2011 saw the launch of SensoWash® in Germany and other western markets, where there still remained some reservations about the subject.
The shower-toilet seats SensoWash® Starck C and SensoWash® Slim are available in a design that matches a number of series.
With the “Starck f”, the latest product in the SensoWash® family launched in 2019, Duravit brought a vision of the future to life. The functions of the new shower-toilet generation can be controlled either via an elegant, user-friendly remote control with a minimalist design or via an app. The ability to configure individual user settings via the app further enhances operating comfort. The flat seat and the white cover located behind it form a flush-fitting unit.
Mr. Mantel, you are responsible for development in the Wellness Technologies BA at Duravit. Where and how do you manufacture the SensoWash® products?
Ralf Mantel: When we started out we worked with available components and external partners. However, we launched our own development and manufacturing operations some years ago. Now we hold 100% of the technology and value creation in our own hands. Our activities are concentrated in our factory in Shanghai, the DST (Duravit Sanitaryware Technology).
Would you say that the shower-toilet has established itself in Europe?
Ralf Mantel: There are still some reservations that are likely to remain with us for some time to come. Thanks to the clear and impressive product benefits - cleaning with water instead of dry paper! – and tireless marketing drive in this area, the shower-toilet is starting to establish itself in the more refined private bathroom. At the same time, the topic of hygiene has moved up many people’s list of priorities – a further reason to have a closer look at the shower-toilet.
It is well known that technologies become obsolete rather quickly – do you face a lot of competitive pressure?
Ralf Mantel: Of course there is pressure from the competition, but if anything it motivates us. When it comes to technology we don’t fight obsolescence, but as we know, perfect is the enemy of the good. If, like us, you develop all mechanical components, hardware and software, things never stand still. There’s always something you can or must do better. Take for example the materials we use, such as stainless steel for the spray wand, to guarantee maximum hygiene. The flat, heated toilet seat is just 40 mm high, made of an especially rugged material and, like the lid, very hygienic thanks to its scratch-resistant, pore-free surface. Ease of operation also plays an important role. For example, with the new SensoWash® Starck f we offer an app for operation and easier configuration of the product.
Duravit defines itself very strongly through design. Is that also the case for SensoWash®?
The Duravit brand stands on three fundamental pillars: design, technology, and quality. That’s our mission statement. The three factors don’t compete with each other. In terms of design, SensoWash® Starck f and our partnership with Philippe Starck have been a great success. You can see that in the host of design awards that we rapidly picked up for the product. To integrate the technology we had to refine and rearrange all the components to be able to fit all the technology in the ceramic body. So at first glance Sensowash® Starck f looks like a really attractive, conventional toilet – but in fact it is a highly evolved designer shower-toilet.
How important are technical and customer service when it comes to such highly evolved products?
Ralf Mantel: They’re really important and something we put a lot of emphasis on. SensoWash® is also installed extensively in hotels where the products are subjected to greater stresses than in a private bathroom. For instance, all the rooms in the Morpheus Hotel, Macau or the One & Only Retreat, Reeti Rah are fitted with the series. Everything needs to be just right, starting with the ease of installation through the integrated descaling function up to the flawless quality.
Because we aspire to the highest quality standards, we have succeeded in keeping the number of complaints to an absolute minimum, even for this complex product. Problems only crop up very infrequently, and if they do, our customer service is able to provide rapid assistance with minimal red tape.
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