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Report from Black Forest, Germany: Hansgrohe and Duravit reveal latest products
Hansgrohe SE and Duravit AG are two global players in the bathroom and sanitary industry that produce complementary products.
The two companies are based in idyllic valleys just next to each other in Germany’s Black Forest region. Because of this close proximity and the complementary products, the two companies have collaborated on previews at the ISH Frankfurt exhibition for over 20 years.
Traditionally every two years in the first week of February, more than 1,000 visitors (customers and media) from over 30 countries enjoy the coordinated programme of the Hansgrohe VIP Forum and the Duravit Design Days where the two companies showcase its upcoming products and innovations before the official exhibit in March.
DURAVIT DESIGN DAYS
Duravit wasted no time in teaming up with key players in the design industry to produce an array of joint collections and stand-alone ranges, all representing this year’s key bathroom trend: individuality.
“What are the current trends when it comes to identifying what our customers want?” Frank Richter, CEO of Duravit asks. “The answer is not easy because we are living in a society where lifestyles are becoming increasingly differentiated. However, there are common elements: the desire for self-fulfilment, private spaces in which to relax or rejuvenate, and places that are an expression of our inner selves.”
The firm introduced a selection of novelties including two new collections by star designer Philippe Starck, new bathtub solutions, bathroom furniture, accessories, innovative shower enclosures and shower trays created with natural materials.
ME by Starck
“Our new ME by Starck range satisfies the new yearning for individuality in the bathroom. The people’s need are the focal point of the collection. That is why Philippe Starck focused solely on the essentials. With ME, this approach has allowed him to give rich inspiration through elegance and simplicity,” says Albrecht von der Groeben, chief of international sales at Duravit.
With five versatile wash basins, ME by Starck offers a minimalist collection for private and public areas.
A slim all-round rim that is also found in the toilet seats and urinals is a recurring design element. Due to this delicate edge, the washbasins have a light, almost rimless appearance while their inner basins are amazingly deep.
The range also features bathtubs, shower trays and accessories all designed by Philippe Starck.
“A collection like ME is simply designed by honesty and by rigorous ergonomics,” says Starck in a video presentation of the new collection.
ME by Starck is perfectly combined with the new L-Cube bathroom furniture range conceived by German designer Christian Werner using the inspiration of a collage for the collection. The style, function, feel and colour scheme are determined by each user in accordance with their own personal preferences.
The design character of L-Cube is defined by geometric lines. The interplay of horizontal and vertical lines creates a functional and structured look.
“The cupboard is nothing more than a box and I wanted to give it a certain lightness, to take away its weight. So I had this idea to separate the individual surfaces- in other words I made the joints relatively large to create the impression as if the individual surfaces were floating,” explains Werner in a video presentation about L-Cube.
“With 30 different surfaces, the design scope is practically unlimited,” Groeben further adds.
The star collection of Duravit’s Design Days is Philippe Starck’s second bathroom programme called Cape Cod. Located in New England on the east coast of the USA, Cape Cod’s sandy beaches and stretch of crystal-clear water and untamed nature was the inspiration for the collection.
The goal was to reinvent the bathroom by removing the barriers between nature and the indoors, where nature becomes a permanent part of the bathroom.
“The choice of materials is very important,” says Starck.“It focuses on two main areas. The first is the semantic area: what is the story of this material?”
Starck adds: “Then there is the question of sustainability. This cultural sustainability implies that you cannot use obsolete materials and you must use durable materials. This means you have to go back to your fundamentals. That is where we obtain real coherence and the type of minimalistic elegance in this Cape Cod series.”
The collection is captivating in its authentic materials featuring real solid wood and an innovative ceramic formula that allows for especially thin and delicate wash bowls, available in three different shapes: round, square and tri-oval.
Supporting the wash basins are the timelessly modern consoles that make a clever use of the contrast between the floor-standing frame available in cool, smooth chrome and four exclusive wood finishes including Vintage Oak, American Walnut, European Oak and White Beech.
