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Home > Fashion inspires sleek, colorful kitchen design

From the runway to the kitchen: Many houseware and kitchen design companies are looking to the world of fashion for hints and clues to inspire their lines.

"What we've generally found, if something is hot in the runways in fall it's going to take hold and move into the home a few months later," says Kristin Martin, brand manager for cast iron cookware at the cookware maker Le Creuset.

Le Creuset is just one example of a houseware or kitchen design company that gets design ideas from runway shows and fashion magazines. For example, Martin says, last fall Le Creuset designers noticed an eggplant purple color "all over the runway."

This March, the company launched its new color: a purple called cassis.

"It definitely influenced our decision because it was a color people were excited about," Martin says.

"Because people were excited about it in terms of fashion, they were going to be excited about it in terms of their homes."

Cookware, she says, is "not just a tool, it's a statement. And that's the same thing with fashion — you are making a statement when you wear it."

The subject intrigued the folks at faucet maker Brizo, which sponsored a panel discussion about kitchen fashion, form and function at the recent Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Chicago. Brizo also sponsors New York fashion designer Jason Wu, who made first lady Michelle Obama's inaugural gown.

"It seems all of us, although in different areas of design, look to each other for inspiration," says Wu, who spoke on the Chicago panel.

Judd Lord, Brizo's director of industrial design, says the company looks to fashion mainly for shape, form and pattern ideas.

"How it's flowing, what the form it's taking as it's coming down the runway, where the belt line is being placed or the sleeves," Lord says. "It's things like that that will draw a designer's eye."

At the luxury Enamel Cookware appliance maker Thermador, whose ranges, refrigerators and dishwashers shine in stainless steel, designers look to fashion accessories such as watches and jewelry for trends, says company industrial design manager Graham Sadtler.

"Whether it's a gloss metal finish or matte or a certain treatment on the metal, (that) is one of the biggest things we look at that influences our design," he says.

Kitchen designer Cheryl Kees Clendenon of Pensacola, Fla., says she turns to fashion magazines for inspiration and rips out pages when she finds

striking textures or materials.

"It regenerates my enthusiasm for what I do," says Clendenon, who has been a kitchen designer for 11 years and also was on Brizo's panel. "I can look through fashion magazines and even though I can't personally wear those clothes, it's the idea part of it."

Clendenon adds fashion to her designs in small ways, through layers, kitchen rugs or a backsplash, for instance. That keeps a kitchen from looking or feeling dated, she says.

"What we design needs to live for a while," she says. "You can't change your kitchen design as often as you can your clothing."

Wu says he loves to cook and finds a sense of design in the way meals are plated. His own kitchen has an open design, gray palette and island cabinet.

"I think everything I do is a piece of me and what I'm about," Wu said. "I think the kitchen is no different."