Japanese sanitary ware brand INAX launched its new bathroom concept on the world stage that is Milan Design Week
Starting life as a manufacturer of ceramic tiles in the 1920s, INAX is part of the LIXIL Group Corporation, the largest bathroom products company in the world – one that also includes Grohe and American Standard. In April, INAX made its European debut with 'Rituals of Water': part exhibition and part product launch, using water to demonstrate the brand's rich history. The concept was inspired by Japan's waterscape that forms the heart of its culture, where for centuries people have used water to purify themselves both physically and spiritually.
In April, INAX made its European debut with 'Rituals of Water': part exhibition and part product launch, using water to demonstrate the brand's rich history
The exhibition, held at the SuperStudio show during Milan Design Week, was a clear statement of what Bijoy Mohan, CEO of LIXIL Group Asia Pacific, describes as a way for INAX to sharpen its proposition for expansion and position itself as a leading bathroom brand."We understood the whole essence of the brand – Japanese lifestyle, Japanese tradition and Japanese design," says Mohan. "Many consumers around the world have the affinity for this proposition. LIXIL has the channels across the world, we are in a very good position to take this proposition to consumers." The brand has now set its sights on expanding in Asia, its fastest-growing market, and then in America.
Since its invention of Japan's first commercial shower-toilet in 1967, INAX has focused its design aesthetic on the human experience matched with the support of technology. This is described as 'humanitecture' by Yasuhiro Shirai, general manager, Design & Advanced Technology Center of LIXIL Water Technology Japan. "The range of products reflects INAX's core design values of essence, sophistication and thoughtfulness," says Shirai. "Design is for humans, but to realise the design, we collaborate with architects and put technology behind it. We want to have an appeal that's not just aesthetic but also holistic."The brand's three signature elements: Tension, Squoval and Volcano, represented by a symmetrical curve, a hybrid shape of square and oval, and the flow of one surface to the next, are overtly evident in its two new collections presented in specially curated scenes at the exhibition, informed by a calming ambience. The S600 line, featuring a full range of shower-toilet, bath, washbasin and shower, was displayed in a Japanese rock-garden setting accompanied by a bonsai tree, creating a sense of Zen harmony; the S400 range was housed in a set-up that emphasised a clever use of space and an interplay of light and shade.
We want people to know it's a brand that makes positive contributions to physical wellbeing and mental well-being
While ceramic tiles completed the spatial design of both bathroom settings, they serve more than just decorative purposes. The brand has turned its 100-year tile-making experience into innovative technology of its sanitary ware such as Aqua Ceramic and Cerafine materials. The functional side of the tiles was also highlighted at the INAX Tile Lounge. "The porous nature of the tiles can regulate humidity, filter odour and purify the air," says Shirai – an important benefit for true wellness. Adds Mohan, "We want people to know it's a brand that makes positive contributions to physical wellbeing and mental well-being."