At that point – I wasn’t really surprised. I mean — an Olympic-sized hot tub in the dark and bass-drenched club on 18th floor. Nothing shocking really, it only added to the whirlwind of the previous few days. And did I actually type that? As if I could have expected anything less from PR goddess Nora DePalma. Her firm O’Reilly-DePalma represents American Standard and I have both of them to thank for bringing me here, to the Standard Hotel.
Nora assembled us – a small group of heavy-hitting social media types (and me), and I won’t even try to rewrite Paul Anater’s humble graciousness . . . here >> http://www.kitchenandresidentialdesign.com/2011/06/back-to-new-york.html. We were to visit American Standard Brands’ New Product Design Center in Piscataway NJ. It is about a 45-minute jump from the glass and somewhat monolithic Standard Hotel, at the center of New York’s trendy Meat Packing District.
As presented to me – the purpose of the trip was initially two-fold. It was both an opportunity to learn more about American Standard‘s family of brands as well as an opportunity to witness intimately the birth of products from inception and on through reliability testing. Secondarily, we would engage in open discussion on how social media is impacting the end-consumers interactions with (the) brands. And quite simply — the trip did deliver on those promises.
But . . . and beginning with the presentation “the Luxury Landscape and Design Trends” from Carter Thomas – Am Stand‘s Senior Director of Design and Brand Management … some themes quickly emerged . . . and as always, these themes seem to help me decipher it all. Partially due to the subject matter alone, but more from the general vibe of EVERYONE involved — we met and we talked . . . intimacy (not like that), personality, and transition (among other social habits and trends).
Was it a coincidence that O’Reilly-DePalma selected the Standard Hotel as home base for this trip?… probably not, but in a way I think it provided context even more than what Nora could have guessed. Each room greets its visitors with a note that says roughly — ‘Please be conscious of our neighbors. What you do near windows will likely be visible to those outside.’ OK, really roughly, but apparently there is a bit of urban lure that is attached to that.
Yet there on the 18th floor . . . restrooms lined with glass and mirrors. In the guy’s room I used — urinals of finely polished stainless steel (one of two materials allowable by code), the mirrors on both the ceiling and the floor helped reflect *ahem* my little guy into infinity (and a quick thanks to the Standard!). Other private unisex bathrooms (I heard) all glass and windowed to the world. I mean — it was an extreme counterpoint to the discussions we had been having for most of that day. And OK – we did talk a good bit about transparency too.
And funny that that leads me to this >> I am reminded of a post from friend Tamara Dalton, which coincidentally supported her submission to a recent “America’s Ugliest Bathroom” contest, sponsored jointly by Daily5Remodel and American Standard . . . Tammy wrote:
The importance of a well-functioning and beautiful bathroom cannot be overstated. These rooms are the closest thing we have in our western culture to a meditation room, where all of our most personal and private “business” takes place, and you commune with water and your true, exposed humanness. It’s the one room in your house where there is absolutely no guilt involved with locking the door and firmly keeping out your partner, your children, your pets, and your worries.
And these are the kinda things that the team at American Standard talked about with candidness, and passionate sincerity. I mean – they design products for the most intimate, personal, and perhaps, emotional of rooms… the room in which we take care of our “business.” And I guess too, I shouldn’t have been surprised by this. Deeply entrenched in all of their design thinking – human behavior, a pet study for Gray Uhl — Director of Design.
Intimate and . . . established, of course you know who American Standard is – you do . . . (or do you?). They’ve been around for 130 years – you’ve seen ‘em in homes, and surely in commercial spaces. But perhaps as trends in style are moving towards the transitional, and as Carter pointed out in his presentation — the softening of geometric shapes — so too our (collective) thoughts on luxury, the environment and, well, planning for (our) aging . . . are entering a phase of transition.
And as Gray stood, a few sentences in, at the front edge of the impeccably-detailed and airy showroom, the first stage of our formal tour — he says, “The plumbing industry is changing more rapidly than we have ever seen before.”
And I think that about sets the stage. And a shout to my partners in crime; on this trip:
& some of the offerings from these folks so far:
Even @ProfessorToilet has chimed in “…Innovation with a Side of Toilet Humor” >> http://www.professortoilet.com/2011/06/22/american-standard-design-center-visit-innovation-with-a-side-of-toilet-humor/
Me . . . back sometime next week to talk about the tour of American Standard‘s Piscataway facility. ~jb
Note: All my expenses were paid on this trip, but I honestly do not believe it in anyway has biased what I have written.