AWASH WITH SUCCESS
HOW do you turn a HOUSEHOLD item into a HERO product? Vanessa Katsanevakis, DIRECTOR of Sussex Taps, SPILLS her secrets.
how a household item became a hero product
YOUR DAD WAS A JEWELLER BEFORE HE LAUNCHED SUSSEX TAPS. WHY THE SWITCH?
The business was a result of my dad [Nicolaas Johannes van Putten’s] life journey. He immigrated to Australia as soon as he got his watchmaking certificate, and his understanding of craftsmanship shaped his pursuit for precision. In the 1990s, he purchased machinery which worked on brass to complement the gold and silver business, and he found himself sketching taps. The rest is history.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM JOINING THE FAMILY BIZ?
[My earliest memory is] being on the swings at Dad’s factory. I remember him always trying new things, starting exciting projects and ventures. He failed sometimes, but his unwavering persistence and imagination always saw him through. He instilled in me the idea that anything’s possible from a young age, which has really clicked the last few years.
HOW DO YOU TRANSFORM A FUNCTIONAL OBJECT INTO A PIECE OF ART?
A tap has never been just a commodity to us. When you buy an item, you can just tell whether thought and care has gone into the making of it. Quality and attention to detail is our first priority. Our passion lies in ensuring our pieces leave the workshop at the highest possible standard. The object then becomes a lot more than just an everyday item.
WHERE DOES YOUR DESIGN INSPIRATION COME FROM?
So many areas of life – from the way everyday objects work functionally, to dreaming big and testing aesthetics with our product development department. Another fun part of the design process comes from collaborating with amazing local design talent in our Melbourne workshop. We have some exciting products being released in 2018.
WHY DID YOU BRING IN MORE ECO-FRIENDLY PROCESSES?
We’re always looking for a better way to do things, and that’s why we now recycle our brass shavings. We love our [specialist] recycling facility. Our foundry [which melts down metal and reforms it] is the star, because it enables us to reuse our brass byproduct, to make taps all over again. This keeps us vertically integrated [where the supply chain of a company is owned by that company], and our costs down. There’s a rigorous quality check at each step and, finally, each piece is then assembled by hand. Shortcuts are not an option.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE PROJECT?
Well, I’m currently sporting a new flamingo pink mixer [tap] in my powder room! Also, in 2017, we produced some stunning diamond-encrusted tapware that was the result of a collaboration with Adelaide jeweller Cassandra Mamone on a penthouse ensuite. There’s a lot my husband and I want to achieve, both in Australia and abroad. Although we’re a 20-year-old business, the possibilities are very exciting. I love all things that are meaningful and of beautiful quality.