A Study in Inspiration
By Tom Levine
Richard Anuszkiewicz, executive director of the casework division for Alt Breeding Schwarz Architects, had a golden opportunity. American Standard, a luxury kitchen and bath products firm, offered him the rare task of designing a showcase kitchen inspired by America’s “golden era,” the period in the 1920s and 1930s when Art Deco flourished.
DXV, American Standard’s luxury design division, gave Anuszkiewicz almost complete carte blanche, which is rare indeed. For inspiration, he turned to New York and the Art Deco period, mining both for forms and materials as well as their sensory excess, private passions and luminous dreams.
The era, with its stylized geometry and luxurious use of metals, and New York City with its skyscrapers, crosswalks and fashion runways made perfect sense for a high-functioning modern kitchen. “I love Art Deco,” says Anuszkiewicz. But he adds, “It was important to me to not do a literal take on that time period but to create “a futuristic, forward-thinking design.”
When he heard a remix of Frank Sinatra’s “New York New York” stitched to Jay Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” he found his inspiration. “Empire State of Mind” is a modern interpretation of Frank Sinatra’s theme. And, both songs are about a city where, as Anuszkiewicz says, “Anything is possible if you can dream it.”
Architecture and music drive Anuszkiewicz’s design as well as his interest in luxury fashion. Pierre Balmain’s patterned metallic gown for the Vogue Met Gala is mirrored and refracted yet again on floors, finishes and cabinetry. This gown might be the perfect thing to slip on to fry up some eggs on the La Cornue range whose fifty-year-old classic French design has been given a shot of modernity. Its finish of black carbon fiber is a very 21st-century material usually reserved for fighter jets and Formula One race cars.
If you were looking for a swank textile for your kitchen cabinets, you might want to consider ostrich leather used to face the butler’s pantry and inspired by the iconic Hermès Birkin purse. (You can buy one for about $50,000 ... assuming that Hermès would even sell you one.) Don’t expect to find such textiles at your local Home Depot anytime soon, like almost everything else here, they are one of a kind, a custom fabrication for this kitchen. The marble floor, a major visual element, was designed by Anuszkiewicz to be evocative of Art Deco with its pattern of contrasting custom-cut CalcuttaGold and Pietra Gray marble tiles set in a repeating triangular pattern.
The custom countertops and backsplashes were fabricated with high tech Neolith ceramic. Macassar ebony, an exotic wood more frequently associated with high-end furniture, wraps the center island. Antique mirror adds a bit of mysterious smokiness to backsplashes. Made-to-order Swarovski crystal chandeliers and sconces add a glittering modern touch. A custom hood was fabricated in highly polished stainless steel by Raw Urth. It was designed by Anuszkiewicz to evoke a luxury automobile with its sheen and muscular shape. The drawers flanking the range are also faced with polished stainless steel. Their diamond-shaped grills were inspired by the iconic grill of a Bentley Coupe.
He was also influenced by nighttime views of Manhattan’s Miesian glass box skyscrapers with their mix of illuminated and dark windows. Wine bottles are suspended in a random pattern on wire cables, adding a sculptural element. Anuszkiewicz says he is intrigued by the “play on negative space” created by the “voids within the glass volume.” The custom panel fronting the refrigerator, with it’s geometric pattern of dark gray metal, copper and polished stainless steel was inspired by the Chrysler Building, the great Art Deco skyscraper, with its ziggurat crown viewed from above.
Anuszkiewicz has laid out the kitchen in three parallel bays defined by barrel vaulted ceilings and simple columns. The bays organize the space. The middle bay is the functional and visual heart of the kitchen. It is centered with an Empire-style Swarovski chandelier that has been updated with leather wrapped arms and pared down to a simple modern elegance. The range wall anchors the space with its mirrored stainless steel hood visually expanding the space. The bay to the left is a modern take on a butler’s pantry. It’s open and airy, with only the glass wine cabinet separating it from the main bay. Dinnerware is stored on open shelves backed with antique mirror, which, like the stainless finishes, open up the space visually. The shelves extend into a small niche where a narrow strip of mirror wraps around to reflect the long line of the shelves. There’s an illusion that the shelves extend forever into a mysterious and smoky void.
Anuszkiewicz’s ambitions for this kitchen were large. Designing a show kitchen is an opportunity to gain national exposure and a chance to bring fantasty to life. He has sought nothing less than to “change people’s thoughts on what a kitchen has to be” and to create a “world class kitchen [that is] bespoke, unmatched, thought provoking, forward thinking.”
Anuszkiewicz joined the Annapolis-based Alt Breeding Schwartz Architects in 2013 shortly after being recognized as a “Top 30 Under 30” designer by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. The design is detailed with a discipline that belies Anuszkiewicz’s young age. New York is the city with a big heart, a city that never sleeps. This kitchen does not either. It is poised for action, for gatherings, for love; its beauty dares the spirit to walk the runway, to dress in a metallic gown. Clearly, Anuszkiewicz brings to the field an unusual vision: he is able to see the invisible line between high fashion and kitchen design and to boldly cross it.
KITCHEN DESIGN: Richard Anuszkiewicz, Alt Breeding Schwarz Architects, absarchitects.com, Annapolis, Maryland | CUSTOM HOOD: (DESIGN) Richard Anuszkiewicz (FABRICATION) Raw Urth, rawurth.com, Fort Collins, Colorado | CUSTOM FLOOR: (DESIGN) Richard Anuszkiewicz (FABRICATION) Tile Bar, tilebar.com, New York, New York | RANGE: La Cornue, France | LIGHTING: Swarovski, Austria | PLUMBING: DXV, New York, New York
Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 8, No. 3 2017