Antoine Besseyre des Horts is a French award-winning designer with a holistic approach to design. He has experience in various industries and markets and now is the Leader, LIXIL Global Design Asia. The following is a snippet of our conversation with him in between the tight American Standard Trade Event schedule.
There are three big sanitary brands under LIXIL: Grohe, Inax and American Standard. How do you differentiate your design approach amongst them?
LIXIL has eight design studios in different parts of the world, including New York, London, Dusseldorf, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. We oversee the three brands for Asian region and work together with all the other teams around the world. It often happens that in one morning we work on American Standard and in the afternoon we work on Grohe. It’s crucial that as a designer we differentiate between the brands.
Everything comes back to the brand’s promise and purpose. Actually, product design is a tangible representation of the promise. So, that’s where we start. Understanding these brands’ promises and their distinctive propositions helps us find the target audience for each brand and implement the unique look and feel to each of them. Something that makes them recognisable in the market.
We create reference models for each brand. These are not real products, they are concepts that are meant to be the purest expression of the brand. We showcase them in the studio and use them as references on projects to guide the designers and other teams on the way to translate the design identity onto the products.
Each brand has its own core expertise. Grohe is very famous for showers and fittings, American Standard is known for ceramic products, although now we also develop a technology for showers and fittings. Meanwhile, Inax is very famous for its showers and toilets.
How long does it take for your team to come up with a certain product?
It depends. On average, if it’s a toilet, about one to one and a half years. But ceramic is very hard to control in manufacturing. Faucets can be worked on faster because of the different materials and manufacturing methods used. It takes about two years for a full collection, with a faucet, a basin, a bathtub and others. It takes quite a while because they’re not only to be produced but also require a lot of testing.
So your job is to be able to identify what the future needs going to be
Yes my team and I have to come up with what the trends are in the next two or three years or elevate an existing product. One of the examples is our recent innovation of DuoSTiXTM, a hygiene spray with dual function to clean oneself and the bathroom floor or toilet.
How do you communicate with other offices, other R&D teams or designers in LIXIL group?
The upside of the pandemic is that now we embrace the digital tools to work as a team, for instance for brainstorming. We reinvented the way we work, which is now mostly done online. So, now it’s faster and much more efficient. We cannot travel every time we have a meeting. Even so, sometimes we still need to travel to have a face-to-face discussion.