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Best of the Best 2005: Bath Design

Emili Vesilind

“If you look at faucets today, you have little machines pressing out water with nothing behind it,” says Reinhard Zetsche, a designer for the Swiss kitchen and bath products company KWC Faucets. Such a description falls hopelessly short of capturing the form and function of the glass-and-chrome Murano faucet that he codesigned with Bruno Sacco, a former design director for Mercedes-Benz. “People look at it as a little sculpture,” Zetsche says in his crisp German accent. “The company actually had a difficult time finding a good environment to show it in because it’s such a strong piece on its own.”

Most ingenious to the design is its single chrome lever, which controls the direction and velocity of the water flow, along with the temperature. “To make it work, they had to put a little gearbox inside the faucet, which enables people to use it as they would other faucets,” says Zetsche, an industrial designer by training. The glass ledge over which the water cascades (after gurgling up through the center shaft of the design) also required some creative engineering. “There are lots of problems in combining glass and metal in a utilitarian design,” he says. “It was difficult to find a way to produce glass for an industrial product; the thickness is hard to control.”

Although the moniker Murano suggests that the glass used in the product is crafted on the faucet’s namesake Venetian island, it is, in fact, manufactured in Switzerland. However, KWC recently launched an edition of the Murano line (which includes showerheads and spouts) that incorporates authentic, handblown Murano glass. “It’s all limited edition, and no two pieces are the same,” Zetsche says.

The Murano’s unique design can present countless possibilities—or perhaps pose a challenge—for interior designers. “It looks futuristic, but it doesn’t work well with futuristic interiors, because it has some traditional aspects,” says Zetsche. “An Italian bath company paired it with ceramic and glass at a show in Frankfurt and it looked amazing.”

Since last year’s release of the Murano, Zetsche and Sacco have collaborated on another KWC faucet: the minimalist Canyon, which similarly provides a platform for water to flow across before spilling downward. The Canyon also incorporates lights that seem to color the water according to temperature, with cold water appearing blue and hot water appearing red. The narrow, subdued design is slated for a U.S. launch later this year.
 
Meanwhile, the Murano continues to transform even the most mundane daily acts—washing hands, brushing teeth—into eagerly anticipated events. “Is it an important piece? I don’t know,” says Zetsche, “that depends on your definition of important. I know that when you get up in the morning, it can be one of the saddest moments in the day, and this faucet says ‘Come on, it’s a nice day! Look in the mirror and be glad!’ ”

 

KWC Faucets, 678.334.2121, www.kwcfaucets.com

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