Hansgrohe reflects on 120 years of kitchen and bathroom innovation

Dezeen campaign: When the German company Hansgrohe turns 120 this year, Dezeen looks back on some of its most important product innovations and how they have helped shape the bathroom of today.

Today Hansgrohe is a company with 33 subsidiaries, 22 sales offices and around 4,700 employees worldwide.

When it was founded on June 15, 1901 by the entrepreneur Hans Grohe, however, it was a three-man business that pressed metal products in the small Black Forest town of Schiltach in southwest Germany – the place where the company’s headquarters are today.

At this time, around the turn of the century, the private household bathroom became fashionable. Recognizing that the shower was an inexpensive alternative to more expensive bathing, Hans Grohe specialized entirely in metal goods for the sanitary area.

The sheet metal hand shower from Hansgrohe with a porcelain handle dates from 1928

The following decades were devoted to the further development of his showers, which had a decisive influence on future shower culture.

The first pioneering shower product from Hansgrohe – a hand shower with a porcelain handle – was born in 1928. Back then it was a convenient alternative to the overhead shower that was common at the time and made showering affordable for many households for the first time.

HansgroheThe Excentra waste and overflow set was designed in 1934

Excentra followed in 1934, a chrome-plated, automatic waste and overflow set for the bathtub – the first of its kind.

In 1953, at the age of 82, Hans Grohe made another groundbreaking invention: the Unica wall bars.

With the simple wall bars, which are now standard in bathrooms around the world, customers were able to adjust the height of their showers for the first time.

In the following decade, the company was not only the first bathroom manufacturer to develop a product in collaboration with professional industrial designers, but also launched Selecta, the first adjustable hand shower that gave users a choice of different jet types.

Selecta shower headThe Selecta shower head is still in production

The company, which is still in production today, has sold more than 30 million Selecta hand showers worldwide. In the 1960s, Hans Grohe’s youngest son, Klaus Grohe, became more involved in the company and brought in new, modern ideas.

He put environmental protection and sustainability at the top of the company’s agenda and promoted the development of energy and water-saving products.

One of his patents – the Allegra Prime debuted in 1979 – was the first kitchen mixer with a pull-out shower head, another was the Mistral Eco hand shower. Introduced in 1987, it reduced water consumption by 50 percent and made Hansgrohe a pioneer in the green industry.

Hansgrohe and Axor The Water Studio in Clerkenwell, London

Hansgrohe opens the interactive showroom The Water Studio in Clerkenwell

In 1992 the company introduced its designer brand Axor and in 1994, in collaboration with the renowned French designer Philippe Starck, developed the brand’s first bathroom concept called Axor Starck.

The collection’s distinctive joystick mixer tap handle was considered pioneering at the time, but is now a design classic.

The iBox universal was introduced in 2000 – a sanitary control that can be retracted into the wall. This was one of the industry’s first basic sets for any standard or thermostat solution.

Hansgrohe bathroom fittingsThe Raindance overhead shower has a golden finish

The brand’s highly acclaimed Raindance rain shower came two years later. Using the brand’s patented AirPower technology, the shower creates a jet that is a mixture of water and air.

It reduced water consumption by ten percent and was “the first spray pattern to mimic the ‘raindrops’ that are ubiquitous in the bathroom industry today,” the company said.

In 2010, touchscreen technology found its way into the bathroom and Hansgrohe developed RainBrain – a digital screen that enables customers to select different jet types, water volume, temperature, lighting and sound at the push of a button. Although discontinued, the device could be preprogrammed for up to five users.

Hansgrohe bathroom fittingsOne of the latest series from Hansgrohe – the Rainfinity baton hand shower

The brand’s latest technological development is RainTunes – a program that offers seven preconfigured shower scenarios that combine water, video, light, sound and fragrance to match different moods.

Other pioneering technologies from Hansgrohe include Select, an integrated button that began in the brand’s hand showers, but is now included in a large number of Axor and Hansgrohe products such as washbasin mixers, kitchen mixers, valves and shower pipes.

For example, he can turn on a shower, change a spray type or even turn a kitchen tap on and off. To make cleaning easier, the Quickclean brand has developed showers and fittings that have flexible silicone nozzles on the aerator.

Made of high-quality, tear-resistant silicone, the nozzles can be rubbed clean with your fingers or a cloth, removing limescale and dirt effortlessly.

In addition to Airpower, the brand also offers EcoSmart – an aerator that is installed in the spout of basin fittings to enrich the water with air. As a result, the water consumption of all Hansgrohe EcoSmart basin fittings is reduced to around five liters per minute.

Content of the partnership

This article was written by Dezeen for Hansgrohe as part of a partnership. Further information on the content of the Dezeen partnership can be found here.

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