M i MA zügelt: Die Zukunft des Bads ist digital. Im Gespräch mit Paul Flowers (Grohe AG)

Grohe, Duschsystem, Paul Flowers, Innovation, Armaturen, Badezimmer

Die Grobplanung unserer Wohnung ist abgeschlossen; wir sind mitten in der Feinplanung. Allem voran unseres Badezimmers. Irgendwo zwischen Steckdosenpositionierung und Türhöhenfrage und nach einem langen Eiertanz haben wir uns entschieden: für das Duschbad und gegen das Wannenbad. Das ist gewagt. Ich weiß. Denn vielleicht werden wir nach über 40 Jahren ja doch noch zu Wannenliebhaber/innen. Aber irgendwann muss man einfach einen Punkt setzen – auf die Gefahr hin, dass man die Entscheidung später einmal bereut. Was mich dabei beruhigt: Unter eine bodengleiche Dusche werde ich mit meinem Rollator oder Rollstuhl ungleich besser kommen als in eine Wanne. Und: Mit unserem künftigen Duschsystem wird das Duschen ein Vergnügen sein –  da bin ich mir ziemlich sicher. Nicht umsonst wurde es mit drei Design Awards ausgezeichnet. Oder was meint ihr?

Entwickelt wurde es von Paul Flowers, Vice President of Design der Grohe AG, einem meiner Partnerunternehmen. Der gebürtige Londoner ist seit 2005 für die kreative strategische Ausrichtung der Marke GROHE weltweit verantwortlich, und ich freue mich sehr, dass er sich die Zeit genommen hat, meine Fragen rund um das Thema Duschdesign zu beantworten. In unserem Interview erzählt der 41jährige, was eine gute Dusche ausmacht, wo die Herausforderungen bei der Gestaltung von Armaturen liegen, wie das ‚Neue‘ ins Bad kommt und dass die Digitalisierung auch vor der Badezimmertür nicht halt macht. 
Ich wünsche euch eine inspirierende Lektüre und bedanke mich herzlich bei Ihnen, Herr Flowers, für das interessante Gespräch. Hinweis: Das Interview ist in englischer Sprache.
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Grohe, Duschsystem, Paul Flowers, Innovation, Armaturen, Badezimmer

