With a rich and storied history dating all the way back to 1748, Villeroy & Boch has been around for longer than the concept of bathrooms themselves. From its humble beginnings as a pair of neighbouring potters to its current status as a global lifestyle powerhouse, this evergreen company has led the way in terms of innovation, social responsibility and, of course, stunning home designs.
From its high-tech headquarters in the wooded haven of Germany’s Mettlach region, Villeroy & Boch continues to develop high-end products found in countless homes across the world. As this illustrious institution celebrates its 275th birthday, we sat down for a quick chat with James Nutting, Villeroy & Boch’s International Director of Sales for Bath & Wellness.
Customer-Centric Research & Development
You don’t last the better part of three centuries without giving the people what they want, and Villeroy & Boch firmly believes in keeping the customer at the forefront of its design ethos. From feature-heavy toilets to the new collection of high-performance, economically efficient brassware, Villeroy & Boch starts every development process by listening to customers and learning exactly what they’re looking for. As James puts it:
“For us at Villeroy & Boch, it is very important to be near to the customer to understand what they need and, more importantly, what they want. Whether it is to improve an existing product, or to create something new like our water-saving TwistFlush technology, the development process starts from this point.”
This simple approach has informed the company’s policies ever since François Boch spun his first clay pot back in 18th-century France. James continues:
“Our history gives us an unmatched heritage of products to draw on for inspiration. It is this heritage, together with the great passion throughout the whole company, that drives us and makes our products so special.”
Why Choose Villeroy & Boch?
The balance between beauty and functionality is a difficult thing to achieve. Prizing one above the other can lead to all sorts of trouble, which is why Villeroy & Boch have spent the last 275 years nailing that perfect sweet spot. James elaborates:
“The duality of Villeroy & Boch’s heritage is to create products with a perfect harmony of design and function. I am not sure whether you can consider this unique, but I am not aware of too many other companies that have had that same aspiration for 275 years!”
Just as the descendants of François Boch and Nicolas Villeroy brought their greatest qualities together in the famous merger of 1836, the company that bears their names continues to strive towards achieving the best of both worlds.
Where Does the Inspiration Come From?
Villeroy & Boch is well known for its creativity, in terms of both its products and the unique names it christens them with. From Loop & Friends basins to Elements striking bathroom accessories, its collections are as visually distinctive as they are memorably titled. This comes from a winning blend of in-house designers and famous guest creators, working together to keep things fresh and exciting. As James continues:
“For our design, we work with internal designers as well as renowned personalities like Gesa Hansen (Artis Colour Concept) or Kaschkasch (new Antao collection). This gives us a good combination to set up new designs together, complete with unique collection names that truly match the products.”
Premium Quality, Accessible to All
As a distinguished, long-established company with a reputation for excellence, Villeroy & Boch is often considered an exclusive premium brand. However, as James points out, this isn’t precisely the case:
“You are right that we have some premium products, like our washbasin Octagon or our beautiful new Mettlach taps range. However, we are much prouder of our history in democratising beautiful design and improving hygiene standards for everyone.”
This aim of offering high-end designs at affordable prices is very much on brand for Villeroy & Boch. A rich vein of social responsibility runs throughout the company’s history, with members of both families serving as social pioneers throughout the 19th century.
For example, in 1812, François Boch’s son Pierre-Joseph founded the Antonius Guild to secure his employees’ welfare. This revolutionary scheme offered financial support for illness, injury, disability and even pension costs. Greatly ahead of its time, the Antonius Guild was eventually used as a model by none other than Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who implemented Germany’s first ever social insurance programmes in the 1880s.
The Villeroys too were known for their progressive and benevolent attitudes. In 1857, Nicolas Villeroy’s daughter Leonie established the Sophie Trust to provide vital assistance to struggling families. With stories like this in mind, it’s little wonder Villeroy & Boch continues to put people first. As James surmises:
“This is what gives our brand its soul. All our products are developed and made to the same, high quality. This even extends through to our after-sales service.”
Still Relevant, Still On Top
It’s easy to get stale and complacent over the course of decades, let alone centuries. This makes Villeroy & Boch’s incredible longevity even more impressive. So, where do they find their inspiration? How do they generate new ideas? We put this to James, who replied:
“By being inspired by the past without being controlled by it. One of our company values is progress. To us, this means that every single day we should look to develop ourselves further, to think about what can be improved and how we can improve it.”
Villeroy & Boch respects the importance of its own history, but it also understands the necessities of growth, fresh ideas & continual evolution. By keeping one eye on the future, the company stays ahead in the present, cementing its position at the top of the lifestyle game.
Oh, and speaking of the future…
Here’s to another 275 years!
We know what Villeroy & Boch is all about now, but what can we expect going forwards? James was understandably coy about the specifics, but he did promise us one thing:
“Villeroy & Boch’s vision is to turn houses into homes, and this will remain our vision in the future. I am sure that we will launch fantastic collections with great innovations in the coming years, because this is our daily work. We have 275 years of tradition to inspire us, and I’m sure we have a great history in front of us as well.”
There you go then! Whether you’re looking for minimalist basins, comprehensive shower systems or elegant bathroom furniture, Villeroy & Boch continues to offer visionary products that everyone can enjoy. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next, but In the meantime, feel free to browse their current ranges for some stylish inspiration.