Coolest Hot Products
Last week on a design awards jury I met Robert Brunner, founder of Ammunition Group, a fascinating product design and branding firm. He described some of his latest products and I think they are way cool, especially — just in time to fuel dreams of warmer weather — the Fuego Element gas grill,
a sleek metal cylinder topped with a concave cooking vessel. The perforated metal sides hide the propane tank.
It’s a textbook example of how a fine designer reinvents an everyday object in terms that are at once functional and formal (in this case, geometric) — here supporting cylinder and supported sphere combine in a way that really elevates barbecuing to an art. Here aspects of the wok and the patio heater have been combined — this must be DNA By Design — to produce an appealing genetic manipulation of modernism.
The grilling surface is wide for maximum cooking space while the slender pedestal is just wide enough for the propane container: each section has a different function that is fully expressed in its shape. Brilliant. Brunner’s firm is also responsible for the just-released Portable Element.
It weighs under 15 lbs and
the legs do double duty by forming the handle.
Brunner designed the original much larger rectangular Fuego Grill of a few years ago but I think these more recent streamlined Elements are the fires to follow.
sunglasses, and instant cameras for Polaroid’s Grey Label — and now I’m a little out of my element.
Concrete design guru Fu Tung Cheng, founder of Cheng Design, sponsored the jury as a way to encourage concrete fabricators and designer/builders in the US and around the world. His own work is always an inspiration, like this two-toned kitchen island
with one corner cantilevered for ease of movement at the breakfast bar; or this
super slick bathroom where the counter and the slanting slot sink are practically indistinguishable (images courtesy Cheng Design). Fu Tung has also invented a lightweight concrete — using fiber in the mix — that can be used for small scale furniture. I lifted one of thehandsome prototype stools in his office shown above and found them easy to carry. I could use one as a side table.
My day spent reviewing projects with Fu Tung and Bob made me think about house plans that express a sleeker sensibility. Plan 460-7 by Daniel Eric Bush is for an in-law unit or guest suite behind the garage.
You walk past the garage door (the path is partially hidden by a vine-covered privacy screen in the view above) to the entry terrace off the living area. The design is simple and effective. The street facade of Plan 496-12 by Leon Meyer
speaks another spare but strong design language: garage, front door, picture window; each distinct but related to a larger whole. The path to the front leads all the way through the house to the dining area and family room at the rear. Again, here is a design that’s simple, clear, compelling. Note how the small bump-outs at the living room and dining room create corner views, giving those rooms a greater sense of spaciousness. The rooms engage with each other and with the site in a kind of dialog. I guess I’m always interested in what a design — whether plan or product — is trying to say. Speak up!