Recently, I was lucky enough to have been chosen to attend an exclusive designer event through Ferguson Enterprises, one of our favorite vendors. This event, held in Orange County, California, was an opportunity for designers across the country to learn more about selected vendors that Ferguson partners with. The events, collectively known as Ferguson First Look! focused on three brands: Rohl, BSH, and Littman Brands– and designers were able to participate in immersive vendor-led product trainings from each.
The first training session I attended was with BSH brands, which is the overarching parent company for the Bosch, Thermador, and Gaggenau appliance brands. Located in Irvine, California, the facility featured jaw-dropping working kitchens for each of the brands, chock full of all the latest appliances and technologies, as well as a museum-like display showing a timeline of the history of these brands.
On the Bosch side, we learned all about the different levels of dishwashers they offer, from a mini 18” one for when you are short on space, up to deluxe versions that are virtually silent when running and notify you when dishes are done with a little light projected on the floor. We also learned the award-winning Bosch dishwashers work best when the dishes go in dirty. Say goodbye to scraping dishes–and hello to shiny clean dishes!
In the Thermador test kitchen, we really got to take the appliances for a test drive. Our group of 25 designers, led by the informative and charismatic Chef Jason, split up in to teams to create a multi-faceted meal utilizing the professional-grade technology the Thermador appliances had to offer. One team worked on crab cakes and got to take the induction cooktops for a spin. Another team worked on the creamy risotto over the signature star-shaped burners on a gas cooktop. Another utilized the newly popular steam ovens to create a healthy and moist sea bass and show that steam cooking is the way of the future. I took on the task of cooking the steaks on the cooktop of the 60” range. I felt like a real professional cooking on that thing! At the end, we were able to feast on the fruits of our labors and enjoy the huge lunch that we made. Everything was absolutely delicious. High quality appliances can really make you feel like a professional chef in your own kitchen!
The next day, we had the privilege to visit the Rohl headquarters, also in Irvine, California. Rohl, a luxury faucet and fixture brand, has been synonymous with tradition and quality in the plumbing fixture world for a quarter century. We had the pleasure of hearing from the founder of the brand himself, the charming Mr. Ken Rohl. He gave us a history of the brand, which he founded back in 1983 when he introduced the U.S kitchen faucet market to the pull-out kitchen faucet. After a brief history, we got to meet with some members of the faucet design team to check out some faucet prototypes and some sneak peeks of future products coming to market. They really wanted our feedback as interior designers of what we thought of some of the new finishes and some of the industrial styles that were a departure from Rohl’s classic traditional styling. We finished off the first half of the day at a lunch at the country club the Rohl’s belong to.
As if the Rohl family hadn’t been hospitable enough, we were then welcomed in to Ken Rohl’s own home to fully understand what it means to have a “House of Rohl.” He and his wife gave us a thorough tour of his beautiful California hills Spanish-style mansion, noting that almost every room (aside from the bedrooms) could feature Rohl products. The kitchen and every bathroom were obvious choices for Rohl products, but there was also a Rohl pullout faucet and sink in the laundry room, a Rohl bar faucet in the butler’s pantry, and even an outdoor kitchen that features the trademarked Rohl Water Appliance, which features a sink, faucet, sidespray, soap dispenser, and filtered water dispenser. What better way to learn about Rohl products than to see them functioning in the Rohl’s family home?
Our last brand we got to experience was Littman Brands. Littman Brands represents five elite brands of unique lighting products: Troy Lighting, Corbett Lighting, Hudson Valley Lighting, Creative Lighting Systems, and Sonneman. After a long bus ride through Orange Country traffic, we arrived at the 200,000 square foot Littman Brands facility in City of Industry, California. After being greeted with a cocktail and some passed hors d’oeuvres, we headed in to the factory for a “behind the scenes” tour of how these lights are created and manufactured. We saw sheets of metal before being shaped into fixtures, drum shades ready to be attached to their hardware, and “skeletons” of future lights to come. At the end of the tour, we had a wonderful dinner reception with an organic catered buffet complete with an excellent guitarist for our musical entertainment. We were treated like royalty everywhere we went!
The personal vendor interaction we had with each of these brands left all the designers on the trip with valuable knowledge to share with future clients. As Kate Bailey, director of showrooms for Ferguson said in an article in Kitchen & Bath Design News Magazine, “Interior designers have a large influence on the purchase decisions of their builder, remodeler and homeowner clients. Relationship building with this influential audience is key, so the Ferguson First Look trips are purposefully coordinated to wow customers with inspirational product insight, fun networking opportunities and world-class hospitality. We show designers what it truly means to work with Ferguson.”
I can safely say that I was “wowed” and am grateful that I was able to participate in this tremendous learning opportunity though Ferguson.