Characterised by its varied range, design know-how and innovative approach, Laufen is known around the world as one of the go-to bathroom brands for luxury hotel projects. Katie Sherry visited Laufen’s headquarters in Switzerland to discover what makes it one of the leading names in the industry.
Since its foundation in 1892, Laufen has been a pioneer in its field. Company milestones include becoming the first and sole producer of bathroom ceramics in Switzerland in 1925; the invention of the first wall-hung WC in 1963; and the development of the pressure-casting method in 1980.
Laufen has stayed true to its European roots throughout its history, choosing to set up manufacturing facilities solely in Europe. Today, the manufacturer has production centres in Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic. Its Swiss heritage – which is a source of great pride for the company – is described by senior managing director, Alberto Magrans, as a mergence of “German precision, French finesse and an Italian focus on design”.
Despite Laufen’s focus on European production, it is not limited in terms of its international standing. The quality of its products has seen the manufacturer discover popularity the world over, and it currently has a network of distributors in 155 countries across the globe.
All of Laufen’s products are characterised by a design-led ethos, with extreme shapes, smooth lines and elegant finishes prevalent in every range. The Palomba Collection, for example, features a bathtub with an ergonomic shape that is inspired by the way a natural rock water basin is formed over millennia.
Each collection offers a complete solution for the bathroom – allowing for complete harmonisation throughout the interior scheme. The popular Pro S range, for example, features sophisticated washbasins in a variety of sizes and formats to allow for a free hand for designers when creating bathroom spaces.
One of the best things about Laufen is its ability to constantly innovate. Recent developments include the creation of a revolutionary ceramic material, as well as a cutting-edge designer collaboration with one of Italy’s leading contemporary furniture manufacturers.
Beginning begin with the former, Laufen’s pioneering SaphirKeramik material, the product of five years of research and development, has crafted a new identity in ceramics. The material differs from traditional ceramic in three main ways: it is thinner (4mm as opposed to the standard 10-12mm); it is more durable, with a hardness surpassed only by diamond; and it has a greater flexural strength.
As a result, SaphirKeramik is ideal for creating a range of defined designs, some of which are not possible using traditional ceramic. Made from natural, raw materials (kaolin, clay, feldspar and quartz sand) to a very secret recipe, the material can be produced economically in large numbers and recycled at the end of its long life – adding to its environmental credentials.
The first collection to be constructed with SaphirKeramik was Kartell by Laufen. The contemporary range is the result of a collaboration with Italian furniture specialist, Kartell – a partnership began with a meeting between the president of Kartell, Claudio Luti, and prominent bathroom designer, Roberto Palomba, at a party in Moscow.
The pair stayed in touch and later decided to embark on the creation of Kartell’s first bathroom collection, and – following past successes, including the launch of the Palomba Collection – Roberto recommended Laufen as an ideal partner to help with the design and distribution of the new range.
Kartell by Laufen is the result of four years of in-depth research and development – culminating in hundreds of thousands of sketches. Bringing the best in quality ceramic and plastic together, the collection represents a true meeting of minds between Laufen and Kartell. Both companies took the same approach to innovation and design, seeking to create democratic design on an industrial scale.
Alberto sums up the collaboration: “Kartell by Laufen is a project based on a common understanding of the two companies about the value of emotions. Emotions and dedication define the novel idea of this bathroom and guided the project throughout the entire development. The same sense of mindfulness to the materials and the same understanding of research and development have made the two companies perfect partners – or, one could say, soul mates.”
As with every Laufen collection, the results speak for themselves. The manufacturer’s innovative approach is matched with a commitment to creating products of the highest quality, which speaks volumes when it comes to specifying for luxury hotel projects.