The planned bathroom

SYMETRICS – ARCHITECTURE MODULES OPTIONS. In this bathroom, everything is related to everything else: the modules, the materials, and the architecture.

THOMAS EDELMANN: What is the concept behind the SYMETRICS program?
BENEDIKT SAUERLAND: Unfortunately, bathroom suite components are often not installed at the best locations. Apart from the installed components, no object in the shell of a bathroom bears any relation to other objects such as the bathtub, which are not installed until later. Even when bathroom fitters ask builders where they would like the handrail fitting, this is not necessarily of any further help. How then should this type of decision be taken? SYMETRICS provides a kind of layout for these cases. It acts as a set of rules for all graphic designers. It consists of artificial lines which enable design elements to be placed in the correct position. Once this relationship has been resolved, at any point, a matrix is no longer visible. Instead only the finished installation remains.

Defining relationships

T.E.: What advantages does a modular bathroom program offer?
B.S.: It helps the designers or builders to define user relationships. In the case of a household with small children or one consisting of people of differing heights, the SYMETRICS coordinates can be used to determine different heights. However, it helps, above all, to define product relationships. I can control vertical and horizontal spacing using mounting rails. The basic matrix measuring 60 x 60 millimetres is defined by the cover plate of an operational control. This measurement is the result of externally-defined parameters. If operational controls are added, the common support plate is enlarged by a corresponding amount. We recommend that elements be spaced a certain distance apart from one another.

T.E.: What effect does modularization have on design and interior architecture?
B.S.: The repertoire of individual elements makes it possible to stage a wide variety of scenarios. This is what distinguishes SYMETRICS from the presentation series that have been passed down, which were characterized by the so-called design link, the pure outward appearance of a common denominator. To this extent, it is no longer a question of fittings shouting out “look how beautiful I am.” Architects and bathroom designers are coming up with components to ensure sophisticated designs which also offer increased security at the implementation stage. Architects are seeking products that slot into their plans and allow them to create a convincing overall image. It would therefore be counterproductive if every product were to stand out and make its presence felt in the harmony of the bathroom.

T.E.: What possibilities are conceivable with SYMETRICS in the future?
B.S.: The more complex certain functions of the fittings become, the more sense it makes to use electronic control elements. There is a possibility that a differentiation may be made between control elements and points at which water flows out in the future. What is important to us here is that fittings evolve, but that their trusted semantics are retained.

T.E.: In your opinion, what does the future hold for bathroom design?
B.S.: Water offers many possibilities that have not yet been exhausted by a long way. The fact that water has its place in the bathroom throws up a range of project opportunities in this area. These include the incorporation of natural occurrences into the domestic sphere and much more. Without becoming esoteric, it is possible to reflect on the transcendental features of human life: if we claim that we are made up of 70 percent water and we know that we are capable of thinking and storing information, then it is not completely absurd to assume that water is involved in the process of storing knowledge. What this means as far as design is concerned is yet to be revealed.

T.E.: Has our understanding of design changed in recent years?
B.S.: When the sanitary sector discovered design, the focus was placed on form-finding tasks that were highly embedded in the spirit of the age. At that time, the opinion prevailed that different tastes should be catered for. Nowadays things have changed. Manufacturers have cleaned up their programs. Our selfimage has also changed. We no longer see ourselves first and foremost as a form finder, but rather seek to adopt a conceptual approach to projects. Andreas Dornbracht once raised the question of what comes after form. For years, designers have been portrayed as heroes and automotive design has been stylized. In my opinion, we have to deliver a solid performance. Design should focus on markets and people. It should open up and develop new topics. I have worked at Sieger Design for almost 20 years and believe that the sanitary sector is predestined to go beyond the high level of status quo that has been achieved. Products are currently undergoing a process of minimalization and dematerialization.

T.E.: Does this mean that forms will become even more interchangeable than previously?
B.S.: There is certainly a danger of this occurring, but not if we focus our energies more on designing worlds of experience rather than individual objects exhibited in a special way. It is much more exciting to further develop a topic such as “access to water” rather than to continue to do the same thing in a different way. Changing consumer habits are calling for new approaches to be adopted. Previously, we sometimes had the tendency to sharpen our pencils and come up with a concept using formfinding exercises. Nowadays, this is inconceivable. The move towards open plan living and the transformation of the bathroom from being just a wet cell into a room offering a good quality of life demand that we come up with and test a concept before beginning to implement it in detail. The demands placed on architects and designers are set to increase. The bathroom will continue to change. It is a question of allowing the various functions to come into play more independently of one another.