125 years of enamelled steel history for unique bathroom furniture
For 125 years, the German brand Alape has been perfecting the visual and haptic experience of enamelled steel sinks and countertops.
In product design, we often talk about form and function. Yet there is one factor that often – even unconsciously – determines the favor or the disfavour of potential users: the tangible experience of a product through touch. The material as a tactile surface can be worth more than a thousand words. This is why Alape, as a specialist in steel enamel products, pays particular attention to this aspect.
It’s about more than practical bathroom products: it’s about emotions
A brief digression into human biology: Of the five senses, the sense of touch is the most essential for survival. It is only through tactile perception through the skin as a sense organ that we can experience emotions such as touch, tenderness, pain or heat. The importance of this ability is already demonstrated by the fact that the sense of touch is the first to emerge in the uterus, during the second month of embryonic development.
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At first glance, this may seem unrelated to the enameled steel that Alape has been producing for 125 years. But it’s more than practical bathroom products: it’s about emotions. This is perfectly illustrated by the anniversary motto of the company founded in 1896 by Adolf Lamprecht in Penig, Saxony: âEmbracing Water for 125 Yearsâ. There would be no better way to unite the two existential human needs: the aforementioned sense of touch – embodied in an embrace – and the element of water as the source of life.
Based in Goslar, Germany, since its reestablishment in 1954, Alape has attached great importance to the surfaces of its products, and not just for aesthetic purposes or material properties. Surfaces give life to expressively designed washbasins. They harmonize haptics and optics. Unique, mass-produced pieces are created by hand-applying each layer of enamel glaze to titanium steel. This is ideally expressed, for example, in the Aqua smooth surface series: depending on the incidence of light – as the name suggests – the colors and transparencies of the enamel seem to move like water.
A second series of surfaces offering unique tactile properties is Terra, containing the finest mineral particles in the glaze, which gives the products a soft, matte texture. Starting this year, Terra Silk Matt, Oyster Matt, Nordic Matt and Gravel Matt shades, which were first introduced in 2018, are also available for the Stream basin.
Andrea JÃ¼rgens, Head of Creative Management at Alape, explains the manufacturer’s great passion for the tactile experience as follows: âSurfaces represent the interface between the human body and the material world and influence our well-being. Especially in the bathroom, the most intimate place in any house, there is a great need for authentic and attractive materials. âThe closer we are to the things that surround us in everyday life and the more intimate our relationship with them, the more important the sensual and emotional moments become,â continued JÃ¼rgens.
When the EW 3 drop-in washbasin was introduced in 1970, it wasn’t just the shape that determined the design. While the current focus is mainly on surface structures, in the 1970s product color played a central role in meeting the increased need for expressive interiors. Since then, all enameled steel products have been available in a wide range of colors – including black, a shade that has grown in popularity in recent years.
Black stands for extravagance and privacy and, in combination with discreet wall colors and natural materials, gives the bathroom an atmosphere of comfort and well-being. At Alape, matte black is now offered as a standard finish for some products, such as the rectangular Stream series or the circular Unisono series.
Since its introduction in 2012, the latter is part of a new generation of countertop washbasins that reflects Alape’s expertise in the design and manufacture of enamelled steel washbasins. Unisono was created in collaboration with Sieger Design and considered at the time to be the further evolution of delicate and refined countertop sinks, as first presented with the Busalt Design vessel sink in 1997. Produced in a geometric shape strict from extremely thin-walled steel, Unisono always proves to be a perfect expression of the material properties. The new black shade now demonstrates the timelessness of the design, while adding a contemporary undertone.
In addition to their visual and tactile qualities, Alape washbasins are unmatched on one point in particular: their delicacy and refinement, with the play of soft rays, clear contours, individual colors and flattering surfaces paying homage to the element water.