Faucet Trend: Nature-Driven Design

When it comes to the faucet, natural shapes are one trend that is making a splash.

Leonardo da Vinci said, "Water is the driver of Nature." In today's faucets, water (in fact, all of nature) has also begun driving design.

Companies like Kohler are now incorporating nature's shapes and patterns into their faucets, says Sara Maduscha, product manager for Kohler. One striking Kohler faucet is Symbol, which mimics the way water arcs from a fountain. The intent behind Symbol, Sara says, is to impart the feeling of relaxation we have when surrounded by the natural world.

Another faucet that takes its cue from the great outdoors is the Finial Avian, a graceful, two-handled tap that depicts birds with their beaks nestled inward. Kohler also brings the elements into its design process with products like the Kohler Rain Showerhead, which is inspired by a gentle downpour.

Kohler is just one of several companies using nature as a platform for product design. According to Jon Buss, president of Humans.ca, a Canadian company that represents manufacturers of bathroom products, "There's a lot going on with the organic look. It's very timely."

Many manufacturers, Jon says, are creating fixtures that look like wood or even fruit. For example, SAN-EI, one of the largest faucet manufacturers in Asia, offers an American line of fixtures called the Pineapple Room, which takes its shape from pineapples, a traditional symbol of hospitality.

Another manufacturer that gives a nod to nature is Moen. The distinctive look of bamboo cane was the guiding aesthetic for the Bamboo faucet from Moen's Powder Room collection (www.moen.com). The open-top spout, in the shape of a bamboo reed, spills water into the sink like a waterfall.

"I think that [the reed] style will be somewhat mainstream in the next few years," says Jeff Settle, owner of Settco Inc., a Fresno, Calif.-based company that sells bathroom hardware on the West Coast.

Other high-end design companies, including Water Decor and Porcher, have also designed reed-style faucets. Water Decor's Bridge series balances a branchlike tap on a single upright post. The Porcher line from American Standard offers a similar treatment in the Alfiere Basin Faucet.

Meanwhile, says Jeff, Sonoma Forge is about as earthy as a company can get. "They make very unusual faucets that take on the appearance of hand-forged. The gentleman who owns the company is an artist and these faucets are very labor intensive."

The CIXX collection by Sonoma-Forge offers rustic, hand-finished fixtures with distinctive cross-shaped handles; no two faucets are exactly alike. Their WaterBridge faucet is a simple, contemporary design with a metal bar that bridges the handles, giving the faucet the look of a covered bridge. Keep in mind, however, that craftsmanship isn't cheap. These faucets range in price from $1,200 to $1,400.

One division of the company, Sonoma Cast Stone, also makes concrete sinks, which couple well with the hand-finished faucets. "We sell a number of them," says Jeff, "and where we have sold them, nothing else would come close to filling the design the customers are trying to achieve. It hits the mark on that style, which I guess I would describe as earthy. They really look like natural products."

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