Kandrac & Kole Interior Designs, Inc.

An Interview with BLANCO

The great thing about going to a manufacturer sponsored event like Blogtour Milan is that you leave with an entirely new appreciation and wealth of knowledge about that manufacturers’ product. This is the case with BLANCO, a family owned business since 1925 that produces sinks, faucets and accessories for the most elegant kitchens in the world.

While in Milan, we made lots of new BLANCO friends, in particular Christy Emens who gracefully agreed to speak with us so that our readers can learn the scoop about BLANCO first hand. 

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 K&K:   What is your position at BLANCO and how long have you worked for the company? 

 Christy: Marketing Communications Manager.  September marks 8 years working at BLANCO.

 K&K: In Milan, we were introduced to the new ONE sink and the new ATTIKA sink. How many years go into R&D of these products before they are introduced to the market place? Where do the inspirations for the design come from? 

Christy: It’s really not about a certain time frame when we design our products – to us, it’s most important that we spend the time needed to get it right.  Our design team focuses on developing material technology, combined with inspiration that can be found in everyday life.  Design and design leadership is truly a very important aspect of our culture as a company. We’re constantly looking ahead to anticipate trends, which allows us to create the unique, high-quality innovations and award winning designs that can only come from BLANCO.

 K&K: I also love the Quatrus R15 collection. Do you think that Americans are learning that it’s ok to incorporate contemporary kitchen products into a traditional home?  How do you perceive the learning curve? 

 Christy: QUATRUS R15 offers contemporary style with a twist – it features that professional look which is so popular right now, but its softer 15mm radius makes the design a more comfortable partner for transitional or traditional homes. In fact, the professional-style QUATRUS collection was just listed as a top kitchen trend for 2014 by Freshome for BobVila.com.

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K&K: What is your best-selling sink and why?

 Christy: We’re seeing the fastest growth with our new the ONE™ stainless steel collection. ONE™ reinforces the idea that a sink can be more than just a sink – it’s really a useful companion in the kitchen. The idea that you can customize your kitchen for your lifestyle is something we really see resonating as a trend right now.

 ONE Super Single sink:

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K&K: For me, it’s a tough pick between the Silgranit and the Stainless Steel surfaces.  Does one sell better than the other in different parts of the world? 

 Christy: Stainless steel is still a strong global market right now. Our SILGRANIT® sinks are a fantastic option to steel, as they allow color to become a personal touch in the kitchen – and they’re a great designer option!

K&K: We find that the designs we create for our clients are more valuable the more customized they are.  Was this the same impetus for the color options of the BLANCO faucets? 

 Christy: At BLANCO, we feel that a touch of color is an elegant option for the kitchen – like in our ALTA™ COMPACT faucets, which combine our SILGRANIT colors with a chrome finish. Again, it’s the idea of customizing your kitchen, and adding color accents is a great way to achieve a customized look.

ALTA COMPACT Faucet in white/chrome mix:

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7.  Being a color fanatic, I LOVE the fact that BLANCO has a color app. Tell us about it. 

The SILGRANIT® II color app allows you to match various countertop materials with our colorful SILGRANIT II sinks. You can even take pictures of your own countertop selections and save them into the app. We recently launched an updated version of the app which includes even more countertop options, including the new DEKTON material by Cosentino. You can find it for free on iTunes for Apple and on Google Play for Android devices.

 K&K: Let’s talk about some more serious subject matter – While you were in Milan, what was your favorite gelato flavor? 

 Christy: That’s a difficult choice, but pistachio was the best!


 K&K: Standing on your feet all day at Salone del Mobile, which shoe brand gave you the most comfort? 

 Christy: My suede Via Spiga wedges.  Although I should have purchased a pair of the cute designer sneakers all of the Italians were so elegantly rocking!  (We agree Christy!)


 K&K:  Ok, back to work – can you give us any scoop on what’s in the pipeline for BLANCO? 

 Christy: In the coming year, we will continue to focus on the concept of personalization and innovative ways to carry on the trend of the sink as a companion in the kitchen.

Thank you Christy for spending time with us at all the wonderful BLANCO events in Milan. We are BIG fans of BLANCO and look forward to highlighting the BLANCO brand in our design work.



