Month: March 2018

Konichiwa from Kyoto

Written by Courtney Kruer, Monogram

This March, Monogram took our brand international to sponsor the annual Leaders of Design Conference which was held in Kyoto, Japan. The Leaders of Design (LDC) are a tight knit community of incredibly influential architects, interior designers, landscape design firms, furniture designers, and more that come together from over 40 cities across the globe throughout the year to facilitate connections throughout the design industry. Our first day, we were welcomed with open arms by founders of the LDC, Meg Touborg and Keith Granet, at the exquisite Kyoto Ritz-Carlton. How gorgeous is the lobby of the hotel?

That night, after speeches by Mariel Hemingway and Azby Brown, we left the hotel for the opening cocktail reception held at the Seiryuden Temple in Kyoto. We gathered around for introductions and then were seated for a night full of networking and delicious sushi. We were surprised halfway through appetizers with a breathtaking 150+ pound tuna brought into the room by two renowned Michelin chefs flown in from Tokyo to make us the most fresh sushi that any of us had ever had the pleasure of indulging in.

The next day, we opted to have the traditional Japanese breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton. Can you believe that all of this was only breakfast? These dishes range from traditional Japanese tea, white rice, miso soup, yogurt with fresh fruit and honey, a rolled egg omelet, tofu, blacked cod, small glasses of sweet vinegar and grape juice, and so much more. Needless to say, we were quite full!

Following breakfast, all 130 of us took buses to The Miho Museum, which was southeast of Kyoto near the town of Shigaraki. We were greeted by the director of the museum, Hiroo Inoue, who taught us about the history of the museum and how it was constructed to be such a stunning architectural piece of the city. Next we had an interactive workshop in the museum with Tom Andrews, the president of SY Partners, where we practiced “Designing Mindfulness” throughout our daily life. Both the setting and the workshop left us very relaxed and centered for the rest of our trip, which definitely helped with our 14 hour jet lag!

The following day was full of immersing ourselves in traditional Japanese culture thanks to a custom  Kyoto University program LDC conceived, designed and presented that welcomed us to the grounds of the Myoshinji Temples. Throughout the day, we rotated in small groups to be educated in Japanese art forms such as Calligraphy (Shodo), Flower Arranging (Ikebana), a traditional tea ceremony and how to consider the symbolization and layout for peaceful contemplation in Japanese gardening.

We even learned how to write “elevate” in Japanese Calligraphy. Monogram is Elevating Everything even abroad!

That evening, we drove to the Kyoto National Museum for an art gallery walk and a beautiful seated dinner. Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside the gallery, but as you can imagine by the stunning design of the exterior of the museum, it was quite a breathtaking site!

On our last day in Japan, we explored two gardens led by Japanese monks. Although the cherry blossoms were not yet in bloom, these gardens were remarkable. We even saw one of the last functioning and undisrupted wells for drinking water left in Japan, which is still used by the monks that live there.

On our way to dinner for our final evening in Kyoto, we of course had to go see the famous Golden Temple that was built in 1955. Even in the rainy, cloudy weather, it was spectacular.

We then went to our final destination for the week: Kitayama Monolith. The site is often used for weddings and we can absolutely understand why! The elegant architecture and design combined with the all glass walls onlooking a garden surrounded by water, made this one of the most gorgeous places we had ever set foot inside of. We were greeted by Japanese Geishas of all ages, who later on performed traditional dances for our entire group. The night ended with music, nightcaps and dancing, which we never wanted to end!

Needless to say, if you ever get a chance to go to Japan, especially Kyoto, you must do so. In addition to how beautiful and clean the city was, the most inspiring part of the trip was just how friendly and helpful everyone we encountered was. Whether it was the concierge at the Ritz-Carlton or a cashier at a convenience store, we were treated with the highest form of respect and kindness every single day. It’s definitely worth the 12-16+ hour journey across the world to experience the rich culture that this entire country has to offer. We sincerely thank the Leaders of Design for allowing us to be a sponsor of their annual international conference and network with all of their members. Words cannot describe how appreciative we were to Elevate Everything in Kyoto with over 100 of the most undeniably inspirational leaders of the design community.

2018 Design Bloggers Conference

In early March Monogram spent a few days in warm and sunny Beverly Hills with designers, bloggers, brands and other industry leaders at the 2018 Design Bloggers Conference. A fabulous event like this needed an impressive finale, and the official gala closing networking party bash lived up to the expectation! The celebration was held at the private home of L.A. designer Lori Dennis, a true luxe oasis in a concrete jungle inspired by the late and great California designer Michael Taylor. Of course, Chef Nick Liberato from the Venice Whaler was onsite cooking delicious pizzas in our Flush Pizza Oven. We’re already looking forward to next year!

