Designer Profile: Ellen Cheever

Written by Christina Dragota, Monogram Lead Product Specialist

We had the pleasure of having Ellen Cheever join us for one of our Monogram Training Sessions at our Chicago Monogram Design Center this past July. She has spent the past 44 years significantly outlining the kitchen and bathroom design world, not only for consumers, but also for the industry. From just having come off her trip at EuroCucina in Milan, she went through the upcoming trends pertaining specifically to kitchen and bath. While going through all of the sleek, contemporary images of kitchen design concepts she noted, “This is the first time I’ve seen Europe and America sharing similar trends across the design.” She continued explaining how this is an exciting time of collaboration throughout metals, technology and also appliances. While speaking with her, you get this immediate sense of knowledge of all she’s learned throughout her career, but in a way that is approachable, which is why we wanted to interview her!

Ellen Cheever

Ellen Cheever with Ellen Cheever & Associates in Wilmington, DE


SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Ellen: While I was in grade school, my mother gave me a hundred dollars if I could complete the task of remodeling our bedroom. Ever since that initial challenge, I was addicted and wanted to learn as much as I could about design. In the 70’s we didn’t have “Design Majors”, so the next best option was Home Economics which did focus more on home planning, but in college that was the closest thing.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project you really enjoyed.

Ellen: We were working on a show house in Wilmington where they wanted our firm to do a Master Bath. It’s always challenging to make a functioning bathroom while still maintaining that showroom impression. We wanted to have that “wow” factor but with functionality, which I think we accomplished.

SRFD: What is a trend you’re over?

Ellen: Glazed white finishes.

SRFD: What is a trend you’re excited about?

Ellen: Contemporary wood veneers that are produced in manmade materials and also, innovations within appliance technologies. I think focusing on making equipment smarter and more intuitive but still friendly to Cooks that are a little uncertain about operating technology.

SRFD: What did you learn at the Chicago Monogram Design Center?

Ellen: It allowed me to expand my knowledge on the possibilities with induction cooking. I now appreciate more “combination appliances” like the Advantium. By seeing Chef Jon cook in it teamed with your presentations given on the versatility behind the product, it really made me understand its use, especially for smaller spaces.

SRFD: What is your favorite Monogram product?

Ellen: I loved the 30” integrated refrigerator with the combination drawer. The flexibility is fantastic, as well as, the look.

Lou’s views: observations from a retiring Design Director

Written by Lou Lenzi, retired GE Appliances Director of Design

This will be my last “Save Room” blog entry. After 36 years in the Design profession, it’s time to down-shift and pursue my hobbies and interests on a full-time basis. Like most designers, this will involve trying to create something of beauty, only on my time this time. I’m delighted that my successor, Marc Hottenroth, a 24 year veteran of the GE Appliances Design team, will assume the role of Design Director by the time you read this.

Before signing off, I’d humbly like to share some observations on the state-of-our-art, along with some predictions.

Technology: a Healthy Dialog

While connected appliances are in full bloom in the kitchen and laundry room, connectivity itself is still in its infancy. Yes, we’re providing new levels of convenience and performance through our WiFi enabled products, but the next meaningful wave has yet to hit the shore. That will come when we fully integrate kitchen design, rich information services, and connected appliances. What’s the “killer app”, to use an old phrase? I believe it will come in the form of quick and convenient healthy meal planning and preparation. Let’s face it, reducing the cost of health care in the US begins with our diet, and as key influencers in the kitchen, it’s time we all step-up and play a role here.


The interactive multimedia induction cooktop makes healthy meal prep easy



The interactive multimedia induction cooktop makes healthy meal prep easy


We will also begin talking to our appliances. And unlike adolescent children, they will dutifully listen and respond. The cost of voice recognition technology is coming down and accuracy is improving, helping to ease access to those amazing technologies and features we’ve been incorporating into our products. Why press a bunch of buttons or dive into a multi-layered menu system when you can simply say “heat the upper oven to 350 degrees” or tell the water heater you’ll need more hot water for the guests coming to visit this weekend. For those nay-sayers convinced we’ll never talk to machines, it wasn’t too long ago that people said we’d never read our favorite authors on a piece of glass because it wasn’t as cozy or inviting as the printed page.

