Zephyr’s Range Hoods Rock the Kitchen

The kitchen in the House of Rock in Santa Monica, CA uses two Zephyr Tornado III insert range hoods in it's custom kitchen design

Two Zephyr Tornado III insert range hoods were used in this custom kitchen designed by Elaine Culotti for The House of Rock in Santa Monica, CA

What’s inside your dream kitchen? Is it a cool and contemporary canteen or a rustic and traditional cooking space? With range hood customization, achieving the dream design is only as limited as your imagination. Besides providing a visual statement piece, the custom range hood serves other important functions: providing critical ventilation, preventing grease build-ups and providing additional light for the home chef.

When building your custom range hood, there’s no reason to compromise on the technology and functionality to suit the design ambiance. Zephyr is the ultimate in versatility, offering a vast array of “readymade” designer range hoods or complete ventilation-system insert options for those designs that make use of custom cabinetry or unique vent enclosures. Whether it’s to fit a one-of-a-kind space or an unconventional style, Zephyr’s insert hoods, (commonly referred to as power packs) come in many options and slip in seamlessly to any custom range hood surround. You can create your dream design on the outside while keeping Zephyr best-in-class components on the inside.

Zephyr’s Essentials Collection Power Packs were recently installed and debuted in the new House of Rock in Santa Monica, California. Designed by Elaine Culotti, the showcase house kitchen uses Zephyr Tornado III power packs to fit into the rock ‘n’ roll inspired aesthetic. Two Tornado III power packs in-line with each other are suspended as an island hood configuration over dual 36″ commercial style ranges side by side (totaling six feet of cook top area). The Zephyr power packs fit almost seamlessly inside the clean, modern custom surround that has been paneled in a innovative material made of melted metal, described by Culotti as, “liquid silver.”

Zephyr Tornado III insert range hoods on display in the custom kitchen at House of Rock

A closer look at the dual Tornado III insert range hoods used in Elaine Culotti's design.

The Tornado III takes the typical power pack up a notch, utilizing multiple blower options to meet the most demanding chef’s requirements. Three-speed electronic controls puts the user in command of a 600 or 1000- CFM blower. Dual-level halogen lights illuminate the surface below, while a wireless remote puts you in command from up to 15 feet away – not only an added convenience, but essential for ADA and assisted living requirements of the most discerning homeowners. There is also an optional liner available in 48”, 54”, and 60” sizes.

With Zephyr power pack range hood inserts you get your dream design with technology from one of the best ventilation systems on the market, adding the perfect finishing touch to your final kitchen design performance. And that’s music to every creatives’ ears.

September 20th, 2012

Observations from Burma


I just returned from two weeks in Burma, or “Myanmar” (as re-named by the former junta to stake a claim to their legitimacy) with my wife and daughter. Burgeoning political freedom and freedom from the fetters of economic sanctions imposed by the West has  brought this country to a delicate, pivotal moment in history. It is off-season, hot, humid, and sticky, monsoons coming on, and hardly a tourist in sight.  Credit cards not accepted yet; cash only, please, in crisp, unfolded, uncreased $100 U.S. bills.

Outside the city limits of the capital, Yangon, the country is a portal to a bucolic era I have seen only in film. Noble, Brahmin cows methodically drag a farmer standing upright and barefoot on his till through silt-red soil under the humid tropical sun; rows of women in bright-colored, traditional dress plant next year’s rice crop; children all smiles, barefoot and mischievous, recite in unison in bare rooms and bare schoolyards, excited by fresh well water available for the first time. Craftsmen turn wood on an ingenious lathe driven by foot and the coiled tension spring of a bamboo pole.

I was so impressed with how much is accomplished with so little. But I also became aware that behind the bucolic scenery most Burmese men never see sixty, forced labor won’t be illegal until 2014(!), and health care for the masses is nonexistent. The same jingoist military dictatorship that sealed off Burma from her most dynamic democratic heroine, Aung Sung Su Kyii, and skimmed all the cream off the labor of the people, gave nothing back to them except the dignity of living modestly without the encumbrances of modern Western life. Seeing in real time the living, authentic past, panting and breathing in the present, was  like being a naturalist in the wild, spying for the first time a live specimen of a long-thought-extinct animal: I watched in fascination and awe, with a certain dread that this delicate link to the past is certain to be lost forever as Burma matriculates to a modern future.  Recently released and lauded worldwide, Su Kyii has her hands full.

