Delta Faucet, Judd Lord

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Delta Faucet is a well known US tap manufacturer. It has been trading in Saudi Arabia for more than 30 years and recently opened a Dubai office. Judd Lord is the director of industrial design

Founded by the Masco Corporation in 1954, with the launch of the single-handle taps, Delta Faucet owns the Delta, Brizo and Peerless brands and recently launched Touch2O and Diamond technology.

Judd Lord has been a designer with the company for more than 18 years and was hired as director of industrial design in 2000. He views product design as both an artistic and structural engineering challenge and finds inspiration in different cultures and nature to create what he calls ‘functional sculpture’.

A graduate of Purdue University, Indiana, US, Lord earned a Bachelor of Science degree in inventive design engineering and a Master of Arts degree in industrial design. He has won numerous awards, including Platinum, Gold and Silver ADEX Awards from Design Journal, the American Building Product Award from Home magazine, 2000 IDEA and 2003 Catalyst Award from Industrial Designers Society of America and Business Week, as well as several Good Design Awards from The Chicago Athenaeum.

Lord has designed many of Delta’s most successful products and was instrumental in laying out the groundwork for the Brizo brand portfolio, personally designing several of the initial marquee product suites.

What are you currently working on?
Our team designs products for all three Delta Faucet Company brands, Delta Faucet, Brizo and Peerless. We’re always thinking five steps ahead when it comes to design trends. The team does a fair amount of trend spotting travelling, both domestically and abroad, and we combine our own research with that of a consumer and design intelligence firm with whom we closely work with to identify upcoming trends in the interior design industry. We use these projected trends to help us navigate the design world and develop products that will meet future consumer demands.

In addition to design, we look at many non-plumbing related industries such as using water in smarter and more environmentally responsible ways, furniture, lighting, automotive, surfaces, etc… for inspiration. Another one of these industries we look to for inspiration is fashion.

One project we just finished working on for the Brizo brand is the Jason Wu for Brizo collection. Our team worked very closely with Jason to create a stylish powder room suite that merges the signature styles of both brands. It combines sleek Scandinavian design and intricate Baroque detailing.

It comes in a Matte Black finish and is paired with Polished Chrome or soft Brushed Nickel. Much like fashion accessories pull together an outfit, the added pieces in the collection will complete the look of the bathroom. We also just introduced the Fuse kitchen collection which was inspired by the trend of colour blocking.

Color blocking is popular in both fashion and interior design. We believe people want to express themselves through home decor just like they do with their own style. The collection features a split-finish pull-down faucet, which is offered in a combination of a Brilliance Stainless finish with Cracked Pepper (black), Chili Pepper (red) or Snowflake White.

How many people are on your design team?
The industrial design team is based in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Delta Faucet Company corporate headquarters.

We currently have four members on our core team: myself, Seth Fritz, Celine Kwok and Tony Spangler.

Fritz has been with the company for eight years and is inspired by Rube Goldberg, an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer and inventor who was best known for his popular cartoons depicting complex gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways.

Kwok was born and raised in Singapore. She has two degrees, one in graphic design and the second in furniture design. She worked as a graphic designer before coming to the US to pursue a degree in furniture design.

For the last five years, she has been working as an industrial designer at Delta Faucet. Bringing a different cultural viewpoint and design background to the team.

Spangler has been with the firm for 33 years, involved in drafting and literature, to industrial design and R&D. His approach to problem solving is equaled only by his fascination with all things technical. In his free time, he caters to his non-technical side by pursuing outside interests in areas such as glass work, medieval technology and hand tool woodworking.

The team works within Studio i3 where our approach to the research and development process is a little different from other plumbing product manufacturers. We have an in-house team of industrial designers, mechanical, electrical, as well as chemical engineers, marketing and purchasing professionals that acts like a design studio—working together to incubate new product ideas, create designs and develop technologies.

The team within Studio i3 engages in more than just the traditional research and development process. Among other things, we are charged with reinventing the company every five years. Our team name—Studio i3—reflects how we turn ideas into reality for the end user.

