By Kadie Yale | Photography courtesy of Bradley Corporation
So often, many integral designs go unnoticed. They’re just too frequent in our day-to-day to fully take in, and their changes over the years go by without a second thought. And in no
other space is that more apparent than the bathroom.
Celebrating its 95th anniversary this year, Bradley
Corporation has grown and evolved over the last almost-century to address changes in scientific knowledge,
regulations, and trends. Hardly something we think of
as we rush out of public restrooms, their washfountain
design has blended research and development to
provide a time- and resources-saving alternative to the
standard sink. Here, we highlight a few of the changes
made over the years to address growing concerns in
the American market.
GROUP HANDWASHING IS BORN | 1917-1921
Milwaukee-based factory owner Harry Bradley
recognized worker handwashing was highly
inefficient—long, slow lines resulted in lost
production time. In 1917, he introduced a washfountain prototype, which became the first group
handwashing patent. The iconic washfountain
was introduced to market in 1921 by Bradley
THE WASHFOUNTAIN ADAPTS TO NEW SPACES | 1920s
The early washfountain was hand operated, circular in shape, sprayed
water upward from the bottom of the bowl, and constructed as one
piece. In addition to being sold for traditional heavy-duty industrial
hand wash use, the fixtures were also used for flower planters,
aquariums, rock terrariums, and even as fresh fruit produce displayers.
Taking user feedback into consideration, Bradley introduced foot-operated and wall-mounted models as well, which were quickly incorporated into schools, stadiums, airports, restaurants, and retail shops.
ADDRESSING GERMS | 1988
Society’s growing awareness and disdain for germs
inspired Bradley to introduce the first touchless
technology—Accu-Zone infrared touchless metering
control system. The hands-free fixtures allowed
users to feel confident they wouldn’t be picking up
germs the moment they switched the water off, as
well as addressed environmental issues like water-,
energy-, and paper-conservation.