A Look Behind the Scenes of the Axor Manufaktur in the Black Forest
Handmade and high-tech: In an exclusive service area called the Axor Manufaktur, employees have been individualizing taps, shower heads and accessories for private customers and global project since 2002. The pos-sibilities range from special finishes to engravings and length adaptations. “We would like people to feel at ease in the bathroom and enjoy their water experience. To achieve this, we provide products that are perfect for them in every way,” says Philippe Grohe, Head of Axor. “We especially support architects and interior designers in their efforts to create luxury bathrooms for their customers. Through the Axor Manufaktur, we are able to facilitate this process by meeting the architects’ specific needs in an easy, straight-forward manner so that planning certainty is ensured,” the grandson of Hans Grohe concludes.
Small Team, Top Performance
The eight-member team around Lothar Schoch, Head of the Axor Man-ufaktur, is capable of meeting the most diverse range of customer re-quests – from engravings to custom finishes and adapting the dimensions of individual fittings. “Our mission is to assist our customers in transforming their bathroom vision into reality,” says the Head of the Axor Manufaktur. Whether an order is intended for a global project or private customer, pre-cision and a passion for detail are of the essence in the manufacturing of exclusive sanitary fittings. All eight employees have been specially trained to meet the strict qualitative standards of the Axor Manufaktur. After all, each piece is beveled and polished by hand in cooperation with the spe-cialty departments before being checked for flawless quality. This requires a high skill level and experience in the handling of metal objects and their exquisite surfaces. For example, the even finish on the brushed surfaces is produced meticulously by hand. The members of the team are particu-larly proud of the recently completed bathrooms for a Chinese luxury hotel compound, where they adorned the taps with Swarovski crystals. Howev-er, the Axor Manufaktur also successfully realizes smaller projects for pri-vate customers, such as producing exclusive surface finishes for master bathrooms of private villas and mansions.
“One of our specialties is the lengthening of a tap,” explains Lothar Schoch. “To begin with, someone with a trained eye needs to determine whether it is actually possible to increase the length of a tap, because the design and the underlying geometry may impose certain limitations. Pro-vided it is technically feasible, the actual work steps in the process of in-creasing the length of a mixer require many hours of labor and the right tools for the precise fusion of two main bodies,” adds Schoch.
At the Axor Manufaktur, artisanry is complemented with state-of-the-art technology. In-house PVD chambers are used to apply coatings of custom metal finishes to the taps. PVD technology, which stands for “Physical Va-por Deposition Technology”, involves the use of noble gases under labora-tory conditions; they are “ignited” to produce a vapor which then coats the objects with a custom finish. The resulting surfaces are highly resistant against scratches, cleaning agents and harsh environments.
Custom Design Poses Technical Challenges
Where individual customer requests include a custom finish such as gold- optic or black-chrome, changes to the underlying design have to be taken into account. “Cruise ships generally feature mirrored bathroom layouts, which means the holes for the connecting rod must be drilled on the left or the right-hand side of the tap,” explains Lothar Schoch. “A fabulous resort in the Pacific recently asked for taps from the Axor Starck collection with extended spouts and with different handles. In addition, we applied a nick-el-colored PVD coating to the surfaces – not just for aesthetic, but also for practical reasons: the salt in the sea air on the island would attack galva-nized chrome surfaces over time,” Schoch adds. And at the trendy gour-met restaurant “The Jane” in Antwerp, Axor kitchen mixers and Axor Uno² electronic mixers in brushed black-chrome meet the specifications of re-nowned interior architect Piet Boon; the elegant, somber surfaces are a perfect match for the purist ambience of the converted chapel. The Span-ish designer Patricia Urquiola, on the other hand, chose Axor Urquiola in brushed gold-optic for the bathroom taps of the re-designed Spa at the famed Four Seasons in Milan.
The Inclination towards Gold Continues
The Gold-optic finish accounts for the bulk of the special surface finish re-quests. Bi-color finishes, where a touch of gold augments the tap’s chrome finish, are also very popular. The Axor Manufaktur currently offers a standard range of fifteen different finishes; additional colors possible and are coordinated directly with customers. The application of special letter-ing, logos or coats of arms to taps, shower heads and accessories by means of laser technology, is also a part of everyday operations for the small team in Schiltach, Germany. Modifications of this kind enhance eve-ry bathroom, giving it a personal note with a high qualitative standard.