The Vintage Oak is most appealing for its irregular wooden edges that is reminiscent of a ship’s plank that has been withered by storms and washed ashore.
The minimalist rectangular mirrors can be combined with LED illumination.
Hansgrohe VIP Forum
Innovation was at the forefront of Hansgrohe and its design brand Axor’s latest products. One of its greatest revolutions was the Select tool introduced by Hansgrohe in collaboration with Pheonix Design, that allows one to indulge in the most convenient ways of showering and cleaning: with a touch of a button.
Glass is also a prominent material in this year’s showcase. Used to create the latest overhead shower called Rainmaker, Richard Grohe, deputy chairman of Hansgrohe points out that with glass becoming a trend in the market, we will be seeing it used more and more in the bathroom space.
French designer Philippe Starck had indeed reshaped the traditional aesthetic of the bathroom mixer with the introduction of softer shapes and flowing lines. Continuing in the spirit of AXOR Starck Organic collection, AxorStarck V brings together a transparent, more-sculpture-than-mixer design that bridges the gap between the functional and emotional aspects of water.
The collection is a mirror of Axor’s focus of the last 20 years, which observes human interaction in relation to water and space. The first mixer of its kind with a transparent body, AxorStarck V puts the movement of water at the forefront, making the water visible. Its open spout allows users to experience the flow of water from faucet to basin. At its core, is a swirling vortex which animates the design of the mixer by bringing the water to life.
“The vortex phenomenon has occupied my father Klaus Grohe for several years,” explains Philippe Grohe, head of Axor. “His intuition that water could visibly be brought to the foreground through the vortex, was the starting point in the development of AxorStarck V.”
The transparency of the spout is rendered in organic crystal glass material, which is both sustainable and durable. What is unique about the open two-piece design is its detachable spout, which can be easily removed and installed using a click-in connection between it and its body.
The spout itself is available in a variety of options including a diamond and bevel cut that brings an opulent glass elegance to the bathroom space.
“I think this is going to be fantastic for the Middle East. To move something so resolutely modern to fit into classic markets with just a finish and a little detailing is giving us a lot of ideas for the future,” Grohe says.
A porcelain option is also available which gives the delicate mixer a more solid and seamless appearance when attached to washbasin. It also acts more like a fountain spouting water.
Each mixer comes in 15 different finishes due to Axor’s new Manufaktur, the brand’s exclusive service that ensures individualism in the bathroom. The range can be installed with either a joystick handle or a lever.
Hansgrohe and Axor have focused their attention on the kitchen space this year with the latest additions of the Select tool as well as a pull-out spout introduced through the AxorCitterior Select kitchen mixers as well as Hansgrohe’s Metric Select and Talis Select ranges.
From now on the water flow can be opened and closed using the Select button located on the front end of the mixer while temperature and volume can also be pre-set. The lever remains in the open position, with the flow rate and water temperature at the previously chosen setting. This is both intuitive and practical: the technology requires neither a power supply nor any additional equipment hidden in the cabinet below.
In addition, the ergonomic pull-out spout increases the action radius to 50cm, which makes working in the kitchen that much easier. This allows pots to be filled, plants to be watered, or dirt to be rinsed out of the sink in one continuous sequence.
Hansgrohe’s Rainmaker overhead shower is especially appealing due to its white glass surface and gleaming metal. Their rimless surface, framed by a narrow chrome casing gives the overhead showers an exclusive look and makes them suitable for use in any bathroom environment.
Commenting on glass as a current trend, Richard Grohe says: ” Glass helps you segment the space because glass dissolves the borders and also dissolves space. It integrates into its surroundings very well. If you think of the bathroom, you will find a lot of objects which are in glass. That means if you make a product in the same material it disappears. Also glass is an architect’s best friend. And glass and water work very nicely together.”
The Rainmaker Select showers feature impressive precision and workmanship. An example is the glass plate with its more than 200 openings, each of which is cut out with the help of a precision laser. Hansgrohe developed the Rainmaker Select range together with its longstanding partner Phoenix Design.