9 Questions for Jill Platner and Peter Sallick on Their Collaboration for Waterworks

Jewelry designer Jill Platner collaborated with Waterworks to create a line of nature-inspired fixtures.The ridged Petra and chunky Geode knobs, spouts and faucets of Waterworks’ Isla collection are the result of a collaboration between the high-end plumbing firm and a top jewelry designer. We talked with jeweler Jill Platner and Waterworks CEO and Creative Director Peter Sallick about the nature and evolution of creating an organic, sculptural—and highly touchable—line of hardware.

Peter, how did this collaboration start?
Peter Sallick: We always intend to create products that fit seamlessly into our clients’ decorating needs, and we were responding to the idea that people were using textures, patinas and natural elements in their interiors. I made an appointment to visit Jill’s shop and studio, and was immediately taken with the organic, natural feeling of her work and how it really plays up the beauty of the material.

Jill, your jewelry has been featured in publications like Vogue. How did you feel about an invitation to design plumbing fixtures?
Jill Platner: I was excited. I’d studied metal working and furniture design at Parsons, and I’ve always loved making functional objects and things you can really feel. Plumbing is something you live with and touch many times a day—it’s part of everyday living, like jewelry.

How did the project proceed after Peter selected some items he liked in your store?
JP: There were some preexisting forms I’d made that had a very geological, organic textured form, and those were the starting point of the initial models.

Instead of sketching the forms, you modeled them in wax. Why?
JP: You make discoveries by different processes. The way you cut something might make a beautiful texture in the piece of wax. You could not possibly draw it.

A gooseneck lavatory faucet with geode handles from the Waterworks Isla line.How did that challenge the engineers?
PS: We had to translate the individually hand-carved pieces of wax into a 3-D computer model. We ended up using 3-D scanning technology to enable us to maintain the exact hand-carved pieces in final production.

Jill, what challenges did you face?
JP: I learned so much about what goes into the engineering of the fixtures and waterflow; it was a whole new vocabulary. There are very specific dimensions and functions in the back-end design, and there’s no way around that. So I had to really work within the sizes and specifications of their fixtures.

The final fixtures are reminiscent of rocks. Why not other organic forms?
JP: I grew up in the water, on beaches and in the woods. There is a permanence about rocks: They’re durable, they feel so good in your hand and pocket. And they have a history too, shaped by the river or ocean. There’s a story behind one little rock.

Why is the collection named Isla?
PS: We were looking to create a feminine and romantic image and responded to the exotic and romantic notion of this name, which is the word for “island” in Spanish.

Has the outcome been satisfying?
PS: When I saw these in the shop, they exceeded my expectations. They are more beautiful than I’d expected.

A version of this article appeared in the June 2016 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Meet the Designer: Jill Platner and Peter Sallick.