Step into the modern bathroom: A look at AXOR and Philippe Starck’s 30-Year design partnership

Step into the modern bathroom: A look at AXOR and Philippe Starck’s 30-Year design partnership
AXOR x Starck: Celebrating a Design Partnership of 30 Years

Making History

AXOR x Starck: Celebrating a Design Partnership of 30 Years

Why has design become so important for how we furnish our lives and organise our everyday lives? And why has design played a key role in the development of the sanitary industry in recent decades? For design to shape our perception and influence our everyday culture, it must find the right expression for a need, a Zeitgeist or a new function. Of course, this is easier said than done, because the “right” forms and the necessary functions are easier to recognise in retrospect than in the moment of the design process. Therefore, without the commitment of exceptional personalities who take the initiative to shape this moment, there is hardly any real change in our environment. This requires designers with vision, a strong creative instinct, and entrepreneurs with imagination and courage. One of the best examples is indeed Philippe Starck and AXOR celebrating the 30th anniversary of their collaboration this year.

Philippe Starck, one of the most visionary creators of our time, uses design as a creative tool to provide a service; his prolific and multiform work demonstrates what creativity can achieve when it is used to both innovate and, always with respect and humour, play with traditional patterns and norms. Today, we can see in modern bathrooms what was hidden for so long under the crust of standardised tiling and stereotypical ceramics: still, a highly functional space in which high-quality materials, colours and a sensual feel are combined with modern and elegant shapes. In 1994, Starck contrasted the “wet room” with the Salon d’Eau, literally translated as the “Water Living Room”. Radical and successful, this concept completely changed the image of the bathroom.

“Philippe Starck brought many ground-breaking ideas to AXOR and even to the entire industry. The two most important ones were not only to think about the object, but to design a space and, of course, to rethink the interaction between people and products,” summarises Olivier Sogno, VP of AXOR.

The Birth of the Design Brand AXOR

Until the late 20th century, most bathrooms were functional wet rooms. The idea that you could spend longer than necessary in the bathroom because you wanted to feel good was still foreign to most people. As was the idea of personalising this space. It was precisely because Hansgrohe recognised the bathroom’s potential as a living space that the company established its design brand, AXOR, in 1993.

AXOR built on the experience of its sister brand hansgrohe in the design field and consistently expanded it. However, it has also developed its approach: If you want to help shape the bathroom’s transformation, the best way to do this is together with designers, interior designers and architects. To this day, the variety of selected design partners from these disciplines with whom AXOR works successfully is unique. This is also based on the conviction that real progress is more likely to be made if all those involved are given as much freedom of design as possible and if they engage in an open, appreciative dialogue. For over 30 years now, AXOR has been working with the world’s best architects, interior designers and designers to develop visions of the bathroom as a living space and collections that offer a variety of sustainable solutions for the realisation of personal bathroom spaces and the individual use of water.

AXOR x Starck – a 30-Year Collaboration

It all started with the Salon d’Eau, which included the AXOR Starck collection in 1994. The image of a bathroom with a freestanding bathtub, washbasin and toilet, including the faucets from this collection, and a room flooded with daylight, without tiles, and characterised by natural materials, was both a revolution and a commercial success that still shapes our idea of modern bathroom design today. The AXOR Starck collection has become an icon of bathroom design. It is still one of the most successful bathroom collections AXOR has launched to date.

“A design icon cannot be trendy or unfashionable. It has to be timeless in order not to become outdated. Iconic design is something that teaches something, something useful with the ability to improve the quality of life in every respect,” says Philippe Starck about his first collection with AXOR. Based on the conviction that good design creates products that are not only beautiful but also good, AXOR and its design partners develop solutions at the highest aesthetic and technological level that allow for the respectful, conscious use of water while at the same time providing new pleasure in the water experience.

“With AXOR, we share a deep love of water. We come from water; we are made of water, and we need water. I have an atomic relationship with this element and am always sad when this vital treasure is mistreated. That is why I wanted to work for the protection and preservation of water. AXOR had the same vision. If you want to save water, it shouldn’t be a punishment. The only way to make these iconic faucets successful was to present water like an upgrade,” Philippe Starck explains.

In the fall of 2012, AXOR wrote another chapter in bathroom history: together with Philippe Starck, the design brand presented AXOR Starck Organic, inspired by setting new standards in design, water handling and the water experience. “The AXOR Starck Organic collection features a new ergonometric handling – to save water easily and harmonically. This places this product at the highest level of ecology”, explains Philippe Starck. “The shape comes from the tight line of the vegetal and the human body to remind us of the obligatory coherence between us and saving water”.

In 2015, AXOR Starck V, the most innovative of AXOR faucets, was created. It pays a tribute to the beauty and magic of water, as “for the first time, we have the opportunity of really experiencing water: only water and air, vortex, and matter,” states Starck. The faucet features a removable spout made of organic crystal glass or porcelain for easy cleaning.

Perfection in production and function also applies to the shower: AXOR ShowerComposition, which was launched in 2023, brings a new, modern and timeless design language to the shower area. Whether as an all-in-one shower panel or an individual arrangement of floating modules, the AXOR ShowerComposition program impresses with exceptional performance, such as the PowderRain spray type of the overhead shower and the shoulder shower with an adjustable inclination angle. AXOR ShowerComposition offers a maximum of functions with a minimum of resources. Also in 2023, the AXOR Suite washbasins and bathtub completed the AXOR x Philippe Starck bathroom. Each piece is made from hard-wearing and durable SolidSurface material. Flowing contours, precise curves and soft inner basins create a clean, modern look with universal appeal. At the same time, custom-made elements such as the metal wrap-around of the washbasin and the bathtub shelf allow users to express their individuality with AXOR FinishPlus surface colours. “The key words for the future and ecology are longevity, transmission and heritage. AXOR Suite combines metal with SolidSurface – a high-tech material – and thus stands for longevity and elegance. It is designed for eternity,” says designer Philippe Starck.

Designed for a lifetime, the partnership between AXOR and Philippe Starck constantly finds new ways to reinvent the bathroom in our living spaces and will continue to innovate in the years to come.

About Philippe Starck

Philippe Starck, world famous creator with multifaceted inventiveness, is always focused on the essential, his vision: that creation, whatever form it takes, must improve the lives of as many people as possible. This philosophy has made him one of the pioneers and central figures of the concept of “democratic design”. By employing his prolific work across all domains, from everyday products (furniture, a citrus squeezer, electric bikes, an individual wind turbine), to architecture (hotels, restaurants that aspire to be stimulating places) and naval and spatial engineering (mega yachts, space habitation module), he continually pushes the boundaries and requirements of design, becoming one of the most visionary and renowned creators of the international contemporary scene.