Dear Mr Flowers, would you like to introduce yourself?
Lieber Herr Flowers, würden Sie sich kurz persönlich vorstellen?
My name is Paul Flowers and I have led the Grohe design team since 2005. In this position, I am responsible for designing the Grohe product universe worldwide. Before I joined Grohe, I worked for a number of renowned global companies such as IBM, Electrolux and Philips as well as small prestigious London design studios. I was born in London in 1972 and studied at the University of Northumbria. When I am not travelling the world in search of new ideas and inspirations, I live and work in Düsseldorf, Germany.
My interest in design began as a child. I loved to draw, paint, and make things. I had a vivid imagination and always liked the thrill of evolving an idea into a ‚real object‘ or a design. I was drawn to product design in particular, as it was a very diverse area. I feel that a product designer must be very creative, have an understanding of science, engineering, marketing, branding and research. It is the diversity, which makes the role ever evolving and always interesting.
What makes a good shower? 
Was macht eine gute Dusche aus?
The ideal shower is an individualized shower. Everybody has different preferences and your requirements may even change during the day. To cater to all your needs, you can never go wrong with a shower system that comprises different elements: a head shower, a hand shower and maybe side sprays and a thermostat. You may also want to be able to choose from different spray patterns to enjoy a personalized water experience that matches your mood.
Since I myself prefer having showers instead of taking baths, I place importance on a generously dimensioned shower area with lots of room to move and the possibility to listen to music, which helps me wake up in the morning and relax in the evening. The water controls should be digital, allowing me to save my favourite settings. In addition, I really love coloured lighting (chromo therapy) to create an atmosphere that helps me to relax thoroughly and to focus on myself.
What is the biggest challenge in the design of faucets and shower systems?
Was ist die größte Herausforderung bei der Gestaltung von Armaturen und Duschsystemen?
I feel that designing items of everyday use for bathrooms and kitchens is a fascinating task as well as a challenge, given that both rooms are of essential importance for our well-being. The last few years have seen major changes in the meaning and the dimensions of these two rooms.
While the bathroom has become a wellness oasis, the kitchen is now the communication hub of the house. In many cases, the bathroom extends into the bedroom and the kitchen merges with the living room. As the borders between these spaces are blurring, products need to live up to different expectations, meaning that apart from their purely technical function, they also have to be aesthetically pleasing, enhance the environment in which they are placed and enable people to use water as sustainably and efficiently as possible. The complete process of creating these products is an exciting challenge.
Grohe, Duschsystem, Paul Flowers, Innovation, Armaturen, Badezimmer, historische Duschen, Duschen im Wandel
Duschen des 19. Jh.:  Pfarrer Lechlers Volksdusche (1890) | Kapellenbrause (1880) | transportable Sitzbadewanne um 1880
How does the design of faucets or shower systems, has developed over the last five decades, and how will it develop in future?
Wie hat sich das Design von Armaturen und Duschsystemen in den vergangenen 50 entwickelt und wohin wird es sich in Zukunft entwickeln?
With the bathroom changing from a purely functional space for cleansing and grooming to a personal retreat and oasis of wellbeing, the design of the built-in products has changed as well. Faucets and fittings serve as interfaces between humans and water. Their design stimulates people to touch, use and enjoy them. The aesthetics of the products have become more important and people choose to furnish their bathroom with matching designs for an overall harmonious look and feel.
I believe that – as in all areas of daily life – we will see a growing trend towards digitization in the bathroom as well. Digitally controlled faucets and showers offer many features that are destined to make the user’s life easier and more comfortable.
What do you think; will the shower displace the tub by and by? And why (not)?
Wird die Dusche die Wanne nach und nach verdrängen? Und warum (nicht)?
I don’t think that the bathtub will ever be fully replaced by the shower. People will always be in need of a relaxing soak from time to time. In addition, you should not underestimate the healing power of a bath when you come down with a cold, have strained your back or feel somewhat stiff. And I guess most parents would not want to do without a bathtub for their little ones. I know I wouldn’t.
However, in everyday life the shower is usually the faster, more economical and sustainable solution and has therefore quite rightly gained the important role that it inhabits today.
Grohe’s aim is to produce products that are connected to the clients and accompany them for a long time. How do you realize this customer focus?
Grohes Anspruch ist es, Produkte herzustellen, die in Verbindung zum Kunden stehen und ihn eine lange Zeit begleiten. Wie stellen Sie diese Kundennähe sicher?
A large majority of the products we produce each year, which can be as many as 200, are inspired by consumers and their user preferences. Whether driven by specific consumer insights or societal trends, we follow a user-centric design process, which ensures everything we do is relevant and useful.
Our Power&Soul shower collection is a good example of products driven by our consumer-centric approach. Consumer research indicated that people have different needs from the same product at different times of the day. In the morning, you may want to be “woken up” and invigorated for the busy day ahead with a (Power) shower. In contrast, in the evening, you may wish to relax and unwind after a long day at work and so you require a completely different experience, like a softer more calming spray (Soul). This simple insight drove us to design a shower, which enables the consumer to create their perfect combination of sprays to reflect their needs.
You say, ‚you and your team would like to overcome outmoded patterns of thought, and shape and influence the future.‘ What thought patterns you want to overcome? And how?
Sie sagen von sich und Ihrem Team, dass Sie „überkommene Denkmuster überwinden und die Zukunft formen und beeinflussen [wollen].“ Welche Denkmuster wollen Sie überwinden? Und wie?
To be truly innovative, you need to be willing to explore areas, which are unproven and take calculated risks, which requires a degree of courage and conviction. For example, not so very long ago the combination of digital technology and water used to be inconceivable. Nevertheless, we observed how digitization spread throughout the house to provide people with much more comfort and we decided that it could not stop at the bathroom. Therefore, we did our research and came up with the technology and the products to make it work. And this is how we develop most of our innovations. We start each project with a number of simple questions: What do people need? What do they want? What are they “ready” for? Together with our colleagues in marketing, engineering and R&D we try to find the answers and create something new that might be the next big thing to transform your bathroom experience.
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Grohe, Duschsystem, Paul Flowers, Innovation, Armaturen, Badezimmer

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