So who actually came up with the idea of furnishing the bathroom with a real vortex?
Philippe Grohe: It was my father's idea. The fact is: if you don't do something out of the ordinary with water, then you won't see its movement. It's totally transparent and calm – quite unspectacular really. The vortex allows us to visualise the vitality of water.
Now I'm someone who feels completely at home with the calm aspect of water. But there are two dimensions to water. It's calm, yet it's turbulent. It can energise us or soothe us. So on the one hand we have meditative water – like the water in a well, and then we have active water – as in a vortex.
Your father had the idea, but it was you who then implemented the vortex in collaboration with Philippe Starck?
Philippe Grohe: Yes, it was a long process from the initial dream through to the finished industrial product. As with any design process, however, there was another factor to consider: the issue of tranquil, visible water.
For over a decade, I've been discussing this with architects, interior designers and product designers, and we've often discussed our use of water in our everyday lives and wondered how we could bring it more to the forefront.
Which is why I also felt that it was really important for the water to remain present in the “Axor Starck V” mixer at all times. That means: on the one hand we have a tranquil well, on the other an incredibly fascinating spectacle in the form of the vortex.
On seeing the vortex for the first time, Philippe Starck commented: "This is a gift for modern people, because it allows them to intuitively discover and grasp nature's beauty and complexity". When people ask me: So what does your bathroom look like? – I tell them: "I have a large window and a small bath tub (laughs)." Which is great, because the natural world outside contains everything I need. In cities, of course, things are a bit different.
As a rule we want both, of course, active water and calm water. How important is it for you to be able to show both states?
Philippe Grohe: Immensely important. Water affects us both visually and haptically; we feel better if we go outside and experience a bit of nature. That's just the way we are. In some ways we are still animals who have come a long way thanks to our culture.
Jean-Marie Massaud once said to me: "Since coming down from the trees, we've been missing something." That may sound trite, but I've always had a very clear picture of things. When people step into a room, I want them to see water too.
Water as the elixir of life?
Philippe Grohe: In the depths of the ocean there's no light, but there's life in the water. Water and life go hand in hand. Water is a powerful medium with regard to our relationship with ourselves and our bodies: when we're in a bad mood, a shower lifts our spirits, and when we're tired, water raises our energy levels. When we're agitated, water calms us down.