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Interview with designer Partick Frey:
“I’m a furniture designer by nature.”

© Patrick Frey

With TitanCeram, Villeroy & Boch has created a new kind of ceramic material, which combines delicate forms with unusually stability. The secret is the fusion of ceramic materials and titanium dioxide. The material now was used for the new bathroom collection Finion. The design of this collection is made by Patrick Frey, who is renowned for his unusual yet useful combinations of form and function in his works. In the interview, Patrick Frey talks the work with the material ceramic and the new collection.

Mr Frey, designing a bathroom collection was uncharted creative territory for you. How did you approach this task?
Ceramic was a new material for me as I had never really worked with it before. So I first delved deeper into the subject of “ceramics”. I took part in a workshop and gained an insight into the manufacturing process at Villeroy & Boch. I was amazed by the precision and complexity of the production. Simply how time-consuming it is to produce the forms and how the ceramics shrink during the firing process. All that needs to be considered when you are developing a design to make sure you create a compelling collection.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I go to trade fairs to get some creative input. That doesn’t just mean replicating what you see, but also taking it further, creating your own thing. I also keep in contact with colleagues and discuss innovative concepts and ideas with them. And naturally inspiration from music, art and life per se also flows into my designs.

© Villeroy & Boch

Which challenges did you face in developing the Finion collection?
It was quite complicated to develop Finion, which comes with about 20 ceramic products and furniture. I created a free concept, based on associations with the bathroom and the role it plays in our home and life. Sounds and images, but also the moods and needs of the users.

How did you transfer that to the products?
I’m a furniture designer by nature and normally work with warmer, softer materials such as wood, leather and fabric. Ceramic, on the other hand, is very hard and smooth and looks cool very quickly – an effect I didn’t want to have in my bathroom collection. So the real challenge was to create cosiness and a feeling of softness and warmth even with ceramic.

How did you solve that?
I created soft transitions and developed a flowing design with strong contours for the washbasins. To do so, I laid a cloth over the form and transferred the silhouette of the flowing fabric to the ceramic. This allowed me to take full advantage of the TitanCeram material as it enabled me to develop very thin fine forms.

© Villeroy & Boch

And how did you “create warmth”?
Mainly with the furniture. Warm shades are at the fore, with splashes of gold to add the right touch. I can’t wait to see how experts and consumers are going to react to Finion.

And how did you deal with trends?
Trends are all about people’s needs. For me, my duty as a designer is to literally make real things graspable. My concepts are about finding the simplest possible solutions for everyday problems. With useful and functional aspects.

Patrick Frey, born in South Korea in 1973, studied industrial design at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover between 1996 and 2002. For his thesis, he worked together with Markus Boge on designs that deliver the simplest possible solutions for everyday problems. It resulted in e.g. designs for a desk with functional and emotional qualities to provide a tidy workplace. Nils Holger Moormann liked it so much that he added it to his furniture collection. The two young designers set up their own design agency, frey+boge. studio for industrial design, and worked together until 2006. In 2007, Patrick Frey founded his Studio for Industrial Design that works for brands such as Bree, Authentics, Elmar Flötotto and Vial. In the very first year of founding his own company, Patrick Frey received the Lucky Strike Junior Designer Award, the most prestigious award for young designers. Since then, many of his works have won international awards, including the iF Product Design Award and the Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum. Patrick Frey has been teaching at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover since 2014.

Further Information:
Patrick Frey