mint, design and emotion

mint, design and emotion

Do you love mint? Mint is the cure all -when you have a stuffy nose or a headache, take a sniff out of a mint essential oil bottle– it will open up your sinuses!

I love to combine mint oil with lemon and orange essential oils. It makes my studio smell so good. I am using this aroma cocktail for one of my design projects too. With my client, we experimented how many drops of each for her aromatherapy steam system and she finds it delightful! It brings her back to family vacations while growing up.

Here’s the recipe:

-8 drops peppermint essential oil

-4 drops lemon essential oil

-4 drops orange essential oil

Have you ever thought how aroma can trigger certain emotions from your past? Does the smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven or the smell of the ocean bring you back to a certain place? 

Scientific studies are linking the architecture of the brain with our emotions. My interest is to also understand how our emotions relate back to home design. There are two things I keep in mind:

  1. Designing spaces with the primitive and memory brain in mind is key.

2- Influencing a feeling is critical to consider when designing one’s home.

Let me explain the construct of the memory brain and primitive brain and how that relates to design:

The memory brain handles a neurological network which allows us to connect a web of memories. As social beings, our brain wants to find out how we fit into our environment. For example, I remember an emotionally relevant memory about myself. When I see mint in any supermarket, I automatically think of a pleasant memory in the past – yes, a mint julep cocktail while in Savannah but also smelling a mint leaf while walking around a leather tannery in Morocco. Consequently, I have a positive regard toward mint anytime I see it in a store.

The primitive brain handles fight or flight emotional responses and instinct. When assessing a situation, the primitive brain wants to know: am I safe or should I run? Do I feel happy and comfortable, or do I feel stressed? For example, fire evokes emotions, and a fireplace elevates the home. In my own home, I incorporated a tabletop fire element, and it adds aesthetic value and joyful, safe feelings.

With my design approach, poetic modernism®, I dive into how the memory and primitive brain works and will respond to various design elements and most importantly the way design elements can influence emotional responses. I use emotion to create stimulating environments and ultimately generate a positive experience in the home.

Through emotion and design, your poetic home becomes a place that improves your quality of life and wellbeing.

poetic modernism, the Science behind emotion and home design

poetic modernism, the Science behind emotion and home design

As the daughter of a physicist, it is no surprise that I am drawn to uncover the science behind emotion and design. For years, I worked in practical architecture firms where romantic thinking was frowned upon. I struggled with opportunities to exercise my poetic side, but in 2017 the bath brand DXV gave me the opportunity to design a bathroom that incorporated all our senses as critical design factors. The biophilic bath space included fire, water, and nature.  

During the pandemic, I reflected on my designs and noticed a pattern in my work: linking emotion with the five senses and the five universal elements— fire, water, air, light, and space. I naturally bring these connections into my design work:  Space/Sound and sight; Air/Touch; Fire/Sight and smell; Earth/Smell and sight; Water/Taste and sound.

My Dad often reminds me that all living things are connected from a common origin— atoms. We are ALL made up of atoms and I believe that is why we humans are drawn to nature, space, and its elements. I think to achieve true balance, each one of our senses is directly related to one of the universal elements. Deepak Chopra once stated, “ In the Sankhya system of Indian philosophy where the various qualities of the emergence of creation from consciousness are enumerated, there is a direct correlation between the five senses and universal elements.” 

But it is emotions that drive us.

Nearly everything we perceive is accompanied by an emotional response. We can see, hear and touch but emotions and feelings make up who we are and contribute to our quality of life. Emotions play an important role in how we behave and respond to the world around us.

That is why I integrate emotion into my home designs. 

So why shouldn’t they play a part in the spaces where we spend most of our time?

So why shouldn’t they play a part in our most intimate spaces?

 So why shouldn’t they be a part of our homes?

I want my clients to form a relationship with their spaces, one where there is positive emotional regard and intrigue. My multisensory design approach heightens your ability to collect information and experience the world, enhances your sense of self, and amplifies your daily life. This philosophy led me to trademark POETIC MODERNISM®, an evolution of a new kind of modern movement; design and emotion that ignites resilience to achieve a more balanced lifestyle. My goal is to design spaces that will recharge my clients physically and mentally so they can bring their “A” game to business and life decisions.

Post-COVID Kitchen of the Future

Post-COVID Kitchen of the Future

Imagine Tessa walking into her kitchen. She pulls her favorite coffee cup out and puts it on top of the induction counter. “Good Morning Tessa, it will be sunny and 85 degrees today.” She taps the counter and proceeds to sip her coffee while looking out onto the projection of one of her favorite spots in the world, the Colorado Rockies. She is mindful of time, in one hour the back wall kitchen cabinetry will transform and open up into her workspace.  A pre-set zoom conference appears on the smart glass wall and Tessa begins her workday.

Hailed a visionary designer, American Standard asked Michele Alfano to start thinking about the Post Covid kitchen of the future. Today, the kitchen is known as the heart of the home. The Kitchen of the Future will be known to nourish the mind, heart, body and planet, marrying technology and nature to create a self-sustainable space for healthy living. Through Michele Alfano Design’s (MAD) signature lens Poetic Modernism®, new forms of human engagement within the kitchen will affect our brain, our multiple senses, and impact our well-being.

