Over the past two decades, collaborations between brands have become ubiquitous. In 2000, Louis Vuitton tapped late fashion designer Stephen Sprouse to create a poppy line of handbags and accessories scrawled with graffiti-inspired dayglo patterns. Orchestrated by then-Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs, that collection helped set the stage for a multitude of creative partnerships, from the high/low capsules of Philippe Starck for Target (2002) and Karl Lagerfeld for H&M (2004) to more recent developments like Zürich-based design collective Vetements’ simultaneous collaborations with Levi’s, Dr. Martens, Champion, Eastpack, Juicy Couture and a dozen other brands (2017) and even the Off-White x Nike “tennis tutus” Serena Williams rocked at the U.S. Open (2018). Beyond the cachet of owning a limited-edition piece with the all-important “X” on the label, high-profile collaborations remain covetable — and highly collectible — as they frequently fuse two distinct points of view. And all the better if it’s something the buyer will have forever and use every day.
Founded in 1978 in Danbury, Connecticut, the esteemed kitchen and bath brand Waterworks champions timeless design, exquisite materials and meticulous craftsmanship that can be seen in sinks, tubs, faucets, tile, lighting, cabinet hardware and plenty in between. Launched in Detroit in 2011 as a watch company, Shinola has expanded its scope far beyond timepieces and leather straps to offer everything from bicycles and handbags to tech accessories and even a Motor City-themed version of Monopoly. Although Waterworks has been in the game decades longer than Shinola, both companies have developed into lifestyle brands built around similar principles — including labor-intensive, artisanal production methods and a commitment to materials of the finest quality. While Waterworks has been credited with revolutionizing the once-overlooked American bath industry (a feat perhaps exemplified by co-founder Barbara Sallick’s 2016 coffee-table book The Perfect Bath), Shinola has been commended for revitalizing, even “saving,” downtown Detroit.
Built within a conglomerate of five buildings — including a historic hardware/sporting goods store and a Singer sewing machine factory — the Shinola Hotel formed the spark that brought the two companies together. “It was truly organic,” Waterworks CEO and Creative Director Peter Sallick told Shinola’s editorial hub The Journal. “An initial relationship just led to ongoing discussions about what could be and the hotel became a great way for ideas to come to life.”
Unsurprisingly, those discussions revolved around distinguishing the baths in the boutique hotel’s 129 guest rooms. With its clean lines and “fresh take on iconic industrial design,” the Waterworks Ludlow collection made an apt springboard for the collaboration, which also drew stylistic cues from Shinola’s Runwell watch. This unique meeting of the minds is possibly most evident in the Ludlow Shinola Edition Lavatory Faucet, which features an accent badge and rounded escutcheon inspired by the Runwell’s caseback and dark “Shinola steel” lever handles that stand out against the fitting’s nickel-plated finish. In addition to the faucet, the collaboration comprises wall-mounted accessories (including a robe hook, towel bar and paper holder) and four custom shades of Waterworks Cottage ceramic tile: Matte White, Shinola Blue, Shinola Brown and Shinola Green.
Even if you’re not planning a visit to the Shinola Hotel — which opened its doors in January 2019 with a goal of becoming “Detroit’s new living room” — the entire range is available through Alexander Marchant showrooms. “This venture with Shinola marks the first time a Waterworks custom hotel design has been added to our product offering as a limited special edition,” Sallick explained. “It’s a fresh, inspiring design concept that people can now bring into their own homes.”