About Me

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I have 20+ years experience in Home Furnishings and Interior Design, specializing in Kitchen and Bath Design since '01. I work for Bilotta Kitchens in the A&D Building on East 58th Street in the Mid-town Manhattan. I have a passion for learning and love the opportunity to collaberate on projects of all sizes. My strengths in the field begin with my design background, use of color and texture to bring interest to a room, spatial relationships, organizational skills, innovation, decisiveness, and planning. I have had the thrilling experience of helping hundreds...?maybe thousands of people with their projects, and what I love is it never gets boring, and no two are ever the same. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thermador: Patented Innovative Technolgy

Recently back from my visit to the BSH design center in Arizona, I wanted to share some of the product features that are currently being rolled out. There are are so many, I think it's going to take a few posts to share what I saw and learned.

 As a designer I get asked regularly: “what’s better, a cooktop and wall oven combination or full one piece oven?” if
space and budget aren’t a concern the answer for me is very simple. I love the convenience of the two appliances. I recently learned that Thermador introduced the first wall oven and cooktop to the market in 1947. At that time they set a new standard for luxury and convenience in the kitchen. Prior to that all cooking was done on a central hub. The idea of separating the two functions offered the homeowner a multitude of benefits, being able to remote the oven outside the work triangle keeps the space cooler when you are running the oven for long periods of time, being able to have the oven at a height that is comfortable to the individual chef means greater ease when lifting heavy roasts in and out, it de-clutters the work area, as well a making it an attractive companion to a microwave, warming drawer or steam oven and allowing the space above the cooking to become available for a more powerful hood. And although now we have dual fuel ranges, it was also the earliest way to achieve an electric oven and a gas cooktop, something we can do today with dual fuel ranges as well.

This new category of appliances became a new standard homeowners strove for and created a influx of new appliance choices as many manufacturers joined in the competition for the more well to do clientele.

Thermador's Pro Range 48" with Oven,
Steam Oven and Warming Drawer

A year after they split the oven and cooktop up, Thermador introduced their Pro Range, and while the idea of professional style ranges for the home has actually boomed over the last 15 years, Thermador has found a way to sweeten the pot once again by offering a 48” Pro Range with a full oven, a warming drawer and a built in steam oven all in one. For those of you who don’t know much about me and steam cooking, we go way back. I began using a pressure cooker when my kids were small. I bought it as a lark at a Macy’s One Day Sale, it reminded of the old TV shows I grew up watching. Miraculously, I found it was a way I could very quickly whip up delicious healthy soups and stews and other things that would sneak veggies into my kids.

Well technology has taken this cooking method one step further, the steam ovens of today do a fantastic job of roasting, slow cooking, steaming, reheating, and baking, all in less time and with better results. In fact when you speak to someone who has used one, they actually suggest it takes the place of the main one for many who try one; much the way my pressure cooker replaced my regular pots for almost everything except sautéing and low simmering.

The Thermador Patented Simmer Top Left
 Simmering brings me to a recent test I was lucky to participate in, this is a key function on a stove for anyone who likes to either eat or make sauces. With my hectic schedule there are weeks my main family staple is a pot of homemade tomato sauce. Good sauce is all about the slow simmer.

I can thank my current range who shall remain nameless for death of at least 4 sauce pots in the last two years. As we all know, good pots are expensive, I have abandoned my trusty stainless and I am trying my hand at enamel right now, but the jury is out. Back to the test, recently four high end pro-style ranges got together for 90+ minutes with a small sauce pan, the lowest possible simmer setting and a cup of chocolate chips. The results were amazing and the only one that didn’t scorch the pot or harden the chocolate was the Thermador with the unique patented Star shaped burner and the simmer setting that allows you to control the flame in an on again/off again fashion automatically. There wasn’t even a question as to the performance; the Thermador burner was far superior.
The New Freedom Series of Mudular Refrigeration
Built in with Ice and Water Through the Door

True to their ingenuity Thermador is also poised to launch the Freedom Series of built-in modular refrigeration and aside from the clean flush good looks, superior high quality 115 degree hinging, attractive easy to clean well appointed interior, and they offer an 18” and a 24” full freezer with Ice and Water through the door. Now while many of us designers don’t prefer to see these little conveniences interrupting the “flow” of our design, homeowners want them. It’s a simple fact; it’s the recliner of the kitchen.

Thank you to Thermador for making this an option as well as so many other features in your product line.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Mid-Week Weekend with BSH Group

Thermador Chef's Kitchen With
New 48" Pro Grand Oven
 with Steam oven built-in.
 There are many Appliance Brands out there that are a househould name, for instance Hoover...When I hear that name, I immediately think of vacuum cleaners, to the point I don't even know if they make anything else.There are a few major appliance brands  that have that same impact, I call it the the "Kleenex Effect". 

When I say "BSH Group" or Bosch Siemens Home Appliance Group I don't "household name". But in fact they are the parent company behind the brands: Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau , household names around the globe and leaders in appliance technology.  My guess would be that a large percentage of people who have remodeled a kitchen in the last ten years will recognize the Bosch and Thermador brands very popular respectively for dishwashers and oven/cooktop technology and a host of other kitchen and laundry appliances. Gaggenau perhaps less known but a leader in elite cooking technology and a brand to explore if you are planning a luxury kitchen renovation.
Arizona Sunset

While the company is headquartered in Huntington Beach, California, it has operated a training facility in Scottsdale Arizona for several years. I was fortunate to be invited out last week for an extensive tour and immersion in brand training, it is the last tour they were doing before closing the facility and constructing a new one near the company headquarters. It was a treat to be in Scottsdale and and opportunity to appreciate the landscape and the beautiful giant cactus which can live up to 200 years.

The Frank Lloyd School of Architecture and Private
 resdience at Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Even though the visit was brief it was packed with activity and information, and I was fortunate to be included in a diverse group of some of the most talented and innovative kitchen designers you will find all brought to Scottsdale from around the country for two days of learning and sharing. There is so much to tell that I am planning a separate post on each brand and wanted to begin today by sharing a bit about the Team Build they offered us upon arrival that impressed me beyond my expectations and is a must see for anyone visiting Scottsdale with an ounce of interest in design, Taliesin West, the Winter home and architecture school of Frank Lloyd Wright, now owned by his foundation.

Construction began in the late 1930's, and rests in the Arizona desert foothills, positioned to overlook what Frank Lloyd Wright called his desert ocean, a vast see of varied species of Cacti resembling sea coral, the principle theme behind all of the structures is that they have a roof slope of 30 degrees resembling the gentle slope of the desert mountains . Building went on here for many years, and his streamlined contemporary design belies the fact that he was born in 1867.

Arizona Cactus Landscape

There are several water features on the campus, where the school of architecture still operates here half of the year. And on the tour we were able to visit the personal living spaces he and his wife shared and entertained in, as well as the two theaters, and his private screening room. I now say he invented the original Man Cave in addition to the carport, theater aisle lighting, and THE OPEN FLOORPLAN.

Frank Lloyd Wrights "boardwalk"
to his favorite vista.

When Frank Lloyd Wright died at nearly 92 years old he had authored 20 books, and of the 1100+ project he has designed over 500 were completed. It's a rich history and something I would definitely repeat given the chance also noting it was a fitting filed trip considering the breadth and contributions to technology made by the Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau appliance brands. Over the next week I will look forward to sharing some of the history and innovation that these brands are famous for as well as share some of the results of the brand comparison testing we were able to perform at the training facility.

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