June 15th, 2011 § 1 Comment
I just read a post from the great Saxon Henry about her experience visiting American Standard. So eloquent and witty, she said exactly what I felt and thought about our recent tour of American Standard’s Design Center, but the difference is she has the writers knack and I do not. I will sum it up ever so clumsy by nodding my head and agreeing, “Yup, what she said.”
So without further ado, let me point you to Saxon Henry’s post.
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June 14th, 2011 § 7 Comments
Last week, I was pleased to be one of six invited guests of American Standard for a tour of the American Standard Design Center in Piscataway, New Jersey.
The design and marketing team at American Standard Brands provided a great presentation highlighting the current trends in designer faucets, fixtures, furniture, sinks & tubs. As a designer, I look forward to attending factory tours because you get to see firsthand the level of detail, craftsmanship and service that goes into your decorative fixtures. Gray Uhl, Director of Design at American Standards, stated it most eloquently, “When you don’t think about my product, we’ve done a good job.” Maybe more important than style, durability and reliability is what you first come to expect from your fixtures.
So the question on everyone’s mind lately is what does the consumer expect from their decorative plumbing fixtures? Are we looking at the end of excess or is luxury back? The answer may be a little of both. The American consumer is very savvy and the demand for quality products is a very important factor in deciding which brand to buy.
- Contemporary styles are still on the rise. You have to wonder how many ways can a faucet be redesigned? You would be surprised! The design department is always trying out new shapes and ideas, (and I will have to tell you about the 3-D copier in a minute), but some of the most popular shapes that get a thumbs up with test groups are contemporary or transitional styles with more sculptural shapes.
- Bathing is sinking and showers dominate. Say it isn’t so! But yes, as building styles adapt to a smaller footprint, so it goes with a shift in reducing the size of tubs to accommodate a walk in shower or showers with zero thresholds.
- You won’t see tubs disappear entirely; instead tubs are being designed smarter. Watch for modular combinations in whirlpool tubs and eco silent tubs. A quiet whirlpool tub? Yes, it is possible!
- Watch for an increase in freestanding tubs as well.
- Bathroom collections will continue to have a furniture quality. Toilets have the look of furniture with higher seats, consciously mimicking furniture.
- Re-purposing design details from the 1920’s with modern performance and ergonomics is a classic that will continue to be popular.
If you are a computer nerd like me, you will enjoy hearing about the 3-D copiers. The engineers can draw the shape of a faucet in CAD and send it to the 3-D copier to produce a prototype made out of ABS plastic. I was surprised to see fishing wire is utilized in these high priced copiers. Yes, fishing wire! Of course there is a lot of other high priced gadgetry involved in a 3-D copier. If you were looking to pick one up, be prepared to shell out over $40,000 for one of these machines.
Mad scientist skills and sworn to secrecy policy:
Part of the fun of touring manufacturing facilities is that you get to see what they are working on that might be top secret. Since I have been sworn to secrecy there are some things I cannot tell you about. Let me just say, these engineers and designers really have a cool gig and toilet humor aside, they really flush out all the details to ensure your bathroom toilets, faucets and fixtures provide durable and lasting performance. You have no idea the level of detail and technological advancement that goes into design and product development and as Gray Uhl said, “When you don’t think about my product, we’ve done a good job.”
ABOUT AMERICAN STANDARD BRANDS
American Standard Brands is a leading North American manufacturer of a wide range of high-quality building products, including faucets, fixtures, furniture, vitreous china fixtures, cast iron sinks, whirlpool tubs and other wellness products for the bath and kitchen as well as decorative panels. The company currently offers total project solutions for residential and commercial customers; employs more than 5,000 people in the United States, Canada and Mexico; and markets products under well-known and respected brands, such as American Standard®, Jado®, Porcher®, Safety Tubs®, Crane®, Eljer®, Fiat® and Decorative Panels International®. American Standard Brands is an affiliated portfolio company of Sun Capital Partners. For more information, visit www.americanstandard.com
February 23rd, 2010 § 10 Comments
2010 has started out on a positive note. Finger to the wind, I detected business was steadily increasing as I already had more appointments booked in January than I did in the last quarter of ’09. So, I was a little worried that taking time off of work and accepting an invitation from Brizo*, the luxe faucet line from Delta, to attend the 2010 Jason Wu Fall Collection at Fashion Week in New York City was an extravagance I don’t have time for when business is picking up. I slept on it. The next morning I said to myself, “What, are you crazy? Work will be there when you come back as I stared at a hand written note from a colleague I have kept on my bulletin board for years. It reads:
Dare to challenge yourself, dare to reinvent yourself, and celebrate success.”
shown above: RSVP Collection.
