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

Kohler pledges support for E-Reader Price Books

January 25th, 2011 § Leave a Comment

#6 big spec book

Image by firexbrat via Flickr

The National Association of Plumbing Showroom Professionals announced that Kohler company has pledged their support to the NAOPSP’s newest endeavor to develop e-reader type price books.

The idea behind this endeavor is to develop an industry standard format for price books which can be accessed on an e-reader, tablet or some other sort of electronic device.

The move towards electronic price books is a smart one that saves time, money and decreases the burden on our environment. Price books become obsolete very quickly once a product design or price correction is added, addendum’s must be sent out to dealers and hopefully the updates make it into all the price books. As one who used to work in a showroom, I made sure my price books were up to date, but invariably, when busy, I would grab for another person’s price book and the updates were not included. This leads to pricing errors and slows down the sales order process.

The value in E-Reader Price Books means that manufacturer’s can send price updates seamlessly with automatic updates and additional collateral sales material for their product.  I look forward to more manufacturers providing E-Reader price books. This kind of sales tool is the wave of the future saving sales associates time and making the sales process more efficient.

  • State of the eBook: 2011 Begins! (geardiary.com)

InnoDraw: Digital Measuring Services for KBB showrooms

January 16th, 2011 § Leave a Comment

We’ve all been there, you or your company goes out to measure a job site, photographs the site, double check’s the measurements. However, when inputting the dimensions back at the office you realize you are missing a dimension or something does not add up requiring another trip back out to the job site. There is a service being offered, not nationwide yet, but well worth looking into. A digital measuring service will eliminate expensive measuring errors and CAD design-related costs are significantly reduced.

InnoDraw is a cutting edge Digital measuring service especially suited to the needs of the KBB market in the 21 Century. Customized software and extremely accurate laser measuring devices together with a strong service orientation, provide the ultimate solution for a variety of home improvement projects in the KBB market.

InnoDraw provides a win-win solution for designers, fabricators and their clients.

Compared to using fabricator’s own employees for templating:

  • Templating is now a job cost, not included in fixed overhead
  • The InnoDraw Measuring Specialist works with fabricators’ personnel to get the best value from the service
  • Save up to 40% or more in templating costs
  • Fabricator can work with InnoDraw Measuring Specialists in other locales, avoid long distance commutes and employees’ time

    Compared to mechanical and “stick” templating:
  • Light-weight and highly portable (everything packs into a small shoulder bag)
  • Less set-up time and on-site assembly
  • Measuring Specialist can complete all details on site thus eliminating additional steps in the shop and send directly to fabrication
  • Increased measuring accuracy (about 3/100” at 100’ plus)

InnoDraw  combines laser technology and powerful software together with many years of experience in  the most innovative measuring system available in this market.

Check out this real time video of a kitchen measure:

Cleaning up in the New Year in Less Time!

January 5th, 2011 § 2 Comments

Came across a new item in washing machines that sounds pretty innovative and time saving. Check it out:

Good Housekeeping honors new GE Profile™ washer with prestigious award

LOUISVILLE, KY — January 4, 2010 — (NYSE:GE) — Consumer evaluations and laboratory testing prove the “Overnight Ready” cycle on the GE Profile™ frontload washer with Steam and SmartDispense™ technology an overnight success for busy households.

It is the late-night dilemma of many busy Americans — keeping their eyes open another hour or so to wash and dry clothes they just realized they needed the next morning. GE has an answer that’s much better than staying awake through another late-night talk show: the GE Profile™ frontload washer with Steam technology that cleans clothes and gets them ready to wear by morning — right out of the washer.

GE Profile frontload washer and dryer with Steam and SmartDispense technology

The GE Profile™ frontload washer with Steam and SmartDispense™ technology (shown here with matching dryer) cleans clothes and gets them ready to wear by morning — right out of the washer.

“Good Housekeeping is proud to honor GE Profile’s frontload Steam washer with Overnight Ready Cycle with a 2011 Very Innovative Products (VIP) Award. This represents an outstanding achievement, as the winners of our VIP Awards are chosen from thousands of products,” says Miriam Arond, director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, “Our VIP Award winners are products that are ingenious breakthroughs and solve everyday problems in new and exciting ways. The fact that GE’s product performed so well is extremely impressive.”

The washer’s innovative “Overnight Ready” cycle washes clothes, then removes so much moisture that clothes are comfortable to wear without transferring to the dryer.1 It’s the first unit in the industry2 with the ability to wash small loads3 on an overnight cycle. The cycle even helps prevent clothes from wrinkling compared to clothes that are left sitting in the washer overnight. The “Overnight Ready” cycle keeps clothes moving gently up to eight hours to remove moisture content. Two easy-to-clean filters trap lint for excellent results.

“Having both that fresh-from-the-laundry feeling and a couple more hours of sleep is a huge bonus for today’s busy lifestyles. Now you don’t have to sacrifice your sleep to get the laundry done,” said Jennifer Schoenegge, product manager, Clothes Care. “Whether it’s the kids’ soccer uniforms, a pair of jeans for casual Friday, or a few dress shirts, the GE Profile frontload steam washer finishes the laundry while you sleep.”

