05 July 2012

Four Favorite American Originals - Roberta Kravette

Roberta Kravette is one of the leading American kitchen and bath designers, a LEED AP and a lovely lady, to boot!  We met at an industry reception following the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. I was delighted when she offered to share a guest post for Gold Notes' Fourth Anniversary celebration, and her topic fit right into All-American Week! Like Roberta, I love art and really enjoyed her finds.


For me one of the most important parts of a kitchen project is the fabulous or funny, moving or magnificent piece of art placed as the centerpiece of a carefully thought out design. Even in a tiny space the right piece immediately defines the personality and atmosphere of the home. 

My favorites are original, one-of-a-kind works pertaining to the four things I am passionate about: Glass, wood, environmentally responsible design and cooking. I’ve been known to stalk craft fairs and off-the-beaten-track studios to find pieces that tell a story. Here are some of my favorites. 

Nick Leonoff

I love it! Especially the carved and layered art glass produced in France from about 1875 to 1910. I have a few very precious pieces and never thought that I would come upon a modern master of this delicate art. Nick Leonoff is that modern master. He blows layered bubbles of colored glass in his Brooklyn, NY studio then delicately carves the cooled shapes with diamond wheels. The result is a textured miracle of color and brilliance.   Don’t miss his mouth-blown pumpkins and magnificent glass pendant shades too. 


Eric Pesso

Wood is unmatched for warmth in a home. Eric Pesso  is a computer programmer, holds a Masters in Science and loves geometry, math and symmetry. He credits this immersion in math and science as the inspiration for his sculpture. He literally gives new life to dead trees he finds in parks and yards. Look closely. Every work is created from one piece of wood carved in a continuous, unbroken line -- no patching, no gluing, no nails, screws or dowels. 

I could stare for hours …and…well…did one Sunday afternoon when I found him at the Brooklyn Crafts fair. 

Two Discs

Ken Orton

Are they photos or are they paintings?  The first time I saw Ken Orton’s oil paintings at the Lincoln Center Crafts Fair I was sure that they were super-huge photographs. His mason jars and bottles sit in a “window” catching sun light and teasing the viewer with hints of flowers, barns, and trees reflected in the glass. They are utterly amazing. His whisky bottles make me laugh. Talking to Ken with his lyrical English country accent and fabulous white beard, blue eyes twinkling you get the feeling that this man enjoyed preparing some of those bottles for painting! 


John Burnmeister

Ever wonder what retired custom cabinet makers do when they ship the final kitchen or in this case custom bar? John Burnmeister looked down – literally and found… Marilyn…and Mr. Fox…and oh yes Kirby. Marilyn is rather flirty and she was born shoes first from wood blocks from his cabinet shop, next came her beauty mark. Mr. Fox is rather a serious fellow dressed in a still projector. I laughed out loud when I met the dreadlock-sporting hipster Kirby. John said he was crossing the street in Maryland when he saw Kirby’s green eyes lying on the asphalt following him, his chicken feeder torso came later. 

Marilyn and Fox

Final Thought

OK, maybe these “folks” do not create ordinary kitchen/dining room art, but they will keep family and guests smiling - a nice indicator of a successful design project.

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