The Bagan valley, undeveloped, is surrounded by hills that stretch in a ring comparable to the size of San Francisco Bay. We got to enjoy the serenity and tranquility of this sacred heritage site without the hubbub of tourists like ourselves — having the guilty luxury of cutting a wake through their cultural waters without suffering the disturbance. On the valley floor, as far as you can see, are thousands of 13th-century Buddhist pagodas— monument shrines of all statures, from small-chapel to cathedral-sized, and very little else. Some are well maintained and used by the locals, some are restored, some are in disrepair, and some, from seeds dropped by birds into cracks between the masonry, have spawned muscled, python-like twisted vines that have split asunder the host temple, forcing their way skyward, gripping onto some parts of the structure, while leaving the rest a pile of loose bricks on the ground.

Each pagoda follows a strict hierarchy of tiers that form each section as they spiral skyward. The tiers represent the physical manifestation of the spiritual levels of existence in Buddhist canon. Inside, large and small, there are sure to be four Buddha statues in formal sitting, lying, standing, and casual sitting positions. Of the monuments still in good shape, covering the walls, ceilings, and vaults are exquisite paintings of Buddhist allegories, so close that you can touch them, all tinted and veiled with a time-worn patina that makes it all seem so near and far at the same time. Here, preservation and conservation are in order, and yet in many instances it is the state of decay that is so intriguing.

On the other hand, the ascetic monks of a few decades ago absurdly decided that the fading, historically significant 13th-century allegorical paintings that covered every inch of one of the largest active temples in Bagan made it too dark, so they white-washed over all the beautiful, historically important, delicate art work, and, last year, topped off their work by disco-decorating the main Buddha with a gold, silky toga and a halo fashioned out of pulsing LED lights. Cultural anthropologists were dismayed. (Bagan is destined to become a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.) Buddhism is, after all, a living religious tradition with a philosophy that says all life and phenomena are impermanent, and it is only the tenacity of our attachment to what is impermanent that causes our suffering. In Burma, Buddhism isn’t mummified in a museum, and so the anthropologists continue to grimace as change inexorably rules.

I wonder who designed and fashioned these spiritual edifices. And what satisfaction did the patrons and nobles, who hired the nameless artisans, masons, and laborers, gain in the undertaking? Within the strict design parameters of these symbolic pagodas, myriad complex and ingenious forms were fashioned from the simplest building unit known to man: the brick. These temples to Buddha-nature embody the infinite variety of snowflakes — all alike and all different. I was humbled by all that masterful, anonymous workmanship.

Wealth, class, position, and legacy — the dynamics of the patronage of the wealthy and the meritorious work of the nameless worker bees — continues uninterrupted today in my profession. As a contemporary designer, I work with open-ended architectural and structural ideas, a blank canvas of infinite possibilities that must be corralled within a finite, manageable vision. In these temples, by contrast, we can see the evocation, within limits, of infinite possibilities. I hope someday to have the privilege to design and realize a modest, contemporary, sacred community space that can pay homage to an ego-free transcendence, and embrace and celebrate the universal conundrum of human existence Buddhism says the more we let go, the closer we get to the truth. Physicists at CERN are colliding subatomic particles searching for the matter behind all matter, the “God” particle, and realizing that there just may be infinite “anti-matter” behind the science of reality. Bagan was the CERN of its time, each temple designed to bolster and reinforce the next, a kind of spirit accelerator for the mind and heart — a 12th-century deep-research laboratory of compassion, change, and the nature of reality.

Briefly immersed on our vacation in the midst of Burma’s contradictions — the military and the monks, the lack of health care and the robust street life, the poverty and the elegant simplicity — questions continue to puncture my assumptions of right and wrong, left and right, rich and poor. I am reminded that, at home in the U.S., we are often seduced to constantly do more and acquire more when ultimately what matters is to make do with what we already have — freedom, love, grace and humanity — and to make the most of it. This is what vacations are for! *

*My wife and daughter, bless their hearts, disagree. They think vacations are for fun.

Fu-Tung Cheng
August, 2012 Berkeley, Calif.

