02 Jan 2021 • Spaces
This sanitary brand is turning its showrooms into experience venues
Tapping German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic, Swiss manufacturer Laufen is turning its showrooms into a collision of creative disciplines.
Swiss manufacturer Laufen has long been on a mission to transform bathrooms into living spaces and has now begun to transform its showrooms into cultural living rooms, too.
In Berlin's Charlottenburg quarter, a 19th century antiques shop, an antique itself, has been brought up to date by German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic. Old wooden floors remain, but its freshly painted white shell is incised brightly with wall-mounted tube lighting and its contents organized using industrial shelving that makes the space look like a gallery or a particularly fine modern art museum storage system.
Grcic, who has collaborated with Laufen for several years, conceived the space, which will connect Laufen flagships across the globe from Vienna to Madrid, Moscow and Miami, as 'a new exhibition concept'. He divided the space into three connected areas, including an archive, an LED wall and an area designed to be easily reconfigurable. A hybrid environment for events, lectures and installations, it blends culture and commerce, art and craft, conversation and collaboration. It is a place where products, per se, become incidental to experience, a hub of making (connections, literal and metaphorical), not just consuming. 'We were interested in dialogue,' says Grcic, 'not prestige.'
A hybrid environment for events, lectures and installations, Laufen’s Berlin space blends culture and commerce, art and craft, conversation and collaboration
The archive enables the brand to showcase a curated collection of products, highlighting the connection of bathroom ceramics to other forms of creative expression. With a nod to the traditional characteristics of an old school Berlin shop, Grcic erected the oversize industrial storage unit that, at 12 metres long and more than three metres high, dominates the space without overwhelming it. Ranged across its three shelves, the product, broken into constituent parts and taken out of context, appears decidedly sculptural. This dense display of artifacts underscores their industrial production while also revealing, on closer examination, the artisanry that makes individual components diverse. On a gridded metal wall system facing the shelf, porcelain colours, surfaces and designs can be mounted together for easy comparison.
The floor-to-ceiling LED wall is set into a tiled alcove and serves as a virtual extension of the physical space, a window onto the brand universe. Embedded in a black reflective box, the wall seems to open and deepen the interior and, because the 6-sq-m surface is visible through the large storefront, its atmospheric light and imagery draw people from the street into the store.
The third element of the space is a generous area, like a blank sheet of paper, that hosts a variety of rotating installations. Extending the public, social space of the street into the interior, it is meant to prompt exchanges amongst the disciplines of art, architecture, design and film, as well as visitors whether industry pros or passers-by.