As Duravit AG celebrates 200 years, its CEO Frank Richter was in India last month to talk about the brand’s history, technological prowess, relevance in modern times and bathrooms of the future
By Gyanendra Kumar Kashyap
International manufacturer of designer bathroomsDuravit AG is celebrating 200 years of its successful journey. The company had started out as a ceramics specialist before going on to become a manufacturer of sanitaryware products. Today its product portfolio comprises sanitary ceramics, bathroom furniture, baths and shower trays, wellness systems, shower-toilets, faucets and accessories. “Over the last two centuries Duravit has been carefully managing its brand, making it synonymous with holistically designed bathrooms. In fact, we see ourselves as interior designers for bathrooms as living areas,” shared Frank Richter, CEO of the company during a recent visit to India.
Richter emphasised that the brand triad of ‘quality, design and technology’ is what distinguishes Duravit, and went on to add that brand Duravit’s aspiration is to make designer bathrooms come alive. “This is guaranteed by our highest quality, original design and comfort-enhancing technology. This brand essence defines our DNA worldwide, and it distinguishes everything we do,” he said. Sharing his perspective on the bathroom of the future, Richter said, “For us, the bathroom of the future is the ideal combination of these three core competencies, and in order to continuously advance our expertise in these areas, our product management works closely with research and development departments both inside the company and externally, as well as with our designers.”
Sharing the story behind the brand, Richter stated, “During the first 150 years, the company’s main focus was on quality and precision in the manufacture of ceramics.” He explained that besides the industrial revolution, technical possibilities and basic scientific principles, the commercial environment changed so much that an evolution of the bathroom and its products finally became possible in the second half of the 20th century. It was during the mid-1980s that renowned and ambitious designers first began paying greater attention to the “wet cell bathroom,” he shared. While many companies in the space today are looking to workwith designers to create designer bathrooms, Duravit worked with Dieter Sieger to present its first designer range in late 1980s. Duravit went on to complete the first designer bathroom in collaboration with Philippe Starck, which revolutionised the sanitary industry when it was launched in 1994.
Talking about the design philosophy, Richter highlighted that brand Duravit always believed in recognisable design language that is unique, and based on fundamental archetypal forms. “We are contemporary without being trendy, more straightforward than opulent, and always timeless,” he said. “We integrate comfort-enhancing technology, but never at the expense of design,” shared Richter, adding that the company has been able to create a consistent design language that extends beyond the individual products in the bathroom. “In the Duravit design language, everything fits together to create an overarching whole.”
Technology and its impending role in the bathroom of the future is a subject of much discussion among the fraternity. Richter shared his two cents on the subject, “We always put ourselves in the user’s shoes, and we never accept technology for technology’s sake. Comfort-enhancing technology should be sustainably integrated into an appealing overall design, and should generate added value on a daily basis.” Sharing how Duravit works on this front, he averred, “Duravit continually develops innovations in all areas, from materials engineering to flushing technology and electrical engineering for light, sound and whirl systems, and the look, feel, acoustics and usability. It is this unique interplay, paired with our innovative prowess that makes it possible to intelligently digitise the bathroom. This is how Duravit is able to satisfy the current and future demands of customers.”
Operating in India since 2001 via wholesalers, Duravit AG has figured out India’s potential to emerge as a major sanitaryware market in the Asia-Pacific. To this end,the company set up its Indian production site in Gujarat in 2010, its tenth globally. The Gujarat plant is touted to be Duravit’s most modern state-of-the-art plant. “For Duravit, quality is a central success factor in order to ensure the satisfaction of business partners, architects and consumers. When we started, we developed the infrastructure and trained people to meet Duravit’s high quality requirements,”added Asutosh Shah, Duravit India managing director.
“Duravit expects the Indian market to continue on its growth path. We, therefore, plan to maintain our focus and extend our activities in this region,” informed Richter. In fact, the bathroom manufacturer is benefitting from strong demand for design and lifestyle brands in India. Bathroom itself has become a popular lifestyle theme; purely functional bathrooms are increasingly a thing of the past in India. “We see ourselves as interior designers for bathrooms as living areas, and have ourselves played a key role in establishing the new significance of bathrooms in India and all over the world,” he added.
The demand for Duravit products in India comes from the projects business as well as from the private sector. In fact, it has already made an impact in India as a premium designer bathroom brand, with installations in more than 75 luxury hotels and over 150 premium residential apartments. In March this yearthe company sold approximately 20,000 toilets and wash basins to the project development company Magarpatta Township Development &Construction Co Ltd. Sharing details of the Indian retail network, Shah said that Duravitis present across 400 retailer showrooms, and that it has deployed an after-sales service team across most parts of the country.