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Appliances: French Connections

“When a design is perfect, it does not age,” says Dominique Facon, senior marketing director of Porcher. She is referring to the company’s Sapho lav—a diminutive white china washbasin that took the design community by storm in the 1980s. “We still sell a ton of them,” she adds. “And there’s no chance I could even think of discontinuing it.”

While trends rise and fall in one short season, Porcher has managed to maintain its allure since it was founded more than 100 years ago by brothers Emile and Francois Porcher, who produced luxurious bath products from their base in the Ardennes region of France. In 1991, the company joined American Standard, the largest global manufacturer of bath and kitchen products. Today, Porcher remains French in spirit but draws its inspiration from both continents.

“We are completely independent in the United States,” explains Facon. “Sometimes we take products from Porcher France. But most of the time we develop our own.” This freedom, Facon continues, allows her to work with artisans around the world and to draw from the broad product base of the American Standard group.

The new Marc Newson collection illustrates one such successful collaboration. Newson, the noted London-based industrial designer, applied his background as a sculptor and silversmith to craft the spare proportions of the collection’s white pedestal sink, freestanding tub, and bidet. Each piece appears to have been chiseled from a solid piece of pristine statuary marble with a classic yet minimalist form—so that it too will transcend time and fashion. Classic polished chrome faucets complement the mix.

Facon confesses that such perfection does not come easily. “A good designer will always bring a technical challenge to a project,” she says. “But, if you’re able to meet it, you become better as a manufacturer.” Better, in this case, also means seeking out the extraordinary. “For the last three years, Porcher has really built up its Designer Resource collection—products we develop inspired by a material or a trend,” explains Facon.

For 2003, Porcher’s focus is on geometric forms, glass, and metal, as exemplified by its collection of bronze, above-counter basins produced by an artist in Portland, Ore., named Wawirka. “I saw her work and fell in love with it,” says Facon, “so we worked together to develop a line for Porcher.” Facon located an artisan in Northern California to generate the Geometrique collection—a shapely set of clear glass, above-counter basins remarkable for their solidity and textural appeal. And from Europe, the Alfiere cylindrical faucet, in two heights, plays on form and function with its amusing joystick-like control. Facon even found a supplier to make a line of coordinating wood furniture, called Arcus.

“They have a talent, and we have a vision,” says Facon. And part of that vision is to provide choice to interior designers and architects. In this way, she says, “they can create their own ambience for a client—a unique room that no one else will have.”

Porcher, 866.455.6118, www.porcher-us.com

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