CHF does designer bath program with Munro

Carole Sloan, August 26, 2002

Predicting that stores with bath shops "will be appreciably different three years from now," designer Nick Munro hopes to lead that transformation.

With extensive experience in the tabletop and accessories area, Munro now is bringing his design ability to the bath arena with a collection of hard and soft bath products, as well as gifts as the result of a new business venture with CHF Industries.

"We've been looking for a way to provide a platform for blooming new design talent in the home textiles business and we became aware of Nick's business in the UK," said Frank Foley, president and CEO of CHF. "We saw his shop in Harvey Nichols in London and his licensed products with Wedgwood, met him and decided to blend his talents with bath and bath accessories, even though he wasn't in this area. Talent is transferable and these products in the U.S. have had a definite sameness."

Munro's view, "that if you do things differently, and relatively bold, it gets noticed," has served him well with Wedgwood, Bugatti, Alessi, Spode, Liberty of London, Felissimo, and Conran. Next year, he launches an Art Deco inspired collection with the Victoria & Albert Museum.

For the multi-faceted collection that will debut at the October market, "we saw an opportunity to blend his experience in the gift market and his insight into the gift business to create a collection that offers core items strictly for the bath, but also those and other items that are breakout giftable items," said Joan Karron, executive vp.

CHF is packaging a range of items as bath giftables, and other strictly bath items in gift packs, Karron added. "We're refining the point of sale to be a self-service environment."

The multi-faceted collection — Nick Munro Does Bath — "uses a theme that is linked together with a wide range of of functions and many different materials," Munro explained. There are fully coordinated segments, some independent shower curtains, some individual accessories and categories that include shower curtains in cotton canvas and vinyl, cotton rugs, towels, and accessories in metal, resin, and ceramic.

"We focused on the rubber duck as an icon. But it's a nickel duck and it can serve as a toothbrush holder and in the larger size as a soap dish, and will become the start of a branding statement," Munro said. The duck will be the brand icon on the bottom of each piece — the start of a complete branding program.

The collection is split among eight design and material statements. The Shine Collection offers fundamental building blocks with a nickel soap dish, tissue box, pump, covered jar and basket — with many of the pieces designed for use in other rooms for other functions.

Sea Grass offers an interesting surface texture with an element of hand crafting. Splash is aluminum with an Art Deco feel, and Dolphin focuses on gift items as well as the bath.

In resin, Wave is inspired by water and has a sculptural feel and is offered in a range of colors — both frosted and transparent.

In ceramics, Urban makes a strong graphic design statement and pieces that serve more than one function like a bud vase also can serve as a toothbrush holder. There is a strong textile correlation with stripes and graphic blocks on cotton canvas as shower curtains.

Bone china is used to create yet another mood, more upscale in Turkish. Silver Lining uses mercury glass in its typical form as well as in colors.

CHF plans to market the collection as an entity to project the combined bath and gift image. Complete pricing has not been determined but rugs will be $19.99 to $24.99, all small pieces in bath accessories and accessories will be under $20.

"What we're doing is bringing undiscovered talent to this market and bringing product we'd love to live with," Karron said.

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