Marc Viardot

Marc Viardot

Marc Viardot, Marketing and Product Manager at Laufen Bathrooms AG in an exclusive interview with us, gives us an insight to the company and its latest innovations.

FAE: How has iSaloni 2014 been for you?


Marc Viardot: Salone del Mobile with its Eurobagno remains the most important show for the bathroom industry where manufacturers decide what will be in showrooms in the coming months and years. Our visitors increased over the previous edition, indicating that the design world still adores bathroom and wellness projects. More than 300 thousands visitors and 1300 exhibitors filled the halls, and a walk around the show demonstrated that manufacturers are continuing to invest in at least two key areas: collaborating with famous designers to tap the luxury market and pushing the technology. Laufen has more than 40 subsidiaries and it is represented worldwide, so this international fair represents the place to maintain current relations and develops our business and create new contacts. The exhibition was a great success in terms of public and feedback from our customers, who confirm Laufen as one of the leading brands and a complete bathroom specialist producing sanitary ceramics and also selling wellness solutions, bathtubs, shower trays, bathroom furniture, bathroom accessories and faucets.


FAE: Tell us about the latest products unveiled this year.


Marc Viardot: The numerous initiatives and the many new ideas that we presented are the result of a constant creative effort. The absolute protagonist of this year is the new material SaphirKeramik with new projects and new challenges- a material that is unique in the world, patented by Laufen after years of study and research. Capable of achieving performance characteristics of thinness, lightness and resistance that have been unthinkable till now, while still maintaining the warmth and refinement that only ceramics can give. This revolutionary material has enabled Laufen to launch the challenge of its use by involving extraordinary designers that have been able to test their abilities by experimenting with new forms: Konstantin Grcic and Toan Nguyen, exceptional designers, called upon to work with a ceramic product that has allowed them the maximum expressive capacity. These are the bases of a story with multiple voices that has SaphirKeramik as its object. The beginning of a path and a new story that projects Laufen into the avant-garde of design associated with experimentation into new materials.


Among the innovations proposed by Laufen at Salone del Mobile 2014, there is also an extension of the IlBagnoAlessi One range by Stefano Giovannoni, which envisages new size variants, new products and accessories made of SaphirKeramik with a functional and symbolic value.


And at last, but not the least, after little more than a year from its debut, Laufen presented the Kartell by Laufen collection with its own autonomous stand at the Bathroom Fair, precisely to give a signal of great concreteness to the international market. 150 corner shops have already been opened at high-end points-of-purchase since its debut and the aim is to achieve an even more comprehensive presence by the end of 2014.


FAE: How has your association with designers been? Is there any new designer to design for the brand?


Marc Viardot: Although exquisite craftsmanship has always been a trademark of LAUFEN products, a great deal of thought goes into their design too. For several decades now, LAUFEN has had positive experience of the successful collaboration with outstanding architects and designers. In the development of new bathroom suite concepts, the expectations of the designer are met by the experience and precision of modellers, product developers and engineers. The shared objective: to shape the elegant materials as intelligently and pragmatically as possible while maximizing their aesthetic appeal, minimising the impact on the environment while using resources as sparingly as possible.


Wiel Arets, Phoenix Design, Vetica, Stefano Giovannoni, Andreas Dimitriadis, Roberto+Ludovica Palomba, Toan Nguyen and Konstantin Grcic are just some of the big names we collaborated with. And new ones are coming soon, but we can’t reveal any details at the moment.


FAE: How would you sum up the present market status?


Marc Viardot: From our point of view the sanitary market is still performing strong. Generally, investment in real estate is high due to historically low interest rates, the building boom still holds strong – but differs from country to country. As far as we know, many hotel projects are in the planning stages, in other parts of the world even more than in Europe.


FAE: How is the industry faring in the European regions?


Marc Viardot: We see a light at the end of the tunnel. There are many signs that the European countries affected by the financial crisis are recovering step by step. Laufen itself made some selective investments and is well positioned for the future. We continuously worked on our competence in design and production and managed to develop a solid portfolio. With our broad and varied range of products for all kind of bathrooms, we have a wide market coverage, which helped us to sail in calm waters, even during the international financial crisis.


FAE: Are there any plans of expansion in the near future?


Marc Viardot: Laufen continues to grow by expanding in international markets and has a clear vision of future. We continue to innovate and develop new, exciting products and we invest in our brand name throughout the world, thanks to our financial solidity. Our priority is to consolidate our high-end positioning strategy, which enables our long term development and investment. At the moment we are working hard on making our innovative collection Kartell by Laufen to become the bathroom of choice in the global market. Since its initial presentation in 2013, the collection mounted a busy road show of international events in a large number of big cities (London, Brussels, Prague, Warsaw, New York, Miami, Paris and São Paulo), giving the world a chance to get to know its designs and feel the quality of its wares at major international design exhibitions. Since that start, 150 dedicated corners have already been established in prestigious retail stores; the aim is to achieve an even more local presence by the end of 2014, with at least 500 points of sale all over the world.


FAE: What are other shows we can expect to see you?


Marc Viardot: This year we will be present at the Designjunction in London in September and also at the Designer Saturday in Langenthal (Switzerland) in November. Next year will be very challenging and exciting for us as we start most probably with the BAU trade fair in Munich in January, followed by the world’s leading fair for the bathroom ISH in Frankfort in March and the Salone del Mobile in Milan in April. Hope to see you there.


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