Interview with David Millón… Marketing Director-UK and Iberia at Villeroy & Boch
A CERAMICS MANUFACTURING COMPANY FOUNDED IN 1748, VILLEROY & BOCH HAS DEVELOPED INTO AN INTERNATIONAL LIFESTYLE BRAND, REPRESENTED IN 125 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD AND WITH 15 PRODUCTION FACILITIES IN EUROPE, MEXICO AND THAILAND AND
ITS HEADQUARTERS IN METTLACH IN SAARLAND. IT FOCUSES ITS BUSINESS ACTIVITIES IN THE COMPANY DIVISIONS “BATHROOMS & WELLNESS” AND “TABLEWARE”.
Villeroy & Boch has a venerable history dating to 1748… Tell us a little about the company’s beginnings, and the main highlights of its professional trajectory over the past three centuries…
In the German-French border region, the Villeroy and Boch families experienced at close quarters the development of Europe with all its economic upswings, wars and revolutions, and understood how to shape the times and use them to advantage. However, ceramic was always at the centre of the company. The robust and beautifully designed tiles were an unparalleled success. Many attempted to copy them. However, no-one succeeded in achieving the high quality of the original. Many of the original old tiles can still be found today in many historical locations. For example, in Cologne Cathedral or the Holland Tunnel that links Manhattan island with the mainland of New Jersey. In 1899, Russian Tsar Nicholas II travelled in wonderful splendour on a royal train to Germany with his family and court. Even the two cows that were taken on the journey to provide the royals with the best Russian milk enjoyed luxurious accommodation in a carriage fitted with the robust Mettlach tiles in blue and white. Also popular in the very best of circles, the tiles were even laid at the feet of aristocracy and rich nobility on the legendary Titanic. Fragments of the tiles that accompanied the maiden voyage of the luxury ship were rescued from the depths of the ocean.
What are the basic principles behind Villeroy & Boch?
Tradition, quality and authenticity: these are the classic Villeroy & Boch attributes that give consumers support and guidance. Innovative power, style and
design: these are the values that inspire people and give them the freedom to design their homes according to their own individual taste.
What are the main sources of Villeroy & Boch’s creative inspiration?
The real progress starts when presenting the idea to the designers. After they have seen the first drawings we from Villeroy & Boch re-work the designs to
make them perfect. The final decision on which design will be realised is made by a defined management team. By the way, Villeroy & Boch does have internal designers who create and develop designs or collaborate with external designers such as Oliver Conrad (Architectura) and Sebastien Conran (Aveo new generation) and the designer duo Something (the ViClean L-series). Also in tableware with famous designers including Paome Picasso, etc.
How important is sustainability in the Villeroy & Boch design philosophy?
The modern consumer is highly responsive to environment-friendly products, which, in many cases, also help save money – for example, by reducing water consumption. Villeroy & Boch was one of the first manufacturers to introduce water saving 4.5-litre WCs (Aquareduct) and is now also setting standards in the domain of urinals. An innovative “suction fitting” reduces the customary flushing volume of two to three litres to 0.8 litres.
The innovative collection Architectura Greegngain WC represents a milestone in water consumption. It is the first wall-mounted WC to use only
3.5 litres of water per flush. That means 2.5 litres less water than conventional systems, i.e. a saving of 40 per cent. And, if the economy button of
the dual-flush system is selected, the WC uses just two litres of water per flush. This also makes the Architectura WC a particularly attractive solution
for project planners.
Today, more than ever before, the corporate strategy is concerned with the protection of the environment. In fact, in many areas, Villeroy & Boch has already
clearly surpassed the environmental standards required by law. For example, the sanitaryware factory has fulfilled the stringent European criteria to achieve the EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) environment standard and has also been certified according to ISO 14001, a standard that is recognised worldwide.
What are some of your personal favourite kitchen and tableware pieces from Villeroy & Boch’s 2013 collections?
I like all collections because I think all have something special. It’s true that one of my favourite collections is Althea Nova. One hundred per cent natural,
this collection is ideal for Provence ambience. But, at home, I have the Modern Grace collection. One hundred per cent white and with straight lines, this collection is ideal for a cosmopolitan environment.
What 2014 trends do you envisage in the home décor industry?
Villeroy & Boch with inspiring new bathroom culture: the electronical bidet seat ViClean Leaf combines design and functionality.
The collection ViClean Leaf unites functionality and design in a very special way, creating an unusually harmonious symbiosis of WC and bidet. The design of this electronical bidet seat is inspired by nature, but is only made possible by innovative technology, a combination that makes ViClean Leaf a truly unique product. It is an organically shaped design element whose natural form is perfectly in keeping with the oasis of wellbeing that the bathroom has become.
ViClean Leaf fulfils the highest expectations in terms of hygiene, design appearance and quality. Another trend will be DirectFlush. As the first Villeroy & Boch WC with a flushing volume of just 3l / 4.5 l, the DirectFlush sets new standards in ecology and economy – and still offers the same high performance without any need to change usage habits. Thanks to diverse adjustment options, DirectFlush can be used universally for new buildings and comprehensive renovations.
And finally… what are the traditional Christmas and New Year family menus in the Millón household?
I spend every Christmas Eve with my family, as my mum’s menu cannot be missed. It is traditional to dine on a large variety of seafood. New Year’s Eve instead I usually spend with friends, in a different European capital every year, so the food varies depending on the location – but it tends to be
a special evening indeed.