Company Profile: Laufen – they didn’t break the mould

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Spanish giant Roca bought the long established Swiss family ceramics company Laufen in 1999. Since then the company has capitalised on the Swiss tradition of investment in design and technology to position Laufen for a strong attack on the Global contract sales market though both design and innovation.

    HotelDesigns had the opportunity to visit Basle and the Laufen factory to look at the production processes involved in producing those most vitally important elements of the hotel interior – the toilets and wash hand basins. That is not the limitation of Laufen’s production and they produce a whole range of equipment for bathrooms including now their own ranges of baths, shower trays, bathroom furniture, taps and other brassware.
    The traditional material for production is possibly the oldest production material known to man – clay. As the TV programme ‘Time Team’ shows over and over again, this material survives as a testament to its flexibility. Centuries of innovation and inventiveness continues today, with Laufen working both with high technology and high design input using designers such as Alessi.

    Traditional techniques have been developed, the main one of which is slip casting. Using a mix of traditional hand pouring and highly developed high pressure moulding the base material is formed into the shape required. For those who didn’t tease potters at college (second only to sculptors as the butt of many a painters joke) the base material is mixed to a smooth runny consistency and poured into a plaster mould. The plaster and air absorb the moisture and after several pouring and being allowed to dry the clay will hold its shape and can be worked, attaining the consistency of hard chocolate (although not as tasty of course).

    Daniel Fountain / 21.11.2011

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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