P.S.  To see more great BLANCO products we spotted while in Milan, check out our Pinterest Board.




April 24, 2014   No Comments

The Men of Italy! – Modenus Blog Tour Milan 2014

Italy is certainly one of the most spectacular European countries to visit.  When we were invited to attend Modenus Blog Tour Milan, we were thrilled!  The culture, art, food, wine, shopping, museums, churches, piazzas, architecture and………..THE MEN!!

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Photo courtesy of Chasen West Photography for Modenus

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Ahh, the canals…….

Kandrac & Kole - Canals

The gondolas….

Kandrac & Kole - gondola

and THE MEN…..

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Kandrac & Kole - photo 3

The architecture…

Kandrac & Kole - Architecture

The outdoor cafes….

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Gianluca Gessi, President of  The Gessi Company

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Luca Poletto, Managing Director for The Gessi Company

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The beautiful carved doors…

Kandrac & Kole - Carved Doors

The famous Duomo…

Kandrac & Kole - Duomo


Francesco Nappo, Export Area Manager – The Gessi Company

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Giovanni De Filippo – Marketing Specialist - The Gessi Company

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The shopping…

Kandrac & Kole - Venice shopping

The fashion…

Kandrac & Kole - Fashion

and THE MEN…..

Lorenzo Marquez, Marketing Vice President - Cosentino

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Juan Antonio Pardo – Promotion & Loyalty Manager Marketing Department - Cosentino

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The Salone Internazionale de Mobile  - The “Highpoint” of Milan (photos courtesy of Chasen West for Modenus)


The kitchens…..


the baths…

kandrac & kole - Gessi shower

and THE MEN….

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Stefano Magagnin – Acheo Sales Manager (Acheo is a gorgeous showroom in the Brera Design District in Milan.  They hosted a wonderful party sponsored by BLANCO for our Blog Tour group) 


The unique transportation…

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The alcohol….

Kandrac & Kole - Limoncello

Kandrac & Kole - Bellini

And THE MEN...

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And lastly, our wonderful Modenus Blog Tour Group (pictured with 2 of our sponsors - Cosentino and the NKBA)

Modenus Blog Tour Milan

Back row left to right:  Carmen Natschke (The Decorating Diva) , Lorenzo Marquez (Cosentino),  Tamara Stephenson (The Nest),  Holly Phillips (The English Room), Krista Nye Schwartz and Tami Ramsay(Cloth and Kind) , Kelly Kole (Kandrac & Kole Interior Designs, Inc.), Eric Schimelpfenig (Clever Storage),  Lisa Smith (Decor Girl), Veronika Miller (Modenus), Robin Horton (Urban Gardens),  Bill Darcy (NKBA)

Front row left to right: Joann Kandrac (me- Kandrac & Kole Interior Designs, Inc.), Pamela Copeman (Posh Palettes) and Florence Van Pelet (Modenus)

As you can see, I became a bit obsessed with the men.  Not only are they handsome, they are stylish, romantic and classy!   Just so you know,  I am a very happily married woman to a handsome, wonderful man but I also happen to be HUMAN!!

If you are even “considering” visiting Italy, don’t give it a second thought – just GO!!

A huge thanks to our wonderful sponsors:


Tanti Baci,


April 22, 2014   4 Comments

Design Camp Las Vegas Giveaway!

Design Camp Las Vegas Giveaway!

We are thrilled to be offering a free ticket to Design Camp Las Vegas being held from July 29-31, 2014

What is Design Camp? – Think great seminars, incredibly talented designers, and tons of inspiration packed into two days of camp led by the amazing design camp founders:

Kelli Ellis & Lori Dennis



We have been HUGE fans of the Design Camp series since we attended the Atlanta camp in February 2013.


From left to right:  Joann Kandrac, Kelli Ellis, Linda Holt, Debbie Simmon Basnett, Lisa Mende, Kelly Kole, Liz Carroll, Lori Dennis and Tam Stone.

What could be better than a two-day camp in Las Vegas filled with trend alerts, tips on getting published, social media sessions, business practices, and SO much more, all while schmoozing with some of our industries best!


