News and Trends

Q&A: Axor

HL chatted to Philippe Grohe about Hansgrohe’s interesting and ever-evolving Axor WaterDream project. What was the concept behind the Axor WaterDream project?  For 20 years now, we have been developing alternative visions and inspirations for the bathroom as a living space. The Axor WaterDream is a platform for dialogue, an independent, open process with international architects, interior and product designers. The focus of this interdisciplinary dialogue is not primarily on products, but on providing additional scope for creative development, for breaking down established behaviour patterns. We have led these creative dialogues with various design partners since 2000 - most recently with the Swedish design trio Front and the Japanese design studio Nendo, whom we have asked to rethink the shower. Prior to this, Axor WaterDream collaborations included Phoenix Design, Jean-Marie Massaud, Patricia Urquiola and the Bouroullec brothers. Both Front and Nendo’s designs combine aesthetics and function in a beautiful way. What was the inspiration behind each design? The great thing about both designs is that both design firms started with a conceptual approach and found their inspiration in opposite living spaces: Front in the heart of the bathroom, and Nendo outside of the bathroom. Whereas Front pays homage to the aesthetics of technology inside the bathroom, Nendo plays with the meaning of things, looking towards areas of comfort outside the bathroom for inspiration. In essence, the Japanese design studio takes an archetype that is far away from water, i.e. light, to reinvent the shower. In the end, both Front and Nendo surprise us with very original approaches to ideas that we have discussed for a very long time. What was it about copper as a material that was appealing in Front’s design? Think for a second about the space behind your shower. Most likely you will find a spatial construct composed of copper pipes, valves and couplings. Since this is what Front wanted to beautify, it was a natural choice to use copper pipes. The point here was to communicate the intrinsic beauty of technology. And this is also possible via the finish - copper, or brushed red-gold as we call it, further intensifies the high-end aesthetics of their installation. Nendo’s concept makes use of light and water, creating a highly effective design. What do you think is the most important aspect of this design? I think the most important aspect of Oki Sato's design is the fact that he blurs the lines between functional spaces - living room and bathroom; elements - light and water; behaviours - living and washing. In essence, with his installation he questions established norms and patterns of behaviour. What do you think these designs mean for the future of bathrooms as a living space? It is part of our brand's culture to question the meaning of our products and their designs with our design partners on a daily basis. Front's design is a good indication for the possibilities that exist in terms of designing and visualising the pathways of water. A space can be shaped with water and water can be integrated into a space. Nendo's design, on the other hand, indicates that a living space is no longer confined to functional rooms. Thus, through experimental platforms like the Axor WaterDream we try to see what is next and what is possible for the future of the bathroom as a living space. Interviewed by Lindi Brownell Meiring