|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Fantini USA, Inc.
150 East 58th St.
New York, NY 10155
(212) 308 8833
Fratelli Fantini S.p.A.
via Buonarroti #4
28010 Pella, Italia
(Far Below North American Standard)
This Company In Brief
Fantini is an Italian manufacturer pf well-designed contemporary faucets available from decorative plumbing showrooms, kitchen and bath designers and interior decorators. These luxury faucets are well made, but much of their price reflects a premium for cutting-edge design rather than product quality. The faucets are backed by a meagre five year warranty — far below the north American standard lifetime warranty. The company has not filed the compliance statement with the Department of Energy required by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and, as a consequence, its faucets are not legal for sale in the U.S. Canadian sales are not affected.
According to the official company history, Fratelli Fantini S.p.A. was founded in 1947 by two brothers in Pella, Italy to design and manufacture bathwares. Pella, in the Piedmont region of Italy is a sort of "Silicon Valley" for faucet and sanitary wares manufacturers, hosting, among others,
Fantini USA, the North American arm of the company, is considerably newer, having been incorporated in 2010. Its current CEO is Ricardo Conti.
Faucets are in three series: Fantini, Aboutwater and Stainless Steel. Each series is divided into collections. The Fantini series of thirteen collections is the most complete, including shower components and accessories in each collection. The Stainless series is composed of four collections, and Aboutwater, for the moment, just two collections, but many more are expected.
The faucets are designer faucets in every sense. All are designed by Fantini's team of outside designers, and the designer responsible for a collection is identified with the collection on the company website. For example, Italian designer Elisa Ossino created the Fontane Bianche collection and architect and interior designer Vincent Van Duysen designed the two Icona collections.
The Aboutwater series is a collaboration between Fantini and Boffi S.p.A., the Italian interior design and furniture company, and designed by noted Japanese industrial designer, Naoto Fukasawa and Italian architect Piero Lissoni who also designed the Fantini and Boffi showrooms in Milan.
The designs are fiercely contemporary, crisp and resolutely modern. There is not a single Fantini faucet that could be described as traditional or even transitional. Those reproducing a heritage look in their kitchen or bath may have to look elsewhere for a faucet.
Finishes available on most faucets include polished chrome, and nickel. Some are available in black or white, and the Balocchi faucet line, originally designed in the 1970s can be ordered in a rainbow of RAL colors. These appear to be powder coated finishes. are available on some faucets. The finishes available for each faucet vary, and are specified on the company website. Special finishes include polished Gold, British (Satin) Gold and Gunmetal (an almost black finish). Some of these are not available yet, and when available will be offered on only a select group of faucets. Stainless steel faucets, of course, are available in just one "finish": stainless steel.
The valves used in all Fantini faucets are ceramic cartridges. Visual inspection suggests they are made in Italy, and many are used in other Italian-made faucets, most particularly in faucets. Unfortunately, Fantini cartridges are devoid of maker's marks which would permit us to identify the actual manufacturer, and a telephone interview with Fantini USA did not produce further enlightenment. Some good quality faucet cartridges are made in Italy, including Studio Tecnico Sviluppo e Ricerche (STSR) S.r.l and Hydroplast, S.r.L. But, we cannot say with any degree of certainty that these, or similar high-quality cartridges, are installed in Fantini faucets.
The company website is visual and striking but somewhat disorienting with graphics flashing by at a constant rate and difficult to use — even after you figure out that almost everything on the site is linked to a drop-down menu.
The search bar is not where you would expect: at the top of each page. It is in the drop down menu on some pages, on others there is no search link. The same is true of the link to the contact page. A drop-down with a contact page link is available on some pages, but not others. Fortunately, the contact telephone number is displayed at the very bottom of most pages.
The search algorithm is primitive. We came across a notation for one faucet that "RAL colors are available upon request" and did a site search to find out about Fantini's RAL colors. It produced no results. Fantini should consider a section on the advantages of RAL colors. Most North American consumers have never heard of them, do not understand how convenient they can be, and would see no benefit in paying extra for them.
Some links don't work at all. For example clicking on Login/Sign Up on most pages has no effect. Most menus show a link to a designers page, but every time we clicked on the link the only thing that happened is our Firefox browser crashed. In Internet Explorer the page displayed, but was blank — then the browser crashed. Safari, Opera and Chrome displayed a blank page without crashing. The italian web site, however, displayed the designers page correctly and without incident.
Under products, the Fantini series bathroom collections display properly, but the kitchen faucets displayed a page that appeared blank. We had to scroll down the page to find the "washbasin kitchen" link to display a photo gallery of kitchen faucets. None of this was very intuitive.
Once you find a faucet, however, the information provided, including its certifications is good. The only critical items missing are prices and the identity of the faucet's ceramic cartridge. Fantini seeks to be mysterious about its pricing, and it does a good job of it. Even dealer websites seldom show prices. We're not sure all the mystery is warranted. The faucets are priced on par with other Italian designer faucets, although special finishes can drive the price up considerably. Cartridges are described only in generic terms, such as: "1/4 turn ceramic cartridge". Specifications (called the "Product Technical Sheet") are to be found in a .pdf document as is the exploded parts diagram. To see the parts diagram, however, you have to be a registered user and log into the site.
These are not faucets that you will find at your local Home Depot or Walmart or on line at Amazon. They are sold only through designer showrooms. There is no dealer locator on the website, so to find a dealer you must rely on Google. Not a very satisfactory method if your local showroom does not advertise Fantini on its website.
Fantini's faucet warranty is decidedly sub-standard. The warranty on cartridges and finishes is just five years, even on finishes (which have been proven over and over again to be nearly indestructible). What Fantini's Italian management is telling you with its warranty is that it is not willing to bet its own Euros that either its finishes or its cartridges will last more than five years. If they do, great. But, if not, Fantini does not want to pay for it. So, if six years down the road your finish starts to flake or your cartridge starts to drip, the problem is yours and yours alone to deal with. Fantini will do no more than sell you the parts to fix it. If, in fact it has the parts (see below).
If management actually believes its finishes or cartridges will last just five years, it needs to drastically improve its finishing processes and find different cartridge suppliers.
Italian faucet companies that sell in the U.S. such as Fantini, have evidently gotten the idea that they are competing only among themselves, so the standard 3-5 year European warranty is sufficient. It's not, and if they want to compete with American faucet companies like that offer lifetime warranties, they need to consider a much, much stronger warranty posture.
Customer service is generally good. Service agents are informed and helpful. The only problem of which we are aware is an issue that we have heard about from several sources: the company does not keep parts for discontinued faucets in sufficient quantity or for a long enough period to ensure that if a discontinued Fantini faucet develops a problem after the end of the warranty period there will be parts available to fix it. Customer service agents will go the extra mile, in one instance even rumaging through parts bins in Italy to find a replacement handle. But, if the part is not in stock, then it's not in stock and no amount of customer service diligence will fix the problem.
Fantini sponsors a project in the Masango region of Burundi called "100 Fontane" (100 fountains) to construct wells, aqueducts and water outlets providing potable water to the villages in the region. By 2014 the project's goal of 100 water outlet points had been reached, and the company is continuing to add outlets and other improvements to the water system that now serves a population of 25,000.
Imported faucets comparable to Fantini include
American made faucets of similar quality with lifetime warranties include
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Fantini faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.