NEWTON, MA - Knowing that clients want to see as many products and full design concepts as possible, Water & Fire Kitchen Design recently threw open the doors of its new design center. Indeed, the six-year-old firm left behind its previous 3,000-sq.-ft. location in West Newton for a new 6,000-sq.-ft. showroom in Newton Upper Falls.
"Water & Fire does not do one particular style, so we needed the space to showcase [our diversity] on a much larger scale to our trade clients, such as designers, architects, builders and developers. Plus, we've learned over the years people want to see as many products on the floor as possible, in a variety of ways," says Paul Hatziiliades, managing director of the kitchen and custom cabinetry design/build firm, which designs, supplies and installs European kitchens, custom kitchens and built-in furniture.
It is with that in mind that Water & Fire designed and built its new showroom.
To better accommodate these needs, the firm incorporated "a live demonstration kitchen, design gallery room showing more than 200 sample doors in an art gallery setting, and the use of plasma-screen technology to showcase our work in the main showroom and to feature various room settings," says Hatziiliades. As a special twist, every custom door in the new showroom has the client's name for which that door was created.
"Our other space was a typical showroom, but now all of our displays flow together well," he says.
"One of the nice new features our clients like is the use of the plasma-screen TVs. They are placed strategically throughout the showroom, running through different presentations, each one telling a different story, all on a loop. It has a dramatic effect," remarks Hatziiliades.
Water & Fire also went for drama in the reception area, he continues. "Our curved reception area has ultra suede tufting, and has the 'wow' factor we were seeking," he describes.
IN THE KITCHEN
A successful hold-over from the old showroom, Water & Fire's new kitchen concept also has a dramatic impact.
"The idea has been in place since 1999, and worked for us in the old location, so we brought it here to continue the demonstrations and live events," notes Hatziiliades, who points out that while the display has a host of the latest appliances, Water & Fire does not sell them.
Rather, the firm "works with Yale Lighting and Appliance and has a dedicated representative here for our clients. Our designers are trained by the manufacturers of most of the top appliance brands, as part of our commitment to [keeping our] designers abreast of everything in kitchen design," says Hatziiliades.
Water & Fire's latest live kitchen display will continue to allow the firm to host a slew of upcoming events, particularly those that raise money for breast cancer. The most recent one was held in March and benefited the Eva Brownman Breast Cancer Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Dubbed "Wine. Dine. Design. II," the event included "delectables prepared by L'Espalier chef Frank McClelland [and] live, classical music, compliments of WCRB Classical 102.5 FM," recalls Hatziiliades.
The live kitchen display will also continue to play host to a local regional TV show called TV Diner hosted by Billy Costa.
DRAWING THE LINE
Hatziiliades is clearly proud of the end result, citing the new showroom as "a true working example of the quality of our work."
To that end, he points out that Water & Fire has "partnerships with two limited-production, full custom cabinetry makers that build anything, any way we specify. In essence, we do build our own cabinetry as far as our clients are concerned, because we can create anything [through these partnerships]."
Among the cabinet lines carried are Rëdl World Class Kitchens, Ernestomeda of Italy and Logan Inset as well as Corsi and Greenfield products.
However, Hatziiliades is quick to note that Water & Fire sells custom cabinetry projects, not lines. "We went to great lengths to develop the Water & Fire story book. Almost every photo in the story book [depicts] a project designed and installed by Water & Fire. This is a far better measure of the kitchen showroom's ability to perform than handing someone a [manufacturer's] catalog, which doesn't tell you if the dealer is actually capable of designing and installing the work shown," he points out.
"Most of our work is in New England, but because we specialize in one-of-a-kind projects that most others are not capable of, we are frequently sought out for work across the country," he continues, further pointing out that Water & Fire has also received national recognition by providing formaldehyde-free contemporary kitchens for clients who have family members suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.
As in the old showroom, the focus of the new showroom will continue to be on both design and craftsmanship, says Hatziiliades. "Our designers are full-time professionals who have an average of 18 years in kitchen design. This is a formula that has worked, and we will continue to build on it," he concludes.