What she said…

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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Field Trip to American Standard

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.

American Standard seated shower makes bathing accessable

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.

High style meets functional innovation in the Berwick Collection

Trending now:

  • 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.

Techie highlights:

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.

3D copier for faucet prototype development

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.”


Re-purposing 1920's designs with modern functionality and performance

 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

Faucets following Fashion

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.” 

It’s during these times, when life is stressful, a plateful of commitments and obligations that you must seize opportunities as they arise. Was it worth it? Oh yes! What I am about to tell you is a little surreal on several accounts. Some of it is top secret for now. 

Who is Brizo?
The Brizo line was launched in April 2004, a fashion forward line manufactured by Delta. Having sold plumbing fixtures in the past for a retail showroom, I can tell you first hand that it’s bath fixtures were an instant hit with the retail public, especially female consumers. I made a mental note of that years back wondering why women stood in front of the Brizo displays longer than then the men; never dreaming that one day I would get an opportunity to meet the talented designers at Brizo. Hearing Judd Lord, Brizo’s Director of Industrial Design,  speak about his travels around the world, seeking out new inspriation for the Brizo line, I understood these are creative people who are intent that their product designs will not be the same as everyone else. The message is clear: this is a fashion forward faucet line that understands that people buy products for the home as an outgrowth of their personality. The design nuances of the Brizo line is now evident to me. It’s also why I noticed why more women lingered over a striking Brizo faucet on display in a retail plumbing showroom. They are envisioning using the fixture in their own home. Brizo’s emotional intent for the consumer is to take us to another dream state…that of envisioning a new kitchen or bath room.
This Oscar worthy faucet has Hollywood Glamour written all over it.
shown above: RSVP Collection.   

The name Brizo is inspired by Greek mythology. Brizo (Greek: Βριζώ; derived from ancient Greek word βρίζω meaning “to slumber”) is an ancient Greek goddess who was known as the protector of mariners, sailors, and fishermen. She was worshipped primarily by the women of Delos, who set out food offerings in small boats. Brizo was also known as a prophet specializing in the interpretation of dreams. Source: Wikipedia. 

New York City: Meeting the Designers in Fashion Mecca: New York City. Somebody pinch me!    
I was thrilled to meet up with other kitchen and bath designers across the country, who’s blogs I have been following regularly for the past few years. Here is the list courtesy of Paul Anater’s site, Kitchen and Residential Design. 

Aston Smith
Sabrina Velandry
Paul Velandry
Cheryl Kees-Clendenon
Ann Porter
Susan Serra
Jamie Goldberg
Kelly Morrisseu
Adrienne Palmer
Chuck Wheelock
Johnny Grey
Sarah Lloyd
Pam Rodriguez
Andie Day
Carmen Natschke
Leslie Clagett
Saxon Henry

Blogging has become a new phenomena for designers, a platform to share information with clients and readers as well as sound off about what we see, want and need in our design world. Or simply to share random thoughts and rants alike. It’s because of our blogging that we were tapped to come meet the designers at Brizo and give our feedback on the new products in development. While I can’t tell you what is coming, [shh, top secret], you will just have to watch for updates in Spring, I can tell you that getting to meet with Brizo’s Product Development team, Brian Nobbe, Judd Lord, Seth Fritz and all the fine people from Brizo and MS & L was a surreal experience. Suffice it to say, the Brizo design team knows how to make designers perk up and engineers cry. There I sat in a product preview think tank, elbow to elbow with some rock star Kitchen and Bath designers in their own right, and I just had to stop and think “Am I dreaming?” Brizo wants to know what I think of their new products. (In my head, I was thinking…”You’ve come a long way, baby”), from my past experience spec’ing out the product with customers in my showroom to being flown to New York for a Product Training Session with fellow Kitchen and Bath Designers that I admire was nothing short of surreal.  

Where Faucets meet Fashion. Meeting Jason Wu. 
The highlight of the trip was getting to attend a New York Fashion Show. Just as Brizo is a fresh new face on the luxe faucet scene, up and coming Fashion Designer, Jason Wu, made a splash on the fashion front as First Lady Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown designer. Known for his ethereal-like ball gowns, it was logical for Brizo to sponsor Jason Wu during Fashion Week. Brizo and Jason Wu are two brands with a similar design aesthetic. What we see on the runway first filters down to home interiors in color, pattern & style lines. 

On being inspirational. 
Imagine for a moment that you are a product designer for Brizo. The challenge is coming up with new and inspiring designs for consumers that are functional, built with cutting edge technology, and different looking than anything else on the market. Not to mention convincing the engineering department that the new concepts are relevant and not gimmicks. Having won the prestigious Adex Award for four collections, The Red Dot Award, The Graphis Award, House Beautiful KBIS Award, Brizo has consistently proven they are a formidable force on the luxury faucet market.

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.  

From by-gone eras, (shh-top secret)  to lighthouses, 

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…

Inspired by the bluebell flower’s distinctive silhouette, Talo is Brizo’s first traditional pull-down faucet. This unique form is married to a wealth of advanced features, including a 2-Button, 4-Function spray wand, 
MagneDock Technology®, and Brizo’s exclusive SmartTouch Technology®, which allows water activation with just a light touch.
Jason Wu Fall 2010 runway 

…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. 

*Brizo compensated me for travel and accommodations. 

New on my Watch List: Coquillage Sink by Amin Design

September 16th, 2009 § Leave a Comment

Perfection in form.
What a beautiful sweep in form from lavatory to faucet.


Lead times: How soon do you need it?

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?
C: Self-rimming.

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?

C: Existing.

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?”

“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.

Faucet Friday: Installment 1

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).

Lavatory Faucets

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.

Statuesque Brookhaven L- Spout Series

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.

11 1/2″ high spout works well for vessel sinks or basins that are not shallow to prevent splashing.
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).

Kitchen Faucets

Techno Kitchen Pull Out faucet by Cifial.
Stands 13 5/8″ tall. Reach 8 5/8″ centerline from base to center of spray head.
What I like about this sprayer: you don’t need to keep your finger on the knob to get the veggie spray. There is a diverter built in. Great feature in a kitchen pull out. Twist with a click of your finger, the water switches from aerator spray to clean rain veggie spray. Release to position 1 or it does it automatically when turned off.

Cifial Techno Single Hole Lavatory/Kitchen Faucet with swivel spout.
Standing at 13 1/8″ this faucet will be perfect as a low profile island faucet or a lavatory faucet.
2008 ADEX Gold Award for Design Excellence for it’s superior product design and quality.

Cifial Faucets are IAPMO Certified.

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