's hand, it locks into the main head with Brizo's MagneDock® magnetic docking system There's no eyes closed fumbling involved. All someone has to do is hold the handheld up to the main shower head and the magnets take care of the rest. Pretty slick.

Now back to H2Okinetic Technology for a second. H2Okinetic Technology is something that Brizo (and its parent company Delta Faucet) developed with the Bowles Fluidics Corporation and what it does is harness the kinetic energy in moving water to alter and enhance the way water droplets are delivered. Each spray outlet on a H2Okinetic fixture uses the pressure of the water passing through it to take on a very specific pattern of movement. This pattern makes a shower feel like it's using more water than it is and the effect is amazing. This video from Delta Faucet describes and illustrates what this means particularly well:

You can read more about it on Brizo's website too. While you're on their site, look over the rest of their offerings too --they make beautiful and highly functional fixtures.

As always Brizo, thanks!

23 September 2013

Lights! Camera! Blanco!

Recently, I had the good fortune to visit my friends and colleagues at Blanco on the set of a photo and video shoot. The folks from Blanco's marketing department is working on the catalog shots and video footage they'll use when they roll out a new campaign in a couple of months.

While I was on set I saw some old favorites and a lot of new stuff I can't talk about. But brace yourselves.

Listen, I get it that many people's eyes glaze over when I start gushing about innovations in sink design. But think about it. What component do you use more than any other in your kitchen? The smart money's on you answering "the sink." So why not spend some time considering this heavily utilized and underappreciated feature in every kitchen?

Blanco does that and more. Every aspect of how people use their products is thought through and and analyzed. Their research informs their finished designs to an alarming, though understated way.

For example, on most flat bottomed stainless sinks the sink walls and the sink floor meet each other at a sharp, 45-degree angle. You know what you can't do with a sharp 45-degree angle at the bottom of a sink? That's right, you can't clean it very easily. On a Blanco flat bottom sink, the joints between the sinks walls, sides and floor meet at a gentle, 10mm radius. You know what the average radius of a human being's index finger is? That's right, 10mm.

Flat bottomed steel sinks such as Blanco Precision™ Sinks are engineered around the dimensions of the human body to make them easier to clean.

Another great example is from my favorite sink in the universe, the Blanco Modex™. The drainboard built into this sink is pitched in two directions (backward and toward the sink) so water can't get anywhere but down the drain. That's more solid thought expended on a sink that makes it easier to use and live with.

While I'm gushing over the Modex, here's a video that 'splains it all:

As cool as the Modex is, just wait'll you see the new stuff Blanco has coming.

My on set visit with Blanco took place at the Shadowlight Group and I was absolutely blown away by their skills and their facility. Have a product you want to have photographed or filmed? Give them a call.

As always, it was great to see my friends from Blanco. I'm fortunate to know first hand that with a company like Blanco, I know that the great products they produce are backed by some of my favorite people in the industry.