This camp will have speakers from across the country including the famous Roger Thomas from Wynn Design and Development, designer of the Wynn and the Encore Las Vegas.

Christopher Kennedy, nationally published interior designer and furniture designer.

Susanna Salk, who helped launch Elle Décor magazine and has authored several books.  I am particularly fond of  ”Be Your Own Decorator: Taking Confidence and Clues By The World’s Leading Designers”.   Susanna also appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show.

Brand strategist and social media maven Phil Pallen will be sharing the same tips he gives to his famous clientele.


AND Sheilah MacSporran, founder of Olioboard to name just a few!

Check out the schedule and line up HERE!

Add some super fun networking cocktail parties, amazing discussions, and being in fabulous Las Vegas and you’ve got yourself one awesome event!

This is definitely an opportunity you don’t want to miss!


1.  Leave a comment on our blog telling us why you would like to attend.

2.  Tweet to @kandrackole that you would like to win this giveaway.

3.  Post about this giveaway on Facebook.


A random winner will be chosen and announced on April 22nd!


April 16, 2014   6 Comments

Blogtour Milan – The Colors of Venice and Milan

We are back from our trip of a lifetime to Venice and Milan with Veronika Miller and the Modenus Blogtour team. We learned a lot and were inspired beyond measure so watch the blog for upcoming posts about our adventure. We will be sharing funny and informative interviews with our sponsors BLANCO, Clever Storage, NKBA, Gessi Company, Consentino and the Antiques Diva.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some colorful eye candy with you from our Blogtour Milan trip. The streets of Venice and Milan were postcard perfect – I felt like I’d been transported to another planet.

We started in Venice.  Need I say more?


We took a slow tour of Venice with our wonderful guide Cristina.  The colorful windows of murano glass and specialty papers kept distracting me!



One of my most favorite meals of the entire week was at the Acqua Pazza - an outdoor cafe in the center of Venice. We tasted many dishes including this zucchini but if I must admit my favorite was the caprese pizza (which doesn’t even begin to compare to any pizza I’ve had in the U.S.).


Keep in mind that there aren’t any roads in Venice so all travel (even the police and ambulance) are by water. This results in many beautiful vessels.


In Milan, the streets were busy and beautiful with color EVERYWHERE!





The smell of fresh oiled leather drew us into a small shop called Giosa di Giorgio Santamaria in the Brera Design District. Even the scraps were beautiful!



Our friend Toma Clark Haines (The Antiques Diva) and her local pal Susan Pennington took us on a tour of several of the top antiques dealers (including this vintage clothing shop) in the Brera Design District.


Cashmere from the 20′s anyone?


We made our way to Via Tortona for a pop up design show and were enamored by the DCASA event sponsored by Maliparmi.


maliparmi 2

Since I’m still recuperating and detoxing from my newest love (Prosecco), that’s all the colorful eye candy you get for now.

Ciao bella!


April 14, 2014   4 Comments

Men of Highpoint 2013 and Men of Italy 2014

In honor of the fact that we will not in High Point this Spring, I decided to re-post my Men of High Point Blog from last fall and soon to come, my “Men of Italy” when I return!

I’ve attended the High Point Furniture Market for the past 15 years.  There is so much to see in terms of furniture, trends, color, etc. but there’s a lot of  ”people watching” going on for me as well.


image via Jeff Mermelstein

From the fashionistas to the flamboyant, to even the rare woman in mom jeans and tennis shoes, what I noticed this time were the dapper men of Highpoint!  Here are some favorites who graciously agreed to be featured and answer some questions:

Barry Dixon

BARRY DIXON- Interior Designer – not only is he one of the most talented designers I know, he is such a nice person!! (barrydixon.com)

How many years have you attended the High Point Market? - 20 years!!

What is your role when attending?As an interior designer looking for new things for our clients, I’m always a buyer.  And as a designer for our collections with Arteriors and Tomlinson/Erwin Lambeth, we’re exhibiting our wares each Spring and Fall.

What is an ESSENTIAL you must bring to Market? - An extra dose of energy!

What is something most people don’t know about you? - Strangely, I really don’t sleep…..much!

Here is the Michael Bench designed by Barry for Tomlinson.  I love the movable bolsters on either end!

