Hall of Fame of European Designers
200 years of Duravit – since 1993, Phoenix Design has been part of this success story as well, designing bathroom furniture and sanitary ceramics for this international brand. It's not for nothing that Andreas Haug and Tom Schönherr, the Phoenix Design founders, are among the company's 16 selected star designers. At the photo shoot, they stand next to personalities like Philippe Starck, Matteo Thun, Eoos, Kurt Merki Jr., and others ...
With nine design awards won together, we have been able to celebrate great successes, e.g. the iF Design Award Gold for P3 Comforts in 2015. In the interview, Andreas Haug and Tom Schönherr talk about new challenges, a penchant for adventure in design, and their collaboration with Duravit.
How do you approach the challenge of designing a new product?
It all starts with the analytical phase, then the creative process and, finally, intuitive form finding. The main part of the work is always to observe and to detect needs. In fact, the final product usually looks nothing like the initial sketch. When designing, you have the chance to try out different variants and sometimes you can be surprised at what you find. That’s crucial to the creative process. For example, we like to work with polystyrene models as they enable a great degree of abstraction. This approach helps us to keep our overall goal in view. Some things are just not possible on paper.
Is good design about taking risks?
We experiment a lot. However, the aim is always to create a design classic. Products that will stand the test of time and reflect people’s needs. All around us, life is becoming more hectic and people are looking for somewhere to retreat, for security and calm. We try to keep this in mind when designing our products. I think it's unreasonable to follow short-lived trends. As designers, we have, in many ways, a great responsibility. This extends, among other things, to material resources, the utilisation of production capacities and solutions for our customers’ serial product lines. It also applies to visual design approaches that, at the end of the day, have to fit a wide variety of different architectural settings – and appeal to many users. We are not interested in short-term trends.
Phoenix and Duravit have been working together successfully since 1993. How would you describe the collaboration?
Duravit product development has always focused on high quality and timeless product design. The developments are highly complex and are the result of teamwork since they cannot be achieved by one person alone. In the sanitary area in particular, details are extremely important. Duravit requires nothing less than maximum quality and practicality, which makes collaboration very demanding. However, critical comments are welcome as taking these on board is the only way to achieve high-quality and innovative bathroom solutions that can also satisfy discerning design juries and become bestsellers.
Source: Duravit AG (2017): "We are not interested in short-term trends." Available under: http://www.duravit.com/200_years_duravit/design/designer/phoenix_design.com-en.html.
Photo: Back f.l.t.r.: Gernot Bohmann, Harald Gründl, Martin Bergmann (alle EOOS); Tom Schönherr, Andreas Haug (beide Phoenix Design); Michael Sieger (sieger design); Prof. Frank Huster; David Nelson (Foster & Partners); Christian Werner; Matteo Thun und Antonio Rodriguez (Matteo Thun & Partners). Front f.l.t.r.: Kurt Merki Jr.; Philippe Starck; Cecilie Manz; Dieter Sieger; Christian Sieger (sieger design).