K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for July, 2012

Jul 24 2012

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Touchless faucets

Who knew that germs were such a problem? But apparently they are, given the spate of recent touchless faucet introductions. At KBIS 2012, Moen’s MotionSense was a bright spot on the show floor, impressing many by incorporating not one, but two sensors, thus allowing to activate the kitchen faucet by moving their hands near its base or above its spout.

Earlier this year, Brizo released the Jason Wu for Brizo Odin faucet, which features both touch and touch-free operation, and Delta rolled out Touch2O.xt.

Of course, sensor faucets also save water, especially in homes where young children and the elderly can sometimes forget to turn the water off after use. And while industry experts interviewed for the April Trends column disagreed on the popularity of touchless bath faucets now and in the future, the concept seems to exhibit staying power, having spawned several models—some quite attractive—for residential use throughout the years.

A quick search through K+BB’s past product files unearthed—from 2005 to 2006—TOTO’s EcoPower sensor faucet, which runs on an electrical current generated by a water-powered turbine;


Brizo’s Pascal:


and these two Sans Hands models from Sonoma Forge, which do not have visible sensors but operate via electromagnetic sensing. As noted in the installation instructions, the spout becomes the sensor.

The newest addition to this product category—at least from what I’ve heard—is American Standard’s Moments, a 1.5-gpm single-hole model with a sensor in its base. Its Selectronic sensing zone is preset but can be adjusted manually or via remote control with the touch of a button. For those particularly water-conscious, a 0.5-gpm version is also available.

One last note about American Standard’s new touchless faucet. When I was conducting interviews for the April Trends piece, I asked Gray Uhl, design director for American Standard Brands, if the company would be introducing such a product in the near future. In response, he discussed the complications of its production: the electronics involved, the methods of powering it and adjusting temperature. He also said this: “We are working on some things out in the future. But our plan is to introduce electronic and sensors only when they really solve a problem in the home.”

So the future is now.

Jul 19 2012

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Milton Gralla and K+BB: A bit of history

I learned this week that Milton Gralla passed away on July 11, 2012 at the age of 84.

For those of you new to K+BB Magazine, you may not know that the publication was founded by Milton and his brother Larry in 1955. K+BB, or Kitchen Business at the time, was one of several publications owned by what would eventually become Gralla Publications. Those who had the opportunity to work for the company remember it fondly for its sense of family and, from the stories told to me, such perks as an in-house shoeshine service and an snack cart that would come by in the afternoons.

If you’re interested in the beginnings of K+BB, following is a brief account of its history from our 50-year anniversary issue, which was published in September 2005:

“In 1951, after discovering that editors were in dire need of professional correspondents in major cities, part-time freelance reporter Milton Gralla founded the Nationwide Trade News Service. One of his first moves was to invite his brother, Larry, a college student and a journalist and photographer, to join him in his new enterprise. As the business flourished, the Gralla brothers took to the road, photographing and writing many of the articles that they would sell.

Along the way, they also acquired considerable insight into various businesses, including the kitchen remodeling field, which lacked its own magazine and was covered only marginally in building-related publications. The Grallas saw an opportunity and tried to interest different publishers, but with little success. One company, Industrial Publishing of Cleveland, announced its intention to publish a similar venture, but gave up before producing a single issue. Wanting to prove the merit of their concept, the brothers decided to take on the job themselves, launching Kitchen Business in September 1955. Milton was 27 years old and Larry was 25.

In some respects, the new publication was unremarkable. Its initial circulation of 15,000 was sent to compiled lists. And advertising was sold at the market rate of $375 for a 7×10 black-and-white page. Its aesthetic style was simple and the company roster was even simpler. The two brothers were the sole employees.

However, Kitchen Business’ focused editorial captured the attention of an industry long in need of such an invaluable resource. They found the information contained in each issue to be informative, helpful and free from the influence of advertisers. This emphasis on honest editorial cultivated a loyal audience, growing the title as well as others that were acquired or launched by the Grallas over the years. These included Contract, which was bought from acquaintances in 1962, and Bank Equipment News and Apartment Construction News, which were launched in 1964 and 1966, respectively. Under the Grallas, these titles also enjoyed great success.

In the 1960s, as kitchen remodelers began to broaden their business to include bathrooms, Kitchen Business adjusted its coverage accordingly. Although the tagline was also changed to reflect a wider focus, it wasn’t until October 1981, when the publication was formally re-christened Kitchen & Bath Business as “a tribute to those thousands of kitchen dealers, distributors and suppliers who have recognized and capitalized on the opportunities of better and expanded bathrooms,” wrote then publisher, Patrick J. Galvin. Galvin’s editorial welcomed readers to the “wonderful world of the jazzed-up john” and promised that the name change did not mean less kitchen news, but expanded coverage on bathroom remodeling.”

Jul 17 2012

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Soaking in the great outdoors

’Tis the season for outdoor living and what better way to enjoy nature’s majesty than to be immersed in it while lounging in your own pool—or if you’re space-constrained, the Minipool, which was shown by Zuchetti.Kos at this year’s International Bath Exhibition, which ran concurrently with EuroCucina in Milan, Italy.

Part of an outdoor collection designed by Ludovica+Roberto Palomba, the unit measures 2300 mm in diameter and 850 mm deep, has an overflowing rim and includes a circular bench that can seat up to six of your closest friends. Feel a little tense? No worries. Adjustable nozzles deliver a variety of massage programs, while a heating system ensures user comfort even after the days of summer have passed. Of course, there’s also underwater LED lighting for a little chromatherapy. The Minipool is available in freestanding and built-in models with a small ladder in metal or wood or a wooden footboard with a deck.


The Outdoor Collection also comprises an outdoor freestanding shower column, a sleek, no-nonsense design with a 300-mm-diameter rain head and a built-in rubber handshower for those harder-to-reach areas. It operates via a joystick mixer and can be specified with a shower tray, made from Canadian red cedarwood.


And finally, while this may not be new or part of the Outdoor Collection, the Faraway Pool adds instant luxury whether installed inside or out. At 4180 mm x 2350 mm x 1150 mm, it easily accommodates six people, offering them all the benefits of a whirlpool system and fiber-optics-based hydrotherapy, as well as heating for when Mother Nature begins to cool and summer becomes but a distant memory.

Jul 13 2012

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Metal countertops with a warmer cast

If your eyes like metal countertops for their cool, industrial look, but the rest of you isn’t quite sold on their functional properties, Brookyln, NY-based Wüd Furniture Design may have a solution to make you whole again. Its Pb•R encases metal in a clear epoxy resin, resulting in a material that has the hipness of metal yet is smooth to the touch and resistant to scratches, heat and stains.

Available in zinc, hot- and cold-rolled steel, blackened steel, stainless steel, lead, brass, copper and nickel, Pb•R can be used in kitchens and baths, as well as a variety of other residential and commercial applications, and can be custom made to any shape and size. Following are images of a kitchen and bath in Brooklyn where the material was specified for the countertop and vanity top, respectively. Incidentally, the company also supplied the cabinetry.