Michael bench

Next up………

Neil Edwards

NEAL EDWARDS - Worlds Away - check out the socks!!

How many years have you attended the High Point Market?  18 years (damn, I am old).

What is your role when attending?  VP of Sales, Marketing and Product Development for Worlds Away.

What is an ESSENTIAL you must bring to Market?  A great attitude, my lucky socks and favorite boots!

What is something most people don’t know about you?  I am addicted to SEC football!!

Another “dapper” man…..

Gary Inman

GARY INMAN - Gary Inman Designs – Exhibitor at Moore Councill

How many years have you attended the High Point Market? This was my 20th year.

What is your role when attending? I have been an interior designer for 23 years so my primary role has been as a buyer.  This market was my first time as both a buyer and exhibitor.

What is an ESSENTIAL you must bring to Market? A good rolling bag an and Iphone.  I have a great version of the Birkin bag that is a rolling bag – it holds everything I need and it is handsome as well.

What is something most people don’t know about you? I think most don’t know I started my career in fashion and later transitioned to interiors.  I also minored in dance which has given me a great appreciation for elegant lines in all things.

Here is a gorgeous man’s chest designed by Gary which includes partitions for glasses, change and even cufflinks.  The front panels are upholstered in a handsome fabric that looks like a pin striped suit!

mans chest

Continuing with…..


LARE McCREARYStuart Lawrence Pillows

How many years have you attended the High Point Market?  4 years.

What is your role when attending?  Exhibitor and Designer.  While I’m promoting and selling my line of Stuart Lawrence pillows.  I’m also on the hunt for new lines for my design clients.  Plus, I’m looking at trends in design and color to inspire me in my pillow line.  I call it “being part of the conversation”.

What is an ESSENTIAL you must bring to Market?  My laptop!

What is something most people don’t know about you? My background is in Church Ministry.

Here is a small sampling of Lare’s gorgeous pillows!

Adler pillow

orange pillow

Navy:Emerald Pillow

A very witty young man…..

Tyler Lynch


How many years have you attended the High Point Market?  With only a few years under my belt, I am fairly new to the wholesale side of the industry. I have been attending High Point market for 2 years.

What is your role when attending? I work on the exhibitor side of the industry at a showroom that represents multiple manufacturers: J Douglas.

What is an ESSENTIAL you must bring to Market?  My Jack Spade Tote is essential when traveling in High Point. I am able to travel from meeting to meeting filling it up with new catalogs, sales materials and of course an iphone charger!

What is something most people don’t know about you?  I am very much an advocate of historic preservation and have volunteered at the Fox Theater as an usher for many years. The Fox Theater is one of the few landmarks in Atlanta saved by the wrecking ball.

Another long time High Point man is…..

Eddie Lawrence

EDDIE EDWARDS - E. Lawrence, Ltd.

How many years have you attended the High Point Market?  25.  And yes, 50 markets.

What is your role when attending? Product Designer/Exhibitor.

What is an ESSENTIAL you must bring to Market?  A great attitude.  This is the only thing over which I have control.

What is something most people don’t know about you?  I’m a singer/songwriter and front man for an electronic punk band.

Eddie is our “go to” source for books.




Here is a new friend I made……

Doug Self


How many years have you attended the High Point Market? 21 years, my 42nd market.

What is your role when attending? Principal of JDouglas, a manufacturers representative sales agency.

What is an ESSENTIAL you must bring to Market? My compression socks that keep my feet from getting too sore and my pocket squares.

What is something most people don’t know about you? I just opened a week before High Point my first retail store, a lifestyle boutique (provisionoxford.com) in Oxford, MS where I went to college.

And finally……

Grant Ford

GRANT FORD - Lexington Home Brands

How many years have you attended the High Point Market? 23

What is your role when attending? Account Manager for Lexington Home Brands.

What is an ESSENTIAL you must bring to Market? A great attitude and lots of energy.

What is something most people don’t know about you? I am a technology geek!

I really enjoyed speaking with these stylish and successful men, some whom I’ve known for years, and others I just met!

 High Point – It’s not just about the furniture!!


April 4, 2014   No Comments