Quadrodesign: the story of a family-lead, design-driven company
Quadrodesign is a brand producing kitchen and bathroom faucet systems. Their founders decided in 2001 to restart the family company with a design driven, smart and sustainable approach. Here is how they succeeded
Most of the faucets are made of chrome plated brass, the result of a highly polluting industrial process which mainly affects the water surrounding the plant, be it a lake or a river. Founders of Quadrodesign, Elena and Enrico Magistro grew up in the middle of a traditional family-lead faucets plant, spending summer holidays among workers and machines.
They learned all about metal based products and their manufacturing. And of course, they realized that there could be a way to make the family business grow and evolve. In 2001 they decided to give a chance to total restart and founded Quadrodesign.
Their idea was to build a contemporary company, focused on sustainability, design and new ways to produce and consume objects. That meant, first of all, selecting an alternative material, because there is no way to produce a brass faucet without plating it with dangerous finishes.
A premature start bringing more knowledge
“It was a premature kick off”, remembers Enrico Magistro. “We knew everything about welding, about taps and the various systems of water dispensing. But we knew little about what it meant to completely reorganize the production, choosing stainless steel as the main material so as to avoid the less durable and more polluting chrome plated brass”.
They started from a project by the Danish designer Hans Thyge Raunkjaer, the ONO faucet.
“It was a clean and essential product celebrating the Scandinavian design, a beautiful object that is still in production. But it was a misstep”, Enrico Magistro admits with unexpected honesty. “It was a faucet designed to be manufactured by moulding or by traditional casting. That means brass”.
Error and trial involve focus and stamina
Proceeding by error and trials is the best way to reach a good result, but sometimes it is also a very hard path. “We decided to use investment casting, a complex stainless steel manufacturing technique. But we didn’t resolve all the problems resulting from this choice.”
The good news is that the Magistro brothers had the chance to learn from their mistakes. Their first real evolutionary step was made with Source, an in-house designed stainless steel faucet born to be manufactured by CNC turning and milling.
“Stainless steel is a very elementary but strong metal league: the less you mess with it during manufacturing, the more the material performs,” explains Enrico Magistro.
From brass to stainless steel
To do so, design is a central theme. Hans Thyge Raunkjaer designed another four collections that would perfectly fit the production process Quadrodesign wanted to use.
CNC manufacturing is a good and flexible choice, permitting rational managing the waste material and reusing any resulting scrap. Moreover, it offers a simpler way to deal with production, easily responding to orders and schedules to avoid logistics pressure.
“We wanted to standardize our production to cut costs. CNC steel manufacturing economy changes on a manufacturing complexity basis.” The final product is far more valuable in terms of quality and sustainability thanks to the thousands of millimetres of precision of the machine.
From a traditional dispensing system to a modular and universal built in solution
Enrico Magistro is in love with the systemic design process, and this led him to pay attention to the technical parts of water dispensing. Usually, all the thermic regulating mechanisms are located inside the wall.
“It is of course a reasonable solution, but it implies a demolition work whenever a change of faucet or of the dispensing system is needed. It is a loss of freedom and a waste of materials,” explains Enrico Magistro. “We designed an alternative modular built-in system allowing easier maintenance and fitting any of our taps and showers.”.
This means a simpler management of the mounting process that can work also on a DIY basis, without the intervention of the plumber. “We invite our clients to give us back products that are not in use anymore.”
Knowledge leads to meaningful innovations
“I love research, both on the technical and aesthetic side. I deeply relate to the design work and I try to involve visionary designers and give them the chance to experiment and reflect on the whole production process”.
Formafantasma and Finemateria are among the cutting edge studios collaborating in different terms with Quadrodesign. “Their work is based on their curious attitude because innovation follows knowledge. When I first met Formafantasma they just said: we want to know everything. Their work began after understanding how Quadrodesign works from a systemic point of view.”