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GRAFF Cutting Edge Design

9 December 2013

 GRAFF 09-09 001

 

“The First Time”

 

GRAFF Luna Series 2I first heard Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in the summer of 1969, and I still remember it as one of the most extraordinary classical music events I have ever experienced, both the piece and the incident itself, the being able to hear something for the first time as an adult, not a child with an ephemeral memory. Down through the centuries, of course, uncounted millions have heard it for the first time and clasped it to their bosom, but it’s a work that has always held a special place in my heart.

 

As is so often the case with classical masterpieces, the work was not fully appreciated when it was premiered. Given the conditions of its premiere—part of a four hour concert of all new music in a bitterly cold concert hall—it is a wonder that any of the music first heard that night ever found an audience. The concerto was largely ignored until Felix Mendelssohn, who made something of a career of rescuing classical masterworks from oblivion, performed it in concert in Leipzig in 1836. Robert Schumann’s reaction on first hearing the work mirrored my own some 133 years later. He said he was so transfixed by the work that “I sat in my place without moving a muscle or even breathing.”

 

I bring that up because on December 5, 2013, I saw the GRAFF Luna faucet for the first time. The people at DRS and Associates are kind enough to keep my inbox full of interesting and innovative product designs for, as they put it, my “editorial consideration.” When I saw this faucet I knew at once that I had another blog subject. As it turns out, the Luna Lavatory Faucet received a Merit Award for the 2008 Interior Design Best of Year Awards, so I am clearly not the first to have seen it, but my reaction on seeing it for the first time evoked memories of that long ago summer concert. Given both its innovation and the utter perfection of its design, it seems rather likely that the Luna, like the Beethoven Fourth, will continue on long after its creator has passed to glory.

Along with seeing the Luna for the first time, I have also been introduced to GRAFF in some depth, and I have to say that the whole is, in many ways, greater than the sum of its parts, starting with the type of company that nurtures an atmosphere in which such things can flourish. I have encountered my share of “Mission Statements” from various companies, but I cannot say that I am often impressed with them. Far too often it is little more than fancy wording designed to GRAFF Luna Series 3obfuscate their true purpose, which is to do little more than buy cheap and sell dear. GRAFF, by way of contrast, is dedicated to bringing “a touch of discreet yet alluring cutting-edge luxury to the most intimate rooms of your home, filling the most familiar moments and gestures of daily life with aesthetic vibrancy.” Which to these jaundiced eyes seems like so much verbiage until one considers their output, starting with the Luna that has so impressed me.

 

“The Luna faucet is a piece of art unto itself,” says Al DeGenova, vice president of global sales and marketing for GRAFF. “It is intended for the homeowner with a clear sense of how art and design enhance their living environment, and how that choice reflects on the way they want their home to be perceived by others. Luna makes a very strongly articulated design statement in any contemporary space. There is no other faucet that compares to the dramatic effect of the Luna design—it really draws you in.”

 

The other aspect of this company that I find especially intriguing is their dedication to protecting the environment. Again, I’ve read quite a few claims of “going green” that are little more than claims. Perhaps the companies involved are just not as honest as they would like us to believe they are. Or they may simply suffer from an incomplete understanding of what is involved in environmentally sensitive manufacturing. Recycling is not an end all and be all. There are some who reclaim varnished wood, strip it with noxious chemicals, apply more noxious chemicals in their manufacturing process and, in sum, do more damage to the environment than they would have done had they simply used traditional raw materials. GRAFF, by way of contrast, has implemented ISO 14001 green manufacturing standards, which are environmental management standards that pertain to the process of how a product is produced, rather than to the product itself. There is a decided difference, both in method and in those who voluntarily choose to adhere to such standards. As GRAFF puts it on their website, “Being Actively Green isn’t a choice. It’s a responsibility.”

GRAFF Luna Series 4But still, for all that we love green companies these days, if what they produce is stodgy, it’s all in vain because no one will purchase their wares. I’m told that the shape of this faucet is based on a crescent moon, and when you see its shape and its name, you can see the connection immediately. What I don’t understand is how the creator of it ever saw such a connection. It’s because it’s an idea and no one—not even those who are favored with such glorious concepts—really knows where they come from. We just know that the truly creative always seem to be awash with such concepts. The other aspect of this that merits some discussion is what happened next because the design procedure is this: first you come up with an audacious idea. Then you go about the many prosaic details of actually making so bold a design into a faucet that actually works.

 

And finally, there is this. I have written only about the one concept from GRAFF, but I spent enough time with them to learn that their ideas are legion. It’s how they built their reputation, “as an interpreter and protagonist of modern lifestyle, bringing creativity and inspiration into homes.”

 

One of the things I especially remember from my childhood days in Montana is the experience of walking in our backyard after a new snowfall. I did actually know I was not the first one to walk across that yard, but because my footprints were the first in that new snow, I always had this eerily delightful feeling of being the first one to walk back there. A child’s sense of wonder. Not very many of us keep it when we become adults, but the designers at GRAFF certainly have. It is surely how they have managed to create a faucet so extraordinary that it makes one feel one is looking at faucets for the first time.

 

Joseph

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