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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spotlight interview with Phillipe Grohe on Blog Tour Cologne

Philippe Grohe, Head of Axor and Michele Alfano of Mod Design Guru


I had the ultimate pleasure to sit down at the imm_cologne show with Philippe Grohe, the head of Hansgrohe's luxury brand, Axor. He was extremely kind and so easy to talk to. By the end, it was clear that he is passionate about his work,  has a respect for nature and the world of tomorrow. His fascination and work with water ultimately is improving our quality of life.  He strives in this complex, modern life to provide a bathroom space where you can experience nature and balance - a sanctuary for us.

Q & A

How would describe the Axor Brand?

I would like to be a global brand offering bathroom solutions for your personal bathroom. We offer the best quality and technological components so that designers, like you who understand are able to make connections - like letters of an alphabet coming together to make sentences and solutions.

What value  do you put on social media and the blogger/brand connection?

Four years ago, we did not know what a Blog was. We took serious steps in the company to change the mindset. We gave a strong impulse on the resource side towards digital media and with a very clear objective we moved our resources from one side to the other. For 10 years, I was looking for a platform of discussions. We thought Facebook was the right place but it was absolutely the wrong place to talk about the Axor approach. We moved to the Blog side and now the Blog is exploding and the right platform. My approach with Axor is not about making a successful product but about a solution to making a successful product. It’s a very different approach from Hansgrohe and a lot of different companies.

Tell me more about making solutions?

A car is a solution in itself. The tap is not a solution in itself. There is always something around the tap. There is a basin, there are tiles. For me, the idea is its approach, it’s a perspective, it's an attitude. We think about water, we think about space and we think about people. We try to see the totality of this in-order to reflect on ideas and what consequences they play on these components. There are very few people that handle everything. We were very lucky to work with Philippe Starck twenty years ago. That’s when we started to understand that an interior designer looks at a product in a very different way than a product designer. I don’t do anything else but then to ask myself how can I continue to use this broad understanding, this holistic new view on things in order to do it different and do it better than other people.

Can you describe your collaboration with Philippe Starck and the Organic line?

It was much more a product discussion then a bathroom discussion at first. We came to him with a special spray where we wanted people to use half but not to have the feeling that nothing was taken away. After the fact, Starck started talked about the "salle d'eau," a bathroom of water. He wanted it to be about wellness, about emotion. It’s not just about cleaning ourselves. It’s about feeling, about living. He thought about this shape and studied the energy of nature, the elegance of nature and about the efficiency of nature with the minimum effort to achieve the maximum of things. Our collaboration was like a ping pong game. At Axor, we like to keep it open. We do not do briefings in the classical way. We always have to know what the market will accept but it will not narrow down our discussion in the beginning anyway.

What do you want your user to feel and experience?

It’s not complicated. I want people to be happy and I think we have enormous potential on the bathroom side because in the daily life of modern people we lose contact with nature. We have so many choices and possibilities in front of us that it tortures us. People are so busy and have moved away from nature. Ninety percent of our brain is animal. There is an unconscious desire, which wants to interact, to understand, to feel things. Living in cities we move so quickly that it is difficult to do so. The bathroom becomes a place of nature in the daily life of modern people. It can do much more than make us clean.

What is the Head & Heart as it relates to Axor's bathrooms?

This is a good question. The Head is the more technical issues, the more intrinsic things that you do not see. The heart would be the feeling of the water. Put your hands under the water. You like the feeling or not. Look at the shape. It will already touch you or not. If I talk about the 3.5 liters per minute, or the 90 nozzles or the hollow casting, I am talking about the Head. The Heart, you have to feel, to experience, to make people understand that it’s more than just a nice design. With Head & Heart, people may understand.

You work with premier designers like Philippe Starck, Patricia Urquiola, Antonio Citterio to name a few. Would you consider working with an up and coming designer?

I say no more way too often. The investment and commitment to working with a new designer is enormous. It takes 3-6 years of collaboration before the first product is coming out. I started working with Philippe Starck, Patricia Urquiola, Antonio Citterio when they were known but not as what they are today. Its true I don't take them when they are inexperienced but its not because they are famous or well known that I work with them. The criteria I look for is first personal, if I like them and they like me. I very much focus on designers who have a broader understanding of things. The Bouroullec brothers are product designers but some of their products have an influence on space. They think like interior designers. I want to have very different people that have different approaches and languages. It's one of my difficult moments or decisions to whom I say Yes. 

Thank you Philippe for an inspiring and meaningful interview!

Photo Credits: Axor

1 comment:

  1. I found him to be a very engaging, passionate and friendly person. And those things matter to me as a purchaser. Thank you for sharing all this added detail.


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