Now in its third year, Wanted Interiors offers unexpected ways to discover and experience products, in the context of a living space. The theme explored by American Standard and Pratt design students is the Future of Water, exploring life-improving scenarios in the bathroom environment. Focusing in particular on users and energy efficiency, innovative solutions for the near future and new bathroom systems for sustainable and healthier residential housing will be presented at WantedDesign Manhattan.
Q&A with Jean-Jacques L’Hénaff
Lixil Water Technology Americas
Vice President, Design
WD: Can you give an overview/intro of Lixil, your task for the group and which of the brands you are focusing on?
LIXIL makes pioneering water and housing products that solve everyday, real-life challenges, making better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere. I am the Vice President of Design for our flagship brand in North America, American Standard, and for our luxury brand DXV.
WD: What is the design process with your team?
All projects start with a definition phase. It can be as extensive as including ethnographic and market research, or as simple as looking at design trends and competitive reviews, but it is always extremely critical for us to understand our consumers and use those insights for each product we design. We then go through an ideation phase – which may include early prototyping and testing, and finally, a design development phase to hone in the final details of the design. We always go back and forth between drawing board (a digital one, of course!) and prototypes order to achieve the right balance of form and function, proportions and details.
In parallel, the design team is involved in documenting the process to share the design with our customers and consumers so they can connect with it.
WD: What are your main focus right now that drives the launch of new products? the challenges?
Our industry is changing rapidly – we are focused on how to use water more efficiently, both through technology and user behavior, and how to make installation of our products easier. We also stay connected to the evolution of design trends to make sure that across our three brands have a portfolio that matches the aspirations of any customer.
WD: Water is the most vital natural element that we need to preserve. How do you respond to that and how design can make a real impact ?
American Standard has been at the forefront of water saving for the past 150 years. Claiming that your product saves water – that a toilet uses 1 gallon of water per flush, or a shower head uses 2 gallons of water per minute – is extremely easy. Delivering an efficient, enjoyable and fulfilling user experience with that amount of water is extremely difficult. It can only be done by gaining a deep understanding of our consumer’s needs and behavior. We work hand in hand with our engineering and R&D teams to deliver this experience to make life better while preserving this precious resource that is water.
WD: What will be the best outcome you expect from your collaboration for American Standard with Pratt students presented at WantedDesign?
We collaborated with the students from the Pratt Institute and the Pratt Accelerator to explore avenues we usually don’t explore as a company. They brought a fresh point of view and sensibility to something we look at every day. This project is also an opportunity to engage in a dialogue within the design industry about an area of the home that has not fundamentally changed from generation to generation. I hope everyone visiting Wanted Design will leave wondering how their approach to water could and should change.