Designer    People 31 Jan 2018

James Stevenson of Imperial Bathrooms, talks design, development and more

How did your career move into bathroom design?
My background is in product engineering and marketing and I have been involved with Imperial in one way or another since the company was founded.

I have been the Lead Designer at Imperial since 2008 and have had the full responsibility for all the marketing and new product introductions at Imperial for the past 10 years. Up to our 2008 design guide we were not really innovating, just going along with everyone else and often two years behind the market leaders – so the business had to change.

Imperial’s product development philosophy is very much based on the iconic ‘Aston Martin’ – it has to have stylish classic lines, but inside you have all of the modern technology from anti-lock brakes, Bluetooth, DAB etc. and that is what we focus on when we develop new designs or revamp existing lines.

I am very lucky to have a very creative group working with me – from designers to ceramic modellers, development engineers and graphic designers. Together we bring these new and exciting products to a worldwide market.

What is your view on the balance between handcrafting and technology?
The handcraft element is tremendously important to us as a business – we are in the business of using the highest grade of materials in association with the traditional craftsman skills that are past down from generation to generation. We are not in the business of making something that has a short-term lifespan but something that will last for generations. This is what people expect from Imperial.

With our own ceramic and wood division in the West Midlands, we bring the pride of our British workers to a world market – selling to over 55 countries around the world.

I was recently in Ashbourne looking at some antiques – and being sold was one of our Classic Oxford Suite basin and pedestals – still being sold today by Imperial but they were selling as an antique at more than the current RRPs – now that is a sign that Imperial’s products are a true classic for generations to come.

What is your favourite part of the design process?
Concepts. Designing something that is different is always a gamble – but you have to take these risks – the safe option is not really an option, as if it was, everyone would be doing it.  I am always thinking about new ideas and concepts and it is with you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If you were the sum up design in one word, what would it be and why?
Timeless – I want my designs to be around for generations!

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