All great creations begin with a burst of inspiration. A searing moment of enlightenment. Artists of every stripe, including the design team at Delta Faucet, understand no project truly begins until inspiration hits.
Jordan Bahler, a longtime Delta Faucet industrial designer, laughs after being asked where she gets her inspiration. Not because she finds the question comical, but because the answer could fill several dozen sketchbooks.
Prepare the Mind
Bahler stresses that before hunting about for inspiration, a certain amount of groundwork must be laid. Inspiration without preparation won’t take you very far. Before setting out to design the latest in the Delta Faucet line, she first endeavors to get inside the minds of the people who will use her products.
She does her research. She observes how people interact with their faucets and what might make that experience better. She studies hand-washing tendencies and the history of lavatory settings. If the opportunity is there, Bahler likes to pick the brains of heavy users of her creations—such as a professional chef.
The most common sources of Bahler’s inspiration are the things around her every day. She enjoys spending time in both the kitchen and garden, drawing plenty of creativity from her hobbies.
Knowing her goal is to create products that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing, she’ll spend hours staring at kitchen gadgets, puzzling out how they are put together. But she draws inspiration from more than just man-made creations. Bahler will often pause her gardening to take stock of the intricate designs of the plants and flowers she’s tending.
Of course, some other things around her every day serve as a well of inspiration: her kids! Not only does their childlike perspective shake things loose in the right side of her brain, but the kids also serve as a form of market research. “Really small people need to use the bathroom, too,” she notes.
Inspiration in Action
When working on the Mateo collection, Bahler took a trip to Michigan to visit her parents. Her mom poured her a glass of milk from a glass milk bottle. This old-world charm made her think of the Italian countryside towns she had recently visited. Which made her think of the simple, uncluttered kitchens of that area. Which brought her back to the simple, clean lines of the milk bottle. The way the bottle’s shape seamlessly transitioned from square to round ended up inspiring much of the design of the Mateo line.
Borrowing the shape of a milk bottle to inform the design of a faucet certainly wasn’t the plan when the project began, but that’s the thing about inspiration. Bahler never knows when, where or how it will strike. But she’s ready for when it does.
In addition to finding a muse in her own home, Bahler considers traveling to be an integral part of the creative process. It forces her to go outside of her comfort zone, experiencing and observing things she doesn’t get to see every day. “Simply hearing different languages forces you to think in different ways,” she says. Not being bogged down in the day-to-day details of her routine allows her to take in the details of what she is experiencing.
When traveling, Bahler enjoys taking pictures of architecture and décor she observes along the way, always wondering “how this can get brought back into the world of faucets.” And she enjoys learning how the history and culture of different countries or regions shaped their kitchen and bathroom installations.