Jens Wischmann, Managing Director (VDS)
Jens Wischmann is Managing Director of the Association of the German Sanitary Industry (VDS) as well as Managing Director of the Bonn-based Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Sanitärwirtschaft mbH. Since becoming head of the umbrella association for German companies in the bathroom and sanitary sector in 2001, he has been representing members' joint interests by raising public awareness of the bathroom as living space. Before taking up this position, Wischmann was assistant to the governing body and the executive board at the Zentralverband Sanitär Heizung Klima (ZVSHK) in St. Augustin. Prior to that, he worked as a lawyer in the law firm of Prof. Dr. Hümmerich & Partners in Bonn. Jens Wischmann was born in Reinbek, Schleswig Holstein in 1966. After a period in the army, he went on to study jurisprudence, German and economics. Wischmann earned his Executive MBA at Kellogg-WHU/Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar.
Why are you taking Pop up my Bathroom into its third round?
To start with, nobody could foresee that Pop up would be such a success story. In ten trends, we described the direction bathrooms are developing in – it was all about age-appropriate design, technology in the bathroom, special finishes. By looking at it not purely as a collection of products but as a complete system, as a space that needs to be designed and has an impact on how others perceive us, we set a whole new approach to the bathroom in motion. The sequel at the ISH 2011, the world's biggest exhibition for the combination of water and energy, condensed these trends into three tendencies or three areas of focus: the Green Bathroom, i.e. ecology and sustainability; the Easy Bathroom, with an eye to all the issues associated with using the bathroom throughout the entire aging process and in every stage of life; and finally the theme of Bathroom Interiors, which depicts the bathroom's evolution into a cosily furnished room where I no longer have to arrange the equipment along the wall but am free to put it wherever I like, making it possible to create totally different spatial situations and impressions.
But don't sequels always lose a little of their impact with every new instalment?
That always depends on how honestly and innovatively the job is done. The basis is still the same as in 2009. Of course those trends are from the past, but it's a past that endured and continues to endure. A trend doesn't simply come to a halt once a trade fair is over. To say "Right, now I'm going to bring new trends into play" is merely marketing. The way we interpret trends, it's obvious that they continue to have an effect. What does change are certain facets, and there can be a shift in the areas of focus. I'm convinced that our approach to the third round of Pop up my Bathroom is moving in exactly the right direction: towards the human being.
It must take a great deal of time and effort to identify three bathroom trends that play an important role both for our interior culture and the industry and photograph them so lavishly. What was your motivation for the project, which you realised in collaboration with Messe Frankfurt?
Pop up my Bathroom is in fact an international PR campaign by the German sanitary industry. In the run-up to an ISH show, we always try to approach as many media as possible and draw their attention to our leading trade fair – i.e. both the trade press and general-interest media such as lifestyle magazines. That works very well when you provide exclusive content about the latest trends. We even received an award for the last campaign. But quite apart from the PR effect, the campaign also increases our knowledge and enables us to put it into words and visualise it better. Pop up my Bathroom gives ambitious bathroom planners, architects and tradesmen a genuine added value.
In what way?
I think that, for the first time at the ISH, Pop up has demonstrated in what kind of setting bathroom products can realise their creative potential, in what kind of unusual setting they can work – in a way that's very detached from the individual product. This way of looking at things is actually very innovative for a representative of the sanitary industry – at the end of the day, we all want to sell our products. And we've factored the human being into the whole thing too – this time round, we've even made him the focal point of everything. This approach will be the future of modern bathroom planning: not even tradesmen should sell "naked" products anymore; instead, they should point out solutions which, more than anything else, take people's needs and the satisfaction of those needs in a modern bathroom setting both as their starting point and their ultimate goal.
The second part of the interview deals with bathrooms that are planned as a whole, health-oriented bathrooms, the needs you have in the bathroom, consulting approaches and to talk about a wide range of possibilities a bathroom can open up and not about prices.
In part three of the interview Jens Wischmann talks about the importance of the bathroom, the involvement of bathroom planners and neighbouring sectors. And he gives a view into the future of Pop up my Bathroom.