Milford, MA —There are many ways to announce the arrival of a new line in a showroom. Clarke, a New England appliance distributor that maintains showrooms in Milford, MA and S. Norwalk, CT, chose an unconventional route.
It created a competition, dubbed the KWC Dream Bath Contest, which called on designers, architects and builders throughout New England to submit designs for the new bath vignette that was to be installed in Clarke’s Milford showroom.
“The contest was held as a fun, creative way to introduce our new KWC display area to the designers in our region. It was the final display of our 18,000-sq.-ft. Milford showroom. We wanted to be certain to bring the creativity, and interactive components, which exist in our Sub-Zero, Wolf, Best and ASKO displays, into the KWC area,” explains Jim Raftus, corporate marketing manager for Clarke.
“We received dozens of entries, mostly from the greater Boston region design community,” he adds.
Although Clarke was the sole sponsor for the competition, the firm assembled a judging panel that consisted of a mix of Clarke and KWC personnel, which judged each entry on the basis of “creativity and imagination in integrating KWC and Sub-Zero products within the dimensions allowed,” explains Raftus. Those dimensions included an odd-shaped space where two walls met at a 45° angle. One of those walls had a pass-through to accommodate, as well.
When Finley Perry, president of F.H. Perry Builder, Inc. in Hopkinton, MA, and Allison Iantosca, v.p./sales and marketing for the firm, first looked at the parameters, they saw a unique space with lots of potential.
“We were given a line drawing and elevation, and told the design had to showcase KWC sinks and Sub-Zero equipment,” says Perry.
They were also eager to take a crack at designing the space, since most of Perry’s team concentrates on building custom homes and renovating homes throughout Greater Boston and Metrowest. The contest allowed the 30-year-old company – which is best known in the area for its numerous Beacon Hill and Back Bay historical renovations, as well as projects in Wellesley, Weston and Wayland – an opportunity to act as designer.
“We almost always work closely with architects and designers on our projects,” elaborates Perry. “So this was a unique opportunity to put my design thoughts into play. And we thought it would be fun to come up with something out of the ordinary.”
Indeed, Perry and Iantosca put their heads together, and ultimately created the design that caught the judges’ attention.
“The wonderful mix of surfaces, bamboo and glass, the innovative curves of the countertops, the fun aspect of [being able to incorporate] a DVD with a plasma-screen behind the glass, and the use of refrigeration in a master suite all impressed the judges. It was a wonderful contemporary design which speaks to a re-awakening of that design style,” notes Raftus.
“We knew we needed to create a space that would inspire our showroom visitors to think about KWC in a very special way. [And since it’s been installed], we’ve observed visitors being drawn into the water gallery by the drama of this display,” adds Sean Clarke, general manager of Clarke.
“The Clarke showroom was an exciting palette for us,” states Perry. “We believe collaboration is the cornerstone of our company, and this contest provided the ultimate opportunity for collaboration. We were pleased to offer our brainchild contribution to Clarke’s nationally acclaimed appliance showroom.”
Concept to Completion
Perry and Iantosca’s design combines curved, green glass countertops and backsplashes, mirrored surfaces, and stainless KWC sinks and faucets, as well as bamboo-finish cabinetry.
“I chose to do a vanity on one wall that included two KWC stainless sinks. For contrast, I paired them with curved, green glass and bamboo, both of which have a natural watery quality. I also chose to treat the pass-through as a window, and use mirror to expand the space,” explains Perry.
“It was interesting to think about breaking some of the rules that many homeowners think are iron-clad, such as countertops typically being 22" deep. We love the wavy, watery quality of this countertop, which dips 14" in front of the dressing table. This actually allows the homeowner to be closer to the mirror when applying make-up,” shares Perry.
“It was also wonderful to imagine different Clarke products all assembled in one dream bath,” he continues. “I carefully selected the look of the faucets and sinks to give the feeling we were imagining. I’m a fan of adding the Sub-Zero 700 drawer refrigeration unit into unusual and useful spots like this bath. Here, it would certainly help a homeowner grab breakfast while on a tight work schedule.”
Perry and Iantosca were brought in on the initial stages of the design process, collaborating with Clarke’s in-house team, which included master kitchen and bath designer George Magyar. Then the duo’s vision was executed and installed by the Clarke team, which added a Sony DVD player and LCD screen that was cleverly hidden behind the mirror by back-mounting it.
The finished vignette features KWC Designo wall-mounted faucets, KWC Biel top-mounted sinks, Sub-Zero 700BR base refrigeration, bamboo vanities custom-built by Dyer Displays in S. Grafton, MA, and mirrors and glass countertops fabricated by Prestige Custom Mirror & Glass, Inc. in Waltham, MA.