Providing further convenience through innovation, when the GE Profile frontload washer with Steam and Overnight Ready is paired with the optional pedestal (sold separately), the owner can activate SmartDispense™ technology, which stores up to six months of detergent and automatically dispenses detergent and fabric softener based on each load’s size, soil level, water hardness and fabric or cycle type. Never worry again about laundry’s myriad variables and virtually eliminate messy detergent bottles from the laundry room.

Now through March 13, 2011, GE is offering, as part of their “Save Green” national promotion through authorized GE resellers, up to $100 in savings with the purchase of a GE Profile frontload steam washer and dryer with steam. Go to GEAppliances.com to locate an authorized GE Appliance reseller in your area.

The GE Profile™ frontload washer and dryer with Steam and SmartDispense™ technology is white (PFWS4600LWW, PFDS450ELWW, EST: $1,399* each). Additional frontload models include the GE Profile™ frontload washer and dryer with Steam and SmartDispense™ technology in champagne (FW4605LMG, PFDS455ELMG, EST: $1,499* each). Optional SmartDispense™ pedestals in white (SPBD880JWW, EST: $499*) and in champagne (SPBD880JMG, EST: $599*). *Retsellers determine their own resale price.

1. 2.5 lbs. AHAM spec allows drying of one pair of jeans, three cotton dress shirts, two soccer uniforms, three sets of crib sheets, one dress shirt, one pair of khakis, and two sets of scrubs.
2. Established through review of leading competitors’ product specifications available to the public in March 2010.
3. 2.5 lbs. AHAM spec allows drying of one pair of jeans, three cotton dress shirts, two soccer uniforms, three sets of crib sheets, one dress shirt, one pair of khakis, and two sets of scrubs.
* Resellers determine resale price.


Your cabinets are newly installed, wrap ‘em up.

October 9th, 2010 § 1 Comment

Can you relate to this? You clipped photos of your kitchen for just about forever, dreamed about what it would look like and how you would feel in your new kitchen and the joys it would bring.  Now the dream is here, you planned your kitchen remodel for six months, maybe longer, waited another six weeks for delivery, watched in anticipation for another six days as the cabinets are installed. Within six seconds your beautiful cabinets receive their first ding, then another, and another. Before you know it, you have three or four doors that need to be replaced.  As much as you want to see your new cabinets, it’s better to keep them wrapped up and protected until construction is near complete.


Ding on door

Ding on inside vertical stile on door.


If you are lucky, sometimes a touch up kit can remedy a small ding.


Wood Touch Up Kit



Stephen Klineburger, general contractor workin...

Image by Wonderlane via Flickr


Replacing doors is not as simple as you may think. First of all, if the contractor requests the replacement doors to be shipped at no charge, manufacturers may need to send the manufacturer’s representative to the job site to decide the nature of the damage and send photos back for the warranty report.  Will this be a no charge replacement or will this be a site damage replacement the manufacturer will charge you? Who’s fault is it? If the damage is not the manufacturer’s fault, the cost of a new door(s) will have to be absorbed by someone and if you were not there to see who damaged your cabinets, chances are there will be some finger-pointing between the trades. If you are working with a general contractor who is watching his bottom line, his interest is to protect your cabinets. If damage occurs he will order the replacement doors as quick as possible to keep the project moving forward and deal with his trades to prevent further damage. That said, accidents happen, even with the best contractors. So what ever you can do to protect your cabinets will be the best defense.


Book matched panels


Then there is the issue of color matching. Attempting to match the graining is problematic from one order to the next. Sending the damaged door back to the manufacturer for inspection may help them gain a better color match.


End matched and sequenced panels


Even worse, book matching or end graining means that if one door is damaged, chances are you will have to replace the matching drawer head or an adjacent upper or lower door on a tall cabinet to ensure book matching or end graining is not lost.

If you have contemporary high gloss lacquer cabinets, using touch up paint is only going to exacerbate matters. A touch up on a ding only acts as a magnifier to the damage.

The most notorious damage that can happen while your kitchen is under construction is damage from tool belts, ladders, and other equipment being shifted about in the space.  The best defense against damage is wrapping your cabinets in foam wrap to provide a layer of defense against the inevitable. You can pick up a large roll of Polyethylene Foam from a moving store or on-line web site for about $50.00.


Polyethylene Foam


This is the better choice over rosin paper or painter’s plastic because it is thicker and less prone to ripping. Your cabinets will accumulate less construction dust and be better protected from damage. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Rosin Paper



Painter's Plastic


Nora Walker’s kitchen back splash

October 6th, 2010 § 1 Comment

Nora Walker

Image via Wikipedia

A reader asks what the back splash tile is on the set of  ABC’s Brothers and Sisters.

I have talked about Nora Walker‘s kitchen set before, http://wp.me/pcRAx-1Z,  but I thought I would open it up to my social media design aficionados. What do you think it is?

