Ideas for Contemporary Living

Tag: kitchen design

Parchin kari

Posted on August 21st, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, Knowledge. No Comments

A charming Southeast Asian couple recently tasked me with designing a parchin kari kitchen backsplash for their Mediterranean-style home in Palo Alto.  Also known as pietra dura (in Italian), parchin kari is a stone inlay technique of using cut and fit, high-polished colorful stones. Parchin kari is not associated with restraint, so how does one integrate this technique into a clean, contemporary interior?

Simplify the materials. Our goal was to create a modern kitchen, open and bright, with an accent of design and color at the stove. By minimizing contrast in the surround materials, we allowed the parchin kari pop! without being overwhelming. The result of less is more.

Embrace color naturally. Typical stones used include marble, precious and semi-precious stone. We used a combination of turquoise, agate and lapis lazuli for the flowers; mother of pearl for stamen; malachite for the leaves; and branches in Jaisalmer stone.

Roll with it.The downside of long-distance design – 8,000+ miles! – is that sometimes things get lost in translation. While our design was meant to be the full width of the range, we were able to accommodate the somewhat narrower final design with seamless results.

History and future.Developed in 16thcentury Rome and Florence, and being widely used in Mughal India, … Read More »

Swiss Chalet

Posted on December 20th, by David Bjorngaard in Inhabit, Knowledge, The Moment. No Comments

In the dark, cold days of winter, I dream of settling into a nice chalet in the mountains. Surrounded by snow and cold, but engulfed in the warm glow of a fire and the comfort provide by rustic materials, friends, spirits and a good view. A comfortable modern aesthetic, laid back with a good place to read, nod off and cook up a good meal. My friends can go skiing.  For me, a really comfortable chair, a nice window seat,  and a simple but well designed kitchen would work wonders.

This home in the Swiss Alps plays on local architectural vernacular, and provides a glimpse of what I admire: a mix of wood both warm toned and cool, refined and rustic; vintage furniture; organic shapes and materials; punches of color; and a bit of brainy fun. A home in Tahoe could take inspiration from this chalet.

The entrance provide multiple points of interest. Lined in red-painted shingles, the entrance inverts the skin of the exterior into the interior, singling that something different is going to happen. Unfinished metal walls and raw wood floors, combine with contemporary art and velvet to create a warm embrace from the cold.

When the floors, walls and even ceiling are wood, the eye needs … Read More »

Island Life

Posted on March 15th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, Inhabit, The Moment. No Comments

As you read this I will be lying in a hammock, swinging in the humid breeze of the Mayan Caribbean. A good book, a cool drink and a friend or two will make for a great trip.

Living in a tropical location, or setting up any vacation home for that matter, revolves around several basic tenants: keep it simple, make it user friendly, and encourage large gathering of friends. You don’t go on vacation to work, you go to have fun. So put a little thought into design to further your fun. Here are some tips.

Make the kitchen big and open, because that is where you’ll be spending a lot of time in the evenings. Provide lots of countertop space and durable surfaces, so you have room to work and don’t have to worry about cleaning up right away.  Closed storage allows you to store staples out of sight until needed.

Focus on the pool, this is where everyone wants to be during the day, but celebrate both the shade and sun…some of us want to be in the shade! The shade will give everyone a place to retreat from the mid-day heat, or take a nap after that afternoon Pina Colada. Treat the … Read More »

Paris Match

Posted on December 18th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, Inhabit, The Moment. No Comments

The City of Lights has been in our thoughts lately. The city that brought us the Eiffel Tower illuminated in lights, the moving picture, and the Age of Enlightenment…Paris has for over 400 years been at the center of what is modern, forward thinking, and chic. Values of liberty, progress, reason, tolerance, and fraternity were championed, and spread, from Paris. Taste was also spread from the court of Louis XVI and the Petit Trianon to the modernism of Jean-Michel Frank and Le Corbusier, to the minimalism of Jean Nouvel and Andre Putnam. As citizens, friends and aesthetes, we owe so much to the Parisians.

I try to write posts that I hope may be of some interest, service and even inspiration. Lately my thoughts keep returning to Paris. For while Milan has an edge on the contemporary spirit, and California leads with a laid-back attitude, Paris shines with good taste learned from looking, mixing, editing and living with beautiful objects. Even our California cool owes much to the way of observation and presentation that only Parisians carry off with such ease. We can learn a lot from this spirit.

