01 February 2011

German sink intelligence from last week

I have thousands of photos from my Germany trip and almost as many pages of notes. Thank you again to Blanco for granting me this chance of a lifetime perspective on design in Europe.

There are a number of innovations I saw in Cologne that will probably never make it across the pond and a few that will. There were a couple of new things (that aren't new in Europe) that have really had me thinking for the week that I've been back.

For starters, nearly all European kitchen sinks have a drain switch, which can be usual for people who are used to more western Kohler sinks.

That's the dial in the front of this sink. That switch works like the pop up drain in a vanity sink. Stopping and unstopping the sink drain doesn't involve reaching into dirty water in the EU. Blanco tried to introduce the idea of a kitchen sink drain switch in the US but the masses rejected it. As shown above too, most European sinks have an integrated drain board.

I saw a lot of sinks that have integrated cutting boards.

This is an idea so brilliant I can't get over why it hasn't been adopted universally. The dial in the foreground of this photo is the mixer, it sets the temperature and turns on and off the faucet.

Blanco's telescoping faucet was at the IMM in Cologne in a big way and my pals at Blanco's US headquarters assure me that this faucet will make a US debut this year.

That's a fitted, removable strainer basket with a lid to the left.

The small compartment to the rear of that sink is a second drain line. Most European sinks have overflow drains. Sometimes, they just act as an overflow drain and sometimes they add some utility as does the one above.

For as long as I've been involved int he kitchen and bath industry, I've been told that it's impossible to undermount a sink in a laminate counter. Well, that's the very thing I'm showing above. That's a Blanco ceramic sink undermounted in a laminate counter.

Blanco got its start as a stainless steel fabricator and it's in steel that they excel as kitchen artisans. This is a stainless steel counter with two integrated drainboards and an integrated, flat bottom sink.

It's a one centimeter, floating counter.

Another cool touch on a lot of Blanco's steel sinks is a drain cover. It serves no purpose other than to disguise a sink drain.

It's an almost inconsequential detail that makes a world of difference. The rectangular shape on the back sink wall is the overflow drain and the man in the background is Tim Maicher, Blanco's VP of marketing in the US and all-around good guy.

Prior to my trip to Germany (and later to Canada) with Blanco, kitchen sinks were never something I spent a whole lot of time thinking about. I knew that a good one was important but I never really grasped what makes a good kitchen sink. I sure know now! A good sink begins and ends with Blanco. Don't ever buy anything less.


  1. I covet that drain switch! I can't believe Americans didn't go for it. Bring it back, Blanco! Pretty, pretty, please with sprinkles on top.

    Thanks for sharing these, Paul. I love seeing what's out there on the other side of the pond.

  2. It's official Paul, you've sold out.

    "I sure know now! A good sink begins and ends with Blanco. Don't ever buy anything less."

    That is until the next sink company buys your endorsement.

  3. Lax: It's my pleasure to bring back this look-see. I begged them for that switch (and some other things) in person, let's see if it works.

    JTC: That's hilarious. Buying my endorsement would cost a whole lot more than a trip to Germany.

  4. Yep, I like it all- If for nothing else, to offer homeowners the options to do something that isn't so common and actually more practical than the norm.

    Thanks for sharing, Paul!

  5. Well what do you expect to see when you're visiting Germany? The kitchen sink equivalent of a Porsche, of course. A well-oiled, high performance machine. I was trying to dream up a skewed reference to "sinking the Bismarck" but decided it would be grasping and of dubious merit. So I will leave my (Deutsch) mark by maintaining a stiff upper lip and focusing on propriety.

  6. These look like they're not too big, but still offer a lot of options. Bookmarked for the next kitchen . . .

  7. Nick: It's my pleasure!

    Rich: I think references to sinking the Bismark are still a sore spot. Likening one of these sinks to a Porche will make up for it though.

    Amy: They aren't big at all and seeing small sinks embraced like this has had me rethinking all kinds of things I used to think I knew to be true.

  8. I first blogged about Blanco sinks I saw on their European site and still tend to like those better for the very reasons you’ve just stated. The two things I like about what they’re doing in Europe is the small size of some of their sinks, as it would better fit my own needs, and the integrated cutting boards. Fortunately, they are now using the integrated cutting boards in the USA. For someone with a small kitchen, it is a concept that is an absolute godsend.

  9. Is it our frontier mentality that makes us like reaching into the cold greasy water to unplug the sink? An old-fashioned stopper on a chain would be an upgrade for us in the US! I have a friend who wants a heating element so she can reheat the pan soaking water in the morning - would your Blanco friends do that for her?
    Used to be everybody had a drainboard and not many had a dishwasher - bet that's changed, too.

  10. Yes, I noticed the drainboards in the kitchens I saw in England - excellent feature - BUT the drain switch! It would be so nice to have one of those especially for those mornings when I realized I've forgotten to let water out of the sink from the evening before!

  11. The fitted strainer is an excellent idea. I'm surprised we haven't seen something like that before.


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