kbb Birmingham 2020: ‘I am fascinated by the fusion of spaces’ says Villeroy and Boch

Exhibitor interview with product designer: Patrick Frey, designer, Patrick Frey Design Studio for Villeroy and Boch


Q: What’s your approach to design when working with a brand like Villeroy and Boch? Where do you start? Where do you get your inspiration from?

A: At first, I always start with detailed research. It’s important to have a thorough insight of what is already on the market and what the new trends are. This includes things like materials, design processes, as well as social trends. My goal is to understand our society and the people in it. What worries them? Which problems do they have? Then, I try to find a way to address these topics and to enrich their lives with my products. My concepts aim to find the simplest possible solutions for everyday problems. With useful and functional aspects.


Q: How is technology changing the way product designers – like yourself – work?

A: Technological changes are increasingly impacting the work I do. The whole design process resorts more and more to computer programs, which speed up many steps and allow designers to focus more on the creative idea itself. We now have access to data that is extremely detailed and thus allows us to work in a much more refined way than we could 10 years ago.


Q: How do you rate the general level of design in the KBB industry?

A: The level of design in the kitchen and bathroom industries is very high, but you must also remember that the scope for play is often very small. In this area, certain functions must be given and can’t be sacrificed for a creative idea. The interplay between design and optimal usability is extremely important and already has a high level. On the one hand, a bathroom is a sensual place, a haven or retreat, and at the same time it has to function like a good tool. In no other room of the home will this contrast be so obvious.

I am fascinated by the fusion of spaces and thus also of materials and trends. But I’m not enthusiastic about the digitalisation that is compulsively integrated into the kitchen and bathroom.

For me, these are not beneficial, but instead are bad sales arguments.


Q: What is the next big challenge facing KBB designers?

A: We are in one of the most interesting phases of design right now. There are more and more interesting and innovative materials – like Villeroy and Boch’s TitanCeram – on the market. And, in my opinion, new materials are the greatest challenge to the future, particularly with regard to climate neutrality and sustainability. We face an enormous challenge here.

Manufacturers should have the courage to think about universal designs with regard to people and the environment.


Q: What design from the KBB market are you most proud of?

A: This has to be the Finion collection (pictured) that I designed for Villeroy & Boch. I’d never really worked with ceramic before this, so I initially did a lot of research to gain a greater understanding of the material.

A great challenge was to create warmth and cosiness with it, which I succeeded with through the use of earthy shades, splashes of gold and real wood veneers.

I like to think that I created a free concept, based on the role the bathroom plays in our home and life, but also the moods and needs of the end users.

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