European manufacturers are among the most successful and consistently creative in the world. We find out what keeps the design process ticking for some of the kitchen and bathroom sector’s leading brands…
A MEETING OF MINDS
Jan Heisterhagen, Vice President Product Management, Hansgrohe
“In order to successfully develop new products, we need to think about the user’s experience first. That means we assess their needs, values and expectations, and try to generate true benefits for them. Our products emerge from a fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue between our experts for water and technology, and our external designers. These creative minds share our values for innovation, quality and design and also broaden our horizon. We greatly bene t from their experience and holistic view of design, which helps us to integrate our own product innovation goals into overall trends of interior design and architecture.
Design has always been a key factor in our success, both for exploring potential new markets, and exploiting existing market potentials. We won our first design prize in the early 1970s, with the Hansgrohe Tri-bel handheld shower. Today, our awards total over 500 and we occupy sixth place in
the 2017 International Forum Design (iF) ranking among over 2,000 listed companies. With our luxury brand Axor, we push design boundaries in revolutionary ways. More
than 20 years ago, when Axor was born, we were instrumental in shaping new interior design concepts for bathrooms. Since then, the avant-garde design objects that we have created in collaboration with world renowned designers fulfil the users’ highest expectations in terms of design. With our premium brand, Hansgrohe, we focus on a broad product portfolio that offers consistent designs for classic to modern bathrooms and kitchens. In mature countries, this helps us to grow faster than the market.
To my mind, there are three main sources of inspiration: exploring design and functionality in nature; conversing with
a creative network, and investigating current malfunctions that leave room
for improvement. That is how ideas are developed with our interdisciplinary teams. In fact, everybody at the Hansgrohe Group is encouraged to put forward an innovative idea that would potentially support both functional and aesthetical advancement.
We enlarge that circle when we visit international trade shows. The dialogues are tremendously helpful for our product design. They help us check the pulse of the trade and of the end consumer and their needs and expectations.”
Simon Richmond, Managing Director, Poggenpohl UK
“Poggenpohl has been in the UK since 1974 and during that time, we have made a large commitment with nine directly-owned showrooms and Poggenpohl displays in a further 13 independent studios. Our branding is strong across the board and we have worked hard to maintain a reputation for innovation and customer service.
In terms of how European manufacturers have to tailor their offering in this country, the UK market is not significantly different to the German market. When it comes to contemporary design European taste is very similar. There will always be particular finishes or interior fittings that prove more popular in one country than another, but we offer the full Poggenpohl range across the world. For instance, our built in meat slicer is a must in Germany but hardly ever specified in the UK.
In the UK, kitchens are the heart of the home. They are living spaces as well as functional kitchens and many customers are looking to invest in the best. British manufacturers have a long history of producing wood and traditional kitchens but we still think Germany has the edge when it comes to contemporary design.”
A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS
Christian Käsemann, Head of Export, Ballerina Küchen
“Every year, we gather ideas from our agents, dealers and our own staff regarding our product offering. In January, we discuss these ideas in a small circle and evaluate the use and practicability of every single idea on the list. A month later, we have three bigger rounds with the board, selected sales agencies, marketing, export, and purchasing departments as well as plant management and external designers to discuss all relevant new materials available from the suppliers, plus other designs and trends we have seen at trade fairs.
We put everything together and different trends to focus on for the coming year. For 2017, we will focus on demand for products that are more durable as a priority. This search for meaning and worth have a huge influence in the eventual design.”
EYES WIDE OPEN
Jose Luis Castells, Head of Design, Doca
“Our in-house design team is continually sourcing the latest materials and finishes to incorporate into our kitchen and bedroom furniture. In addition, we also pay the utmost attention to the latest trends in fashion and architecture as well as interior design. By keeping an eye on the latest developments in other design-led sectors, we can often predict which trends are likely to emerge in kitchen and bedroom design in the future.
We always study new markets closely to get an idea as to which materials and finishes will work in each market. This involves visiting residential areas, restaurants, and local shops to try to understand the lifestyle and philosophy of the region and from this, assess which kind of materials, finishes and designs will work for each individual market.
Inspiration is everywhere: a visit to the seaside; a walk in the countryside; a visit to a museum; or by studying architecture. Even the tiniest thing can trigger a fantastic design idea. It is extremely important to learn how to incorporate elements from everyday living into designs and to ensure that you are fully aware of every functional requirement of kitchen and bedroom design.”
Featured: Doca Luxury Stone Cassini kitchenDoca | doca.es/en/