Last month, I had the chance to visit the Axor|Hansgrohe Headquarters in Schiltach, a small town in the Black Forest of Germany, where I previewed new designer bath collections by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Patricia Urquiola, and Antonio Citterio. Although I'd seen photos of Axor Bourollec, this was the first time I laid eyes on the real thing, which debuts in the US later this year.
A little bit of background: Axor is the high-end, designer branch of German fixtures company Hansgrohe. The Axor plant manufactures more complex and pricier pieces than the main Hansgrohe factory. (The brand name 'Axor' combines the old Celtic word for water — 'Ax' ('exe') — with the Latin root 'Or' ('aurum') — meaning gold. So, Axor very loosely translates into 'goldwater.')
The Axor showroom is filled with modern displays of designer collections. The first thing I noticed when I ran my fingers over the Bouroullec sink was the material difference between this futuristic resin design and the traditional porcelain usually associated with washbasins.
The multi-tiered form requires more lightweight and flexible resin, as opposed to porcelain, which would crack if used for a delicate design like this one. The resin also allows holes to be drilled anywhere on the sink, so that customers can pick and choose where to mount faucets, handles, and mixers. The modular design frees the faucet from its traditional center-of-sink placement, and the client is only limited by the restraints of their plumbing.
Customers can choose from 45 different pre-selected versions of the washbasin (meaning that Axor will pre-drill the holes for you and provide instructions on how to install) or you can be a maverick and go with a configuration of your own choosing, which Axor can help to customize for you. The full Axor Bouroullec collection spans over 70 different bathroom fixtures, including tubs, showers, and mixers.
I also checked out the new line from Italian designer Antonio Citterio, who has worked with Axor before. This year, he created a slimmer collection with a star-shaped handle. Faucets and fixtures have clean-lined edges that are "cut" like a gemstone to catch the light. Citterio's catchphrase for the collection is "the new luxury" — he hopes that it speaks to busy cosmopolitan people who use their bathrooms as mini-retreats within the home.
Further down the line, in 2012, Axor will be launching new fixtures by Philippe Starck.
MORE INFORMATION: Hansgrohe|Axor
Photos: Hansgrohe|Axor, Sarah Coffey
- Founded: 1901
- Founded by: Hans Grohe
- Headquarters: Schiltach, Germany
State-of-the-art, design-oriented bathroom solutions and innovative products for bathrooms as a living space.
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