Since its humble beginnings in a shed on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in the 1980s, Phoenix Tapware has revolutionised its approach to tapware manufacturing through a dedication to forging equilibrium between technological innovation and eminent design.
When Phoenix Tapware’s pioneer Brian Wansborough pivoted from his vocation in the building and hardware industries three decades ago it was to lay the foundations for a brand that would elevate the production of tapware; bringing it into an accord with the effect the products have on the spaces they occupy. Understanding that bathroom and kitchen fittings are integral to the overarching design narrative, Brian gave equal precedence to how tapware looks and functions.
Brian’s vision is reflected through Phoenix Tapware’s continued synergy between design and technical excellence while maintaining an uncompromising consideration for market dialogue. Today, Phoenix Tapware is firmly cementedas an Australian leader in tapware with their designs recognised by myriad industry awards and their products found in kitchens and bathrooms around the globe.We spoke with Phoenix Tapware’s creative design manager John Hoogendoorn about the launch of the new sink mixer collection, and exploring the integral importance of tapware in the design vernacular.
What is the Phoenix story, from its beginnings in Hastings, Victoria, to today?
John Hoogendoorn: The humble beginnings of our story go back to the 1980s when Brian Wansborough, already an industry leader in building and hardware, embarked on a mission to manufacture three-piece tapware of superior quality. Working with his co-founders, Brian established Phoenix, focusing on design innovation – a tradition that lives on as our in-house R&D department continues to design, prototype and refine every product.
Today, Phoenix creates bathroom and kitchen fittings through refined Australian design. For over 30 years, we’ve been trusted to deliver innovation, precision, and quality in every product – designed in-house and made with pride – for a timeless experience in the home.
There is a strong sense of inter-disciplinary collaboration at Phoenix. How does this set the Phoenix team apart from its competitor set?
John Hoogendoorn: We are utterly uncompromising in our approach to design excellence and constantly listening to the needs of the market, whether that be architects, designers, or plumbers. We invest heavily in our design and engineering team and pride ourselves on developing and designing all our products here in Australia. Our engineers and designers work side by side in a collaborative environment and have a passion for design in aesthetic and technical aspects. Both teams utilise our 3D printer (one of only two of its kind in Australia) to support the engineering and design teams in delivering premium products with the perfect visual ratio to be pleasing to the eye while functioning smoothly.
“At Phoenix, we believe innovation and sustainability go hand in hand. In everything we envision, design and manufacture, we’re considering the future of that product, and the future of our planet.”
– John Hoogendoorn
The allure of minimalism is still very strong in design globally. Does this place more emphasis on tapware to stand out? Integrate? Both? How has Phoenix responded to this aesthetic?
John Hoogendoorn: I believe our collections answer both. When our designs stand out, such as Axia and Nara, they complement the minimalism movement. But, on the other hand, when our designs are quiet and integrated into the trend of minimalism in the kitchen and bathroom, they are still pleasing to the eye, revealed through the quality in finishing and subtleties in the design aesthetic, such as Teel, Vivid Slimline and Lexi MKII.
Phoenix has embraced the minimalist design trend, and it runs deep in our bones. Using this design philosophy allows us to challenge ourselves and presents opportunities to refine our designs further. Simpler profiles, smaller cartridges, perfected ratios, and smooth lines come into play when designing our products. In addition, the minimalist approach allows our products to be adaptive to many bathroom and kitchen styles.
How has Phoenix contributed to the sustainability conversation and water conservation through the way products are designed and developed?
John Hoogendoorn: Our products are designed to save water and reduce energy bills. We invest in flow restrictors that control the amount of water used, such as our HydroSense water spray technology, and many of our products carry a 6 Star WELS rating. We also utilise cold start technology, allowing only cold water to be delivered when the tap is operated from the traditional mid-lever position. This technology means hot water only flows if the handle is moved to the left hot position, saving energy by avoiding unnecessary water heating for tasks such as cleaning your teeth or washing your hands. In addition, the flow of water is ultra-responsive and precise, giving you total control over temperature and water flow.
Kitchen mixers are perhaps the most visible of all tapware in the interior design sense. How do the new Ester and Deja mixers respond to shifts in kitchen design?
John Hoogendoorn: Our new products, Ester and Deja, join the popular Designer Sink Mixers collection, merging functionality with style and elegance. The Ester Sink Mixer Squareline is ideal for any contemporary kitchen, with a delicately curved lever, seamlessly fusing geometric design with a delicately curved lever. It also features our energy-saving Cold Start cartridge technology.
This means hot water only flows if the handle is moved to the left hot position, saving energy by avoiding unnecessary water heating. Deja, meanwhile, features soft curved forms and a dual function, pull out handpiece with switch, which makes preparing food and cleaning the sink a breeze. Deja also has a fixed pin lever and swivel spout for enhanced functionality.
“Not only are our products timeless, reliable, and original, we take the time and care to test every product – to refine and to perfect. We know the difference it makes and gives us the satisfaction of a job well done.”
– John Hoogendoorn
How does Phoenix mediate between design (aesthetic) durability and material/mechanical durability?
John Hoogendoorn: Through innovations in engineering and manufacturing, we can achieve both. We aim for timeless designs and use quality parts in our products (cartridges, hoses etc.). We also use high-quality finishes that don’t wear out, supported by our warranty, meaning products aren’t replaced regularly.
Over three decades, Phoenix has cemented itself as an eminent design brand. What major design and engineering leaps have driven its reputation over the years? Why has the brand enjoyed such longevity?
John Hoogendoorn: Staying true to our design philosophy and designing in-house for the Australian market. There is a lot that goes into our brand. Not only are our products timeless, reliable, and original, we take the time and care to test every product – to refine and to perfect. We know the difference it makes and gives us the satisfaction of a job well done. Across every element of our prototyping, design, production, service, and beyond, we consistently uphold the highest standards. The Phoenix brand is a mark of distinction. It holds a tradition of vision, price, trust, and excellence.