What defines Sussex Taps as a business?
We’re a second-generation, family-run business and we operate as a family as well, with a team of 70 people working across three sites in Melbourne. My dad, Nicolaas Johannes van Putten, was a jeweller and watchmaker by trade and he immigrated to Australia from The Netherlands in 1960 and set up a jewellery business. Although it was really successful, he decided to diversify into tapware in the 1990s. From the very beginning, he reinforced the value of craftsmanship and it remains his legacy. Sussex Taps is built around well-crafted products and this is something we’re passionate about.
How have you embedded craftsmanship within the manufacturing process?
It’s very much a craftsperson’s trade and we choose to build things by hand to ensure each component is truly artisanal. We’re aware there are quicker ways to do things and although we do utilise machinery at different times during manufacturing, we don’t compromise on manual processes. The product goes through the various stages of quality control and every single component is checked by one of our six quality controllers before it can be branded with the Sussex stamp and leave the factory. We do manufacture everything here and we’re actually the largest manufacturer that does what we do in Australia. It’s an important part of who we are and we’re committed to keeping our products Australian made.
Did you ever consider manufacturing off-shore?
So much manufacture went off-shore during the Global Financial Crisis, but we tried hard to keep all of our manufacture within Australia. A change in people’s perception of crafted products and a growing respect for the passion that goes into making them has definitely helped to elevate our brand within a competitive marketplace.
Which new Sussex Taps collections are you currently favouring for the home?
My personal favourite has to be Suba, a collection of minimalist square-shaped products that features brushed brass, which is very popular at the moment. I particularly like this collection for its clean lines and because it’s easy to use for all ages.
Are there any new Sussex Taps collections you think are especially well suited to a commercial setting?
All of our collections are available for commercial applications, from tamper-proof products for prisons to high-end ones for upmarket hotels. All our products are made to last and the quality is second to none. We also produce bespoke products and that’s actually one of the benefits of being a local manufacturer because we can execute commissions very quickly, regardless of whether the products are small or large. Manufacturing something that’s different to any standard is one of our strengths and we enjoy the challenge involved in finding a solution. We’ve also just released a design studio app to assist people with finish selections that make it easier for specifiers on big developments and consumers working on small residential projects.
What are the next big trends in tapware?
We’re going to see lots of beautiful new materials in the bathroom, especially finishes that patina and grow in character over time. And expect to see marble customised into tapware too. But I think the biggest trend will be in terms of technology and how taps operate, with a shift towards dial and push fittings on the rise.
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