We imagine, innovate and inspire. I helped design this space in the hope that it would encourage creativity and foster collaboration amongst all of the teams involved in the product development process.

To encourage collaboration, communication and teamwork, there are no hard or structured walls or doors between offices, and all the office furniture is on wheels, making it easy to move products, concept sketches, models, etc. where they’re needed to make the product development process as efficient as possible.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
In addition to staying abreast of current and upcoming industry trends, I challenge myself to find inspiration in the world around me.

For instance, our team travels to different places throughout the world to immerse ourselves in a variety of architecture, art, nature, culture and fashion. From the silhouette of a model on the runway to the timeless beauty of lighthouses, inspiration can be found everywhere. For example: The Brizo Virage bath collection was inspired by Old World wrought ironwork.

Drawing inspiration from lighthouses, the Brizo Baliza features a unique architecture and simple, elegant lines. And, the handle of the Brizo Venuto kitchen faucet was inspired by the hair sticks worn in women’s hair in Asia.

Nature is definitely a great place to look for inspiration as well. Biomimicry is the examination of nature to emulate, or draw inspiration from to solve human problems. The design of the Delta Linden kitchen and Linden bath collection were inspired by the strong, graceful presence of the Linden tree in nature, while Brizo’s Floriano was inspired by an emerging flower in springtime and Belo found its cues from a graceful swan.

What challenges do you face?
It can take years for a design to go from conception to completion. Our recent collaboration with Jason Wu was a reminder to us that design, whether rooted in garments or interiors, follows the same path from start to finish.

After developing the initial design, we go through many iterations of prototyping to get the design to its desired final form. We then work with the engineering teams to revise and tweak the model to get the concept to a point where it is manufacturable.

After we’ve finalised the design and manufactured a model, each product goes through rigorous internal testing before being launched. Understanding the time and effort that goes into the development of a product, we are constantly challenging ourselves to create timeless fixtures. Each design needs to be just as relevant to the consumer five years from now as it is today.

Even if someone from the engineering team says it can’t be done, we will go back to the drawing board and work with them to find a way to make it possible.

For example, we wanted the entire Brizo Virage faucet to twist and turn. When we first brought the design idea to the engineering team, they told us it wouldn’t be possible to construct the faucet the way we wanted it.

After working closely with them, we were able to come up with a concept that could be brought to life, staying true to the original design intent. If you look at each fixture and accessory within the collection, you will notice that every aspect of the collection is twisting and turning.

Another challenge we face is to meet the needs of a wide audience with a singular design.

As one of the largest US manufacturers of residential and commercial faucets, our products are used across the globe. To that point, we are challenged to design products that are on-trend, but aren’t specific to a particular niche.

Delta Faucet, for instance, has a range of product collections that can fit under the umbrellas of traditional, transitional and contemporary design. To bridge any gaps within these categories, we’ve introduced a variety of finishes that can make a modern structure a little warmer. This is evident with the expansion of the Venetian Bronze finish, especially the Vero collection.

What next?
Our team is challenged with reinventing Delta Faucet Company every five years, which means we need to be forward-thinking and constantly keep our ideas fresh and creative. That’s where the research and forecasting comes into play, as it is crucial if we want to continue to meet the ever-evolving needs of the design community and plumbing industry.

One of the products we are launching this year is the Brizo Vuelo kitchen collection. Inspired by a gliding swan, The high-arc spout of the waterfall and pull-down model dips gracefully and is accented with the soft curve of the handle.

Brizo debuts the Cocoa Bronze split finish in the kitchen on the Vuelo collection by pairing the rich, dark hue with the warm glow of the Brilliance Stainless finish. The new finish adds a modern twist to the design, transforming the faucet into a bold statement piece.

In response to the positive reception of Brizo touch-activated technology, all models in the collection will be available with optional SmartTouch Technology, which lets people start and stop the flow of water with a tap on the faucet spout or handle.