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OPPOSITE: The Palomba washbasin bears the ‘fingerprint of nature’ ABOVE: The Laufen Forum, a visitor and presentation centre, is a scaled replica of Palomba ABOVE LEFT: Laufen’s Senior Managing Director Alberto Magrans LEFT: Sleeper participates in a workshop to experience the ceramic first hand


washbasins, WCs, bidets, bathtubs and shower trays. There are even private test bathrooms for those tempted to take a dip... But Sleeper is here for the exclusive


unveiling of Laufen’s masterpiece. Measuring 296cm in length, the washbasin is manufactured from a completely new form of ceramics developed over three years by the company’s Vitreous China Research Director Dr. Werner Fischer. Speaking to the press, he explains how this new ceramic opens up fresh design horizons in the contemporary bathroom: “The new ceramic allows for new forms, largely dissolving the intrinsic limitations of the material. The formula of the basic material mix on which the new ceramic is based – a fiercely guarded company secret – permits more precise contours and smooth lavish surfaces.”


While retaining the company’s traditional production process, the new ceramic is up to 30 per cent lighter than fine fire clay, and


leaves the furnace brilliant white, rather than with a yellowish tinge which has always been seen until now. Meanwhile the innovative Clean Coat glaze offers a superior surface finish which can withstand the toughest of stains and dirt. Able to achieve edge radii of just four millimetres where six has always been the minimum until now, Laufen’s new ceramics brings a whole new finesse to the bathroom at a time when contemporary design is pushing ceramic to its limits. Adds Magrans: “We wanted to demonstrate our design expertise and the qualities of the new material in one piece. It would be impossible to make this with traditional ceramic material, the shrinkage in the kiln alone would prevent us from doing so.” In a welcome change to the typical factory


tour, Sleeper was able to experience the ceramic first hand in Laufen’s adjacent workshop. Despite having a hand in the steps


of preparation, casting and glazing, Sleeper’s attempt won’t be going into production any time soon. Laufen is however working on a new generation of designs manufactured from the new ceramic that will enable them to offer a wider variety of designs and increased customisation. It is thought that this, along with continued collaboration with designers such as Stefano Giovannoni, Ludovica & Roberto Palomba, and Andreas Dimitriadis, will push the boundaries and set new trends in hotel bathroom design. Concludes Magrans: “The hospitality market has always been important to us but now it is becoming more and more a core strategy and we have been actively building our specification team for the last two years.” He adds: “We are paying a lot of attention to the high end, five-star hotel projects and realising that we have to be closer to all the touch points.”


WWW.SLEEPERMAGAZINE.COM JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2012 131


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