Proximity Blog

Electronics in cabinetry

This is a letter I wrote to my colleague Nancy Hugo, who runs the website I wrote in response to a link she sent, showing a series of design ideas: Hey Nancy - To me, these are like concept cars at an automobile show…some interesting ideas, but nothing that jumps out as really innovative in the realm of function. Mostly designed by people who have another agenda – appliances, for instance. Or some sort of “Transformers, the Muddling of Kitchen Design” approach. Also, if we’re going to innovate, we want LOW TECH solutions – there’s no reason to introduce electronics, for instance, unless there is a FUNCTIONAL reason to do so… The Blum electronics are a good example – the Aventos system which moves the closure (not exactly doors…) of upper cabinetry vertically as opposed to swinging it laterally. It then solves the problem of how to close the system when it has swung upward and out of reach: NOW we introduce an electronic closureand there’s a reason to do it. Their drawer system, capable of opening and closing drawers with a touch, seems to me superfluous with one brilliant exception: the trash pull-out.

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Should cabinetry extend to the ceiling or stop at a functionally useful height?

The key issue here is “how large is the room?”. By this I mean the perception of the space and the objects in it. This comes down to two choices: If the cabinetry runs to the ceiling, the room stops at the face of the cabinetry. If the cabinetry stops short of the ceiling, the room stops at the wall behind the cabinetry. What goes above the cabinetry is an aesthetic choice, “decorating” if you will; the decision to bring the cabinetry head away from the ceiling is (perhaps) more “architectural”. With the generally insidious economic pressure eroding technical expertise, the quality of available material deteriorating and the general understanding of the industry based on less and less knowledge (and ironically more and more “information”); lowered expectation of product quality forces us to re-think our approach to design. Making a 42″ (or even 36″) tall door on an upper cabinet runs much greater risk of warp than it once did. This should play into our design criteria when making a decision on this point. In general, I believe that if you have to get a stepladder to access something in a kitchen you’ve designed, at the very least you should have considered the necessity of the higher shelving, how much stuff you’re accumulating, etc.

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The Proximity Kitchensystem Philosophy Overview


According to the Proximity Principles, the layout of a kitchen should follow and reflect the sequence of tasks as they occur in cookery. Houses should be programmed to reflect the sequence of uses as they occur in life, also; but that’s another article.

Let’s break this down in sequence:

At some point, food or other kitchen associated goods or materials are brought into a home. This means that the kitchen should be in as close proximity as possible to the garage, or some other convenient “load-in” point. We want to avoid lugging. Or schlepping, dragging, muscling, heaving, yanking…activities of that ilk. Once it’s been brought inside, you’ll likely need someplace to put the stuff down, because it’ll need to be sorted and then stored. In the Midwest, we called this “sorting area” a mudroom. Call it anything you like, just give yourself a place to set your burden down.

Durable Goods For Hard Times

Tired of hearing that American companies can’t compete with the foreign manufacturers in the design of kitchens (or cars, appliances, furniture, whatever). Sick of feeling as though some slick sales type is aiming a vacuum cleaner at your wallet? Want a modicum of personal attention before you part with your money? Great design and service, real quality and substance in the products you buy? To be certain the products you buy are actually green, not just green-washed? Want to do business with a company which strives to improve its products every day? Which, as a policy, seeks to lower the consumer price of its product range on a continuous basis, not by lowering standards but in the old-fashioned way: through innovation in the design and manufacturing process? We take an ethical approach to business. We will only grow as fast as we can serve the client in front of us. We take our business personally. We believe in and practice the Golden Rule. These are business practices and policies which have made America great in the past, and, if revived, can make America great once more. If you agree, check in – let’s talk about cooking you up the kitchen of your dreams.

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