The disappearing kitchen

Just as the kitchen became the focal point of our home, so too will it look less like a kitchen. Certain appliances will begin to “disappear” – first through finishes and user interfaces that blend into the surrounding cabinetry, followed by appliances that become the cabinetry. Small form-factor housing and alternative living patterns – think multi-generational households – will also contribute to us rethinking the industrial design of our products, transitioning from a machine-art to a furniture aesthetic.

Where's the kitchen?

Where’s the kitchen?

The mobile home, built by a robot?

Today’s mobile workforce, coupled with our desire to sample a variety of living environments means we’ll delay owning a home and being tethered to a mortgage. That’s not to say we won’t seek out well thought-out, intellectually stimulating and comfortable communities, we’ll just rent a home in that community, then simply move on to the next experience whenever we’re ready for a change.

Home construction building methods and techniques will dramatically change. The skilled-trade workforce that home builders have historically relied upon has dramatically shrunk since the great recession and they are not likely to return to the levels necessary to support traditional stick-built style home construction. Modular and automated factory-based manufacturing processes will finally take root after many false starts, followed by the emergence of large, on-site 3D printing techniques. After 200 years, the stick-built home, along with its associated material waste and inefficiencies, may be a thing of the past.

I hope these thoughts will stimulate further discussion among the Monogram design community. It’s been an absolute joy to chat with you.



Interview with New York Monogram Design Center Executive Chef Michael Sherman

Susan Cozzi, manager of the Monogram Design Center in New York City, recently interviewed the New York Monogram Design Center Executive Chef Michael Sherman.


Susan: Tell us about your background as a chef.

Chef Michael: As with most professions these days, professions have broadened in scope, so as a chef I am also an entrepreneur and a consultant to the food industry.

I’m from Hartford, CT, and began in the business in the front of the house at several restaurants throughout New England. In these roles you really learn about customer service along with the mood and vibe of the restaurant and the diners. My move to New York City brought along with it a desire to cook. During stages at several high-end restaurants, including March with Wayne Nish, I headed to The Culinary Institute of America for my degree in Culinary Arts.

While researching at school, I decided I wanted to work with one of the best up and coming chefs in the country, Charlie Palmer. I landed an extended externship at Aureole working directly under Charlie’s tutelage for nine months.

I then heard about Gray Kunz and what his cooking was about at Lespinasse. When finishing school, I was determined to work with Chef Kunz and when I was told to “get to France,” I did exactly that, working as a private chef for Andre Balazs’ family after a year working with David Bouley at his original namesake restaurant. During my time in France, I continued to write (yes, we had to write letters then) to Chef Kunz. When I arrived back in the US, Chef Kunz offered me a position in the pastry department and then I landed a spot on the hot line working with Andrew Carmellini, Floyd Cardoz, Fabrizzio Salerni and Troy Dupuy. After two more years developing as a cook, I went to work with Waldy Malouf and helped The Rainbow Room achieve three stars!

After working with these great chefs, as an entrepreneur, I opened Chef & Company and later The Riverdale Garden and Moxie Events Catering, and Cloud Catering. And as an industry consultant, I started up restaurants including Crosby Street Hotel, Maison Kayser, and Tutu’s Brooklyn, and have consulted with eateries known around the world such as Sushi Samba, Le Midi, Biba Williamsburg, and The High Line Hotel.

Susan: What is your cooking philosophy?

Chef Michael: Buy the best product you can, treat with respect and cook simply.

Chef Michael shopping one of the early local markets for fresh produce

Chef Michael shopping at one of the early local markets for fresh produce

Susan: What’s always in your fridge at home?

Chef Michael: Mustard, thyme, shallots, good vinegars, extra virgin olive oil and grass fed butter

Susan: What makes you happy?

Chef Michael: Watching guests enjoy my cooking. My daughter. My dog. Eating great food. Not necessarily in that order.

Susan: What do you see in the cooking world that you wish you could change?