As Judd Lord said in our Product Training Session, “At Brizo, “We are aiming to create a statement just like the fashion industry would do and that means seeking out every nuance we can find, which almost never includes anything to do with plumbing fixtures!”
Design Inspiration is all around us. The design team at Brizo has the good fortune of being able to travel the world and translate their design ideas into faucets that you would want to have in your kitchen and bath.
Here is a small sampling of where Brizo designers find their inspiration.
Baliza effortlessly combines the timeless and the modern. Wrapped around its classical form is cutting-edge innovation, including a four-function pull-out wand that attaches with new MagneDock® Technology. Baliza is the first pull-out or pull-down kitchen faucet to allow water volume to be controlled from the wand.
from Blue Bell flowers…
…and from ideas inspired by colors and shapes found in fashion. Ideas can start from a quick jot of an idea on the back of a cocktail napkin, as is the case of the Venuto Collection (shown below) which was inspired by hair pins worn by Japanese woman. Read the story told by Judd Lord at Kitchen and Residential Design.
The trip was a dream, Brizo style! I came, I was inspired, and grateful for the experience to bring back and share my experience with you. Look for new product releases from Brizo in spring.
The ethereal dream like photography images from Brizo’s ad campaigns are the work of photographer Howard Schatz. It was interesting to know these images were created underwater. How perfect is that? Check out this video below to see how they did it.
September 16th, 2009 § Leave a Comment
May 19th, 2009 § 6 Comments
There are times when I scratch my head in disbelief when do-it yourself remodeling types do not plan out the project details. Here is my “fly-on-the-wall” experience with a moral at the end of the story.
This weekend I was in a plumbing store with a client, helping with her plumbing selections for an upcoming project. What happened next placed me in a suspended state of disbelief.
A lovely woman walked into the store and explained she needed a lavatory sink and faucet and another faucet for the kitchen. Nothing too unusual about that.
The sales person proceeded to ask the customer the usual questions:
S: Are you looking for a self-rimming sink or under-mount?
S: Ok. Do you have a preference for wide-spread faucet or single faucet mounted on the deck of the sink or on the counter?” Do you know what your new counter surface will be yet?
C: New granite top. White self-rimming sink. Single hole faucet style mounted on the sink
S: Ok, great we have several options we can look at.”
S: Next, is this for new cabinetry or are you replacing an existing sink and counter and keeping the cabinets?
S: Alright, do you know what are the existing sink dimensions?
S: “‘What’s that? your existing cabinet is 15 1/2″ front to back?” What’s that? Oh, It’s for your boat?
Oh, I see. Hmm, would you mind if I made a suggestion for an undermount with the single faucet mounted on the rear left or right and not centered. Or we could look at some stainless steel bar sinks that could work. Self rimming sinks with a faucet mounted on the porcelain are just not made that small. We can check the catalogs, but I am pretty sure it is a tall order to fill, I can think of two or three small sinks that may work.
C: No, no, we have that style now, and I really don’t like it at all. I really want to change the style.
S: “How soon do you need it?”
C: “I am running out of time, I have the granite fabricator coming this Monday and need to get this done today.”
When the customer said she needed it by Monday, the salesperson could have been a deer struck in headlights. That was Saturday with a customer looking for a specialty item she could take with her or have by Monday.
There was a line of people needing help and this customer insisted on going through all the catalogs to prove to herself that the salesperson indeed did not have a sink in stock that met her requirements.
Ideally, when planning a remodel, the cardinal rule is to plan in advance to have all the components on site or in stock ready to ship to you.
