Storage that goes far beyond utility

You might think of storage cabinets as utilitarian. But designers are always fascinated by how a simple wardrobe can be constructed, dressed and adorned in ways that showcase craftsmanship and inventiveness.

There are sleek, low consoles with jeweled handles. Chic deco style bar cabinets. Rustic credenzas carved in wood. And some pieces dressed in artistic flourishes, or that are even art themselves.

Far from being workhorses, these casegoods are dressage ponies, ready for their close-ups.

“These new cabinets are detailed in a way that isn’t just a rectangular box with straight metal legs. They have some interesting details. And people who design storage furniture these days think about those details, think what the legs and doors, etc. look like says San Francisco interior designer Jay Jeffers.

He also says that “the use of mixed materials is a trend – rattan, ebonized oak and grasscloth-covered furniture”.


Jeffers has designed a new collection of cabinets for Arteriors. The Cantu Oak Cabinet, one of his favorites, features fluted brass hardware and an arrow-like beveled outer edge. “I designed it to look like a work of art,” he says.

Jeffers is mindful of multifunctionality when designing a wardrobe: the Cantu piece, for example, has shelves that can be pulled out to store clothes. And he loves using it as a bar cabinet for entertaining.

Contemporary Italian furniture maker Poltrona Frau collaborated with Shanghai-based architecture and design firm Neri+Hu on the Mi cabinet series. “Mi” can mean “watch” and “secret” in Chinese, and the pieces play on the term by placing the contents behind an oblong leather outer shell, then placing the top marble shelf a few inches above the base, creating a peek-a-boo space.

Designer Lindye Galloway from Costa Mesa, California draws inspiration from her roots in the Golden State. Its Bixby hutch features the rounded silhouette of the arch of Big Sur’s Bixby Canyon Bridge, in natural teak trimmed in black. And its California credenza brings a modern coastal vibe to a teak-framed, rattan-fronted cabinet with brass accents.

Caning is also a feature of Leanne Ford’s new collection for Crate & Barrel. Its 80-inch-high, 45-inch-wide Fields cabinet has a white oak lower section and an airy rattan upper. Gently rounded corners and a natural blonde finish give this large piece a light footprint. And a drum-shaped bar cabinet highlights the woven material, in natural or anthracite.

Lenny Kravitz, who got into product design, also collaborates with Crate & Barrel. Highlights include the Paseo cabinet, with cubist motifs and African-inspired details, and the Kibo credenza, combining French brutalist and industrial elements in a solid oak frame with polished and pleated steel doors.

From the Timbur studio of architect and product designer Ezra Ardolino, two credenzas are crafted from stacked thin layers of Baltic birch. The material has a linear quality similar to a topographic map. The Fresnel model has slatted doors like the large theater light from which it takes its name. And the Bubble cabinet presents the laminated layers in the form of concentric rings. Both credenzas open to reveal a playful and spicy purple interior.

Room and Board has partnered with St. Louis-based refrigeration company True Residential to create the Amherst Cabinet, a nifty storage piece in white oak or walnut with a built-in refrigerator that can serve as a resting place for a television, books or works of art.

Deny Designs has an extensive collection of Baltic Birch credenzas with artist designed front panels; they could be an interesting way to bring art into a room where wall space is limited. Available at various retailers.

A misty mountainside forest rises to the front of the Studio 83 Oranges Forest Fog Cabinet, available at Overstock. Photographer Bree Madden’s dreamy images of Southern California landscapes and landmarks are part of a collection at Havenly. And at Target, there’s an array of tribal prints, illustrated flowers and groovy graphic patterns on Deny cabinets.

Finally, if you really want to get into the idea of ​​the wardrobe as an art form, there’s Jonathan Adler’s Spring 2022 collection and Boca do Lobo’s avant-garde designs, made in Portugal.

The exterior of Boca do Lobo’s Pixel bar cabinet is covered with more than a thousand multicolored triangles made of woods such as rosewood and African walnut, evoking a pixelated image. Inside, a mirror and blue silk quilted with diamonds highlight nine drawers, each with a golden button.

Then there is the Lapiaz cabinet collection, named after the geological phenomenon of erosion. Craftsmen create molten metal channels that fit into cabinetry clad in walnut, burl poplar, ebony or stainless steel. The pieces may look opulent in some rooms, but in a minimalist interior they would be more reminiscent of the Japanese art of kinsugi, in which broken dishes are repaired with liquid metals.

“Every room in your home is an opportunity for visual drama, for high-tension design,” says Adler.

Its spring collection includes the Kiki cabinet, which nods to the Art Deco trend. The cabinet is faced with rows of plump, lacquered caps, in ivory or deep teal, edged in brushed brass. Two velvet-lined drawers are stored inside.

Luminous blue acrylic cabochons set in brass, on a white lacquer base, give Adler’s Globo cabinet a futuristic vibe. And Adler calls his Turin bar “chic, graphic and an instant classic.” Modernist Milan comes to mind with the room’s panes painted in dark hues and then arranged in a fractal design.

About Eric Hudkins

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