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.



1. BRAIN GAMES: put a few selected items that inspire you on your desk. It ignites your brain to get to work. I was watching Shark Tank and was impressed by this toy. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety called the Fidgetland Noah – As Seen on Shark Tank. Its a handheld device that stimulates the mind with movement.

2. COLOR: Different colors have different effects on your brain. The color green boosts your imagination and is called the “strength provider” where its good for your immune system and can be used in your spaces to portray nature and growth. I painted my walls SW Soft Sage 9647 which coordinates nicely with the abstract wallpaper that reminds me of slices of earth from Carl Robinson. Spreading some botanicals or images of nature abound you has health benefits like lowering your blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels.

3. LIGHT: carve out space that has natural light. Open space with light stimulates creativity and productivity.

4. GOOD AIR: air purifiers are good for your home office. They will trap a high percentage of the airborne allergens and irritants that flow through the filters like getting rid of dust, mold, Volatile Organic Compounds, smoke odor, pet dander, or pollen.

5. TRANSFORMABLE FURNITURE: there are sit to stand tabletops on the market that can adjust to your liking. The movement of the table keeps your business stuff in place. I came across Autonomous desks.

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