 Click here to view a slideshow of Fu-Tung’s Burma Observations

Photo credit: Lila Luk and Fu-Tung Cheng

August 24th, 2012

Inspiration from Everyday Objects

I‘ve realized that the magic of design is discovery. Like a rabbit pulled out of a hat, it’s an old trick, but it still works. Good design ideas can emerge from unexpected places for unexpected purposes.

We take so much that surrounds us for granted, that we dismiss the everyday as commonplace. Everyday objects can trigger an inspiration for an idea based on a completely different application, or they can be lifted out of their context and inserted wholly into foreign territory for an unexpected impact. When we take the time and give the everyday a second chance, there, right in front of our eyes, are overlooked design nuggets that can be the next inspiration, if not the next outright innovation.

Observe how we humans move and use the objects within our grasp and we begin to create new responses and behaviors by delighting jaded senses and making people “wake up” and smell the roses under their noses. That is the job and the joy of being a designer—-we look around as see what we can tweak that’s commonplace. The delight we all find in great design is the recognition that the idea behind it was there all along. Sleight of mind is the magic of good design

For example, one day I was searching for a way to configure a modern tea bar (something never done before as far as I knew) for the serving and tasting of classic Asian, fine artisan teas for the Teance tea shop. There were two major design challenges: what shape to create, and how well could it serve the requirements of classic tea service in a modern setting? I certainly didn’t want to emulate the endless counters at local honky-tonk bars with their long row of stools. Bar patrons want space to nurse their drinks. Drinking tea is about selecting the seasonal variety that delights the palate. It is more akin to wine tasting. Community, conversation, and conviviality with the server are part of the experience.

The solution to the shape problem was so obvious I felt stupid to have ‘discovered’ it. At first, I gravitated toward a circular configuration— but should it be an egg shaped oval, or an ellipse, or simply a partial full circle? Would it be a countertop on top of a base, or would it evolve from the floor as an integral pedestal and countertop? I was sipping some Honey Phoenix Oolong in a traditional “Gaiwan” teacup when I realized right then and there that the answer was literally in my grasp. The gently flared porcelain cup in my hand was the perfect shape to make the tea bar. What better shape to sit around than the very vessel from which we taste tea, providing it meets the requirements of proportion and ergonomic function? As it turned out, the curve of the teacup was exactly the amount of displacement needed for ones knees and legs when sitting on a stool saddled up to the bar. Cast in one monolithic pour of concrete and finely polished, it has become the icon of the Teance tea tasting experience.

There’s more. Tea servers traditionally use a bamboo tray to contain the vessels and implements that need to be rinsed with hot water to equalize the temperature, steep the tea, and then serve it. Vessels of the same temperature make better tasting tea. The drain for the extra water has been a clumsy afterthought, it is usually a plastic hose attached to the bottom of the tray that winds its way to a bucket.

copyright Ching-Wei Jiang 2012

I knew that I could plumb the tea bar to a drain, so that eliminated the bucket, but how to make a counter of concrete that both drained and still provided a flat countertop service area was a design conundrum. It needed to be sloped and slanted at the same time.  Well, it wasn’t long into the process of trying to figure out a solution, when I remembered how I liked the pairing of metal plate and concrete in curb drains along most streets in cities. Usually there is a triangular piece of diamond plate steel over a slot drain right at the curb—I presumed it was for access to clean out the drain if and when it gets plugged with debris and detritus. So from that insight of the everyday I designed a 3/8” thick copper plate to sit over a sloping portion of the concrete countertop and it became the platform/tray as well as a focal point of the tea serving process.

Sometimes a product concept evolves from an existing object. For example, when I was looking for a concept for an adjustable ventilation hood for Zephyr, I was thinking stove, fire, and the idea of a folding cover that became a canopy for ducting away fumes….the image of a matchbook with the double row of paper matches standing neatly at attention inside the paper matchbook cover came to me, and it became the inspiration for the Shade model in the Cheng Collection for Zephyr.

Zephyr Shade Sketch by Fu-Tung Cheng

Zephyr Shade

With mindful living and a bit of day dreaming—we relax and rely on our intuition and free association to coax, rather than coerce, creative ideas onto our cognitive stage—then they do their magic all on their own.

Fu-Tung Cheng—Berkeley 2012 copyright



June 14th, 2012