Chef Michael: Too many high volume restaurants, caterers, food service that do not take advantage of local produced food.

Susan: What have you learned from working at the New York Monogram Design Center?

Chef Michael: I’ve relearned the incredible cooking experience capable on Monogram’s Induction Cooktop which includes sous vide cooking—this is a great bonus. And, that GE Appliances really is a technology and engineering company first and they bring great new ideas to luxury home appliances.


Susan: What can home cooks learn from you?

Chef Michael: Simple, basic cooking techniques which I find to be the best, particularly when using the best product!


Coffee Time

Written by Wilberto Badilla, FirstBuild Digital Storyteller

Every year, especially in the warmer months, coffee drinkers look towards the colder counterpart of their usual cup of joe: iced coffee. In many cases, iced coffee is just older coffee that is poured over ice. In recent years, a challenger to the cold coffee throne has emerged and its name is “cold brew.” Cold brew has gained popularity exponentially in the last four years, and a simple trend analysis shows that it has no signs of slowing down.

So what is cold brew? Cold brew is coffee that is brewed for extended periods of time using room-temperature water. The result is a more balanced, less acidic, and in general, different flavored beverage to both hot coffee and iced coffee.

As mentioned, the traditional process is an extended one, often taking 24+ hours to brew a batch of cold brew coffee. This presents a problem for those out there who want their coffee “now” – as we’ve grown accustomed to – as well as for coffee shops who essentially have to estimate the next day’s demand for the cool beverage.

Enter FirstBuild and the Prisma Cold Brew Coffee Maker. Prisma makes cold brew coffee in 10 minutes, a drastically shortened timeframe to the more traditional 24 hour brew time. FirstBuild engineers have developed a vacuum pump system inside Prisma’s base that degasifies the water within the brewing chamber and increases the solubility of coffee compounds.

To this point, being able to brew a batch of cold brew right when you want it has been impossible. Although Prisma is still a prototype, it does function and produces great-tasting cold brew coffee. In fact, Prisma took home 2nd place in the “Best New Product” category at CoffeeFest, two months ago.

Prisma was released via crowdfunding on Indiegogo in August, which allows interested individual to get in early in exchange for a lower price than the eventual $299 retail price.

To learn more about Prisma or to sign-up for future updates, visit our website!


DODLA 2016 Recap

Written by Greg Finnicum, Monogram Learning Manager


Ideafest 2016 was the theme at this year’s Dwell on Design event at the Los Angeles Convention Center last month. With over 300 exhibiting brands, 2000+ modern furnishings and products, and 271 speakers presenting at 96 sessions, all aspects of modern design ideas came to life at America’s largest design event. As part of the six-city modern design tour with Dwell and Monogram, the Monogram Modern Home was onsite during DODLA. The home hosted over 5,000 attendees at DODLA featuring Monogram Executive Chef Jon Liddell demonstrating his culinary magic on the new induction cooktop and Advantium Speedcook oven.


To step outside the kitchen, Resource Furniture was also on hand to transform both the Monogram Modern Home and the showroom floor with their modern and innovative space-saving wall bed systems, tables and seating … making every space an exciting and stylish multi-purpose room with the flick of a finger.


Woodworker and sculptor Greta de Parry was also featured at the show with her unique, elegant handcrafted designs.


What if you could change the art on your wall to match your mood? Electric Objects can let you change the art on your wall to whatever you find on the internet, or choose from their curated selections. Choose the art pieces from your iPhone and send your selections to your Electric Objects wall hardware.


Dwell on Design LA is a must for your 2017 planning!  See you next year!

NeoCon 2016

Written by Georgie Vetter, Product Specialist at the Chicago Monogram Design Center

Last month, the Merchandise Mart in Chicago held its annual designer exposition, NeoCon. NeoCon is one of the most recognized and attended trade shows in the industry. This year, more than 50,000 designers walked the halls of the Merchandise Mart viewing the latest and most innovative solutions in commercial design. NeoCon has remained focused on being at the forefront of changing commercial design and business trends.