I see Apartment Therapy has talked about it too, and they are saying the tile is Lanka by tile-shop.com. I disagree, the hand molded tile looks like a Campagna tile by http://www.tile-shop.com/products/campagna/campagna.html or maybe Gramercy Park by Walker Zanger http://www.walkerzanger.com/catalog/ecatalog.php. Or it could be Stellar by Sonoma Tile Makers, http://www.sonomatilemakers.com/PhotoGallery.aspx?prod-line-id=6&IsPhotoGallery=True

Like a lot of my readers, we tune into certain shows just for the set design. This set has  definitely received much attention.  I think you can get the whole series on DVD now. I rarely have the patience to sit through a one hour drama but will tune in just to see what materials are used in sets. It’s kind of fun, like furniture forensics and design deconstruction.  Here are a few snippit photos to check out the most important room, (at least to me), the kitchen. So, what do you say, is this a Walker Zanger tile or something else?

This island is on wheels for getting the best camera angles.

Close up of the Range Wall

Product Placement in Movie and TV Sets, consumers will want to know every little detail shown. It’s a bonus if your product is shown on a popular show.

ABC Drama, Brothers and Sisters

What is the tile they used in this set?

7 Things You Don’t Know About Dishwashers

August 24th, 2010 § 2 Comments

Do you pre-rinse your dishes before loading them in the dishwasher? If you do, then you are like most people who do not know how to use their dishwasher properly.

Check out this quick read on Dishwasher facts first published Aug 2, 2010 on KBBonline.com: 7 Things You Don’t Know About Dishwashers and next time you load up your dishwasher you may just know how to save energy and get cleaner dishes.

  • The Fix – Why isn’t my dishwasher cleaning my dishes? – NYTimes.com (nytimes.com)
  • Easy Fix: Why My Dishwasher Flooded My Kitchen (apartmenttherapy.com)
  • 15 High-Tech Dishwashers – From the Maytag Dishwasher Recall to Shape-Shifting Devices (CLUSTER) (trendhunter.com)
  • Phosphorous ban on dishwashing detergents goes into effect in 16 states; manufacturers roll out new cleaners nationwide (blogs.consumerreports.org)
  • It’s official: dishwashers are greener than washing up by hand (guardian.co.uk)

The Future of Sourcing Product Materials

August 23rd, 2010 § Leave a Comment

I am lucky to have great friends who share really cool ideas with me. This one came from my K & B designer pal Kathy Phillipson who shared this web link, The future of shopping, from Flixxy.com.

In this video, software designed by Cisco,  shows a virtual clothes shopping experience. But can you imagine the possibilities in the Kitchen and Bath Industry? Download a photo or import a new computer rendering of your kitchen or bath, and watch the virtual remodel begin. Imagine viewing a photograph or computerized rendered view with the actual materials for the project in a life like virtual image? Preview tile patterns and layouts, cabinets, paint, appliances in kitchen and bath layouts. This would be so very cool and handy in many ways.

Designer’s would save themselves from scraped knees and sore backs lugging huge tile samples back and forth from store to showroom to job site. Manufacturers could place their virtual product catalog in front of more consumers and update it electronically with ease. Imagine the possibilities. Imagine downloading the newest stain color or door style from your cabinet manufacturer instantly instead of waiting two weeks or more for a sample. Of course actual samples are absolutely necessary before making a decision, but with the power of virtual shopping, this would be an awesome tool to help your client visualize the materials in place in their kitchen or bath remodel. Seeing it in life size views beats a small screen computer monitor any day. It is a known fact many consumers share the same problem in trying to visualize what their kitchen will look like. You can show your client a sample tile or a swatch but with software like this, you can show your client on a life size screen many more design options. The power of this software is truly awesome.   This concept is not far off from what most designers offer now with photo realistic renderings printed from their computer screens, but I believe this software with it’s life size images would take photo realistic images of a remodel to the next level in sales opportunities and ease of more product access.

I can see this as a phenomenal sales tool in a plumbing showroom too. It’s not possible for showrooms to carry samples of every single line available. But with this new software, there are so many cool things you could do with it. Envision a life size virtual kiosk, with a sales associate showing your client a custom shower system, imagine selecting the placement of the body jets, shower head, hand held in a virtual setting. Don’t like the handle style or want to see it in another color? In a flash you pick another. Move the hand held shower to a different spot? No problem. Maybe even show the water spray patterns on shower heads. I mean, think about it, there are endless possibilities with this software.

Link Back Thank you to The Oven Claw

August 4th, 2010 § Leave a Comment

Just a quick shout out to The Oven Claw Blog and Bill Leikam! Thanks for the mention too. Move over Martha Stewart and Oprah, it’s my pleasure to be the bird dog when I see a great gadget too. Noted as “America’s Most Promising Startups” featured in Business Week 4/07/09.  Have you ever been burned when pulling out a hot turkey or pie from the oven? I have and it’s no fun. The Oven Claw, is a very sturdy and unique kitchen tool that solves this problem. “The 18-inch long grabber can easily extract a cooked turkey from the oven without making a cook reach her (or his) arm inside (and possibly be burned).”

I like it because it’s sculptural too. Looks good hanging around in the kitchen.

reference: http://blog.ovenclaw.com/?p=113