Grohe’s Vice President of Design, Michael Seum, talks about revisiting a classic, challenging the engineers and creating an icon in the new Atrio (as published in Grohe Magazine No. 2 2018)…
Redesigning a classic is a task not to be taken lightly. It’s a design opportunity that involves walking a tightrope between respecting the past and opening oneself up to contemporary ideas. Grohe’s Vice President of Design Michael Seum, however, was delighted to step up to the challenge with the classic Grohe Atrio faucet. It was, he says, an exciting opportunity to build on the strengths of this Grohe icon while giving it a feeling of timelessness.
Grohe: What was the idea behind the new Atrio?
Michael Seum: For me, the very definition of an icon is something you can draw from memory. We are calling this the icon of elegance and precision. The elegance is drawn from a single circle , or a cylinder right, which is one of the most feminine geometrical features you can find: pure and perfect. It;s a firmly contemporary design, but with the right interior decor strategy, it could fit in a classic or cosmopolitan environment. Because we’ve used such a simple, singular geometry, the precision has an analogue, tactile feel to it. So much of this world is digital and uber-connected that we felt like for our spa collection, we needed to have this tactility. And it’s done in such a way that even when you look at the design, all of the intersections are precise. Nothing is off-centre.
G: How is is driven by the technology that’s inside, like the cartridges?
MS: The quality of the design comes through the craftsmanship and also the precision of our high-quality cartridges. There are three principles that we draw from: the cylindrical element that drives the entire line, an absolutely pure intersection of all these geometries, and lastly, the obsessive attention to proportion. We wanted a design that celebrates the quality of the Grohe cartridge – its the perfect expression of our design DNA.
G: How long, from first sketch to now, have you and your team been working on this?
MS: We had a discussion about the possibility of having the spa geometry perfectly intersect, I think, about 18 months ago. While we came pretty quickly to the idea, the execution was actually the hardest part of the job; getting the engineering team to find a way to do that.
“It really is iconic, it’s beautiful, it’s flexible and it’s simple.”
G: What challenges did you have to overcome with the engineering?
MS: The engineers saw the potential of the design. But they also saw that it was their responsibility to help us realise it. So I’m really pleased at how they’ve embraced the design vision and made all of the technical elements work, going through such meticulous, geometrical work with the Atrio. This is where the precision of the tactile feedback, the craftsmanship, the quality, the handmade aspects – it’s all due to their efforts.
G: How has the feedback on this product been so far?
MS: We’ve had some sneak previews with a few long-standing customers and architects that we have very positive relationships with. We do a lot of work on projects that are two to five years – and the response when we put this on the table is just jaw-dropping. It really is iconic, it’s beautiful, it’s flexible and it’s simple. We designed something that allows architects or consumers to design spaces in so many different ways. The fact that the product is so simple means that it can work with different interior strategies. They see that immediately.
G: What plans do you have for the Atrio in the future?
MS: We will launch it in Spa Colours over time. Because this design is so neutral, we believe that this is the vehicle for expressing new colour and finish possibilities in the bathroom. It’s a design that works in so many different environments, from classic to contemporary to cosmopolitan. It has transformatative affect in those spaces.
Main image credit: Grohe
Image caption: Grohe’s Vice President of Design, Michael Seum