Our group checking out the Duravit displays The last few days of our trip were upon us and we were off to the design centre/factory I was most looking forward to, Duravit.
Because our Duravit portion started on a Sunday, Duravit organised for us to have a leisure day which included an enjoyable lunch in Gutach followed by tobogganing down a mountain!
The day was warm and lovely, and the toboggans provided a little bit of adventure and physical exercise- which was much needed after a week of non-stop eating.
If you are not already aware, the Duravit Design Centre was designed by none other than Phillipe Starck. Driving up to the centre was spectacular, amongst the tranquil backdrop of the Black Forest emerges a sparkling silver box encasing a giant toilet. Brilliant.
Training was conducted by our lovely host, Joanna who is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about Duravit. She talked us through the history of the company including the explanation behind the Duravit logo, the wood grouse. It is a very rare bird found in the Black Forest and has been a symbol for Duravit's attachment to their roots and the respect they have for their natural environment.
The ceramic factory tour was a completely eye-opening experience. I was so surprised to see how much human contact is involved in the production. Clay pieces were being hand finished by an employee who had worked with Duravit over 20 years, the glazing was hand done, the quality controls were overseen many times by many different people. The whole production was outstanding and I have now seen with my own eyes why it is such a highly valued, quality product.
Duravit only use locally sourced ingredients for their ceramic, and recycle everything they can. They even break up and send damaged product (it was very hard to spot the damages!) to companies who can recycle the material to make roads etc.
We also visited the Duravit design centre showroom and were shown a great presentation on the Sensowash seat. Sensowash was installed in a few of the working bathrooms, so we all had a turn at testing them out. Once you've used it, you can't go back to a normal toilet!
Our last day at Duravit and Germany included a short trip to the Schenkensell furniture factory.
We've always loved Duravit furniture at Candana but to see the artisan manufacture of these pieces in person further cements our belief in them. Again, each piece is given a personal touch; hand-finishing, hand-polishing. All of the furniture is made to order in this factory, nothing is kept in stock. So when you order a piece of Duravit furniture, you will be getting something made especially for you by a German Duravit-trained skilled professional.
After this tour we headed straight to Frankfurt for our flights home.
We all returned to our respective states feeling confident about the brands, full of delicious German food and with a new group of inter-state friends.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about this trip as much I enjoyed being on it. A huge thank you to Bathe Australia and Candana for making the trip possible, and of course to Kaldewei, Hansgrohe and Duravit for your time, knowledge and hospitality.
After spending 3 fabulous nights in Munster with Kaldewei it was time to move onto the Black Forest to visit Hansgrohe and Duravit.
We travelled 6 long hours on a bus with a pleasant, unscheduled stop over in Cologne for lunch and the next day woke to the most beautiful view I could ever have imagined. It is clear to me why the Germans focus so much on sustainability and being green, because they are completely engulfed in this amazing environment that needs to be maintained.
Hans Grohe was inspired by the Black Forest surroundings and had a passion for water which encouraged his manufacture of tin showers in 1901, that's over 110 years ago!
Even today the Hansgrohe company is still owned by the Grohe family.
Our first day at Hansgrohe included a 'Shower World' experience. When initially reading this on the itinerary I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive. However, upon entering this area my doubts were completely squashed. The rooms were set up like some of the most luxurious bathrooms I've seen and we were lucky enough to test them all out.
My excitement at finding the brand new Nendo LampShower was visible, I think I may have squealed with joy.
We even got to try the AXOR Shower Heaven which is a massive 1m x 1m square ceiling shower panel with lights and different spray settings plus the set-up included body jets. This experience was out of this world, I can't emphasis enough how amazing it feels to be standing under a shower that pumps out 33 litres per minute. Maybe standing under a waterfall would come close.
I would also like to mention at this stage that all of the water in 'Shower World' is 100% recycled and used to flush the toilets throughout the Hansgrohe Aquademie.
After 'Shower World' and product training by very professional and knowledgeable Hansgrohe staff we ventured out into the factories. Hansgrohe are the complete embodiment of a 'green company', not only are their products water and energy saving with a long service life but they make an effort to use renewable energies within the company, sophisticated recycling systems and heat recovery in production. And walking through the factory you could not see one person slacking off or without a huge smile on their face. The workers are passionate about the company and love their jobs.
All Schiltach residents will know at least one person who works or has worked at Hansgrohe. This company has been a wonderful source of employment and economy for this stunning little town. During training we were lucky enough to be shown some new products including the very cool Axor Starck V and new Select range. Select is going to change the way we control our showers, it is a revolutionary push button system that I think will be everywhere in the years to come. Can't wait to get these products in Aus!
During the 10 day trip we sampled some of the most delicious food and beer Germany has to offer. One the most memorable was visiting one of the 5th oldest farm houses in the Black Forest, Klausenbauernhof to make our own Flammkuchen (Black Forest pizza-style cake) in their wood fired oven.
Hansgrohe also organised for us to do a day trip across the border into Strasbourg, France.
We spent the day doing a walking tour through the town, eating delicious French/German food and managed to squeeze in a little bit of shopping, of course! It was great to see during the 'free-time' almost every public bathroom had Hansgrohe tapware!
Klausenbauernhof farm house, Black Forest
Klausenbauernhof farm house, Black Forest
Learning a bit about theKlausenbauernhof farm house, Black Forest
Making a Flammkuchen
Making a Flammkuchen
Enjoying our Flammkuchen, inside the Klausenbauernhof farm house
Hansgrohe History in the Aquademie
Axor Starck bathrooms in the Aquademie
Axor Starck V during training
The actual view from my hotel room window, Black Forest