Bob Miodonski 2017-06-30 02:20:43
GROHE VP talks about US consumers’ growing taste for contemporary designs. Supply House Times interviewed GROHE Vice President of Design Michael Seum about bath and kitchen design trends March 14 during the ISH trade show in Frankfurt, Germany. A native of Chicago, Seum joined GROHE in 2015. He previously held design positions with Kohler Co. and Whirlpool Europe. Do you design products differently for the U.S. than you do for the European market? MS: Yes, we have quite a few lines dedicated to the U.S., but when we design lines, we try for a global product. For example, when we design a line sold in Ferguson showrooms, it’s for them, specifically. We do that quite a bit. With me coming from the States, I have a deep understanding of the market there. At the same time, the brand has to be firmly rooted in the heritage of GROHE with a German-based approach to design. It’s a European design brand and we should be seen as a European design brand in the U.S., so we have to understand the needs of our customers. Are wall-hung toilets a trend that will continue to gain strength in the U.S. market? MS: I hope the U.S. market embraces this design because it makes sense not only for aesthetics but from a cleanability perspective. I was asked earlier today about what would I do in my bathroom and I immediately said, “I would lift everything off the floor.” It’s a wet environment where you want to be able to easily access the floor. I think American consumers will love this design once they have it. There are beautiful floor-standing products, but once you have a wall-hung toilet you realize it saves space, it saves time, it’s clean and it’s a much better looking product. Wall-hung toilets are a big growth area for us. You will see from GROHE a true investment in ceramics due to our parent company’s expertise there. Do you see any other uniquely American trends? MS: From a trends perspective, we’re seeing U.S. consumers being very traditional in their design choices. All the data shows contemporary design taking a much stronger role. As people upgrade their bathrooms, they’re going from traditional to contemporary. This is a great opportunity for GROHE because we have a true heritage in the contemporary design space. I hope the American market can embrace some of the European design principles around the bathroom as well. I think it’s happening. One thing U.S. consumers do really well is they’ve embraced color-finished materials in their bathrooms. And that will continue to happen. It used to be oil-rubbed bronze, but now the colors are getting more sophisticated. Blacks are becoming more popular. I see a lot of high-contrast colors coming into the U.S. For example, white subway tiles are very common but now consumers are putting in matte black shower systems and contrasting that space. That’s a really cool trend. It leads to a nice design statement. What will be the next big technology advancement in baths and kitchens? MS: The next big thing for us is to inject intelligence between water and enjoyment. So, water, intelligence and enjoyment with GROHE. Intelligent doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a digital product. It just means it can be a smarter solution. We continue to see this opportunity, but we also are launching a product that’s derived from safety and water security. There’s a big opportunity to prevent water damage within homes. GROHE Sense and Sense Guard comprise an ecosystem or a family of products. The Sense product detects humidity and room temperature; if there’s a flood it will activate an app that will alert you. If you have both the products working together, the Guard goes into your plumbing and it will shut off the water supply. It works unattended. The U.S. has embraced this market very well with the Nest thermostat from Google. This is our equivalent for water savings. We launched Sense in May. And then Sense Guard will be two months after that. To read the full interview with Michael Seum, visit www.SupplyHT.com.
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