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

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.

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



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!

Trends 2021 Prediction: Kitchen and Bath

Trends 2021 Prediction: Kitchen and Bath

As a designer, I want to design bathrooms and kitchens with staying power. Trends come and go but here are some kitchen and bathroom trends we saw in 2020 that I predict will go to the next level and dominate the coming 2021 year and beyond:

Moen U Voice actib=vated Smart faucet
Moen U Voice activated Smart Faucet

Voice control: Smart faucets that were operated from a touch or a wave will now be moving to Voice. Your voice will ask your faucet to turn on and off – making your life even easier! Totally hands free when you are multi-tasking in the kitchen…also a bonus in your bathroom for young children or aging in place!  In the kitchen, Moen introduced U where your smart faucet dispenses water in a desired temperature and volume on voice command. For those bakers, this is uh-mazing. This will be helpful when you will need a precise measurement while prepping and cooking.

Toto’s Neorest Smart Toilet

In the bathroom, smart toilets and bidets have been controlled by panels on the wall – to heat your seat and to provide a customized experience. I have experienced Toto’s Neorest, ummm there is no explanation except wow. For 2021, I bet we will start to see more luxury electronic toilets voice controlled. Toto, there’s no place like home.

Integrated appliances Michele Alfano Design
Integrated appliances. Design by Michele Alfano Design

Integrated appliances with an organic look: Kitchen cabinetry is moving more towards looking like furniture. We will be moving away from the white kitchen and moving towards organic and natural wood kitchens. I guess its our way of wanting to be more connected to nature.

By disguising your refrigerator or dishwasher with custom paneling or just flushing your appliances into the face of cabinetry- offers a more stream-lined effect and luxurious aesthetic.

Natufia Kitchen Garden
Natufia Kitchen Garden

Kitchen to Table: Home chefs are loving the idea of growing their own garden in their own kitchens. Natufia kitchen garden was introduced at KBIS (Kitchen and Bath Industry show) 2020 as the first hydroponic garden where edible plants are grown inside our homes. I think we will start to see more technology in 2021 where we can experience fresh food all year round from our kitchen to table.

Brown Jordan Techno Outdoor kitchen
Brown Jordan’s Tecno Outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens: Our outdoor spaces became very important during COVID. With the importance of outdoor versus indoor entertaining, more outdoor cooking/grilling was happening. And more smores… Tecno is Brown Jordan’s outdoor euro-inspired kitchen, crafted from stainless steel with a powder coated maintenance free finish. It accommodates a variety of appliances and configurations. We will see a popular rise in outdoor kitchens like Brown Jordan’s in 2021 due to its versatility.

Kitchen- Poetic Modernism by Michele Alfano Design
Poetic modernism® applied into Kitchen design by Michele Alfano Design

Neuro Design 2021 prediction: The future of design is moving towards understanding how our nervous system and design are connected. Our senses ignite how we feel in our spaces and each person’s individualized nervous system responds differently. In our bathrooms and kitchens spaces for example, sounds, smells, textures, and visual light and pattern all create different responses where one person may be calm and another person may be irritated.

Here at Michele Alfano Design LLC, we believe that spaces should make you think, feel and want to touch. To do so, we apply poiesis (poetic modernism®) our formula to reveal how our multi-sensory system underpins our well-being. We design with a deeper sense of how spaces work, what makes people tick and its connection to feeling good and living well at home.

About the kitchen above: Studying how function meets beauty, this Westchester home found the right poetic language. Driven by shapes and pattern, we mixed stone, concrete, wood and metal materials with smart technology, giving you goosies inside the kitchen, dining and family room…just enough to tickle the senses.