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Blu Bathworks is not your average building-product manufacturer. Founded in 2006, the Canadian company defines itself as a “modern bathware design-house” and, true to form, contemporary design lies at the center of its philosophy.
Blu creates striking architectural bathware using custom materials, specifically designed to capture the attention of architects. The brand’s range is undeniably stunning — but the challenge lies in making design professionals aware of this fact in a notoriously competitive industry. To help them stand out in the crowd, Blu Bathworks joined Architizer’s marketplace for building-products, designed to place high-quality products in front of architects at the exact moment they need them.
Architizer spoke with Blu Bathworks’ founder and lead designer Michael Gottschalk about the company’s ethos, its standout products, and what Blu is doing to win new business with architects.
“Blu was largely borne out of frustration over how difficult it was to source European styled, compliant modern bathroom fixtures & fittings at attainable prices,” said Gottschalk. Blu’s products are notable for their Minimalist style and innovative material compositions. “My design philosophy is based on producing bold architectural bathware that balances both form and function,” said Gottschalk.
Such lofty ambitions demand a special space for design and fabrication. Blu operates out of an extraordinary building in Vancouver that more closely resembles a laboratory than a bathware factory. In this cavernous space, Gottschalk’s team of specialists carefully craft new bathtubs, sinks and shower bases using custom molds and milling machines, each of which lends Blu’s products a resilient structure and a pristine finish.
In pursuit of truly stand-out products, Gottschalk is not just a manufacturer — he is an inventor. For one signature range, the designer developed a brand-new material called Blustone, a highly durable composite crafted from recycled quartzite. Its makeup makes it an ideal material for high-end bathtubs, sinks and shower bases, as it can be produced in a wide array of colors and allows for custom embossed carving.
The material also possesses environmental benefits. “Blustone requires far less energy to produce than acrylic or ceramic,” said Gottschalk. “The insulating qualities of the material also means it is effective at retaining water temperatures.”
Combining sustainable attributes with eye-catching aesthetics, materials like Blustone are irresistible to specifying architects — which is where Architizer comes in. “The main difference I see with Architizer compared with the more traditional ways of connecting is its overall efficiency,” said Gottschalk. “Architects on the platform have real projects and are already looking for these materials. Architizer helps connect our product offering with interested design parties as opposed to the ‘needle in a hay stack’ approach.”
Reducing the need for speculative sales strategies like cold calling, Architizer benefits premium brands like Blu by letting the company’s products do the talking, so-to-speak. “It’s much more focused, and can lead to building relationships with those parties that are interested in using our product line,” said Gottschalk. “The lunch and learns can then happen afterwards.”
The designer also appreciates the platform’s industry insights, allowing Blu to prioritize and target the most worthwhile leads. “With Architizer I feel there is more transparency,” said Gottschalk. “You can see what architects are looking for, see what competitors are proposing and make a recommendation based on the information that’s in front of you.”
The company enjoyed a stellar 2017, but Gottschalk isn’t stopping there. Blu Bathworks has recently developed a new range of steel tapware products it hopes can take business to the next level.
“Our INOX range, which was designed as a modular range of bathtub basin and basin tapware, is an Italian-made collection made exclusively of 304 grade stainless steel,” explained Gottschalk. “Our focus going forward for 2018 and 2019 is to expand our offering of tapware designs using stainless steel. The Inox collection is also designed to comply with CalGreen standards and to minimize energy and water consumption without affecting the premium quality of the product or the users experience.”
From Blustone to Inox and beyond, Blu Bathworks is constantly iterating on its product offering to remain a compelling choice for architects. While Architizer’s marketplace gives the company a platform for increased visibility and new business opportunities, the adage remains: focus on creating high-quality building-products, and success will follow close behind.
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All images courtesy Blu Bathworks