Behind GROHE’s Magnificent Designs


Earlier this year, world-class sanitary brand GROHE launched its latest collection Atria Spa in their Asia flagship store in Singapore. We got a chance to interview Michael Seum, vice president of design for GROHE, who came to celebrate the launch. Since taking over the role of leading GROHE’s design team in 2015, Michael has led the design team to win more than 200 global design awards and broke the record in 2017 with 62 awards alone. By the middle of this year, his team has already received 18 awards.

PHOTOS BY Grohe Asia Pacific and Attilla Hartwig of Emeis Deubel

What's special about designing sanitary, compared to other products you have designed?

When designing sanitary fittings, there are many factors to consider. We have to look at the consumer’s preferences, how they will use the product, the impact it will have on our environment and even the potential it has to transform the way people live their lives.

What is the legacy that GROHE has kept over decades?

The legacy that GROHE has kept over the years is our design core which was first rooted in the needs of the consumers and supported by a very clear design philosophy. We always strive to come up with new innovations and features that add benefits or effect meaningful change. GROHE always pursues brand values of quality, design and sustainability, seeking to offer the “pure joy of water”.

What differentiates GROHE from other luxury sanitary brands?

I’m proud to be with GROHE as the company does not only compete on the market with style but also aspires to be a driver for change and give back to society. We never follow a “fix formula” in our designs as we believe a good design needs to be able to change behaviour – the way we live or think about our lives. At GROHE, we are constantly innovating and thinking about how we can drive such change, striving to fill in the gaps for our consumers whilst thinking of ways to reduce the impact on the environment instead of being just designer-focused.

How has the merge with LIXIL affected GROHE?

It was a happy merger between LIXIL and GROHE. It allowed for GROHE to grow as a world leading provider of sanitary fittings through the expansion of our consumer base. Before the merger, the size of GROHE’s global business was the size of our current European business – this is just one of the many demonstrations that this merger was definitely a healthy move for GROHE. There is also an injection of fresh ideas through the interesting dynamic and fusion of the Japanese and German cultures.

How far has it influenced the design?

This partnership has definitely influenced the way we design. We are now able to explore new design opportunities through the incorporation of LIXIL’s expertise. The synergy between LIXIL’s Japanese technology and GROHE’s highest engineering with quality “Made in Germany” rewards us with exciting new designs and creations, which will be game-changing, redefining the way we live our lives.

Are there any habits that you've learned from your Japanese partners?

Definitely their obsessive attention to detail and precision. We even incorporated this into the redesign of our new Atrio collection which we have just launched in Asia. When designing the new Atrio, we really paid attention to the details and were more obsessive about the proportions, making it more well-balanced with clean intersections to truly create an icon of elegance and precision.

What's next for GROHE?

With our recent launch, we believe Atrio will feature in future projects and will be one of the main highlights of our Spa collection within the next one to two years. It is my vision for Atrio that in the years down the road, Atrio will still remain a contemporary piece with an enduring appeal that can stand the test of time and continue being an icon of elegance and precision regardless of age. For GROHE as a brand, we are constantly innovating and thinking about the next project, how we can create new designs that will better serve our consumers and effect meaningful change.

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Barbara Hahijary
Barbara earned her bachelor's degree in architecture from the Interior Architecture Program of the University of Indonesia in 2013. Historical or heritage buildings, as well as utilitarian design, fascinates her as it is the interaction between people and architecture that remains her favourite topic to explore. Besides architecture, her interests include design, handcrafts, literature and social issues.