AXOR Center for Excellence: A Tour
May 15, 2023
Earlier this month, KBB was invited to be part of a select group of journalists to get a first look at the AXOR Center for Excellence at the brand’s headquarters in Shiltach, Germany. We were the only North American media on the tour; other design editors came from England, Spain, Denmark, Brussels and France. With parent company Hansgrohe SE investing 12 million Euros towards the modernization of the AXOR Center for Excellence in the past couple years, it was a fitting recognition of the design brand’s 30th anniversary in 2023.
Florian Roth, head of the production center, guided our group through the newly completed facility, pointing out how the centralization of production, inventory and packing/shipping stages streamlines the entire operation and increases efficiency. One feature that really impressed me was the amount of natural light in the spaces – unusual for manufacturing sites – and how it contributes to worker comfort and health.
This is particularly important for a brand whose products are hand-assembled and finished, often with customized elements. “The AXOR Center for Excellence is our competence center for the production of high-end faucets, as global demand is increasing,” Frank Semling, COO Hansgrohe SE, told us as we visited the Signature Service department. This is where hospitality logos, metal textures and other special-order details are implemented, including for the new AXOR One collection, designed by Barber Osgerby.
Olivier Sogno, vice president AXOR, said, “We will meet the increasing demand for personalized solutions and colors with the added capacities – among other improvements, with significantly reduced delivery times of our PVD range.”
In an afternoon discussion between the journalists and AXOR leadership, the nature of collaboration was raised. When asked how the brand selects designers for its fittings, Michael Kiolbassa, manager markets and channels at AXOR said, “We believe in long-term partnerships and relationships; because of this, the designers we have worked with over the years have a reservoir of technical knowledge (as well as artistic vision).”
He also noted that because AXOR designers – which include Philippe Starck, Antonio Citterio, Jean-Marie Massaud, Phoenix and more – have contributed to a broad spectrum of industries beyond fixtures and fittings, they have a wide perspective on design; they are not tied to trends or fads.
As far as upcoming product releases are concerned, the AXOR team played it close to the vest, suggesting we look critically at the current offerings and note any holes in the collections. An oblique hint was dropped, however, when the conversation turned to the growing popularity of “show” kitchens that are supplemented by back kitchens.
“With the AXOR Center for Excellence we are aligning our design brand for the future, and at the same time, we are strengthening all national and international locations and increasing our proximity to the customer,” said Roth. The company has additional production facilities in Shanghai (China), Willstätt, Bad Bentheim (Germany), Wasselonne (France) and Atlanta (USA).
A highlight of the trip was a visit to Showerworld, the in-house installation of dozens of working shower designs. Here a guest can experience not only the feeling of drenching, massaging or misting water, but also the all-important haptics of operating the hardware, whether it’s push-buttons, knobs or touchscreen interface. It’s open by appointment to the public as well as design pros.
—By Leslie Clagett, KBB Managing Editor
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