Sunday, November 23, 2014

DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: FU-TUNG CHENG | ZEPHYR VENTILATION HOODS

Do you think that a range hood could be sexy? 


ZEPHYR- LED LIGHTING



CHENG's  TRAPEZE FOR ZEPHYR



Well, if its a Zephyr hood! 

Zephyr is making sure that unique hood design is the next revolution for kitchens. Some are curved, some sleek, some geometric and some with cool LED lighting! Whatever your preference, kitchen hoods can be a real architectural statement and reflect your taste and personality.  



San Francisco Zephyr showroom


On Modenus' Blog Tour Cali, I was introduced to Zephyr Ventilation. What a gorgeous San Francisco showroom! Zephyr is committed to smart design and making sure that range hoods are no longer an after thought. Zephyr gets that today's customer is savvy and not only wants something innovative; but also wants something cool, beautiful and captures one's imagination.


San Francisco Zephyr showroom

Pairing style and functionality, Zephyr's artful hood designs are great for modern kitchens: extremely quiet, self cleaning technologies and high CFM output. Zephyr has gone as far as partnering with innovative thinkers such as Fu-Tung Cheng and Robert Brunner bringing ventilation to a whole new level. 


CHENG's OKEANITO wall ventilation hood for Zephyr 


At our exclusive dinner, the bloggers got to meet Mr. Cheng and hear him speak about his firm Cheng Design, a history of innovation.  I had the opportunity to chat with him during our amazing dinner! What an honor!


Michele Alfano (me) and Fu-Tung Cheng

Mr. Cheng is trained in fine art and an innovator in the use of concrete. A man who is inspired by beauty in everyday life. He told us that he is not a trained architect;yet he knows how to build entire homes out of concrete!  Of course years of experimentation starting out in his very own home! (image below) His new book Concrete at Home shows some of his wonderful work! 

I am so inspired by his thinking that I had to learn more about him...I am excited to share an interview with Mr. Fu-Tung Cheng!







House #6


WHAT IS YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE?

I would describe my style as modernist (Bernard) Maybeck...after the Bay Area famous, turn-of-the-19th century Beaux-Arts trained architect who in turn trained Julia Morgan of Hearst Castle fame. I love the work of Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona and aspire to put a minute portion of his detailed craftsmanship and artistry in my work.



Cheng's Home Kitchen concrete countertop


WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?

I approach architectural design somewhat like a painter approaches a blank canvas––excited at first, anticipating the infinite possibilities. Apprehensive edge of fear.  The lengthy creative process to discover, or uncover, the final design is too big for one person. So I rely on all the influences from every person engaged in the process, from client and staff architects to contractors and sub contractors. Each contributes crucial bits of information and expertise. It’s akin to movie making, where you have a writer, producer, director, editor, and of course, the all-important actors. Each adds their unique ingredient to spice the collective stone soup. My role is the shape-shifter chameleon who maintains the DNA of the vision. Sometimes I keep to the background, camouflaged. Sometimes I am front and center. 



Concrete Fountain

House #6

WHAT GOALS HAVE YOU SET OVER THE YEARS TO BECOME AN EXPERT AT CONCRETE?

None really. The material itself is so versatile, so essential to structures that its myriad possibilities re-sets new goals to achieve, organically, project to project. From modest countertops to whole houses of concrete, I have risen to the challenges of the big change in scale, while maintaining the same level of active play with the material.



Cheng Zephyr Range Hood

WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING WHEN DESIGNING WITH THE ZEPHYR TEAM?

In product design, there is the added challenge of what price the target market is willing to pay for a given design. The vetting process of finding out what the market needs, who will pay for, and how it will be made at an affordable price with a profit to be made, is different than with custom design. I take in all the data and sketch with pad and pencil. We all look at sketches and make short lists. The factory gives their input. Then we go back to the drawing board. Working backwards from the price at retail is sometimes the only realistic way to design what will actually evolve to production.




House #6


WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE ON HOUSE (#6)?

Working out the concrete wall "lifts" around the perimeter of the house was a first for Cheng Design. This method of "Slip" casting four foot high sections of wall enabled me to place colored 'geological' strata along the length of some of the walls. It is somewhat of a blind placement as it is difficult to see what is happening in the few inches of clear space between the re-bar, mesh and wall forms...as the concrete is being vibrated. One has to rely on instincts and experience to achieve distinctive results. House 6 could have easily felt cold and forbidding with its small portholes and concrete floors, walls, and kitchen countertops. But the eclectic textural and material array of warm Japanese plaster, wood, and paper lanterns combine with the rich imbedded tones of the shiny smooth concrete walls to assuage the seemingly hard surfaces.





House #6


WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN WHILE WORKING ON HOUSE (#6)?

Not to over-reach with too much manipulation of the building finishes process and trust that the space, light, and form of the building can hold its own as the core experience. 



Concrete Geocrete Countertop

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPACTFUL SPACE YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED THAT HAS INSPIRED YOUR WORK?

Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian houses and Taliesin West and East, Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain. Temples in Kyoto. Paolo Solari's studio Cosanti in Scottsdale, AZ. Christian Science Church in Berkeley by Bernard Maybeck. Sacred Kivas of the Anazasi in Arizona. Venice, Italy.


Concrete Geocrete Countertop



WHAT IS THE BEST DESIGN ADVICE YOU FOLLOW WHEN YOU ARE UNDER THE GUN?

Meditate or take naps!



Concrete Fireplace Design


WHAT MANTRA YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING BY LATELY?

Don't Worry, Be Happy––Meher Baba. 




Concrete Fountain


Thank you Zephyr and Mr. Cheng for the wonderful interview!



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