CULTURE DEFINES OUR BEING.

Interview with Alberto Magrans

Mr Magrans, what can we expect from Laufen at the ISH 2017, the world‘s leading bathrooms trade fair? Is Laufen going to be setting any new trends?

Alberto Magrans / We have worked hard in the two years since the last ISH and embarked on numerous new developments that we are going to present this time in Frankfurt. One of the most exciting developments is definitely our new shower toilet, Cleanet Riva, which takes hygiene and aesthetics to a higher level than any other shower toilet in the market. Expert juries agree on that, because we have already been given the Red Dot Award, the iF Award and, just recently, the Design Plus award for its intelligent combination of design and cleanliness. And I‘m confident that the market will be just as impressed with our product.

We have done more work with Konstantin Grcic on the Val range and expanded it with new SaphirKeramik washbasins, toilets, a bidet, a bathtub and a specially designed range of faucets for a complete bathroom look. I think you can see from these products the extent to which our materials technology enables us to be uncompromising on design.

Our successful partnership with Kartell is also bearing new fruit. With the designers Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, we have again greatly expanded the collection. The new washbasin options, vanity unit combinations, furniture, rimless floorstanding WCs and a free-standing bathtub, together with decorative features, make designing an integrated bathroom even more flexible.

preface_SaphirKeramik_009_rollen

SaphirKeramik – Material Innovation

Our range of bathroom furniture is also growing rapidly. We have developed the Base bathroom furniture range, with the aim of creating products that keep up with current trends in interiors, while offering Laufen quality and functionality combined with excellent value for money. We have also added new and exciting products to our existing bathroom furniture ranges such as Boutique, Space and Frame 25.
And let‘s take a quick look at a new partnership and some future products where SaphirKeramik plays again an important role. Patricia Urquiola, one of the most successful and influential designers in the world, has joined the Laufen team. Our first joint project was the new Laufen showroom in Madrid which opened last year. Now, in partnership with her, we have developed 3rd generation SaphirKeramik products, which we will be presenting at this year‘s ISH for the first time. We are very much looking forward to working together and are confident that the results are spectacular products such as have never been seen before in bathroom ceramics.

Which innovations do you believe have the power to change the bathroom design business again?

AM / Those will definitely be the innovations that we see in the materials used in the bathroom. And, of course, it‘s not without a certain pride that I mention that
Laufen is right up there in front with its SaphirKeramik. SaphirKeramik is the result not only of many years of research and development but also of our open and cooperative corporate culture that has led to us working with exciting partners like Alessi and Kartell.
Who would have thought it possible, just a few years ago, that the design idioms of two such different materials as plastic and ceramics could be combined with such outstanding results as is the case with Kartell by Laufen – corners and edges with very small radii, and extremely thin sides, were simply not conceivable using traditional ceramics.
Or let’s take a modern cast mineral composite material like Sentec and Marbond. Using that, we can meet indi­vidual customer requests in small production runs very quickly. It all means there is almost no limit on the imagination of designers and architects. Customised design is a growing segment and high-tech materials like Sentec and Marbond open up all kinds of new opportunities for us. For example, using Sentec, we can manufacture single-skin bathtubs in one piece and still have an overflow. Naturally, we will go on developing more innovative materials, work on their properties and find new applications. We learn and explore by closely observing or fostering research and development activities around ceramics, including their applications in other industries. Ceramic is seen as one of the most interesting materials to cope with some of the challenges of the 21st century, for its mechanical properties as well as for its sustainability.
To discover the full potential of the materials and explore new manufacturing methods, such as digital fabrication, we work closely with an international network of universities, research institutes and high-tech spin-offs.

Kartell by Laufen

Kartell by Laufen

Druckguss – eine Laufen Innovation

Druckguss – eine Laufen Innovation

You refer to future developments. What else is Laufen planning for the future?

AM / It’s not all about exciting new products. We are also developing as a company. As a producer with our roots in beautiful Switzerland, we always have sustainability and environmental protection on our agenda. We have already achieved a great deal here, but we are sure that we’ll be able to do a lot more in future thanks to new technologies.
We are also building up our capability for handling big international projects. To that end, we have set up a global team to support architects internationally, regardless of where they are located.
We are also pressing ahead with the “Bespoke” area of business, because customised planning and design of bathrooms will be a big thing in the future. With that in mind, we are making sure that we can offer the right products and services to meet our customers’ wishes and needs.

Laufen is also committed to the cultural sector. What can you promise us there?

AM / As a brand that stands for the symbiosis of
design, quality and functionality in bathroom architecture, we would naturally like to contribute to the international dialogue about architecture and design. That’s why, with Pro Helvetia, we support cultural events during the Venice Biennale and regularly organise our own symposium on “Architecture during Art” as part of Art Basel.
I should also mention our cosmopolitan corporate culture, which encourages innovation and an intelligent willingness to take risks. We support art and culture because we believe that they can provide an inspiring model for the wealth creation process in industry, and be a source of economic and social growth. After 125 years, we now regard it as a tradition that we play a formative role in encouraging these creative forces, which will keep on giving rise to new things.

 

Kulturveranstaltung im Laufen Forum

Showroom Madrid by Patricia Urquiola

Showroom Madrid by Patricia Urquiola

 

125 Jahre Laufen – a curated art show

125 Jahre Laufen – a curated art show

 

 This year Laufen celebrates its 125th anniversary. From your perspective, what does that mean for the company?

AM / Laufen sees itself today as a bathroom specialist who thinks, observes and researches beyond the confines of the bathroom. Our interests range over architecture and interior design, social developments and trends, new methods of production and materials, their qualities and mechanical properties. In brief, we are open-minded and continuously moving forwards.
In that process, the vast wealth of experience that we have built up over the last 125 years naturally stands us in good stead. Over that time, Laufen has contributed a great deal to changes in the bathroom. I can remember the invention of the wall-mounted toilet that was developed by Laufen in 1964 and is now virtually the norm in many countries. Or Laufen’s introduction of pressure casting for ceramics in 1982 – it was that breakthrough which made serial production of high-quality bathroom ceramics possible. In 2002, we reintroduced the use of fine fire clay, which made it possible to produce large, cuttable wash stands in ceramics. And with the introduction of SaphirKeramik in 2013, we started a real trend, a new lightness in bathroom design, characterised by modern style and a high-quality design aesthetic.
In all these developments, we benefit from the fact that Laufen was founded in 1892 as a “pottery factory” and has grown from being a specialist in ceramics to become an expert on the bathroom as a whole. For that we owe a big thank-you to our employees at our birthplace in Laufen and at the Austrian and Czech production sites, who have nurtured their knowledge and expertise in the field of ceramics and the bathroom, and passed them on from generation to generation. //