In 2002, Nornberg & Associates was given the Honor Award for Craftsmanship for Cabinets by the St. Louis Chapter of the American Insitute of Architects. The award was received for a kitchen cabinetry project in Clayton, Missouri.

As stated by AIA St. Louis, "This project is a fine example of taking a craft to the next level. The jury saw this millwork installation more as fine furnishings instead of cabinetry. The care in wood selection, detailing, and installation represents a skilled craftsman at the highest level."

During the building of a 6,000 square foot private residence, we ran into a problem. The owners chose kitchen cabinets from a European manufacturer through a local kitchen and bath showroom. When the price for these cabinets came in at almost $40,000 more than the cabinet allowance for the entire project, the owners were understandably upset, as was I.

My cabinetmaker had already agreed to build the plastic laminate cabinets for the project, and when I asked him if he knew anyone who could build the kitchen cabinets more reasonably, he volunteered to build them as well. In the end he built all the casework for the entire house, stayed within our original allowance, and he and I won an AIA award for them.

They are still strikingly beautiful with their simple, minimal lines that play up the exotic veneers and unusual foreign laminates of which they are built. The owner and I collaborated on the design—I played a role in exposing her to materials she had not previously been shown, and she came up with wonderful juxtapositions of these materials.

The quarter-sawn oak kitchen cabinets are trimmed with Purpleheart, which refers back to its use as the material for the island. It is then carried through into the adjacent butler’s pantry where it becomes the material for the exterior of the casework but with a new twist: the wall cabinets lining the space have glass fronts and shelves, and while the doors are Purpleheart, the cabinet interiors are a thinly ribbed Chartreuse anodized aluminum laminate. They are lit from within as well and the juxtaposition of materials is both unexpected and striking in its beauty.