Before + After: Sunset Kitchen

Not gonna lie, this was one major transformation in one very small, windowless space. Our clients were avid cooks and frustrated with their cramped kitchen and its dysfunctional layout. We opened up a wall to create room for friends and family to gather, and even though we removed a few upper cabinets, the kitchen ended up being more space efficient in the end. Check it out:

 BEFORE: What you’re seeing is the length of the kitchen.

BEFORE: What you’re seeing is the length of the kitchen.

 AFTER: There used to be a wall and a fridge where the peninsula is.

AFTER: There used to be a wall and a fridge where the peninsula is.

 BEFORE: Fluorescent lighting, need I say more?

BEFORE: Fluorescent lighting, need I say more?

 AFTER: Recessed lighting keeps the small space clutter free, while the pendant adds some interest.

AFTER: Recessed lighting keeps the small space clutter free, while the pendant adds some interest.

 BEFORE: Induced claustrophobia

BEFORE: Induced claustrophobia

 AFTER: Room to breathe

AFTER: Room to breathe

What’s your favorite part of the new kitchen? Tell us in the comments below!

Behind the Scenes: 10 Questions with Brave Matter

Despite being based in Oakland, it was in Manhattan at WantedDesign where we first crossed paths with design atelier Brave Matter.

We were immediately intrigued by each design's exquisite craftsmanship and composition.

The couple behind the designs is equally impressive: master ceramicist Christina Zamora and visual artist Cathy Lo.

  Christina Zamora (left) and Cathy Lo (right)

Christina Zamora (left) and Cathy Lo (right)

   Sender One   , floor and table lamp

Sender One, floor and table lamp

Together, the duo designs with intention and pushes boundaries — not just in an object’s visual appeal but also in materiality.

In two of their lighting designs, they use pink Himalayan salt and brass to diffuse light. It took several iterations to find the right treatment to counter the salt’s absorbency.

In their ceramics designs, Christina forgoes commercial glazes and mixes each and every one of her own by hand. If a glaze isn’t holding up to its task or visual expectations, she experiments until she finds one that does.

   Vessel O   , N/O Vessels

Vessel O, N/O Vessels

   Vessel O   , N/O Vessels

Vessel O, N/O Vessels

Nearly every stage of their design process, from prototyping to production to assembly, is done in-house, and you can see that intimacy in the craftsmanship. To go inside the minds behind the design, we asked Christina some of our favorite questions.
 

10 Questions with Christina Zamora

brave-matter-workroom-behind-the-scenes-form-and-field.png

Q: What is the common thread, if any, that can be seen throughout your designs?
A: I’m looking for a balance between utility and desire; qualities that make an object both enduring and ephemeral, resolute and reflective, grounded yet ethereal. I use material properties and juxtaposition, for example ceramic and salt, to communicate these qualities.

Q: What is the effect you hope your designs will have on people?
A: I’m hoping to create objects that make you feel something. If it communicates your intention, the right audience will resonate with it.

Q: We know you love to push boundaries when creating and designing objects. How do you recognize the moment to stop — the moment when your design is just right?
A: I tend to keep resolving a design until the feeling in my gut that tells me something’s not quite right, goes away. At some point you have to trust your instinct.

Q: Which book or film has changed your way of thinking and how?
A: Consilience, The Unity of Knowledge, by Edward O. Wilson - He makes the argument for a unified theory of knowledge across disciplines – that they cannot exist independent of one another. You cannot reconcile science without art, art without culture.…

Geek Love, a novel by Katherine Dunn - About a carny family whose parents set out to breed their own exhibit of human oddities with the help of arsenic and radioisotopes, challenging our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly.

They both challenged my own sense of self and my relationship to everything else.

Q: What is the most treasured object in your own home?
A: A painting made by my wife, Cathy Lo, titled Mysteriously Ambiguous. It’s inspired by one of my favorite novels, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I have a signed copy that reads “for christina, best feathers.” The portrait depicts myself as a whimsical creature with a giant plume of feathers. A reminder to be my best self.

Q: Which living person do you most admire and why?
A: E. O. Wilson. Most of his work revolves around his study of ants and his discoveries involving ant communication and the the social organization of ant communities. His work inspired the field of sociobiology and the importance of biodiversity research. His work is so fascinating and so inspiring to me. I want a t-shirt that reads, “E. O. Wilson is god.”

Q: If you were a piece of art what would you be?
A: A red polka dot in Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors installation.

Q: If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
A: A myrmecologist, studying ants. Growing up in New Mexico, my backyard was literally the desert. A mega colony of carpenter ants lived in my grandmother’s yard. Every summer they would swarm and march on some imaginary pathway through our living room and out the back door. We would watch them for hours. Within a few days they would suddenly be gone. I’ve been fascinated with ants ever since.

Q: What are your aspirations for the next 3-5 years?
A: Keep creating. Be brave.

Q: What motto do you try to live by?
A: Knowledge is power. Imagination is more important than knowledge.

See more from Brave Matter.

Before + After: Pacific Heights Vintage Modern

It's time for everyone's favorite: Before + After! Our Pacific Heights Vintage Modern project was truly transformative. The condo hadn't been updated in years and needed some major upgrades for the paint, laminate flooring, and outdated light fixtures. We also turned this bachelor pad into a proper home for two. 

Let's start with the main living and dining area. What a difference fresh paint and custom hardwood floors can make! Not to mention all that new lighting and furniture...

 BEFORE: The living and dining area

BEFORE: The living and dining area

 AFTER: The dining area

AFTER: The dining area

 AFTER: The living area

AFTER: The living area

Now moving onto the adjacent kitchen. Previously there was a partial wall separating the kitchen from the living and dining areas. To create the open floor plan, our team came up with a creative way to remove the wall without affecting plumbing. A new concrete bar countertop was added after the wall was removed. 

