Who: Barbara Sallick
What: Waterworks -
The Destination for Artisanally Crafted Bathroom Products
When: Since 1978
Where: It began in a warehouse in Connecticut and now has showrooms internationally
To call Barbara Sallick delightful may be an understatement. Her voice barrels through the phone lines excited, energized and as enthusiastic about design today as a newly hired architect might be at their first job. She is flipping through an early copy of Gil Shafer's latest book The Great American House and relishing his talents and each detail she hones in on.
"Gil really is so talented." She says; you can just tell she is smiling and leaning over the glossy pages.
And she would know. Barbara has been the leading force behind what has come to be The American Bathroom Style. Brilliantly designed and meticulously crafted, Waterworks has changed what it means to have quality, beauty and excitement in a room that has often been undermined in the home: the bathroom. And as any truly successful craft or product for the home, this one was born out of a necessity.
|A glowing assortment of Waterworks fittings.|
|'Etoile exposed thermosaic shower system, unlaquered brass'|
So, when a man named Samuel Gorgins started and ran The Nutmeg Plumbing Supply Company in Danbury, Connecticut in 1925, he may not have realized that his sheer knowledge, love of his family and exceptional skills at business would lead to yet another dawn in the evolution of water's relationship to a building (the home especially). And he would, as he had a very smart, curious and artistically inclined daughter named Barbara.
"He [Samuel], his brother and his sister oversaw the company throughout Norwalk, Greenwich, Danbury [Connecticut]... I don't know how they managed but they started it and managed to keep it open through the War." Barbara Reflects. "He was alright as an engineer but a very good businessman. So my husband Robert [Sallick] joined the business in 1963 to help him out."
|The Clothilde all hand polished, free-standing copper bathtub is made in the 19th Century French tradition, both in design and artisanal manufacturing method, but with a new regal scale and immeasurable elegance.|
|A sneak behind the scenes into the Waterworks Design Studio|
"We've really always been collectors at heart." Barbara says warmly, "And I have always had a childish passion to look for new houses." she laughs, noting that while she and Robert have lived in the same house for 43 years, they became enamoured with 18th Century architecture and still love to tour historic houses open to the public in rural Connecticut, Massachusetts and beyond- emphasis on beyond.
"We're nosey!" Barbara laughs, "Shortly after we married we began taking regular trips to Europe, and wanted to get into as many buildings as possible to have a look around..."Which is also no surprise, as Barbara had a hunger for discovering details in design, which, alongside the base knowledge of her father's business, was cultivated in a more formal education during her time at Yale. For over 6 years she had worked at a Yale art gallery where she assisted and oversaw a wide array of collections of American Decorative Arts. She absolutely loved being there and came to see the importance of maintenance, size, color, material, style... what it meant to create something that would stand the test of time.
|A Waterworks white and taupe bath set.|
"There were a lot of changes happening in the 1970's" Barbara recalls. "There were the waterfall faucets, and Villeroy & Boch were doing some interesting things..."
"To help us get started my father gave us 1 year free rent for a section of his warehouse where we could set up shop." Says Barbara. "And it was my job to get the architects to our showroom to show them what we were doing."
|Design Development Sketch of handle for Waterworks new R.W. Atlas collection|
|Some of Waterworks favorite Raw Materials|
And such a visual astuteness and attention to detail came from both Barbara's exposure to the nuts and bolts of the industry but also from those many years working at that Yale art gallery.
"There's something you learn from experience with a three-dimensional object," Barbara says "I spent a lot of time taking things apart and putting them back together."
"We seek out small talented artisan(s) outfits and work with them to teach them how to manufacture on a larger scale." Barbara says.
|A Waterworks Artisan works in his shop to cast and forge meticulous gold hardware. Later it will be carefully retouched and hand polished.|
|Sultry color comes out in Waterworks' District Tile Collection|
"Peter's eye, taste and extraordinary abilities as a visionary and a strategist make it an exceptional collaboration. But also I think it's a part of our strength as a whole that we say: Family First."
Peter Sallick has helped take Waterworks to the next level, offering a complete range of services for a complete bathroom. The Sallick's seem to know talent when they see it, as well as how important it is to uphold and maintain it in the design industry. Everything in Waterworks, from selecting materials, overseeing the design process and carefully controlling manufacturing has been and continues to be undertaken with meticulous care and attention to detail.
|A Waterworks Surface Template|
Furthermore, what makes Waterworks beautiful, aside from the products themselves, is that by continuing to seek out and partner with small shops and studios to manufacture their products, they are keeping a small and important pool of artists, artisans and craftspeople alive and well (the world always needs more art, and value of it, this is a rare field and place where that can happen). Even if some of the products may be out of your price range, the products, designs, textures and color pallets serve as a new set of precedent images to work from when creating and personalizing your own bathroom.
Over the years, becoming something of an expert on it, Barbara Sallick has continued to be none less than thrilled to continue developing and cultivating superior bathroom aesthetics. If you still aren't sure where to begin, or the countless ways to imprint your personal style and tastes into your bathroom, you can always follow her on The Perfect Bath, Barbara's personal design journal and blog. She cares deeply about the relationship between a person and their personal space and goes to great lengths to fuse her experience in this unique field and share it with one and all so you might benefit too.
Aside from carrying on and discovering new and old design styles everywhere to create something new, Barbara does want to leave anyone- experienced or new to design- who wants to improve their bathroom with these words of wisdom:
"Plan well, be sure to do your homework and lots of research- on the web and in libraries- and be sure you hire a true professional to work with. [When you are ready] Engage knowledgeable sales people and don't be affraid to ask questions. Hire a good architect and contractor and stay on top of them- this way you'll own the outcome."
|The complete R.W. Atlas Collection makes its launch!|
|A shot of Waterworks' 58th Street Showroom showcasing the new industrial inspired R.W. Atlas Collection alongside its complimentary sibling the 'District Tile Collection'.|