Industrial Sublime: Henry Collection by Waterworks

After recently opening a store in the Miami design district, Waterworks is pleasing me again with the debut of their Henry collection. Named after that most famous of Henrys-Henry Ford-the suite of bath fittings is "influenced by the connection of industry and art." And this is a combination I love: see the work of Get Back Inc., for example, or the Spaghetti Chandelier. Two major influences stand behind the Henry collection: Walter Gropius, founder of the Bahaus school, and "the spirit of industrial design before 1940." On the one hand, we've got the artistic heritage of Gropius, with his emphasis on design elements, distilling everything down into squares, triangles, and circles and primary colors.

Henry Collection. Designed by Waterworks.

On the other hand, we've got the very American celebration of the machine age, a focus on the beauty of construction and moving parts that we might call the technological sublime (see David Nye for a book-length study). The result of this fusion is a 33-piece collection of fittings characterized by "a respect for basic geometric forms and a deliberate attention to austerity."

Industrial Sublime: Henry Collection by Waterworks

Industrial Sublime: Henry Collection by Waterworks

The Henry collection consists of bathroom and bathtub faucets, as well as shower systems-all of which pay tribute to art and utility. Fitting come in different finishes, including nickel and unlacquered brass, or, as with other Waterworks products, you can request specific finishings to better suit your design aesthetic. The graceful curve of the Henry Gooseneck Wall Mounted Shower reminds me of the top arc in the A of Herbert Bayer's Universal typeface. The Low Profile Lavatory Faucet with Cross Handles, featuring a prominent X shape in the handles, harkens back to the nuts and bolts of an assembly line. Everywhere in the Henry collection you see the twin ghosts of art and industry: "Geometric angles and deep curves-including pronounced hexagonal nuts, arched spouts and sleek marble and teak gland cover options-create a fitting with deep modernist origins and character." The Henry collection also includes two light fixtures, both of which celebrate the bulb as an object: the electrical sublime is on display in the Ceiling Mounted Sconce, which simply gives a round backdrop to the incandescent globe; and in the Pendant with Hand Blown Glass Shade, whose transparent cup makes a display of the bulb, as with a bell jar.

To accompany the Henry collection, Waterworks simultaneously released Grove Brickworks, a line of glazed bricks in 13 colors using a warm palette of grays and blues. With "inherent pin holes and irregular surfaces," Grove Brickworks recalls a time before mass-produced uniformity, when variability was more of an asset than a drawback. Here it is the luminous finish that elevates the ingots beyond their matter: "The unique glazed brick, transforms the utilitarian building material into a surface with subtle and textural cladding."

Via Cool Hunting.

Posted August 9, 2010 by Alicita Rodriguez

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