The Monogram Design Center was buzzing throughout the three-day exposition, with many designers walking through showing a lot of interest in induction cooking. During NeoCon, the Monogram Design Center showcased Sous Vide cooking, a method of cooking in which food is sealed in air-tight plastic bags then placed in a temperature controlled water bath which brings meats, fish, and poultry to the perfect internal temperature each time. We also introduced designers to the new pizza oven, which will be making its debut in the Chicago Design Center later this fall. The Amazon Echo made an appearance during NeoCon. Designers were shown how Monogram appliances are able to be integrated within a smart home. The designers that came through were very intrigued by the pizza oven and expressed a lot of enthusiasm toward the new product. We know they are looking forward to seeing it in person!

On the Tuesday of NeoCon week, Sheri Gold, National Showroom Manager, presented a CEU to a group of designers on how to grow their business through social media. The Social Media CEU offers in-depth explanations of four social media platforms (Twitter, Houzz, Instagram and Pinterest) and how best to use them within the design world. The CEU also provides a brief overview of Hootsuite, Periscope and Snapchat. During the CEU, we had a panel that included Julie McCrary, Social Media Manager for White Good; Monogram Lead Product Specialist Christina Dragota; and Monogram Product Specialist Georgie Vetter to provide their input during the presentation.

Overall, NeoCon was a great week for the Monogram Design Center. We were able to make many new designer contacts and enjoyed being able to give more information on Monogram appliances and what we are doing next.


Your New Home Came with an Advantium Speedcook Oven in the Kitchen. Now What?

Written by Susan Cozzi, Manager of the Monogram Design Center in New York City

Like most homeowners at Lennar’s boutique waterfront condo, The Avenue Collection on the Hudson River, chances are you one-touched the reheat button for warming up a dinner and also made popcorn and tea in your Advantium.

To answer the question, the team at the New York Monogram Design Center thought—our chef, your kitchen—let’s have dinner. So Monogram partnered with Lennar to offer its homeowners an onsite chef demonstration dedicated to using Advantium, all while taking in a great view of the New York City skyline.


Monogram Executive Chef Michael and Chef Carl ensured that the menu for the evening covered all of Advantium’s special cooking features. Appetizers started with avocado toast as guests were surprised to find their “microwave” could also toast all their favorites in the morning.


Next, the Cajun marinated prawns with grit cakes were speedcooked to perfection. The door was now opened to all the possibilities for fast, healthy dinners, and lots of notes and tips were taken.


The next speedcooked entree was lamb chops served with ratatouille. Now the conversation got good as guests savored lamb perfectly browned and were surprised at Advantium’s versatility and skill in also cooking the vegetables gently. Owners learned they could also keep their dinner plates or dinner warming by using the warming drawer feature.


Baked apricots with rum and vanilla whipped crème fraiche demonstrated the convection oven baking function in Advantium and showed the value of being able to bake a full dessert without having to turn on a full-sized oven.

Since much of the joy of cooking comes from the process of learning something new, these new homeowners enjoyed the Monogram team stepping in their door and showing them the possibilities.

See more photos of this new community that was once vacant land:

A “Pin-worthy” Production – from Storyboard to Social Media

Written by Molly Ford, Monogram Experience Center intern

I recently observed as GE Appliance’s user experience team attacked one of a food-lovers’ greatest challenges – creating food that looks as good as it tastes. Our “office” at the Monogram Experience Center in Louisville, KY, was taken over by a fascinating team that spent their workday preparing, arranging and shooting dishes for the GE Appliances website, Pinterest page and other social media outlets. The journey from inspiration board, to story board, to cutting board, was quite the production.

Reciple shoot 1

In the weeks prior to the shoot, photos of bright colors, contrasting textures, and refreshing ingredients filled the team’s summer recipe inspiration board. With the goal of creating photogenic foods, they decided on a menu featuring Blackberry-Raspberry Coconut Pops, Grilled Sweet Potato and Corn Salad, and Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Dip, among other light and savory recipes. Everyone knows that no food shoot is complete without the appeal of melted cheese, so accordingly, Fig & Prosciutto Pizza and Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Enchiladas served as the decided main course.

