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. 

I have a new found appreciation for Plumbers and the rates they charge.

November 30th, 2009 § 5 Comments

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend! Long weekends are so wonderful, it’s like getting a little mini vacation.

Today, I helped my brother ( I read the instructions) install a new Pilar Touch 2O kitchen faucet by Delta. I’ll blog more about this week with tips and comments. Bottom line: We love it! It’s terrific. Look ma, no more chicken hands on the faucet.

We got it in and it works great, but I certainly see why plumbers get paid the big bucks. It’s not just the process of installing a new item, it’s dealing with cruddy old parts, rusted angle stops and other detritus that they are prepared to deal with that a novice is not. So anyhow, it’s a beautiful thing to complete a project from start to finish even though it took us all day while a plumber would have done it within a couple of hours.

Managing Design Expectations: The Client -Designer Relationship

September 16th, 2009 § 4 Comments

The Kitchen Designer: Hello, this is Laurie. How may I help you?

Client: Oh Hello, before you come out to my house to take measurements, I have one other request for my kitchen design. At our first meeting you asked us if there was one primary cook or two and if we had any special needs we want you to take into consideration.
The Kitchen Designer: Yes?
Client: Well, yes, we thought about your question and realize we do have a family member that uses the kitchen quite frequently and we think we need to take his special needs into consideration.
The Kitchen Designer: Oh?
Client: Yes, you see we have a cat that won’t drink from his bowl. He drinks from the kitchen faucet. Actually, our cat is very fond of water. The only problem we have with this is that he can’t turn the faucet off when he’s finished. We need you to help us with this. Can you specify a sensor into the faucet that will turn off when there is no motion?
The Kitchen Designer: Well… sensor faucets are on the market and they are becoming more popular…I would have to check specs to see how we could make this work…I suppose…can I get back to you with an answer?
Client: Sure, that would be fine. Here is a video we took of our cat, perhaps it would be easier if we could just show you what we mean. If you can just review this, and maybe if you can also show this around to your vendors to get the best deal, we want the faucet to be triggered by a sensor…our water bill is getting pretty high with the faucet on all day. Can you show us all the best possible options to help us out?

This is a hypothetical story, of course, using a very funny cat video submitted on line by Kim Tasky at You Tube. (She is neither a client nor the person in the above scenario.) I use this very amusing cat story to make a “tongue in cheek” point about a universal problem regarding the client-designer relationship.

The point is this:
There are some clients working under the impression that Kitchen Designers should spend time on your project researching, sourcing, evaluating, planning the best possible options to incorporate a client’s every last desire on the wish list before paying for services. There are no professions that work for free. So why do people expect to be dazzled with a design before paying for it?

You can call a plumber for a service call and he will charge you $75.00 just for the trip charge before he pulls out his plumber’s wrench.

You wouldn’t call your attorney and ask him to review your lease agreement
without expecting a bill would you?
And you wouldn’t tell your attorney “I want to see what ideas you can come up with first and then I will let you know if I will hire you.”
Perry Mason

Kitchen Designers receive a myriad of special requests for a remodel project. Some details more complex then the next to specify and execute. And most every time, the client is on a deadline because they did not budget the time to allow for the design details to be fleshed out. All projects, no matter the size, require thought and research before recommendations can be made. Here in lies the problem. How do you value your designer’s time?

How much free design do you think you are owed before paying a retainer?

Solving Design Problems: What is this service worth to you?
There is a perception problem about what a design is worth to the client. Here is the issue Designers are continually facing: a prospective client has a design problem they want their Kitchen Designer to solve for them. Designers expect a prospective client to interview with two or three designers before making a final selection. Qualified designers expect to be interviewed and are able and ready to prove their qualifications to prospective clients. But ask a Designer to pull out the “dog and pony show” for you and you may get a polite response declining your request. Internally the dialogue going through that Designer’s head may be something to the effect of “I have been doing this for 30 years, I don’t need any more practice to prove I can design.”

Ask a Kitchen Designer their opinion about “HGTV” type shows where three designers are trotted out for the client to compare three fully detailed designs and you will get very opinionated answers.

“Ideas are free but designs must be paid for.” Laurie Burke

Home improvement shows have done a disservice to the design community and have built up unrealistic expectations for clients. You would be surprised to know that a majority of potential clients expect that several design options be presented in detail before paying a retainer to contract for design services. It happens at all ends of the spectrum from the high end client to the budget minded client.

A fully detailed dimensioned design plan with elevations and renderings, before a retainer is paid is just not a workable business model for designers as it involves time without money, and giving ideas away with the ‘hope’ of getting the business is just bad business.

Charles Schulz

Hiring your Kitchen Designer should be based on several factors, creativity being one if them. Secondly, the ability to complete projects in a timely manner and within budget. Third, the ability to communicate with you, your architect, your engineer, your GC or subs throughout the job as needed. Fourth, the ability to manage obstacles as they arise, and lastly the ability to see a project to it’s completion.

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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