Sinks are the focal point of the commercial restroom, with recent design now integrating faucets, soap dispensers and hand dryers into all-in-one sink specification. As Sloan’s Product Line Manager for Sinks, Soap Dispensers, Hand Dryers, Showerheads and PWT, Morgan Butts is at the center of this restroom renaissance.
How have you seen commercial sinks evolve over the last few years?
Commercial restroom sinks have always had to be functional and be able to stand up to high-traffic environments. However, there’s been a recent trend towards manufacturing solid surface sinks that are not only built to stand up to continuous use, but are also a step up from standard designs. In addition to offering multiple design and color options, specifiers are looking for a great deal of flexibility and customization to achieve their design vision.
Not only are the sinks themselves changing, but it’s also the products around sinks that are starting to be adapted. Creating soap dispensers that match faucets seems like an obvious option, but no one was really doing that. That’s why Sloan came out with seven soap dispensers that match our most popular faucet designs, so that people can mix, match and choose a fit that caters to whatever design aesthetic they’re looking for.
Are aesthetics starting to be more of a determining factor in sink specification?
Up until a few years ago, architects and interior designers generally hadn’t taken on much of a role in specifying commercial sinks. Yet, sinks are now being specified as an element that can set a building apart. The restroom is the most frequented room in a building and sinks are front and center in the design of the commercial restroom. Today, sinks are becoming the focal point of the restroom design.
For example, when someone goes to an office building, they'll probably see a conference room or maybe take a brief office tour, but they're almost guaranteed to use the restroom. It is a similar situation if you are in any commercial building, such as a restaurant, healthcare facility or stadium where you're likely going to use the restroom at some point. It is an experience really affects your perception of the facility.
With that in mind, Sloan has worked to create products that help interior designers and architects take their vision for the rest of the space and extend that into the restroom.
What’s led to the popularity of integrated sink systems?
Architects and designers want something that fits their vision without having to go through multiple manufacturers product offerings to try to mix and match different products that can pair together. Anything that helps to simplify that process is a bonus.
With that being said, the benefit of integrated sink systems goes far beyond just convenience and time saving at time of specification. Once everything is ordered, it will all ship together which nearly eliminates the odds of losing a faucet or other elements along the way. Overall, it really simplifies the entire process, from choosing a perfectly paired faucet, soap dispenser and hand dryer set, to getting a clean look and feel of a modern sink design. At the same time it also reduces mess by eliminating paper towel waste and water puddles on the counter tops and floor with the integrated deck mounted hand dyer, while allowing for ease of installation due to all elements being designed to fit and function well together. Having one point of contact for any installation, maintenance or upgrade requests is another added benefit.
What project are you most proud of in your time at Sloan?
Without a doubt I would say the launch of the matching soap dispensers that I referred to earlier. In the three years I've been at Sloan we've launched a lot of really great products, but that is something that stands out to me. It was a great opportunity for us to leverage the breadth of options within our faucet line and really create something beautiful that is easy for our customers to mix and match, and it's been hugely successful since the launch. We even took it a step further and added special finishes to our offerings that can elevate any design.
What direction do you see commercial sinks heading in the coming years?
I see additional customization and flexibility with an emphasis on aesthetics. I think all of our customers will continue to want something that looks unique and different from the restroom they just designed. What will change in the coming years is how easy it will be to incorporate additional customization options such as designs, colors, materials, special finish components, LED lighting with the sink, beveled or round sink edges and even two-tone sinks. At the same time, we have to make sure that with so many options to choose from that we are further simplifying the selection process. I think that's going to be a big development.
This is the second in a series of Q&A segments with Sloan product line managers for their take on where the commercial restroom has been, what it’s evolved to now and where it’s going. A previous edition on faucets can be found here.
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