In today’s post we will talk about how it impacts the MIND:

Michele Alfano Design Kitchen of the Future for American Standard

For sure we see the Kitchen of the Future to include smart technology to make our lives easier, convenient and promote healthy living:

  • Gesture and voice recognition:  technology that recognizes it is you and controls appliances to your liking which will ultimately improve your cooking experience.
  • Smart surfaces: The smart counter is designed to respond to our real time needs. The smart induction surface will have sensor technology that can learn our likes and our routines and assist us with it all.
  • Smart glass wall: (projected mountain landscape) The smart glass wall is either connected by voice recognition or connected back to our counters and/or appliances and information will be projected onto the glass backsplash. The glass wall recognizes who you are and will have the ability to show video chats, recipes, your schedule for the day, your email, the weather, the time, and different inspiring landscapes.
  • Workspace in the kitchen:  during the pandemic we all experienced working from home. The perimeter cabinetry along the glass wall is designed to hide a desk area. For zoom conferences, the perimeter cabinetry slides open and transforms into a comfortable workspace. The Smart glass wall serves as a large computer screen for zoom chats.
  • Video chats, and zooms can be displayed on the Smart glass wall providing flexibility to work.
  • Smart appliances: appliances will learn about you, your habits, your behaviors and help you to cook more efficiently.
    • Wall oven of the future: Combined sous vide and steam wall oven to suit all needs. A smart cooking oven that learns actions, and makes recommendations on the smart wall. Sous vide / Steam professional cooking techniques will be the new cooking staple. Convenience food at home will no longer mean unhealthy or poor quality. Smart cooking solutions will balance time, taste and health.
    • Induction cooktop of the future: connected to the smart wall and smart counter, smart cooking cooktop that learns actions, and makes recommendations on the smart wall.
    • Sink of the future: trough used for herb prepping, and entertaining. A far off futuristic idea is the trough can turn into a dishwasher.
    • Refrigerator and Freezer: bacteria sensors to tell you when your food is not fresh.
    • Wine refrigerator: recognizes your wine habits and pairs wine with your meals.
    • American Standard’s Saybrook Filtered kitchen faucet: A filtered faucet in the kitchen is essential to every health conscious home. American Standard’s Saybrook Filtered Kitchen Faucet is engineered to provide easy access to safe, clean drinking water at the push of a button. The faucet delivers fresh filtered water and regular tap water from a single, easy-to-install faucet. This environmentally friendly solution eliminates reliance on plastic water bottles with a sleek design that serves as a work of art in the space.

Stay tuned for the next article where we will talk about how the Kitchen of the Future influences the heart, body, and earth.

Sous Vide- a healthful method of cooking

sous vide steak
Photo Credit: Signature Kitchen Suite Sous Vide Steak

Over the years we have learned that Steam assist cooking is the healthiest way to cook. I now learned Sous vide is the most precise way to cook. But is Sous Vide also considered a healthful method of cooking like Steam?

Sous vide
Photo Credit: Signature Kitchen Suite debuts the swiss army knife of culinary innovations.

If you ever had the most tender leg of lamb or steak in a 5 star restaurant – ( back in the good ol’ days) most likely it was prepared by the Sous Vide method. It’s the kind of cooking that takes place in a precisely temperature-controlled water bath. This method of cooking offers unparalleled control over whatever you are trying to cook.

At the Kitchen and Bath Industry show (KBIS) I was first introduced to Sous Vide in 2019. At Signature Kitchen Suite they came out with the first 48” range that not only integrated sous vide but also had steam, induction and gas burners. We designers were all “ like whaaaa.” This is incredible. Yes! the Signature rep said, “it’s the swiss army knife of kitchen appliances, it has 5 options of cooking into 1 appliance.”

Check out this video of the 48″ Duel Fuel Pro range by Signature Kitchen suite:

So pivoting to today, I had the opportunity to cook with sous vide in my very own kitchen. Signature Kitchen suite sponsored an event with Modenus / Designhounds AT HOME and sent us designers our very own sous vide wand. I was able to make a sous vide Limoncello.

The process was 2 hours to make this heavenly cocktail, ( I had 2 -shush!) but it was worth it! I can now use what I have learned and make wonderful, healthy food for my family.

Signature Kitchen Suite  Chef Nick
Signature Kitchen Suite Chef Nick
Signature Kitchen Suite + Designhounds AT HOME event
Signature Kitchen Suite + Designhounds AT HOME event

On the zoom, I asked Chef Nick from Signature Kitchen, is Sous Vide a method as healthful as steam cooking? To my surprise, Chef Nick said even more so -Your food is cooking in its own marinade, absorbing all the good nutrients! The light bulb went off for me. OMG, there is no turning back. I may not have a 48” pro range with sous vide ( wishing) but I got my sous vide wand! Love it!

Sous Vide Limencello masterpeice

SAY GOODBYE TO THE KITCHEN WORK TRIANGLE

SAY GOODBYE TO THE KITCHEN WORK TRIANGLE

I do a weekly video on my Instagram called the Poetic MAD Minute, where we talk about what’s on the design pulse for today’s modern healthy home. I last spoke about where the principles of kitchen design is going.

Since the 1940’s we have been using the work triangle as a design principle to design kitchens. You know what I mean the refrigerator- sink- stove triangle where three functions in a kitchen (food storage, cooking & prep, and clean up) had to be within 4′-0″ – 9′-0″ of each other in order to result in the most efficient completion of cooking tasks.

Guess what? I think that work triangle is going away. The modern kitchen needs more touch points like a Homework /Work Zone, and a Breakfast or Snack Zone besides prepping/cooking, gathering and eating. My thought is that the “Work Triangle” is going to start to look more like a “Work Pentagon.” Taking on more functions in the kitchen will require the modern kitchen to rely on a new design principle. Above I show you one diagrammatic example but there can be various Penta- configurations based on each individual’s needs to design their own personalized modern kitchen space.

Catch me on Instagram, for my next Poetic MAD Minute on @michelealfanodesign!