Among L.A. designer and architect Fu-Tung Cheng’s extensive roster of talents, the one that most grabs my attention is his second degree blackbelt in Shorinji Kempo, a martial art that incorporates Japanese Zen Buddhism and styles such as karate, judo, and aikijujutsu into “an art that generally has no killing moves because of its respect for life.” Granted, it may seem to odd to segue from this fascinating fusion of dynamism and pacifism into something as potentially mundane as a kitchen sink, so I’ll let Cheng provide the transition:
Cascade Compact Sink. Designed by Fu-Tung Cheng for Elkay.
“I look for a balance between clean, contemporary lines and an expression of craftsmanship that illustrates or reveals a sense of time, place, or culture.” The statement not only says something about the balancing aspects of Shorinji Kempo, but also the designer’s aesthetic—a style that deftly toes the line between functional and aesthetic attributes, as seen in his stainless steel Cascade sink for Elkay.
Though typically known for his work in concrete, Chang departs from his chosen medium in pursuit of his desire to reflect the contemporary zeitgeist, since, as anybody who’s ever watched Top Chef knows all too well, stainless is the kitchen color of choice. The Cascade sink aspires to give residential cooks some of the same tools available to commercial chefs, beginning with a better use of space. Cascade is a double wide sink with an attached rectangular appendage or “pan” that efficiently stores all manner of food prep devices. By putting the usual roster of chef’s implements all within easy reaching distance, the Cascade arrangement aims to overcome the typical impediments to efficient food prep, like messy/dirty countertops and “lost” knives, cutting boards, and colanders.
And as to this last item, one of Cascade’s singular achievements is the virtual elimination of the bowl-shaped strainer (whose problematic storage is a personal thorn in the side) by integrating flat grids for easy rinsing and straining. Cascade’s compact assortment of functional improvements to the often laborious task of cooking is a nifty balancing act, very in line with Chang’s personal philosophy, of life as well as design, it would seem. Anyone who has “organizational issues” in the kitchen (a personal thorn in my wife’s side) will find it a revelation.