HOW does your gut shape your emotions about food and design?

HOW does your gut shape your emotions about food and design?

Do you ever crave food? What happens in our minds and bodies that we desire chocolate, and parmesan cheese dip with toasted slices of warm bread?

SKS Parmesan dip
Signature Kitchen Suite Parmesan dip is the bomb! Credit: Susie Feia

Last week I was faced with many cravings thanks to Signature Kitchen Suite (SKS) and Modenus’ Designhounds. I was at the Signature Kitchen Suite Experience and Design center in Napa, California, a memorable week of education, learning, amazing events, delicious food, and wine! Chef Nick helped us prepare many different recipes with their innovative SKS appliances.  When I took my first bite into those seared sous vide scallops below, my brain took in information ( POW!! ) thru all my senses – sight, smell, taste, sound, touch and communicated the yumminess to my brain and gut.

sous vide scallops
Signature Kitchen Suite Sous Vide Scallops

Emotions of pure anticipation were building up while plating the sliced steak with coffee coriander rub. It was cooked sous vide style in the SKS 48″ Dual fuel Pro range with sous vide. The meat was so tender from cooking that takes place within a controlled temperature water bath. SKS is so far the only luxury kitchen brand that has sous vide integrated into their range appliances.

Signature Kitchen Suite Sous Vide

I learned from Chef Nick that all its nutrients are kept within the meat from this style of cooking (sous vide is a French word meaning “under vacuum”) The passage of good food to the table is a core value for the Signature Kitchen Suite brand #TRUETOFOOD. Besides the quality of the way the food is prepared by this appliance, Oh! the flavor that was tingling in my mouth–such happiness, so many emotions!

For many years now I have become curious about the science behind our emotions. My physicist Dad always says,” If you understand the science, you can understand the world.” Well, scientists today are writing articles that our emotions are influenced by the nerves in our gut and not only from our brains. Did you know our gut is a rainforest of bacteria that is outfitted with sensory transmitters called serotonin? You will be surprised to know that our gut has 90% serotonin neurons and only 10% is in our brain. Our gut neurons send messages to tell our bodies how to work, behave and how to feel. So the saying, ”follow your gut“ is not so farfetched.

SKS Truffle baked potato
Signature Kitchen Suite Mini Truffle baked potatoes

My steak and potato with truffle preference at the SKS Experience and Design center was decided by how my body/gut was feeling. Truth be told, my body is always telling me how I am feeling. My neck gets blotchy when I am over excited and I try to hide it with scarves! If my food fondness is decided by my elevated blood pressure or heart rate, then this is scientific evidence for designing spaces as well! When you walk into a space that smells bad or feels claustrophobic, your body does not feel good and it’s your gut telling you about your emotions. Tapping into what your body is saying drives your preferences and motivations. But what is emotionally positive for one person may not be positive for another. This is where personalization comes into play. To design for each individual, I personally interview you and pay attention to your gut feelings– applying a gut sense design approach to understand you on a deeper level.

I believe design that is biological, psychological, and synchronized with how you sense nature’s elements is design that is emotive. Design that moves us from the gut in a tactile, visual, and visceral way is POETIC MODERNISM®. These two words work together to shape poetic modern lifestyles — modern comfort with an earthy and tailored architectural expression of pattern and texture. All with the intent to impact your well-being in the spaces you live in every day! Really as you can see, poetic gut moments can apply to food, art, and anything design!


If you would like to try out a sous vide recipe in your home, you will need to purchase a sous vide wand, something like this LINK or go for the gold by purchasing a brand new SKS 36″ or 48″ Dual fuel Pro range with sous vide. Check out some recipes from Signature Kitchen Suite below:

SKS Mini Truffle Baked potato
Why does Italy’s food taste so good?

Why does Italy’s food taste so good?

I am back from Italy and I can honestly say the food was outrageous.  Every morsel I tasted was flavorful. My senses of smell and taste were exploding. My gut sense was sending signals all over my body creating a mood of pure joy. #poeticmodernism® How is the food so good over in Italy?  It made me think that “good” food has a passage to the plate. Is it the sea or the soil? The plant or the animal? The techniques of the farmer, butcher or the baker? Or is it the actual appliances they are using to produce perfection? I think it’s ALL of it.

pasta carbonara
Carbonara by Gabrisa, Positano

The United States’ Sea, soil, plants, animals are certainly different than Italy’s but we can have control over the right equipment in our kitchens to prepare our food in the best way possible. I look forward to my trip to Napa California with Signature Kitchen Suite in 2 weeks where I will learn through design, innovation, performance, and precision the final steps of how food gets to our tables. @sksappliances @modenus @gabrisa #SKSxDesignhounds #DesignhoundsNapa #SKSNapaEdc #truetofood #design #kitchendesign

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.