Background: For Chicago-area industrial designer Ricardo McCausland, of McCausland Company, Inc., the design process starts with analyzing a client's form, or anthropometrics.
"You need to look at a person and visualize how they'll use a space in relation to their body."Therefore, he
had to consider that the homeowners, who are from overseas, love to entertain, and they often have relatives and friends staying with them for extended periods of time.
Challenge: The kitchen, previously a cramped space with 8-ft. ceilings in the back of the home, had to accommodate and serve large and small groups of people, as well as the young and old, and allow for freer movement among the home's other rooms.
Solution: The yard, large enough to handle an addition, provided the perfect opportunity for a complete overhaul."When designing the new space, I considered four factors: human, technical, functional and aesthetic," said McCausland
And, according to McCausland
, there are two types of users when it comes to the kitchen: active and passive."The kitchen was designed so that both could feel comfortable in the same space," said McCausland
"My main goal was to make the design adapt to the homeowners instead of making them adapt to the design," said McCausland
"This is where ergonomics, biomechanics and semiology (the study of signs and sign systems) come into play," he
said.For example, between the refrigerator and oven is a full, slide-out pantry that requires no bending to reach items.The base units also fully extend, providing better access to items and plenty of room for storage.The microwave, oven and warming drawer are set a bit higher to reduce back and joint stress, and wall units were kept to a minimum because, "they can sometimes be hard to reach, especially the taller ones," said McCausland
.Instead, cabinets were outfitted with doors that flip up, fully revealing the contents, making meal preparation easier.Stainless-steel handles, inset into the cabinets, were used instead of other hardware."The indentation, the contrast of stainless against blue and the size give a clear sign as to where the cabinets open," said McCausland
The cabinets themselves, coated in a deep blue polyurethane finish, exude richness and lend a calming influence to the space, while frosted, tempered glass doors set in aluminum frames provide a cool contrast."The previous kitchen was rather bland.The homeowners wanted something bright and colorful, something modern yet timeless," said McCausland
Blue Macauba granite from Brazil was used for the countertops because of its beautiful striations and durability (unlike normal granite, it doesn't need to be sealed).To complement both the cabinetry and countertops, porcelain floor tiles in differing shades of gray and blue were used.And due to the fact that the new extension was made on a slab of concrete, an electrical heating unit was installed under the floors."It goes back to the ergonomics of the space and wanting everyone to feel comfortable," said McCausland