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March, 2011

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The Birth of a Faucet

The Birth of a Faucet

Have you ever stopped to consider how everyday products, like faucets and showerheads, are created? Keep reading to learn about Moen's design process.

From the moment you step into the morning shower ... fill the coffee pot at the kitchen sink ... or take a relaxing bath to unwind ... you are touched by water throughout the day. And whether you're showering, cooking or bathing -- did you ever stop and think about the product that delivers this valuable resource to you? If it's one produced by Moen®, the number one faucet brand in North America, it's likely that a team of associates spent more than 2,500 hours to create this reliable product that we depend on every day.

Before Moen's designers begin creating a new product, they collaborate with the company's marketing managers and Research and Insights department to determine market needs, as well as your desires. Designers then create inspiration boards to visually organize relevant lifestyle trends they see in the marketplace. When it's time to create, the designers need inspiration to fuel new thinking, and "Sketchfest" is one of the tools that Moen uses. As the designers sketch together, they challenge each other and build on one idea after another.

The Science of Sketching and Sculpting
Once Sketchfest comes to an end, the design team presents the sketches to a global project team and the top designs are chosen for further refinement. The second round of sketches is narrowed down once again, based on those which best meet your needs. From here, the hand-made work continues and the sketches are turned over to Moen's professional sculptor. This important associate hand carves dense foam prototypes of the actual faucets from the designers' sketches.

"When we review initial models, we can see what might need improvement. In the case of the 90° single-handle lavatory faucets, once it was modeled, we immediately saw the faucet handle needed to be smaller," explained Jen Sedwick, designer of the 90° collection. "Because the 90° design is so geometric and linear, it required a smaller handle design with a more complex lever mechanism. It was difficult to see this detail in the sketch; whereas the models bring it to life.

The Road to Reality
Then, to give the models a more life-like appearance, the foam models can be cast in a hard resin material and finished in chrome or other finishes. The chrome models are taken to groups of consumers for feedback. Homeowners, trade professionals and Moen's global business partners have the opportunity to weigh-in on designs at this stage.

"Once the design is finalized, it continues on the road to reality -- through plant production and quality testing," explained Judy Riley, vice president of design at Moen. "Testing involves real life scenarios, like swinging each kitchen faucet spout more than 50,000 times; opening and closing each faucet valve more than 500,000 times; and ensuring finishes can withstand approximately 30 different household cleaners and chemicals. The product then advances to distribution and marketing initiatives. And we ensure that it hits Moen's high standards every step of the way. Because not just any product can bear the Moen name -- only those which meet the superior quality, durability and reliability for which we are known."

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