Interview: "True Classics have an impressively simple yet well-thought out Design."


Chris Hegeman and Johan de Groot are a great team. These two product designers create Bathroom and Wellness products of tomorrow and beyond for Villeroy & Boch. These two came up with the design ideas for the Loop&Friends baths, the puristic Squaro Edge 12 bath and the Just Silence outdoor whirlpool. In the interview they talk about their own style, a formula for excellent and timeless design and where they get inspiration for new collections. 

The interview is part of Bathroom Poetry by Villeroy & Boch. The company launched the online campain to offer inspiration for a designer bathroom. 


Which influences inspired you to find your own style?

Chris Hegeman (CH): My creativity is constantly being inspired. By our immediate surroundings, the people we know and meet and obviously by the briefing we get for developing the product. Dutch Design is also important for me, that's the term used for the typical design you find in the Netherlands. Dutch Design is minimalist and experimental, innovative and distinct and always with a touch of humour. But work by other well-known designers, in particular Eames and Zaha Hadid, also inspires me. All of this helped me create my own style, which in turn influences my designs. 


Johan de Groot (JdG): The designs should always focus on people. Only when a product's functionality is perfect, can its design also be perfect. 


Is there a formula for excellent and timeless design?

CH: True design classics have an impressively simple yet well-thought out design that is still appealing many years later. 


JdG: Good design focuses on the fine details without any unnecessary decorations – no superficial gimmicks, instead perfect surprises. The Just Silence outdoor whirlpool is a prime example. It is a completely new interpretation of the hot tub – purist, straight-forward, and in spite of all the minimalism, fitted with a more comfortable seating concept. 


Where do you find your inspiration for your collections?

CH: That obviously involves monitoring trends constantly. What are the major trends in interior design and architecture right now? Where do they come from, how are they developing? We go to e.g. various trade fairs to get a broad picture. I get a lot of my ideas when I'm driving. If you take a look at the shapes and designs of modern cars, you will see how manufacturers play, in fact paint, with lines and light. Reflections, which change depending on the position of the viewer and the way the light falls, make these designs so fascinating. And I take that and extend it to our products, for example for the shape of baths. 

How do you work together as a team?

JdG: We discuss our ideas quite often, e.g. when drawing sketches by hand or on 3D computer visualisations, or when experimenting with colours, shapes and materials. Once the idea is ripe, we make a model using our 3D printer or conventional with wood, foam or fibreglass. This not only involves improving the design, but also pushing the boundaries of the material and production. We are always thinking of e.g. more potential uses of the material Quaryl, for example, we used Quaryl for outdoor furniture for a Belgian furniture company. It was especially the scratch-proof and weather-proof properties of the material that impressed them. 

Do you have a favourite item you have designed? What makes this favourite item so special?

CH: My favourite is the Squaro Edge 12 bath. Everything is just right, down to the very last detail. Especially the integrated overflow with its facet and the extremely slender rim. Details make all the difference. 

What criteria does design have to fulfil for you?

JdG: It has to be timeless and first-rate, simple as well as sustainable. After all, products are designed for the people who use them. Which is why functionality is just as important as aesthetic appeal. 

What does your dream bathroom look like?

CH: First and foremost, it has to be large. A larger shower area, ideally a double washbasin and plenty of space. And then finished with an iconic freestanding bath, ideally with a whirlpool system. 

What role do baths play in your life?

CH: We've got a proper family bathroom at home that accompanies us throughout the entire day. Starting with the shower in the morning to wake up during which I sometimes plan my day, develop my first ideas and think about solutions for possible problems through to the refreshing shower in the evening when I can unwind and spend time with my family. I often have good design ideas in the shower, which I then quickly draw onto the steamed up glass of the shower screen. 

What thoughts and inspirations are behind Loop&Friends and Just Silence for Villeroy & Boch?

CH: Loop&Friends is so versatile and can be combined perfectly in so many different ways to suit individual lifestyles – be it a single or family bathroom, a small bathroom or a spacious spa bathroom. The extensive range includes different shapes, which adapt to fit all kinds of rooms. Even small rooms can be used to maximum effect. The collection has a very modern look and yet is a true classic, with a very minimalist design. 


JdG: We wanted to create a new kind of spa, an outdoor whirlpool that is different to conventional spas. We wanted a completely new seating concept with comfortable and flexible sitting positions for Just Silence. But at the same time the design should be simple, minimalist, straight-forward, as is the trend in architecture at the moment. 


What was the greatest, creative moment of happiness when you were creating Just Silence?

JdG: There were so many of them as we had to master so many challenges. We fought for every single millimetre and pushed the boundaries of production – surviving many difficulties, without making any compromises, to create the best product we could. 

Win a trip to the designers’ favourite spots in Amsterdam

Bathroom Poetry 2016 will be holding exclusive competitions where the winners visit the favourite towns of the designers we are showcasing. Chris Hegeman and Johan de Groot’s town is Amsterdam. Whoever answers the question at correctly by 31 August 2016, can with a bit of luck enjoy the inspiring atmosphere that has significantly shaped the designers’ understanding of design – on a weekend trip for two to Amsterdam, including pocket money.