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Monday, September 14, 2009

Dornbracht - The Spirit of Water and Transforming the Mundane

C.B. Whittemore and Jon Spector, Dornbracht Have you heard of Dornbracht? I hadn't until I met Jon Spector, president and CEO of Dornbracht Americas Inc., and listened to him describe his company, which - from a very basic perspective - manufactures designer kitchen and bath faucets. [There's more, lots more, if you visit the website and explore products. For example, imagine a 'RainSky.']

I was immensely intrigued.

You see Jon immediately began talking to me about Dornbracht's 'spirit of water' and not about kitchen or bathroom fixtures. He spoke of the experiential nature of what the products enable and then the strong design sense and commitment of the company. He described these fixtures as design elements.

What came to mind was a post I wrote back in August 2006 about the Water Droplet Girls and transforming faucets into fashionable items.

This conversation though went much further because it highlighted what my friend Chris Ramey forever chastises me for when I say that flooring is fashion. He reminds me "Christine, Flooring isn't fashion - it is design. Fashion is a subset of design. It's an important difference."

These Dornbracht products as Jon described them and the company philosophy truly were design elements and not fashion ones [e.g., Check out ModerneMama's description of the Champagne SuperNova from Dornbracht], reflecting the company's design sensibility and commitment to culture. Explore the website and you'll come across some of the culture projects the company supports: Global Street Food at Art Basel, Noises for Ritual Architecture, the Farm Project, Energetic Recovery System, 3 spaces in one, bath modules, conversations, ... and even more Cultureprojects by Dornbracht.

Given the commitment to culture and design, I wasn't at all surprised to learn that the company, although it distributes products in the United States and Canada, is an almost 60 year old German company, founded in 1950.

Given that same commitment to culture and design, I wanted to experience more of the Dornbracht Spirit of Water sensibility - it's so different from what we are used to in the U.S. - at the Bloggers Bash I attended. That's when I met Jon Spector back in February during an event hosted by Veeder + Peerman and sponsored by several home-related organizations: Allsteel, Villeroy & Boch, Karastan, Dornbracht, Benjamin Moore, and Wii [yes, Wii]. I was invited to attend as a home-related blogger [because of the Carpetology Blog] and also got to spend time with some of my Karastan friends [at the time, my Wear-Dated customers].

Jon was the first person I met. I have been thinking about The Spirit of Water ever since, wondering how to transform other basic products into comparable transformative experiences.

Take flooring. How would you capture what it enables? Soft surfaces re-energize, don't they? And dance surfaces celebrate life. No?

Intriguing, isn't it?

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