Lead times: Not all plumbing stores stock inventory. The specialty plumbing stores carry thousands of models from the plumbing manufacturers they buy from and most will have a lead time from as short as two weeks and as long as 6 weeks for special order items. Chances are, unless you walk into a big box store with product on the shelf ready to buy, there is little chance you will be able to walk away with it the same day.
Check ahead: Not all competing stores carry the same stock. One store may stock Kohler and another down the street may stock Grohe. Call in advance, save yourself the aggravation and wasting gas and time driving all over town. Ask the store manager or head of the dept. what brands they stock or that you can get within the week. Sales people should be able to help you over the phone with these basic questions. Check with your plumber where he buys from. Industry insiders are the best people to ask.
Getting the best service: Don’t abuse a salesperson’s time on the phone. Yes, that’s right. To get the best service and best price keep your questions over the phone, simple and direct. Most will not be able to quote prices, but will be able to take care of your general questions. Ask your salesperson what’s the best time to come in. They want your business, but if you need more handholding in product selection and need to look at every catalog and get a price on multiple styles, showing up during prime time hours means they have to hustle to take care of several customers and cannot focus on you alone. Most salespeople are knowledgeable and want to help. If you find yourself in a busy showroom, write down model #’s. Tell the salesperson you are working on a large project and have several things you need to order. Ask if they can fax or email a quote back to you. If you are willing to be flexible, you can get a lot more in the way of service and probably a better price.
Unfortunately, waiting till the final hour before the plumber arrives, can lead to some very unhappy compromises in your selections.
Better idea yet, if your request is for the unusual and your taste is very selective, your best value is hiring a designer to begin with. A designer has the capability of sourcing out custom features and will be able to recommend the best showrooms to find product. In addition, a designer may be able to recommend a much more efficient floor plan, so that you are not at the mercy of unusual dimensions.
There was more delays in her selection process. Most all the faucets had a red and blue dot indicating hot and cold and she needed one that did not have that. A few more customers came and went, not able to stick it out waiting for service. While the salesperson, (poor chap- he did the best he could in the limited amount of time he had), went off to assist another customer, I felt a little sorry for this lady’s predicament. I whispered quietly to the lady looking for the unusual sink, “that is a very uncommon sink, have you tried a specialty plumbing supplier that carries sinks for marine and rv equipment?”
Answer: “Oh, I didn’t think of that! I had no idea it would be so difficult.”
Moral of the story: When you fail to plan, plan to fail.
May 15th, 2009 § 4 Comments
Choosing a kitchen or bathroom faucet spells unlimited possibilities! What’s not to love about selecting new faucets. It is the jewelry feature in a bathroom or kitchen. Faucet manufacturers are delivering new and beautiful ways to deliver water.
To open up my new segment called Faucet Friday, today we will examine some of my favorite faucet designs from Cifial, (pronounced See-FEE-al).
With a timeless quality, the Hexa Collection by Cifial, adds a modern twist to Art Deco. Notice the sleek high arch as the water flows elegantly with a twist into the basin. Measures over 9″ high and offers two handle styles to select from.
Exclusively engineered by renowned Portuguese designer Carlos Aguiar, the Techno M3 series by Cifial combines flawless lines with a modern twist to create an unrivaled look to any home.
The entire collection is available in a choice of four finishes including polished chrome, satin nickel, polished nickel and weathered. Awarded the 2008 ADEX Platinum Award for Design Excellence for it’s superior product design and quality.
The Design Journal’s Award for Design Excellence (ADEX), which recognizes outstanding furniture and fixtures product design, is one of the industry’s most prestigious awards competitions.
Well suited for universal design , the crown lever handles of the Spout Series are easily turned on and off with minimal effort for limited range of motion or suffering from arthritis. The Brookhaven collection was awarded the Adex Silver Design Award in 2007.
Brookhaven shown in finish R15, Rough Bronze.
Brookhaven shown in finish 721, Polished Nickel
Note about this design, and other faucets designed for vessel sinks,
they do not include a pop up control.
(that’s the skinny plunger piece that is usually found at the back of a faucet).
Specify a sink drain with touch pop up to open and close drain. (Shown above at right).
Stands 13 5/8″ tall. Reach 8 5/8″ centerline from base to center of spray head.
Cifial Faucets are IAPMO Certified.