Month: April 2016

Semantic Lighting – An Illuminating New Concept

I recently attended the 10th annual LEDucation seminar in New York City to learn about new trends in lighting technology. I expected to hear a lot about connected homes and lighting controls, but there was one big new concept that caught my imagination.

Since the invention of the light bulb, the ability to light our surroundings has revolutionized how we live. Now, those on the leading edge of lighting innovation believe that illumination will take on a more personal role in our lives, predicting and connecting human needs with lighting systems. This new concept is called “semantic lighting.”

These new lighting systems, through the use of sensors, identify what is being lit and with the help of algorithms, why it is being lit. This “system intelligence” means that lighting needs can be predicted and adjusted automatically, making them more human-centric. And in this day of growing human-machine interactions, who wouldn’t appreciate an application made primarily for our individual comfort?


At LEDucation, customization of lighting levels, color, hue and effect were presented.


Monogram Kitchen Remodel with Siobhan and Jody Young

Christina Dragota, lead product specialist in the Monogram Design Center in Chicago, talked with homeowners Siobhan and Jody Young about their recent kitchen remodel, why they chose Monogram appliances, and what they learned during the process.

Siobhan's Kitchen

Why did you decide to remodel your kitchen? 

We were very unhappy with the overall layout of our old kitchen. It was dated and very dysfunctional. We had large areas that were tremendous wastes of space. We also greatly disliked all of our white, outdated appliances.

Tell us about your design process for the kitchen.

Initially we went to a cabinet company to do our layout. Because of the strange shape of our kitchen it presented many challenges. Finally, my husband who is s structural engineer, decided to lay it out himself. We knew we wanted to maximize the space and wanted a design that was functional with our three kids. We needed storage, display area, and wanted to increase the value of our home with a gourmet kitchen. I knew I really wanted white somewhat traditional cabinets that would last the test of time. We knew that we wanted stainless steel appliances with an industrial look. Mostly we wanted a beautiful kitchen that would be the focal point of our very lived in home.

Why Monogram appliances?

We were attracted to Monogram appliances when we visited Chicago at Easter time. We went to the GE showroom and met with Christina who showed us the functional features and industrial gourmet look we wanted. I was most impressed with the induction cooktop especially with the speed and evenness of cooking. The Advantium oven was also another huge seller. I needed the bonus of additional oven and the functionality of a microwave and toaster all in one.  My husband was sold on the 48” refrigerator, it was enormous and absolutely amazing looking. It became the focal point of our pantry wall very quickly!

Siobhan's Kitchen3

Which appliance are you most excited about?

The Advantium!

Siobhan's Kitchen2

What would you have done differently with the remodel?

In the remodel, the only thing I would have done differently would be to add a wine cooler to the pantry wall. We are avid wine drinkers but struggle with getting the perfect temperature in both reds and whites. Currently, we are undertaking a remodel in our laundry room (our final downstairs project) and are exploring adding a wine cooler in there. A Monogram cooler is on our wish list.

A Golden (Anniversary) Weekend in LA: Celebrating the Past. Shaping the Future.

Written by Lou Lenzi, Director of Industrial Design for GE Appliances

As part of a growing relationship between our Industrial Design team and UCLA’s Architecture and Urban Design department (see my December 3, 2015 post ), Monogram was a sponsor of the department’s 50th anniversary gala on March 19th.


After-school assignment: celebrating 50 years of design excellence

Among those joining us at the celebration was our good friend and noted Los Angeles kitchen and bath designer Laurie Haefele and Professor Craig Hodgetts, an AIA- award winning architect and teacher.


Professor Craig Hodgetts; Laurie Haefele, Associate A.I.A, ASID, NKBA; and Lou Lenzi

The evening included remarks by Dean Block, UCLA’s Chancellor, and Hitoshi Abe, Chair of the School of Architecture, along with thoughtful tributes to Denise Scott Brown (co-author of Learning from Las Vegas), architectural preservationists The Palm Springs Modern Advocates, and industrial designer Yves Behar (designer of the GE WattStation, the Movado Edge and the Sodastream Source, among others). It was a terrific evening, and as they say, “here’s to the next 50 years!”

While in LA, my wife and I took the opportunity to play tourists and checked-in on two must-see’s for any designer.

After a Friday morning review of the graduate architecture student’s Cybervillage projects, it was off to the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum on Wiltshire Boulevard. Whether you’re a car enthusiast or not, the mark the automobile has made on Southern California is undeniable. The museum recognizes this history in an upbeat and vibrant fashion and is worth a visit.


The Silver Gallery at the renovated Petersen Automotive Museum

Saturday morning was spent enjoying the buildings, grounds and art at the Getty Center. The views from its hilltop perch in the Santa Monica Mountains are worth the trip alone, providing the viewer with a unique perspective of LA.

And I must sheepishly admit that as an admirer of modernist architecture, I was more enamored with the Getty’s architecture than the art on display in the galleries. Shame on me.


A Modernist’s mecca: Richard Meier’s Getty Center

Dr. Brene Brown Says to Dare Greatly


I recently had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Brene Brown, an American scholar, author and public speaker, give a keynote speech at SXSW in Austin, Texas, last month. That morning she made the trip from her home in Houston, Texas, to Austin to promote her latest book “Daring Greatly” to a crowd of techies, designers and innovators. When Dr. Brown took the stage, she shared a story about her drive over that she swore was true. She had been pulled over for speeding and the officer asked to see her drivers license. When she presented it, he asked if she was aware that it had expired the previous November. Her frustration was further compounded when he asked for her registration and she was unable to produce it. Finally, he asked the purpose of her travel and she replied that it was to give a speech. “The topic?” he asked. “Failure.”

The officer was so amused by the irony that he didn’t give her a ticket. But the story drove home the point that all of us fail at something, at some time in our lives. Some spectacularly, some in more subtle ways, but it happens to all of us. And that’s a good thing, says Dr. Brown. Not that she was advocating speeding. Her point was that in order to succeed in a big way, we have to take risks, to “dare greatly.”

The foundation of her talk revolved around these three pieces of advice:

  1. Choose courage over comfort
  2. Don’t confuse vulnerability with weakness
  3. Be careful about the feedback you let in

For more information on these life lessons, look up Dr. Brown’s books, TED Talks, and this keynote speech on YouTube.

Lastly, she talked about the importance of owning your own story, telling it honestly, and not creating “conspiracy theories.” Only we have control of our story, and only we get to write the ending.

She tells a pretty good story herself.