Hotel Designs exclusively sits down with innovative head designer at Unidrain, Kenneth Waaben, to understand more about the process behind the brand’s design of the modern bathroom…
With the aim to “create aesthetic and functional designs that enhanced the company’s existing portfolio,” Kenneth Waaben started working for Unidrain in 2014. Since then, his clear methodical way of thinking when it comes to balancing practicality and good design has led to the launch of many of Unidrain’s hero products, including the dynamic Reframe Collection.
For Waaben, who graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, design is an iterative process that is based on a specific problem, as we find out in our exclusive Q&A.
Hamish Kilburn: What made you want to take on the challenge of designing for Unidrain?
Kenneth Waaben: In my view, good design has to be durable, a design that makes a difference, both aesthetically and functionally. Unidrain wished for products that stood out and solvedproblems in amore elegant and intelligent ways than other products in the market. I was able to design these products, so it was a fine match.
As a designer it is my mission to improve what already exists. Unfortunately, these days many new products are created with no real focus and are not designed to improving anything.
In these days of eco awareness and sustainability this is neither an interesting nor effective approach to product development. As a designer I feel we have to do everything we can to make a positive difference.
“One should dare to be critical of general practice, see possibilities and be open and brave enough to try new things.” – Kenneth Waaben, Unidrain
HK: What is your motto?
KW: Improve the existing – the devil is in the detail! One should dare to be critical of general practice, see possibilities and be open and brave enough to try new things.
HK: What is the process behind your designs?
KW: I like to look at the things we use and find out where there is room for improvement, and then generate ideas around this. It can be a challenge to connect the aesthetic with the functional. The process requires repeated tests and adjustments, it’s important to be aware of even the smallest details, since it is often these that make all the difference.
The road towards the goal, the actual design process, is to a great extent an iterative process where inspiration, the idea, the form and function is developed in a constant interactionbetween mind and hands.
It is all collaboration between drafts in 2D and 3D on paper and drafts shaped in cardboard and foam,as well as 3D printing and CAD. Through the entire process it is extremely important to use your experience and intuition.
HK: What was your most recent project?
KW: The Reframe Collection has been taking up my thoughts most recently. One of the designs that have been under the design microscope is the Reframe corner shelf. I wanted to give new life to an everyday product, improve on the design.
Two other products in the Reframe Collection,the toilet brush and shower wiper, were also being re-framed and re-designed. We looked at each item; the new toilet brush has been designed with a splash collar that eliminates the accumulationof bacteria between the inner and outer containers.
There is a small, integrated handle, so that you can easily empty the container without coming into contact with any bacteria. The actual brush head has also been designed to collect as little water and paper as possible, to reduce unwanted dripping.
The shower wiper is a difficult product to keep tidy in the shower space so we designeda way of integrating the shower wiper with the soap shelf. It is held in place by hidden magnets, which avoids having the wiper standing on the floor or hanging on the mixer tap.
HK: Do you design your products to be long lasting?
KW: Products have to be durable, this is important, plus time has proven that well-designed, long lasting products are also often the most popular.
As a designer, it’s important not to focus on what’s popular right now, as you risk designing a product that quickly becomes irrelevant. It’s far more interesting to take a long-term approach. Many of the design products that are now celebrated around the world were often created many years ago and not on the basis of contemporary fads and trends.
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