Elegance in the bathroom, by Laufen
At a respectable 125 years old, Laufen still has no lack of enthusiasm and ambition. “Rather than looking back on our glorious history, we are focusing on the future”, Laufen’s Director Marketing & Products Marc Viardot says. He has been working for the company for over 13 years and clearly still enjoys it. “The ISH fair is considered to be the bathroom world championship so of course we want to be seen as one of the stars there.” For instance by setting new trends. Indeed, Laufen is known as a trendsetter, and doesn’t disappoint.
The latest innovation is their SaphirKeramik, a groundbreaking new alternative to traditional ceramic: ultra thin, very strong, quietly elegant and comfortably space-saving. Presented at ISH 2013, SaphirKeramik has been used for the ‘Kartell by LAUFEN’ washbasin series. “Bathrooms are usually small so why have a graceless room-filling washbasin?” A rhetorical question, of course.
The first time Laufen launched a trend that would prove to be a keeper, was back in 1963, when Laufen started to industrially produce a wall-mounted toilet. Many others would follow, and research became ingrained in the DNA of the brand – currently Laufen is optimizing a new model of shower toilets, “based on the original that was invented in Switzerland, which was picked up and once pimped became a standard in Japan and China.
We’re currently developing a shower toilet that focuses on its core function: cleaning”. One imagines a fair amount of the budget goes on research, and is then passed on to the customer.
“We always try to combine state of the art technology with democratic design, and keep it affordable. It’s a challenge because we want to maintain our production in Europe.” Talking of design, Laufen has worked with Konstantin Grcic among others (as part of the SaphirKeramik project he created several studies of washbasins for Laufen, which he refined to a market-ready bathroom collection called Val in 2015). “We work only with external designers, and only with the very best. Often, they are eager to work with us, especially because of our successful research and marketing.” Many architects are fans also.
All well and good, but how about one rather disturbing aspect of our love for a holistic bathroom experience: excessive water use in times of climate change? “First of all, respect for nature is paramount in Switzerland, so we were sustainable and environmental friendly way before the rest of the world followed. That’s why we make products that last and will please your eye for 20 or 30 years. And our water-saving toilets are optimized to flush with two reduced flushing volumes: 4.5 or 3 liters of water.
Compared to the 6 liter standard flush, our models provide substantial water savings.” If it depends on Laufen, we soon won’t be using water at all anymore to flush since the brand is researching how to adequately implement vacuum technology (already used on cruise ships for instance) into normal toilets.
At ISH 2017, Laufen will present the 3rd generation of its SaphirKeramik project, this time in collaboration with architect and designer Patricia Urquiola. “The material is so new, we need to explore different angles, and after our collaboration with Kartell and then Konstantin Gcric, Patricia Urquiola offers us a completely different approach. We are very happy to collaborate with her!” Laufen is launching 5 washbasins and 1 bathtub of her new collection SONAR at ISH.
Alongside their activities at the fair ground, Laufen will be sharing their view on the future in an exhibition at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM. For those feeling curious to see even more of this maverick and innovative Swiss brand: they have chosen Salone del Mobile 2017 to celebrate their 125th anniversary in the Kartell by Laufen showroom and La Posteria, which comes with some bubbles and more groundbreaking innovations.
Laufen at ISH: Hall 3.1/Booth B51, Frankfurt am Main/Germany