Kitchen Clarity Adventures in Kitchen and Bath Design

Kitchen Designs by Vicente Wolf

05.20.2010 · Posted in Kitchens

Did you all catch the Vicente Wolfe interiors posted at Desire to Inspire this week? So many great rooms, with these kitchens among them. Mr. Wolf sure knows how to create open and airy spaces that feel anything but cold and clinical:

Vicente Wolf

Vicente Wolf

Vicente Wolf

Like three variations on the same theme -  big islands, generous light fixtures, and handsome legs, hard to say which of those is would be my favorite.

I’m not quite so sure about the layout below: this island is one you’d have to climb onto if one of your potatoes rolled away – yes I really do think there can be too much island!

Vicente Wolf

And when there is, you have to put something in the middle just to fill the space – in this case, some kind of bird-house-cum-Asian-pavilion, (I know, no doubt a priceless treasure picked up in some exotic and hard to reach location) and that very creative light fixture. Do my eyes deceive me, or is it really two desk lamps mounted on a piece of PVC pipe?

Well, you can’t please all the people all the time, even when you are a design superhero. This home was featured in Elle Decor – you can read the article, here. I didn’t see any explanation for the light fixture there, but I can tell you that the homeowners are wildly happy with the project, and that’s what matters in the end, isn’t it? Or is it – actually, I would say Mr. Wolf doesn’t think so – to quote from this (must read!)  interview in the New York Social Diary:

(Interviewer) Aren’t homes that have been put together without a designer equally valid? Why have designers?

(VW) No. How can you say that? Did you see The Devil Wears Prada where she says ‘Look at your sweater. You think it’s your taste?’ In other words she’s talking about the derivation of somebody’s supposed choice. I mean maybe if they [homeowners] go out and carve something [as furniture] but they’re not, they’re going to IKEA or someplace else and what they’re doing, either through lack of education or sophistication, is selecting their environment. You could say the same thing about dentistry. ‘Hey! I drilled my own teeth because I learned how to stop the pain.’ There’s such a thing as experience, understanding and professional expertise [in any field].

So I guess my lack of education and sophistication is preventing me from appreciating certain aspects of that particular design? What do you think? Whatever else, I’m definitely going to use that line about drilling teeth next time a client gets ornery!

If you haven’t done so already, check out Vicente Wolf’s very own blog, here. Despite being a complete superstar, he always comes across as one of the most genuine people you could ever hope to meet – and the blog gives all of us the chance to interact directly with him. How cool is that? Now if only I could think of a question intelligent enough to ask…

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5 Responses to “Kitchen Designs by Vicente Wolf”

  1. There is a decided difference between going to a doctor with an ailment of some sort and going to an interior designer for a kitchen design. If I have diabetes, there is a certain regimen that the doctor will proscribe, depending on what type it is and so forth. It is, or is not, a fact that certain ailments will respond to certain treatments. It is also true that there may be a variety of ways to approach a particular problem. And any doctor that I would consult myself would include my wishes in his treatment plan. After I get to a certain age, I may not particularly want to use chemotherapy for a diagnosis of cancer, preferring instead to simply let it run its course without my throwing up. But all of this, to the extent that it is possible for such things to be, depends on scientific fact.

    I do not believe that there is a law anywhere that says a kitchen cannot, or must be, done in white, or that such-and-such a material can never be used for a countertop. Interior design experts who really know their stuff will advise against, say, pine for a countertop, and so on through a whole host of scenarios that we can invent, but that sort of thing is a recommendation, not a law of nature.

    I do think people benefit from going to an interior designer, and I do think the good ones make a substantial difference to the outcome. But I do not believe that the clients’ wishes are of no merit or that only interior designers can “properly” design a kitchen. Vicente is largely self-taught, as are a fair number of others in the field. Not having been born professionals doesn’t seem to have rendered them impotent in the field of design, nor, I think does it render “just folks” incompetent because they don’t design for a living.

  2. Clarity says:

    Joseph, interesting, it didn’t come over as quite that dismissive to me. Vicente is stating the case for professionalism and experience, and I can’t argue with that. I’m sure he listens to his clients, or he wouldn’t keep getting new ones! (well, perhaps he’s so famous and successful, he actually would). But when you go to your doctor, she doesn’t just let you choose any treatment plan you want – drawing on her years of experience and education she diagnoses your needs and might give you a few options and help you choose the one that works best for you. That’s why we choose professional help in the first place, isn’t it?

  3. Clarity says:

    Hi Pam – “overdone”? Distinctly formulaic, but when you’re putting rectangular appliances in rectangular rooms, often open on one side to the next room, it’s a formula that works, layout wise, isn’t it? I guess nobody on Vicente’s team had to spend much time on that aspect, and the legs and light fixtures clearly come out of their “kitchen file” too – variations on the theme. If you want something completely different, you need a Johnny Grey or a Karim Rashid, (or an innovative designer nobody’s heard of yet whose work excites you). And you need to give them a lot of freedom, time and money, too!

  4. I don’t know… I spent some time on Vincent’s site. I do think he is a wonderful designer, but I do not think he, or any other interior designer, has cornered the market on ideas and “proper design,” whatever that may be. I think people can come to their own ideas about design, though their own study, through formal education, sometimes just through their own instincts. But to simply dismiss the clients’ wishes out of hand, as he seems to do in the quote you cited, does not sit particularly well with me. In a sense it takes me back to John Cleese’s TV series “Fawlty Towers.” Cleese said he got the idea for it because he once stayed at an inn ran by a guy who was convinced he could run a first class establishment if he just didn’t have to contend with the damned guests!

  5. I love Vicente’s work and enjoy his blog once in awhile. Have to say I’m the kitchen layout that is basically a galley kitchen with one side being an island is way over done. I really want to see something different for a change. As for the really big island design, I agree with you entirely. It seems that some islands should be called continents.