 

Designer Profile: Wendy Franz

Through our activities in the Chicago area, we came across Wendy Franz, owner and lead designer with Studio 912. We were so impressed we had to learn a bit more about her.

Kitchen space in Studio 912 Chicago studio

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Wendy: I have had a remodeling business with my husband since 1995. We operated our business out of our home, which was the perfect setup for me as it allowed me to be home and flexible for our kids as they were growing up. About 15 years ago, we remodeled our own kitchen and it was fun being able to plan every single spot in the kitchen for maximum use and efficiency according to how we use each area of the kitchen. It sparked my creativity and gave me a desire to be more than the person in the background handling operations and office matters. I wanted to be more involved with the customers and in the design process of our projects. In 2010, I investigated whether any of the local colleges had a specific degree or program specifically for kitchen and bath design and was so excited to find that Harper College in Palatine did. It was a certificate portion of their Interior Design Degree. I went in two different shifts, taking a 2 1/2 year break from school and being in business for myself due to the recession, but when I was able to return to the industry, I picked right back up where I left off school wise. So thankful that I did. It is truly a passion of mine, creating beautiful spaces for my clients that they love to wake up and come home to – a space that gives them a place of peace, comfort and refuse from the world around them.

Now that I have my own design studio/cabinet and countertop dealership (two of them actually, one near our home in Crystal Lake and one that I partner in with a fellow Harper student) and having the suburban location be in front of my husband’s woodworking workshop has given us a business that we can employ both of our daughters in. It’s nice to be working side by side with my hubby again and it’s such a huge plus to be able to offer woodworking piece in my designs to our clients, such as barn doors, tables, countertops and now, we’re starting to offer custom hoods too. Down the road, I hope to have time to create custom vanities too.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project

Wendy: We just wrapped up project for a repeat customer who we had done woodworking for in the past. This time, she came to us to design her kitchen, using two of our three cabinet lines. We did the perimeter in a white transitional door style and the island/hood/cooktop cabinetry along with the butler’s pantry and a bar wall in a dark stained rustic cherry. We used three different Cambria countertop patterns along with a reclaimed wood table extension off of the island and reclaimed shelves. She put in eight different zones of lighting and very interesting backsplash tile. Can’t wait to get in for the photo shoot.

SRFD: A trend you are excited about?

Wendy: The combination of wood grain cabinets with painted. Or the use of different colors throughout a space. We’re about to have a kitchen installed that we designed in a sleek white Acrylux door style on the uppers and a lined dark Acrylux door style on the lowers with a couple of aluminum/glass door cabinets mixed in. Should be very elegant and classy.

Kitchen designed by Studio 912. As Wendy said, “I of course LOVE any design I can incorporate my husband’s handiwork in like this beautiful, reclaimed island top.”

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Wendy: There have been so many white shaker kitchens, but we like to do them with touches of uniqueness that make them anything but the typical cookie cutter kitchen (as can be seen in the kitchen above).

SRFD: Tell us about your relationship with Monogram.

Wendy: We have a Monogram Advantium Speed Cooker/Microwave along with refrigerator drawers at our Chicago studio and LOVE using them and showing them off. We are recommending Monogram to all of our clients and will be meeting with the Monogram folks to talk about how we can have a more involved relationship with them. Can’t wait!

Monogram at Modernism

Written by Courtney Kruer, Monogram Appliances

Monogram was on the road again in February, this time for Modernism Week’s signature annual event that celebrates midcentury modern design, architecture, fashion, art and culture. The celebration is held in beautiful and sunny Palm Springs, California, and includes over 350 fabulous events. These events range from the Modernism Show & Sale where Monogram exhibited our luxury appliances to signature home tours, films, nightly parties and so much more.

Being the only appliance brand at the show, Monogram sure drew a crowd with special thanks to our Executive Chef Jon Lidell. Jon flawlessly demonstrated the effortlessness of our signature Advantium speed cook oven and 36” induction cooktop with gourmet bites for the masses all weekend long.

You know you have the perfect chef when even seconds aren’t enough for the crowd. It’s safe to say that we converted plenty of consumers not only to be induction and Advantium lovers, but Monogram supporters as well.

 

After such a successful weekend, what’s the best way to celebrate in Palm Springs other than the legendary Twin Palms Frank Sinatra Estate?

Thanks to our Designer Engagement Leader for the West, Elise Raydo, the night was exquisite. The intimacy of the gathering in such an iconic setting, where Sinatra’s original recording equipment is still held, had the Monogram team and guests in complete awe.

Every bathroom except one was the original and almost all of the furniture was historic, which made you feel as though you were truly celebrating with Frank himself.

Jon Lidell served up some lovely bites for appetizers made in our pizza oven and the what seemed like endless courses served by Workshop Kitchen + Bar outside by the piano shaped pool were to die for. Talk about Elevating Everything!