How a Company’s Heart Adds Extra Shine to its Polished, Designer Products

Gessi makes not only high-quality bathroom fixtures, it also strives to make it's little slice of Italy a more beautiful and happy place.

Fixtures part of the Fascino collection by Gessi. (Photo courtesy of Gessi)
Fixtures part of the Fascino collection by Gessi. (Photo courtesy of Gessi)

It is a truth in the bathroom-fixture business as it is in life that inner beauty shines through to create greater external beauty, says Kim Killgore, a sales representative for Gessi. The core of Gessi’s Italian-made, designer faucets and other products is pure, unadulterated brass.

Instead of casting molten brass like other companies do — a process that requires adding other substances that dilute purity, and a process that also results in more waste — Gessi painstakingly chisels and grinds its products out of solid brass blocks.

(Photos courtesy of Gessi)
(Photos courtesy of Gessi)
(Photos courtesy of Gessi)
(Photos courtesy of Gessi)

At Gessi’s philosophical core is a dedication to the environment and employee wellbeing, as well as product quality. Gessi’s factory is made with stone and other organic materials that help it blend into the natural environment around it — the 80-square-kilometre Gessi Park in the Italian Alps.

The factory is covered in solar panels, producing more than 80 percent of its energy needs. It features smart grid technology that regulates power-use for maximum efficiency. It has multiple eco-certifications and has adopted some of the best sustainable business practices to date.

Michele Cocco, Gessi’s vice-president of sales for North America, says the first time he walked into the factory he was surprised to see workers riding around on bicycles. Vintage motorcycles and cars are on display, and works of art and antiques decorate the workplace, making it a lively and interesting atmosphere. “It’s about working hard, but playing hard at the same time,” Cocco says.

For his upstanding contributions to industry, the company’s founder, Gian Luca Gessi, was knighted to Italy’s Order of Merit for Labour (Ordine al Merito del Lavoro) in 2008 by the country’s president.

Killgore says that Gessi has taken the “made in Italy” appellation a step further. “Our motto is ‘made in Gessi,’” she says. Practically every component of Gessi’s products is made in the Gessi factory. “When you’re making a product, when you make all the components, you control the quality,” she says. “When a company sources components from other places, you don’t find out until it’s in the field that this O-ring [for example] wasn’t manufactured to fit tightly enough.”

Cocco adds that every component goes through multifold tests in the factory. Running high-pressure air through fixtures can emulate years of use. A standard long-life test emulates some 10 years of use, or 70,000 on-and-off cycles. Gessi tests for twice as many cycles.

About 25 years ago, at the age of 30, Gessi founded his company. He established a name for himself in the industry with his dedication to quality, but also with his company’s design prowess.

Gessi’s award-winning 3-millimetre shower heads, for example, have spawned many imitations. The company’s fixtures come in all the varied forms that the fluidity of water could inspire — its Goccia collection features shower heads in the shape of raindrops dripping off the ceiling, its fixtures create indoor waterfalls, they incorporate coloured light for chromotherapy, they create different pressures on the body for hydro-message.

(Photo courtesy of Gessi)
(Photo courtesy of Gessi)
(Photo courtesy of Gessi)
(Photo courtesy of Gessi)

As this Italian brand gains popularity in North America, it has entered a new collaboration with American architect and designer David Rockwell. His New York-based Rockwell Group is known for a variety of high-profile projects, particularly those related to theatre — Rockwell designed the Dolby Theatre, which has hosted the Academy Awards every year since the theatre opened in 2001.

Rockwell designed Gessi’s new Inciso collection, which will be on display at the Luxury Home & Design Show in Vancouver June 21 – 24, hosted by our sister media, Taste of Life magazine. Gessi is one of the brands that will be featured by Cantu Bathroom & Hardware, a Vancouver company that curates the finest in bathroom fixtures from around the world.

The Inciso collection’s spirit is that of honest and traditional American manufacturing. It’s clean lines and smooth surfaces are paired with textured patterns. “It’s tactile, it’s emotional,” says Cocco.

Part of the Inciso collection designed for Gessi by David Rockwell. (Photos courtesy of Gessi)
Part of the Inciso collection designed for Gessi by David Rockwell. (Photos courtesy of Gessi)
Part of the Inciso collection designed for Gessi by David Rockwell. (Photos courtesy of Gessi)
Part of the Inciso collection designed for Gessi by David Rockwell. (Photos courtesy of Gessi)

NEWSLETTER

SIGN UP FOR OUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER