Dominik Tesseraux: “The product has to speak for itself …”


He doesn’t want any fuss, but would rather be defined by his products and designs. Those who can read them can learn much about the designer Dominik Tesseraux and his team. His office, the setting from which his designs originated, is in Potsdam, and among his specialities are products that are put in one of man’s architectural environments – the bathroom. Many of the bathroom products by the steel-enamel specialist Bette – baths, showers and washstands – bear the designer’s signature. 

When Dominik Tesseraux talks about where he came from, his personal development and his current work, you can sense his claim. Designing products – to him, it’s more than making pretty pictures. To him, it’s about the attitude to these things. “We designers live by the rhythms in which new things are designed and produced. And what we have to remember is that there is no point in designing a product that is not intended to be evolutionary. And that doesn’t just apply to the design.” He believes understanding the design is about more than shape, and every design should promote the product theme. 


Long before Dominik Tesseraux became involved in the subject of design, there had already been the first associations with creation. Born in Hesse in Germany, the young lad grew up under the guidance of a grandfather who was an architect and a father who was a photographer. Aesthetics, pragmatism, and fathoming and breaking prescribed boundaries were omnipresent in his family. He experienced the skilled transformation of visions from the time he was a very young child, and so it was hardly surprising that he should desire to work in a creative field when the time came. After finishing school he served as apprentice to a carpenter, then used this qualification as the foundation when he went on to university. “Handling and processing materials shaped me. The interplay between boundaries and opportunities was and is an interesting experience.” 


Tesseraux’s sense for design was moulded at the Technical University of Darmstadt on a diploma course in product design. “It was excellent training with lecturers with a high level of social and specialist competence who showed [me] what was truly important in the design process and how to think in the right sequence.” His final work addressed the realities and practicalities of life at an advanced age. He summarises: “This is where I learnt how to consistently draw conclusions, and that’s something that still helps me today.” 

“Creativity needs freedom”

BetteOne: straight design 

BetteArt: free-standing, slim edge 

BetteLux: floating, enemailed steel 

After working for several years as an employed designer, he set up on his own in 2001, initially as a “one-man-show in his shack”. Today, he works with four others in a brick-built shed in Potsdam. “To me, it’s the result that counts. The creative process cannot be controlled, forced or effected. Creativity needs freedom, and not just in thinking. And to be honest, I really don’t care whether the solution is brought about in an office or a café.” 


Architecturally-based solutions instead of short-lived trends. Anyone who works in and on a real estate property has to learn to think in refurbishment cycles that are longer than the product change of a smartphone. Design quality is measured in decades. Tesseraux’s designs are notable for their plain shapes and orientation to targets. “At the beginning of a design task, the first question to ask is always ‘why’,” he says. That is his personal design philosophy, and it is one he follows without swerving. His vision: new products of true worth, technical sophistication and with a high level of aesthetic added value. Products that instantly reveal a clear idea and genuine meaningfulness. That you can read. That possess as much functionality as they do good form. That are long-lasting, timelessly elegant and valuable. “Planners and architects need products that inspire them, that give a room a new kind of character – by being flexible with the architecture.” 


Clear structure plus an emotional touch. Pure reduction plus the sympathy factor. This strategy also enabled the “designer by passion” to score with Bette. Tesseraux was invited to stage the design language for Bette’s appearance at the ISH 2011, the world’s leading trade fair for bathroom design. After an in-depth analysis the design office submitted its ideas. “We need symmetry. And I won’t accept capriciousness in design. This design claim is now also reflected in the Bette collections.” Since then, Tesseraux has been responsible not only for trade fair stands, but also for many Bette products. He soon realised that steel-enamel is a discerning material. Pressing the steel sheets using vast forces has its own laws. And developing a product becomes far more challenging if the glass-like enamel is to cover the pressed shapes absolutely perfectly. The process was a challenge from the outset – and it appealed to Tesseraux and his team.  


He does not adhere to one single style when designing; his only law is consistency in design. With BetteOne, the challenge was to combine straight lines with precise corner radii. The manufacturer reveals tremendous material competence when he balances the broad bath leaf with the rim of just 20 millimetres.  


A “sculptural statement” for placing a bath freely in the room makes BetteArt – with thin side panels that benefit the room interior. On the other side the softly flowing, harmonious shape of BetteLux with the almost invisible rim that enables the bath to be integrated in the structure – as if filling an area with water has caused it to become misshapen. Three completely different solutions that never fail to provide unique baths. 

Havens of relaxation and pleasure

Photos: Bette 

The fact that so many designs were realised in such a short period of time also shows that the designer and manufacturer work symbiotically. One the one hand, the innovative steel-enamel specialist who understands how to challenge the rigid identity of the standard steel bath with a never-ending range of new, more flexible solutions. And on the other, the designer who has recognised the company’s traditional strengths and uses them to develop ideas that really are new. 


Together, they address the bathroom of the future in the premium segment. With more emotion and sensuousness in the room they want to create a homely ensemble of architectural, technical and decorative elements – a place of relaxation and pleasure. Bette managing director Thilo C. Pahl put it this way. “We make highly individual products using intelligent and innovative design, the latest technology and a tremendous feeling for the material. The individualised bath tub, the integrated shower area, the personal washstand – custom-made to a layout and to the individual using them.”  


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