Delta industrial designer Jordan Bahler had been asking herself the same question for years: “How do we make a square faucet that’s not too hard and modern?” She finally found her answer—the Mateo Collection—in the fridge.
“Mateo has been a long time coming,” Bahler says. “The ‘square kitchen faucet’ was a design challenge posed to our team years ago, and I’ve always been trying to come up with a solution.”
The shape posed two hurdles. The first was stylistic: “Typically, a square would look very sharp and lean modern; we didn’t want to do something too contemporary.” The second was logistic: A lavatory faucet can more easily adopt a square shape (like the Dryden Collection) if the spout is a single piece. But a kitchen faucet with a detachable spray wand is a different story. If the entire spout were square, you’d have to place the wand back into the neck just so every time you used it or risk pokey corners.
Then, Bahler had an epiphany.
“I kept thinking of a glass milk bottle, and it triggered my whole inspiration,” she says. “Those bottles are square at the base to fit into their carrier, but taper into a circular opening.”
With the logistical hurdle jumped, Bahler now had to deal with the stylistic challenge: How could she keep the look from skewing too modern? Her thoughts turned to Europe—specifically, the Italian countryside. For several years, Bahler's family lived across the pond, and she remembered how different “traditional” homes were from their American counterparts.
“In America, ‘traditional’ is very decorative,” Bahler explains. “I don’t know if it’s because we have more space and we’re able to be more ornate, but in Europe, everything is space-constrained: Land is more expensive, and homes are smaller. They’re still comfortable to live in, but they’re usually uncluttered. 'Traditional’ is much more stark.”
Confident that a sleek and geometric object could still feel traditional, she toyed with the milk-bottle shape, rooting the faucet in a square base that transitions into a tubular arc before returning to a square spout. (She echoed the tapered square on the faucet’s low-profile single handle.) “By softening the square, the collection’s attractive to a wider audience,” Bahler says. “It can fit in a contemporary kitchen, but it can just as easily go traditional or transitional.”
And when it came time to name the collection, she again recalled her days in Europe, where her sister had a good friend from Italy: Mateo.
“People always think ‘cylindrical’ for faucets, and Mateo changes that thinking,” Bahler says. “We’ve brought something based on a hard square into that comfortable realm.”