How have your travels and studies in architecture inspired your work?
Travel is really important to us and our process and it’s often the source of really interesting findings, discoveries and inspirations. I always think that whenever you go away you can’t help but be influenced by other cultures and the way they solve the same problems. As human beings we all have the same needs and desires and it’s fascinating when you globe-trot, to see how different societies have adapted themselves or created objects that help them live. Whether it’s a spoon for eating or an apron that has been designed for a specific use or function. Thinking about our studies in architectural design, it has been essential as it’s given us a spatial understanding of how an object should sit in a space and how it should be used, rather than being purely about the aesthetics.

 

Where else do you draw inspiration from?
We’re influenced by art and sculpture as well as travel, especially 
in American minimalist art. On the complete other end of the spectrum inspiration can be drawn from flea markets where you can go and discover objects that have been discarded, but 
that have an interest in the way that they’ve been made, for example.

 

Barber and Osgerby1

 

What do you set out to achieve when starting each new design project?

The ultimate thing to aim for is to find a reason for the object to exist. So, rather than just producing another chair or another ‘thing’ we always give a product an innovative solution or something that will bring a new and defining mode of use to it. For us, it’s essential is to create a new archetype.

 

Tell us about your collaboration with bathroom brand Axor Hansgrohe and your ideas behind the Axor One?
This single shower control is, in a way, one of the simplest products we’ve designed but also at the same time one 
of the most difficult. Often simplicity is one of the hardest things to capture. We started this project without a brief and purely a desire from Axor Hansgrohe to give us the freedom to analyse and look at what currently happens in the shower. 
At the luxury end of the market, often you’ll find yourself in a hotel confronted with all sorts of taps, switches and valves in the bathroom. So, there were two ways in which we approached the design – one was to simplify everything so we created a small panel which is clear to use, and you just need to press a button to turn it on and off, so it’s essentially binary. There’s no waste water because when switched off it completely stops with no dripping.

 

What were the most important things 
to consider with this design?
We had to integrate a new technology from Hansgrohe called ‘Select’ which is basically a mechanical sprung switch which turns the water off. We also had 
to make sure that it was aesthetically pleasing and uncomplicated to use as well as appropriate for the environment, for example not too hard or too sharp, to make it feel kind of human.

 

How will this new design change our bathing experience and the way we interact with water? 
I think our showering experience will become fundamentally less stressful as it becomes instant and the level of control is so spot on that you don’t have to worry about having a freezing cold shower or one that is too powerful. We have all grown up with water by turning a threaded tap, so there’s always been a rotary movement to let water out, and this idea of perfect binary control with an ‘on’ and ‘off’ is quite new.

 

Barber and Osgerby3    

                         

What do you think the bathroom of the future will look like?
I think we’re always presented with this kind of dichotomy; technology marches on, clearly, but very often the view of it is 
very dehumanising and I think that the reality is that for as long as humans want to shower and bath, which is probably forever, we’re going to want environments that feel warm, comfortable, familiar and sensually enriching too. There’s the functional side of water and there’s the romantic and sensory side, and that won’t change.

 

What’s next?
This, for us, is just the beginning and the first in a range of products for Hansgrohe to be launched.

 

The Axor One is a single, central shower control element which allows up to three different outlets to be activated at the same time with a gentle touch of the paddle. There are 14 special finishes available and prices start from around £828. Visit one.axor-design.com for more information.

 

Photos by Alisa Connan

Article by: EKBB