Working with its directors, Vanessa and George Katsanevakis, for the past five years, I have had the privilege of seeing firsthand their passion for developing luxury hand-crafted tapware through sustainable manufacturing.
The Sussex Taps story begins with Vanessa’s late father, Nicolaas ‘Nick’ Johannes van Putten, a watchmaker who turned his craft to tapware. To a usually industrial and heavy-handed profession, Nick brought precision, finesse and meticulous detail from his experience in watchmaking. On Nick’s passing, Vanessa and George took the reins of the business and since then, have continued to drive Sussex Taps with an eye to both innovation and sustainability.
“We operate under the mantra that good design is sustainable design,” explains Vanessa. “To us, that really comes down to asking ourselves three core questions: How is the product designed? How is it produced? And, how will it be used?”
On my first visit to their factories and foundry, I was in awe for a range of reasons. Not only did the factory contain state-of-the-art technology to produce each of the pristine pieces of tapware locally, but it also humbly housed many of Nick’s handmade machines which had been engineered to make specific parts which no other machine could create. I have a passion for vintage printing machines, so it was a thrill to see the mechanism and construction of these machines and to know that they are still being used for their original purpose.
Indeed, a sustainable approach runs through every part of their process, including repurposing and recycling metal off-cuts. “With our foundry, we can incorporate waste into our design process and output,” adds Vanessa. “It’s a matter of how long the resource can stay in the manufacturing cycle with the least amount of impact.”
The Sussex Taps factory recently upgraded to 100kw solar panels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 131 tonnes per year. The company’s goal is to become completely carbon neutral within the next five years. I’m always looking forward to seeing what’s next at Sussex Taps as they continue to push boundaries of design, engineering and sustainability – setting a new benchmark for Australian manufacturing while still creating beautiful luxury tapware.
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