As Ideal Standard kicks off its ambitious Together World Tour digital event series to support its latest launches, senior VP – commercial Jan Peter Tewes talks to Emma Hedges about life after Sottini, how the brand is getting behind its retail customers, and why he is confident of a full recovery for the sector.
Last week saw the launch of Ideal Standard’s Together World Tour – a digital launch with a difference that is set to take place over six events through this year and the next, across six key locations. The first destination was Milan – chosen for its design credentials and links to the company’s chief design officer, Roberto Palomba. Next up will be Berlin, with London to follow in September, and then Paris, Dubai, and finally Shanghai.
“We started developing the idea a year ago when we decided we wouldn’t go to ISH because of the pandemic,” says Jan Peter Tewes. “We had all the new products coming out and a lot to talk about, and we needed to somehow get close to customers.”
The first instalment saw CEO Torsten Türling present a slick fusion of design documentary and product showcase to introduce the new Linda-X collection. Designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba, the range is a tribute to the Linda collection created for the company in 1977 by Achille Castiglioni, and pays homage to the original while updating it with a crisp contemporary aesthetic. Made from ceramic blend Diametec, Linda-X features ultra-thin edges and comprises a range of fine-lined basins and an elegant bath, and co-ordinates with the Joy brassware collection.
With a rich brand history – Ideal Standard is over 100 years old – the company is well placed to refer to its design past for inspiration. “But this is not enough,” says Tewes. “Now it’s all about how we translate this into the future so that it’s relevant, it’s fresh, and it’s according to the design needs of the current time. And that’s what with this range we’re trying to do.”
Linda-X, which will be available to UK retailers in 2022, comes hot on the heels of the UK unveiling of the Conca range, and both form part of the Atelier Collections designed and curated by Palomba Serafini Associati. These new product developments have led to a phasing out of the Sottini brand in the UK, which is being absorbed into Ideal Standard in the retail market.
Tewes is keen to point out that the company is working closely with retailers on showroom displays as they cross over to the latest collections, and that with the new range there will preferential terms to ensure it represents an attractive proposition. “We’re walking the talk – putting local stocks in, increasing the service proposition, employing new people, sales reps to give customers better coverage, support and service. There’s stiff competition in the UK and that’s what you have to live up to, to be successful – and I’m 100% convinced that we will be successful,” he adds.
He’s upbeat that the market will bounce back, and says the company is “fully dedicated” to its retail partners, and that the new ranges have been well received by them, especially those who would usually deal with Sottini. And while he foresees digital events playing a crucial role in the future – even with the return of trade fairs – he sees face-to-face meetings as being an essential part of industry networking. “This industry is built on characters and people,” he says.
As a result, following the next stop on the Together World Tour in Berlin, London is being planned as a hybrid launch, and – COVID permitting – will be supported by physical events over London Design Week, from 18th to 26th September. He’s optimistic that the return of face-to-face meetings is on the horizon. “I’m convinced that we’ll be getting together for a cup of coffee or a beer to discuss the ins and outs of the industry soon, because that’s a lot of what makes the industry – the trust and the personal relationships,” he says.