Faucets That Bring Star-Appeal

Big names from the design world are lending their artistic touches to the previously mundane world of faucets, with dazzling results.

Don't look now, but big-time designers — and design houses — are making their way into your bathroom. Putting their creative touch on practically every aspect of home design, they've now set their sights on the bathroom, specifically sink faucets and fittings. They're proving, at an astounding pace, that lav or basin sets (as they're known in the industry) need not be mere utilitarian items. Here are some of the more recognizable names, and where they got their inspiration.

Barbara Barry for Kallista

Among the world's most prominent — and talented — designers, Barbara Barry is synonymous with sophistication. Her homes are as comfortable as they are beautiful, as simple as they are refined, as peaceful as they are powerful. And now she's taken that aesthetic into the bathroom. Barry was inspired by antique sterling flatware when designing the Tuxedo Collection for Kallista. The elegant basin set, with a smooth, gently rounded silhouette, is available with two distinct handle styles: Classic features traditional rounded-lever handles while Streamline has a more flattened, sleek-looking handle. The entire collection is available in three finishes, too — chrome, nickel silver and brushed nickel.

Phillipe Starck for Hansgrohe

One of the world's best-known contemporary designers, Phillipe Starck has created the Axor Starck Collection for Hansgrohe. The simple yet striking designs of the line adhere to his theory that less is more. The Axor Starck Classic Lav Mixer, for instance, is a single unit (as opposed to a faucet with separate hot and cold fittings), one that's simultaneously fashion forward and timeless. The lav mixer, available in both chrome and satin finishes, can be coordinated with other elements of the collection, too, including a shower columns and bidet mixer.

Maurizio Duranti for Aquabrass

As the story goes, designer Maurizio Duranti was listening to Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "Hey Joe" one day when he came up with idea to model a faucet to look like an electric guitar part. The striking result is a sleek, contemporary single-hole design, available in both chrome and brushed nickel from Aquabrass. It's also offered in two different heights; the shorter version is intended for conventional sinks while the taller one is appropriate for vessels.

F.A. Porsche Design Studio for Grohe

Even if you can't afford the car, you can have a Porsche; Grohe's F1 faucet was developed in a partnership with the F.A. Porsche Design Studio. As should be expected from this leader in innovation, the design of this faucet (which comes in an aluminum-colored satin finish) is anything by typical. For starters, there are none of the usual elements such as knobs, large levers or 45- to 90-degree elbows. The signature style — a centerset — has two small levers for hot and cold water that can be operated both independently and together, making it easy to use with one hand. The faucet is offered, too, in a wideset style as well as a wall-mount to be used with vessels.

Lalique for THG Paris

If you don't think that bathroom faucets and fittings can be elegant, think again. A collaboration between THG Paris and world-renowned crystal designer Lalique has resulted in a line of exquisite offerings. The Cristal de Lalique Collection consists of five distinct series of faucetry, bath fixtures and bath accessories, all of which are nothing short of breathtaking. Each handcrafted item is made of the finest quality crystal and rare metals, reflecting the singular design aesthetic that is uniquely Lalique.

Laura Kirar for Kallista

"Attaining a harmonious balance of color, texture and proportion is the objective that guides all of my work," says designer Laura Kirar, creative director of her own multi-disciplinary design firm TRU, in New York City. It's no surprise, then, that the Laura Kirar Vir Stil Collection for Kallista is minimal but refined in style. The inspiration for the collection, she says, comes from a variety of historical time periods — from Bauhaus to Danish Modern and even Japanese design. The line includes a deck-mount or wall-mount faucet in both lever and cross handle styles; the spout and the handles feature an uninterrupted, smooth surface, while bases are characterized by a ribbed texture. Four different finishes are available, too, including nickel silver, brushed nickel, chrome and a signature dark bronze finish.

So the next time you go shopping for a new lav set, consider one of these designer options. And, when your friends ask where you got it, go ahead and do a little name dropping.

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