 BEFORE: View of the kitchen from the living area

BEFORE: View of the kitchen from the living area

 AFTER: The kitchen

AFTER: The kitchen

Lastly, we have the master bedroom where we rearranged the furniture layout to create a cozy lounge area. 

 BEFORE: Master bedroom

BEFORE: Master bedroom

 AFTER: Master bedroom lounge area

AFTER: Master bedroom lounge area

What's your favorite transformed space? Let us know in the comments below! 

Work in Progress: Wabi-Sabi Inspires our Oakland Tudor Project

Wabi-sabi is the Japanese philosophy that embraces the passing of time and all of nature’s imperfections. Although this philosophy started as an ancient Buddhist approach to life, centuries later it’s gracing the world of interior design!

Our current Oakland Tudor Project takes inspiration directly from wabi-sabi. Here are the key features behind the style and how we’ll be using them to create a unique and beautiful space for our client.

  George Nakashima's Home in New Hope ( source )

George Nakashima's Home in New Hope (source)

Key Elements of Wabi-Sabi Design

  • Embraces imperfections and impermanence, such as knots in woodgrain or asymmetry
  • Opts for natural materials such as wood, stone, wool, linen, etc.
  • Prioritizes materials that patina or gain beauty with age
  • Takes a minimal and highly intentional approach to planning a space
     

Why We’re Fans of Wabi-Sabi for the Home

  • Uses materials with natural longevity, warmth, and character
  • Creates a space that feels restful and peaceful
  • “Imperfections” make your home feel one-of-a-kind (and not like a hotel)
     

Wabi-Sabi Influences in our Oakland Tudor Project

  Clé Tile in Flannel ( source )

Clé Tile in Flannel (source)

  Clé Tile in Rice Paper ( source )

Clé Tile in Rice Paper (source)

Both tile options look stunning, embrace imperfections, and will age with grace. The tiny pinholes of the Flannel tile will help hide any chips or scratches years down the road, while the variegated Rice Paper tiles make any potential discoloring a non-issue. Beauty and longevity.

  Vintage Coffee Table ( source )

Vintage Coffee Table (source)

This vintage coffee table embodies wabi-sabi. The natural grain of the wood has an asymmetrical balance to it, and the table’s shape is irregular for a coffee table but reflects nature. The three legs look intentional, appropriate, and add no more than what is minimally needed.

  Armadillo Rug ( source )

Armadillo Rug (source)

The natural variegated tones and texture of this rug not only create warmth and beauty, but will absorb any wear and tear that occurs over time.

  Noguchi’s Akari Floor Lamp ( source )

Noguchi’s Akari Floor Lamp (source)

This floor lamp by famous Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi embraces imperfect forms and transforms the harsh light of a bulb into a warm glow. His choice of paper and thin metal frames create an ephemeral yet joyful feel.

  Cast Iron Pendants ( source )

Cast Iron Pendants (source)

The shapes of these pendants may vary, but they create an asymmetrical balance that is intriguing and pleasing to the eye. In addition, the cast iron material will age beautifully.

  Jordan Brown Fire Table ( source )

Jordan Brown Fire Table (source)

Concrete is another material characteristic of wabi-sabi design. Natural variation will give this fire table its own unique character and beauty in our client's space, now and as it ages in the years to come.

What’s your favorite wabi-sabi-inspired piece? Share with us in the comments below!

Pro Tip: When You Should Hire an Interior Designer

Interior designers create beautiful spaces, but hiring one isn’t right for every project. Here are the top 5 reasons for when you’ll want a full-service designer on your team...
 

1 / YOU WANT A UNIQUE SPACE

Interior designers help make any space uniquely yours due to their vast network of local, domestic, and international sources. They’ll find the exact right pieces for your home that you likely won’t see anywhere else, or they’ll create the perfect custom piece for you in collaboration with expert craftsmen.

Rest assured — your home will not look like your neighbor’s!

2 / YOU WANT FUNCTIONALITY AND DURABILITY FOR SPECIFIC NEEDS

Interior designers take the time to understand how you’ll be living in your space. Do you need to accommodate high-use areas for kids or pets? Do you have light-sensitive sleepers in an east-facing bedroom?

Interior designers apply their extensive knowledge of materials and vendors to help design your ideal space. You’ll get more than just a beautiful and inspiring home — you’ll get one that fits your daily life and is built to last.
 

3 / YOU WANT A COST-EFFICIENT PROJECT

Yes, hiring an interior designer is a considerable investment into your home, but there are several cost benefits too.

  • Interior designers’ relationships with vendors often result in prices lower than if you’d purchased the same items on your own.
  • Form + Field excels at project management and has overseen many projects before yours. We’ll help you avoid costly mistakes so you can have a beautiful space where money is spent on the things you care about most.

4 / YOU WANT A LOW TIME COMMITMENT

With an interior designer you’ll benefit from:

  • A hands-off project that is completed in the most time-efficient manner possible
  • An experienced person on-site to help you avoid time-sucking mistakes that could set back project schedule

With an interior designer on your team, you won’t squander your precious time resolving issues or sifting through countless options. You don’t need to be on-site with contractors or overseeing installations… and your project will be completed more quickly if you aren’t!
 

5 / YOU WANT CONFIDENCE AND PEACE OF MIND

Your interior designer understands building codes, communication requirements between parties, and every other nuance of a design project. They’ve managed the process many times before!

This means…

  • You can trust that your project is in qualified and talented hands.
  • You can live your life as normally as possible during the process.
  • Above all, you can experience stress-free the excitement of knowing your future home will be nothing short of stunning!

Wondering if an interior designer is right for your project? Ask us your questions in the comments below!