Tapping into a Fresh Idea

Poppy Patterson scoured the marketplace in search of suitable sink products for the large hospital project she was designing, but she came up empty-handed.

She discovered that a flat-bottomed basin with an antimicrobial solid surface that met ADA standards was only available as a custom-designed product.

“It’s such a straightforward, practical product that it was a little baffling to me that there wasn’t an off-the-shelf product already available,” says Patterson, an interior design professional.

Though Patterson had no previous product design experience, she decided to submit a proposal in HOK Product Design’s annual design competition.

“It’s great to have a forum to bring these ideas forward,” she says.

The idea gained traction, and Bradley Corporation, a manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures and washroom accessories, agreed it had commercial viability. In particular, the product would help the company strengthen its presence within the healthcare sector.

“They were very receptive and excited about the idea of working together to develop this product,” says Patterson, who worked alongside Brett Shwery to transform the idea into a real product.

Though Bradley’s in-house design team was not accustomed to collaborating with external designers, they were eager to benefit from the healthcare design expertise and insights of the HOK team.

“Bradley was a bit of a sponge,” says Shwery, who provided strategic leadership and product management. “They were interested in our ideas and were truly engaged.”

As part of the collaboration, the HOK team traveled to Menomonee Falls, Wisc., to tour the Bradley manufacturing facility and work with its product development team.

“It’s important that we actually spend time getting to know manufacturers we’re working with, because it spawns new ideas we hadn’t thought of,” Shwery says.

Beyond tapping into the HOK team’s insights for the design of the sink, Bradley also invited HOK to advise the company on the entire color palette of its Terreon® solid surfacing material.

“They were really interested in our insights on the material itself, including colors, sizes of aggregate, and whether we would tend to specify the sink as integral with the countertop or separately,” Patterson said.

The discussion led to a broader exploration of how Bradley markets its products on its website.

“We talked with them about how we as designers use a website for specifying products,” Shwery says. “Theirs wasn’t as intuitive as we would like it to be, so we gave them some good feedback that they’ve incorporated.”

Clean, Contemporary, Flexible

Launched in July 2013, the Bradley-HS Series is part of the company’s Omnideck™ product line. Compliant with ADA guidelines, the sink accommodates hand washing and general cleaning of items in patient rooms, exam rooms and nursing stations. It’s available either as a seamless countertop system or a basin-only option.

Shwery says the product aligns with the trend toward creating hospitality-inspired interior healthcare environments.

“It adds a hospitality or home-based design functionality in a healthcare space so it’s more warm, comforting, soothing and more focused on well-being,” he says.

The product’s clean, contemporary aesthetic also suits a range of other interior environments.

“We think this is a product that can bridge to many different environments: in higher education, a hotel lobby bathroom or upscale office building,” Patterson says.

She enjoyed helping to develop a product that she would one day be able to spec for her clients.   

“It’s great to see ‘design’ extend out into other areas beyond the interiors focus that I typically have,” she says. “It’s just another way we can serve our clients.”

The product makes sense, Patterson says, because it addresses a real need in the marketplace.

“I think that’s what HOK Product Design is all about: ideas that make sense for people,” she says.