Designer    News 01 Apr 2015
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Swiss bathroom brand Laufen make ceramic minimalism possible with new super-thin material

Laufen and its designers have been ‘getting to know’ its SaphirKeramik material over the past year or so but they are now ready to show exactly what’s possible…

When Swiss bathroom brand Laufen launched its new SaphirKeramik material for the first time two years ago at BAU in Munich and subsequently at ISH 2013 in Frankfurt, the possibilities of this strong yet super-thin ceramic composite had yet to be fully understood. Its sturdiness and strength appear at odds with the thin forms that it can offer. However, these qualities combine to enable designs based on modern, minimalist shapes that can be achieved without losing the familiar and popular qualities of ceramic.

Created initially as a concept designed to explore the possibilities offered by the material, basins created by designers Konstantin Grcic and Toan Nguyen are now about to be put into full production.

Grcic said: “This project involved a new client, new material and, for me, a completely new application having not worked on sanitaryware projects before. This in itself can really help the creative process.”

Grcic’s involvement with Laufen’s SaphirKeramik material was first highlighted at Milan last year in what was presented as a series of concept designs which he describes as a ‘laboratory’ for the material. “We were able to learn from the process and the feedback we got. Our studio looked at the detail of what we could do with the material, focusing more on texture and surfaces than the architecture of what we could design with it.”

Developed from the original eclectic set of proposals in 2014, Grcic’s thoughts on the material have evolved to the creation of Val, a new series of washbasins and a bathtub. Complementing the first iconic two washbasins and trays, he has designed a new type of washbasin for the collection with a simpler form, the result of research focused, this time, on the most intimate and familiar perception of the object in itself and its functionality.

The design sees pure, simple lines and ultra-thin profiles, with just enough curve to give the basins a rounded shape but still maintain a strong visual effect. Also designed in a circular version, Laufen presented the rectangular version at ISH, available in various dimensions from 55 cm to 95 cm in width.

“What we have shown at ISH is the next step – to scale up from looking at the detail to looking at the space itself. We’ve pulled back from some of the patterns that we presented in Milan and instead concentrated on the elementary things that matter such as sizes, shapes, radii and configurations.”

Grcic added: “It was an evolution to understand the materials through to a more relaxed, ‘zooming out’ from the process.”

Production of the Val collection begins in June 2015.

Laufen / laufen.co.uk