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New Design Sink is a Jewel
by Dr. Oneida Cramer

Faceted sinks are the new invention of Omni Marble manager, Bill Freeman. Introduced just a few months ago after five years of design perfection, patenting, and working out the kinks, these sinks are the worlds? first diamond-cut natural stone sinks.

?When I started designing the sink, I had something real jazzy and modern in mind,? Freeman said. ?As it turned out, antique dealers and people who love antiques flipped out over this style because it looked like a tiffany style?a tiffany lamp. And the one that we?re sending to Los Angeles goes in an art deco home. What we found was that the style transcends any period style that you have. That really got us excited because we?re not locked into a niche. I still think they look modern and jazzy; but they sure look nice in an antique.?

At the heart of the sinks lies the stone: for instance, the black granite from India?the deepest darkest black in the world makes a knockout modern sink. Marble also works. And the fact that these stones are subject to lots of color, texture, and veining variance was the inspiration for designing the sinks in the first place.

?A lot of people asked is there anyway I can get a sink to match this countertop,? Freeman said. ?I?d heard that so much, and I got to thinking how could I make a really pretty sink. Then my geodesic dome/geometry background came into place. So, I just started doing some prototypes and everybody had a fit over them. The early ones, I did the shapes from Styrofoam because it was a lot easier to work with than marble. I could cut the shapes and glue and see how they mocked up.?

?The early ones didn?t have the finesse,? Freeman said. ?But we kept playing with it and playing with it, and then we commissioned some specialized machinery to make them. And that was a quantum leap when we could maintain the very, very high precision they these type of sinks demand.?

To get such precision, Freeman calculated the facet shapes geometrically. Every branch of mathematics is based on geometry; trigonometry is based on the triangle, algebra on the cube, and calculus on the cone. And the three-dimensional facet geometry in sinks could be based on the complex polyhedral.

?In a round sink, all the pieces are exactly the same all the way around,? Freeman said. ?So, you just have to clip the pieces together. But when you get to the oval sink, all the pieces are different. It?s an entirely different set. The oval shape is considerably more complicated, much more difficult to make than the round one, and that?s reflected in the price.? Prices start around $2800 for the round, 12-sided York. The oval Orleans has 14 sides, and Freeman is designing a smaller oval sink (Orleans Petite) to retrofit 19-inch antique countertops.

?We have a few basic selling points,? Freeman said. ?The first one is the elegance of the faceted sink. Our next selling point is whatever color natural stone you have on your countertop, we can match the sink color. There is no other natural stone sink on the market that can say that.? And selection is based on the world stone mining market that developed due to an excess of diamonds.

Diamond mining goes back to 400 B.C. in India. But in early 1990?s, the diamond supply increased with a glut of industrial diamonds and the mining of natural diamonds in Russia, all of which led to a drop in diamond prices. When diamonds went down, the third world countries began quarrying stone, and soon they discovered their mountains were full of beautiful marble and granite.

?When I first started running this business, we had maybe a dozen types of granite and maybe 20 or 25 types of marble available,? said Freeman, a former computer consultant who invested in Omni Marble and later, about 15 years ago, began managing the Dallas company. ?Now, we did a count the other day of the combination of the two: we have 700 kinds of marble and stone. And a lot of it comes from the developing third world countries.?

?Three things happened for this industry,? Freeman said. ?The developing countries, when they started going into this business, started using very high tech, up to the minute equipment, which made a wonderful product. Labor costs a lot less in the developing countries. Also, there?s quite a bit of competition among them. So, the costs of the stone went down while selection and availability went up. Now, we?ve got the highest quality that we?ve ever had, lower prices, and a larger selection. You couldn?t get in any more comfortable position to offer your product. India has some of the most gorgeous stone in the world, and they?re starting to export in the last few years, where as Italy has always been the largest exporter of stone. Also, China is getting to be one of the big players in stone and occasionally sells more stone than Italy. I have stones from Australia, Saudi Arabia, South America, Norway, and of course all over the Mediterranean, Spain, and Italy, and those countries in Africa.?

?I try very hard to help the person get the stone they want,? Freeman said. ?I go to the supplier and select the stone myself or one of my people do because there is just a lot to know about this stone, like little hidden fissures and a tendency to shale.? In essence, there is a whole lot more to stone than looking pretty.

Some stones have veins similar to wood grain, and trying to work in the design of the veins is called vein matching. Miners take a big block of rock out of the ground and slice it like bread. And when they polish one side, they also polish the corresponding side, so that, after pulling the stone apart, the surfaces open up into two matching face-to-face designs?a book-match or vein-match.

In contrast to many stone sinks that weigh up to 70 pounds, the faceted sinks are lightweight at 16 to 19 pounds, which makes them usable in aircraft, yachts, and RV?s, where weight is a factor. Another important feature of the sinks is a high-impact-protective-shell that prevents leaking should something crack the stone. The shell also enables the construction of an overflow vent, which makes the faceted sink one of the only stone sinks on the market with a true overflow vent.

Sinks are on display at Nob Hill Decorative Hardware or go to

-by Dr. Oneida Cramer
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