Reciple shoot 2

As in any efficient production, story boards were drawn to ensure that every step in the process was captured at the right moment, from the optimal angle. The menu collaborated with appliance features, to highlight how GE Appliances and Monogram not only produce amazing food, but also facilitate a love for the process of cooking. No logistical piece was overlooked – sliding racks, temperature settings and door features all played roles as the story boards followed the recipe’s progression.

reciple shoot 3

Once to the cutting board with the big picture in place and cameras shooting, the team focused on ensuring every detail was carried out perfectly. While the shoot was meticulously planned, down to the degree, the team came prepared to solve issues that arose during the shoot. Several members of the team worked simply as “runners,” to fetch another light board, a different colored bowl, or additional fresh herbs. The team’s biggest challenge, however, was holding off on digging in to their creations until every perfect arrangement and angle had been captured!

Reciple shoot 4

As I tasted the starring recipes at the end of the day, I deemed the photo shoot to be a success, but you will have to be the ultimate judges.  Head over to the GE Appliances website, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest sites to get inspired and test out these summer recipes!

Designer profile: Eddie Lee

Susan Cozzi, manager of the Monogram Design Center in New York City, recently interviewed Eddie Lee, interior designer and owner of Eddie Lee Inc. The firm’s projects range from modern to traditional, and are often a fusion of both.  Lee works throughout the U.S., with numerous projects in New York City and the Hamptons. The projects range from large scale collaborations with architects on construction projects to the decoration of existing spaces.

Susan: How did you become interested in design?

Eddie: As a child, I used to pore over my mom’s subscriptions of Architectural Digest and House and Garden. I was always fascinated with architecture, furniture and wall covering. At 10 I covered the walls and ceiling of my bedroom with the maps from years and years of National Geographic so it felt like I was living in a globe.

Susan: Tell us about your kitchen and the inspiration behind the design.

Eddie: My kitchen is at the far end of the room from the windows so I wanted to be sure it was light and open. I used white gloss cabinet doors and double stacked them to give height. I also used a mirrored backsplash to add the illusion of a window and make the upper cabinets feel like they were floating.

eddie lee kitchen 1 Susan: Why did you select Monogram appliances for your kitchen?

Eddie: Given that my living space is an industrial loft, I wanted the appliances to reflect that gutsiness, but still feel tailored and refined, since the kitchen is open to the living space. The Monogram appliances fit the bill perfectly, plus the quality is top of the line.

eddie lee kitchen 2

Susan: A trend you’re over?

Eddie: I don’t follow trends, especially in kitchen design, as I feel it should be timeless. It’s a big investment so you should feel as happy in your kitchen in 10 years as you are now. Which is why I like sticking to classic (modern or traditional) design. One thing I’ve never been a fan of though is a feature backsplash behind the range. I like a clean, consistent backsplash.

Susan: A trend you’re excited about?

Eddie: I don’t know if it’s a trend, but I love using mirror as a backsplash. It gives a kitchen a clean, open feel. Clear mirror for a more modern look, or antiqued mirror for a French bistro feeling.

Susan: What projects are you working on next?

Eddie: I’m working on a great modern concrete and glass box house in East Hampton, and a few exciting renovations in New York City.

Follow along with Eddie’s upcoming projects on Facebook, Instagram and Houzz.

eddie lee entry with kitchen view


Monogram Modern Home in LA June 24 – 26

Join us on for our second cross-country modern design road trip with Dwell. Our first destination in May was Seattle, Washington; then we stopped in San Francisco, California; and this weekend we’re traveling to Los Angeles, California!


The Monogram Modern Home will be joining thousands of architecture and design enthusiasts at Dwell on Design LA, America’s largest design event at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 24- 26. The home will be located in the Dwell Outdoor section of the show floor. Guests must be registered for Dwell on Design to attend. The Monogram Modern Home will be open for tours, live product demonstrations and culinary tastings prepared by our tour chef.

For accredited industry professionals, please join us on Friday, June 24 for a day of continuing design education. For additional details and to register for the CEU’s, visit the Dwell website.

Find Monogram on Twitter and Instagram.

Find Dwell on Twitter and Instagram.


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