For being a relatively young brand, Brizo, has already left an indelible mark in the highly competitive world of luxury kitchen and bath design. Their kitchen and bath faucets are distinctive, innovative and stylish. Equally striking are Brizo’s advertising campaigns (image above: Brizo ad campaign launched April 2010; image below: Brizo ad campaign 2009). The advertising campaigns were born of the collaboration between fashion designer Jason Wu and Brizo – based on the simple premise set forth by Brizo for their faucet designs, “Fashion for the Home”.
Jason, renowned for designing First Lady Michelle Obama’s iconic inaugural gown, designs haute couture confections for Brizo’s ad campaigns, and, in turn, Brizo sponsor’s the young designer’s fashion shows at New York Fashion Week.
The relationship with Wu and fashion was a natural one for Brizo. As is the case for all design, whether it be fashion, architectural, industrial or furniture – no matter how different their final creation all designers start with that one moment, that one idea, that one inspiration that spurs them to create.
Jason’s fall 2010 collection was inspired by the artistic works of the legendary photographer Irving Penn. Brizo’s design team also finds inspiration from the world around them and the experiences that mold their lives. A multitude of inspirational variables from the latest trends in color, texture, pattern and form to fashion to architecture to life experiences to art to travel to culture all come into play resulting in a design equation that yields truly unique, innovative, soul-moving creations.
During the Brizo morning training session I attended, (Editor’s Note: I was one of Brizo’s guest for the NY Fashion Week events including Jason Wu’s fashion show. ) I listened as Judd Lord, Brizo’s Director of Industrial Design, discussed his inspiration for the Venuto faucet. Judd related to the group of kitchen and bath designers and design editors that it was an inspirational idea for a faucet handle which gave birth to the Venuto bathroom faucet. The Venuto handle design was inspired by Japanese hair sticks that Judd had spotted several women wearing at a Japanese restaurant in Milan. He said that the “incredible hair sticks…had really simple forms” and “that the ends of the hair sticks had a very cool slice to them and he was very intrigued by them.” The inspirational concept for a faucet handle that he sketched on a napkin, later took a more defined shape on his return flight home, and that simple inspiration resulted in the Brizo Venuto.
Inspirational Faucet Designs: Brizo’s Talo and Virage
The Brizo Talo kitchen faucet is a perfect example of what according to Jai Massela of Brizo are two of three hallmarks that define the Brizo brand, those being,“inventive technology and distinctive design”. The Talo is Brizo’s first traditional pull-down kitchen faucet that uses a technology called MagneDock which utilizes magnets to make retrieving and returning the spray wand to the faucet effortless and perfectly aligned use-after-use. According to the product specifications, MagneDock is “the first technology of its kind available”. The Talo’s Technological innovation doesn’t stop with MagneDock, the Brizo design team also included a future-forward option they pioneered called SmartTouch technology that allows water flow to be activated or deactivated solely based on touch – no need to move the handle (unless you want to).
Judd Lord Discusses Talo’s Design Inspirations
Talo was born out of the Baliza project which was going after the ‘new traditional’ trend at the time. Traditional styling is always a strong player especially domestically, and as such there is always a challenge to design fresh and interesting objects to fill these spaces. Every year there are new generations of designers reinterpreting familiar objects with a fresh perspective. The movement tends to be more about evolution rather than revolution. Baliza was just such a design exercise…with it’s design cues taken from a lighthouse with its beacon, the original Baliza design incorporated traditional details in an architecture not usually seen in this type of product. The mid-rise up-and-out architecture captures a comfortable feeling in a fresh perspective.
While the mid-rise up-and-out design was received quite well, there was still a desire for a taller, more standard pull-down option, as well. This was discovered during the Baliza design process when we were interviewing many designers, showroom folks and customers about various aspects of the current kitchen faucet offering and something heard over and over again was a desire to have the choice between a mid-rise and a taller hi-arc model. Hence Talo was born.
The kitchen island had now become a focal point of the house: where homework was worked on as mom prepared dinner; as the general main gathering spot for friends and family alike; and often time the place families ended up eating many of their meals. Tall spouts in this location were viewed by this group as a distraction by obscuring the view and interaction with others at the island. We also heard many not wanting tall hi-arc spouts at the main sink because it obscured their picturesque view out of the window. There is also the large contingent who still want the taller hi-arc spout at the main sink along the wall and a shorter version, a mini-me, if you will, of the exact same design at the island. Well with the introduction of Talo we provide the designer and homeowner the choice to mix and match between the mid-rise and hi-arc models. They both share the same design cues, even sharing the same bud vase and soap dispenser. So while Talo is not marketed as a Baliza model, its origins are inextricably intertwined with that of Baliza. Talo fits right at home in the ‘new traditional’ movement of today’s casual living.
Virage is a bathroom faucet that brings a sculptural art form to the home, and does so in an eco-friendly fashion (WaterSense Certified) – using about 20% less water while still performing as well as its more water hungry peers. Brizo’s Mandy Ellington noted on the style versatility of the Virage “putting a different finish on it really brings out a different style. Chrome and polished nickel is very modern, contemporary…Venetian Bronze brings out that rustic wrought iron look which is what [Virage] was inspired by.”
Judd Lord Discusses Virage’s Design Inspirations
Virage was designed at the peak of the Glam trend in the mid 2000s’. Both Art Deco and Art Nouveau design cues were strong and exerting influence in every style category, from the ultra-traditional to modern. At this same time we made a couple of trend spotting trips to Europe…one to London and one to Paris.
What we came away with were a lot of images capturing many of the architectural elements of these cities. A common theme identified was all the detailed and decorative iron work, especially in Paris. Whether it took the form of fences, gates, window guards, entrance accents, balcony railings, etc…this highly decorative ironwork became most intriguing to us.
As a matter of fact, much of the iron work detailing, while often stylized, was quite Gothic in nature as were many of the architectural elements and the original Virage concept followed suite. It was a J-spout profile with the quarter turn twist as it is today, but the spout tip and spout and handle base details were much more gothic in nature…visually heavier and with the look of having exposed nail heads.
After reviewing the initial prototype it was obvious we wanted to drive it more Deco to capitalize on the ever growing Glam trend wave. So to that end we visually lightened the bases and spout tip, simplified them by removing the faux exposed nail heads and punched up some of the faceting and chamfers to pull in more Deco flair. We also added some Deco styling details to the tops of the handles during this iteration, but after reviewing, decided it was visually unnecessary. The geometry itself could more than stand on its own without the extra details so they were removed. The result is the beautiful suite you see today.
One of the pleasant surprises in this design is how people are able to interpret it as belonging to several differing style categories. Many call it ‘fancy or eclectic’, many call it traditional or decorative and quite a few view it as contemporary and fresh. All of which is a very good outcome for us as it means the suite is quite transitional in nature, being able to play in any number of styles of interior spaces.
Looking to the Future of Brizo
After attending the Brizo training session; listening to their design team discuss their inspiration driven design processes; learning more about Brizo’s continuous journey for technological breakthroughs; and getting sneak peeks at new faucet designs, I was left with the striking impression that Brizo’s inspirationally designed smart faucets will, without a doubt, redefine what homeowners will expect from their faucets.
I will be attending the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) later this week, and I’m looking forward to seeing and sharing with you the new creative and technologically advanced faucet designs Brizo will be debuting at the show.