Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Design with a human touch

Mohit Hajela, Group Head, Business Development, Jaquar Group, reveals how design reflects a deep understanding of evolving human needs.

In your experience, has design become more accessible over the years?
Mohit: Most certainly. It is a natural consequence of the emergence of brands in every product and service category that may have been a commodity earlier. That’s because design is a competitive advantage. It lets brands gain greater attention because it lets their products look nicer. This is especially true once product superiority as perceived by the customer diminishes. And in categories like ours, where the product usage and replacement cycles are longer or equivalent to appliances, it’s even more important.

However, those brands that take cognizance of the multiplier effect of both those factors – design and quality – coming together at once, will always have a head start over others. And that is exactly the philosophy that the Jaquar Group believed in from the beginning. It is for this reason that we have been able to change the perception of bathrooms from being purely functional places to aspirational spaces as they are being seen now.

As a cascading effect of this shift in perception, customers at the entry levels are also seeking better, more modern aesthetics and superior experiences. In response brands aim to meet these expectations and strive to improve their offerings, leading to much greater accessibility to good design.

It must be noted that the tools of design have also become more widely available with the emergence of personal computing and design software that has democratized the design function to a much larger extent than in the days when specialized training was required to achieve even basic design ability.

“Today, bathrooms are becoming bath suites. This change in mindset and aesthetics has spawned a whole new genre of bathrooms that now marry convenience, functionality, luxury, technology, colour and shape into a magical world. Since Indian markets are developing rapidly in their appetite for luxury in their bath spaces, and Jaquar Group too is expanding its foot print across the world – we’re in over 45 countries now – we’re adding a portfolio of products from globally renowned designers to our range of offerings.”

How would you describe Jaquar Group’s approach to design?
Mohit: The Jaquar group has been built on the platform of the highest quality standards, aesthetics and with the intent of providing world-class products.

Today, it caters to various socio-economic segments with brands such as Artize in the luxury category, Jaquar in the premium and Essco in the value segments. Jaquar Group is India’s most trusted bathing fittings brand controlling 60% of the branded market. Our range includes sanitary ware, showers, shower enclosures, water heaters, flushing systems and wellness products.

Our approach to design across our products is to offer our customers more than what they are seeking. As bathrooms evolved to be aspirational spaces, we saw the need for coordinated bath fittings – matching fixtures that take the aesthetics to a superior level for the bathroom as a whole.

Today, bathrooms are becoming bath suites. This change in mindset and aesthetics has spawned a whole new genre of bathrooms that now marry convenience, functionality, luxury, technology, colour and shape into a magical world. Since Indian markets are developing rapidly in their appetite for luxury in their bath spaces, and Jaquar Group too is expanding its foot print across the world – we’re in over 45 countries now – we’re adding a portfolio of products from globally renowned designers to our range of offerings.

This emphasis on innovative design that elevates the usage of our products into an experience by itself is paying us rich dividends in the form of recognition as well. We have multiple award-winning products in our portfolio now – products like Tiaara, Tailwater, Laguna, Linea, Confluence etc from designers like Michael Foley, Claudia Danelon, Matteo Thun, Antonio Rodriguez and Parichay Mehra, which have been received awards like the RedDot, iF, God Design, PLusX and ElleDeco, among others.

How does great design balance form and function?
Mohit: Across the world, the lives that most humans lead, is determined by the spaces that are designed for them – cities, streets, offices, homes, and rooms. Even bathrooms.

Today’s bathrooms are vital spaces for reviving, recharging, and rejuvenating ourselves, before and after our stressful days at work. And that would not have been possible without design – designs reflect a deep understanding of evolving human needs, in terms of spaces. The story of evolving ourselves should not stop here. We should continue to strive for higher levels…even though today, the Jaquar Group has a turnover of over 520 million dollars, and is one of the fastest growing bathroom companies in the world, we have the hunger to achieve more and give more and more customers an unparalleled bathing experience, with design being the cornerstone where form and function drives the team.

No matter how well the product works, it must also be attractive enough to invite usage. It’s the design that makes the technology successful. Our renewed focus on design has seen us winning accolades from some very prestigious international institutions in the past couple of years and we are increasing our collaboration with design thinkers to change our product line-up for the better.

The planet requires us to change our thinking. If design has helped us become the dominant species across the world’s varying environments, it is also up to us to change our thinking to suit the planet’s needs now. How can we use less material from the Earth? How can we recycle resources more? How can we consume less energy? In the constant search for answers, we have worked hard to put ourselves in a new headquarters building that is a Net Zero energy consumer. From that building we are making our thinking truly green and are ready to meet the needs of tomorrow’s bathrooms in all parts of the world.

We are sure that path ahead is full of new, exciting directions for us to consider. We are also sure that the changes it will bring will make the world a better place. And in all this form and functionality will be the driving force.

On the topic of interior design, how can our living spaces play a role in nurturing us and stimulating our senses?
Mohit: There is a new awareness in the 21st century that design is as important to where and how we live as it is for museums, concert halls and civic buildings. This awareness about DESIGN space for human beings unites us in aiming to make living spaces better, in our own ways. As Daniel Libeskind puts it: “To provide meaningful architecture is not to parody history but to articulate it. Cities are the greatest creations of humanity”.

Design and Creation brings about Change which is the only constant in life. From rock caves and mud huts to steel, glass, concrete, and computer-controlled sensors everywhere – design has enabled mankind to adapt to change and thrive in every part of this planet. Somewhere along the way, design has also managed to find a way to bring the bathroom inside! From utilitarian to functional to uber bathrooms! If plumbing made bathrooms inside buildings safe and hygienic, perhaps it’s bathrooms that made cities possible to a large extent.

Interestingly, bathrooms are also seeing a lot of change. At Jaquar Group however, we are looking at a lot more than the functional aspects of bathrooms. We are looking at design being our change agent.

When we started out 54 years ago, we led the way in making bath fittings in India. Since then, we have helped to change the bathroom market from being a purely functional one to being an aspirational one today.

Bathrooms are converted to being, the therapeutic places. Spaces where we can unwind and de-stress. Where we can be alone with our thoughts!

How do we try to stay ahead in our area of expertise? Well we try to view things from the perspective of what we can change to make it better. For that we are constantly seeking newer design solutions that work better.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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