Here is one Parisian home that combines style with smart … Read More »


Posted on December 11th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, Knowledge, The Moment. No Comments

This is the time of year when we entertaining friends and family at home to share the joy of the season. We are celebrating another year together, friendship, accomplishments and losses, and tradition. Friends at almost every party gather in the kitchen. Often that is where the host is making last-minute preparations, and we all want to be a part of it. The kitchen really is the center of our homes. As an Italian grandmother would say, the way to their hearts is through their stomach. Food, cooking, entertaining…these are the things  that bring us together.

The idea of kitchen, and how it looks and functions, keeps changing to meet the needs and moods of our lives. In Milan, the major kitchen showrooms are leading the way interpreting how people live now. This year I am thankful for my trip to Milan, which seems like a distant memory, but really was only a couple of months ago. It was so inspiring, and I was able to reinforce my modernist understanding of our design industry. Although it was over 100 degrees everyday, and my feet hurt (cankles was an added vocabulary term this year), I visited a lot of kitchen showrooms. It was worth the pain, especially for someone fond of materials, texture and a warm modernism. Details … Read More »


Posted on July 9th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, Inhabit, The Moment. No Comments

This apartment in the Trocadero by Rodolphe Parente is seductive. Interesting use of volumes and color, combined with a mix of herringbone parquet floors, bronze and Calacatta marble create a space that is stylish and really Parisian. It’s also huge by Parisian standards (check out the size of the kitchen). Yet, there are some valuable lessons we can take away, so that you can mix and match to improve your own space.

Use color as a ground, connecting rug and sofa (or chairs). This is an effective way to concentrate color, leaving the rest of a room monochromatic. This is an effective strategy if you have a lot of artwork, or own one colorful piece.

Embrace a view by creating window seating. A banquette at a window encourages hanging out, reading a book, doing work and eating, while providing the best views at day and night. An adjustable light also makes the transition from day-to-night possible, setting the right mood.

Maximize the sense of space by creating custom sized furniture. This maximizes function, and the lack of “gaps” makes the space feel larger. Many vendors allow you to specify the size of furniture…choose a size that fits.

Not all built-in need to be entirely built-in, … Read More »


Posted on June 25th, by David Bjorngaard in Inhabit, Knowledge. No Comments

This Tudor home outside of Boston is a good example of how to update a more traditional home: clean up the detailing, update the kitchen and bathrooms, and add an element of contemporary design. I think this is a viable blue-print for a lot of home-remodeling, and can be amped up or down depending upon your budget.

David Bjørngaard, June 2014



Posted on May 14th, by David Bjorngaard in Inhabit, Knowledge, The Moment. No Comments

There are important lessons in rhythm and thematic repetition which one can learn from this Parisian apartment: lessons of color, material and detailing. Or one can just fall in love with this modernist update on an apartment, blessed with boiserie wall paneling and parquetry floors and furnished with a mix of 1950’s vintage and modern design.

I appreciate the use of color throughout the house, with a French Grey being the constant.  The mood ranges from a quiet intimacy in the grey & camel living room, to moody in the grey & red dining room, to vibrant in the Cerulean blue kitchen, and calming in the blue-grey bedroom. Color is used to reflect the way we inhabit each space: relaxing, entertaining, cooking and resting. Color is used to stimulate each activity, and engage the mind.

Working for years at Orlando Diaz-Azcuy, people assume that I don’t like color. White lab coats; white office; white homes. But the truth is that Orlando likes color, and I like color. I like almost all colors, in different amounts and applications.  My seven years at ODADA further developed my understanding of the nuances of color and its’ appropriate application. I like to experiment, and I like being bold with color. And through my … Read More »

Family Home

Posted on September 4th, by David Bjorngaard in Inhabit. No Comments

I recently opened up my copy of Architectural Digest and fell in love with this home. I love the casual ease of the home, especially the kitchen and bedrooms, built for a family of four with money. I mean, there are some of the really expensive signifiers of good taste: the Corbusier chairs, the Scandinavian furniture, the lap pool. But taking away from these monied shots, there are some lessons which we can take away.

David Bjørngaard, September 2014

Interiors by Vincent Van Duysen