EVERYTHING you need to know on choosing and installing brassware, aka bathroom taps, from supplier to European Royalty; Czech & Speake

Episode 30,   Mar 25, 2022, 08:00 AM

This month we talk to a legend in the design industry.  Frank Sawkins from Czech & Speake.  You may not realise that many of the iconic ‘looks’ of bathroom brassware, which is the name used for taps, spouts and shower heads, were originally designed and supplied by Franks company.  An industry leader, design innovator and expert in how to achieve the 5* luxury function and aesthetic in on of the hardest working rooms in your home. 

Great Design means something functions as brilliantly well as it is beautiful!
Frank shares with us one of the first attempts at creating an innovative function in the bathroom incorporating a push button flush (something which is common place today, but wasn’t heard of then) and how his boss’ brilliant design solution turned out not to be so brilliant - resulting in a flooded house.  Reminding us that the function is the most important aspect!  Helping reinforce my favourite phrase, function first, aesthetic after.

Hotel feature bathrooms - Why are they such a common source of inspiration?
Why do we love them
Frank reminds us that the bathroom is an important test of the value of a hotel room - if we’ve spent €500 or €800 euro a night we expect for every element to be a very high standard, and the bathroom is one of the most important locations to showcase this.  The investment in a hotel bathroom, therefore, is really a way of making you comfortable and feeling like you’ve got value for money from your stay! It’s also why trying to reproduce that look at how exactly like for like can be eye waveringly expensive!

Bathrooms are glamorous 
Bathrooms are a really good way of articulating the epoch of the hotel and whether it’s the classical style of Claridges or the more modern styling of the Rosewood hotel there is a way to inject glamour into the bathrooms. 

Bathrooms are inspirational & emotional!
Staying in a hotel normally means we have the space and time to relax in the way we can’t at home.  We will take the time to have a bath on a Monday night, when we would never manage this in our day to day busy lives! So not only are we spending time in these beautiful spaces taking in all the design details - we are also generally in a more positive and relaxed mindset - all of which is conducive to absorbing all those inspirational design details. 

Who doesn’t love a glass of Champagne, good music and a beautiful bathroom!’

Frank Sawkins, MD Czech & Speake

Sympathetic bathroom design.
If you live in a period property - there is a great supply of era specific brassware which you will find to suit the period of your building.  Frank goes on to talk beyond taps, into the icon roll top baths and even the use of appropriate wallpapers all too invoke and articulate the design style. 

The original creator of the heritage tap range 
I tell off Frank for not self promoting that in the 1970’s and 80’s, Czech & Speake brought out a range called the Edwardian - which has since been imitated and adopted (but never bettered in regards to quality) across the world.  If you have used or own a property with a ‘Victoriania’ styled bathroom - there is a very good chance you are seeing the inspiration from Franks design.  If you are really lucky - you will actually have Czech and Speake originals!

Must haves in a bathroom
The first is water pressure:
A bathroom should be therapeutic experience - this does mean good supply of hot water at the right pressure, literally, on tap.  And if you are thinking about water supply also making sure the drainage is as efficient as the supply.

Challenge your designers with your desires:
If you want to have three people all having showers or baths at the same time in the house, challenge your designers with how to achieve this.  It is possible to operate different systems to create this, but with extra design comes extra cost.  If the investment in that solution is too great for you - at least you know that you chose to have to stagger your showering, rather than being disappointed that your home isn’t performing as you wanted. 

Separate Lavatory:
Adverts for bathroom sanitary ware always shows everyone in one room - but the reality is separating out the loo from the rest of the bathroom gets twice the use of the space. 5* hotels are using lavatory cabinets to achieve this - ensuring that the remaining space is pure luxury.

Lighting - should not be an after thought.
Natural light is the most important light when doing makeup but focused lights is essential for shaving.  So all kind of lighting needs to be thought about.  Just overhead lights will not work as it’s too harsh for relaxing, casts shadows in the wrong place for anything you need to be close up in the mirror for and will create a false impression of the finish of your makeup.  If all of this is too overwhelming to think about - designers have a very good idea of what great lighting is and you can challenge them to ensure you have the full variety of types of lights for your varied needs. 

Franks personal choice;
He loves to have a consistent pallet for wall and floor - be it marble, ceramic or terrazzo.  He worked on a property with a great designer which had a number of elements cast in terrazzo and loved the consistency of that pallet.  Each to their own. 

Say no to carpet!
There is no excuse for carpet.  Full stop.  Rather have tiles with underfloor heating.

The rest of the technical stuff
Both Frank and I agree that a shower with a flush threshold is very important (nothing to trip over) but to get this right there needs to be lots of consideration to get the angle of the shower floor right so the water drains as fast as it is being supplied and that there is sufficient space under the shower for the drain and associated pipework. Something your designers will be able to ensure is possible.

Mix and match or same same for bathroom accessories
Frank talks about his own design style and how he prefers to have the same style for you taps, towel rails, toilet roll holders etc.  Achieving a mix and match style is much harder than you think.  When you see a mix and match style done well - it has a very good designer behind it and will follow a very clear and clever aesthetic strategy - often the things that feel effortless, have taken the most effort.

And so much more
Frank and I basically just love bathrooms and we talk fragrance, Japanese design, cleaning, views… listen to hear more about two people who love a glass of Champagne, good music and a stunning bath. 

For more information
Frank and the Czech and Speake range of products can be found at https://www.czechandspeake.com/bathrooms/ and his range of aromatics are available at https://www.czechandspeake.com/fragrance/

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