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Issue 60 - The Kitchen and Bathroom Issue

Issue 60

The Kitchen and Bathroom Issue

HABITUS has always stood ahead of the rest with a dedicated Kitchen and Bathroom issue of exemplar standards. For issue 60 we have taken it up a notch with our Guest Editor the extraordinary, queen of kitchen design, Sarah-Jane Pyke of Arent&Pyke, speaking directly to Kitchen and Bathroom design with some increadable insights.

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Crossing the Alps: From Milan Design Week to a tour of V-ZUG HQ
Design StoriesTimothy Alouani-Roby

Crossing the Alps: From Milan Design Week to a tour of V-ZUG HQ

Following Milan Design Week, Habitus Living and Indesignlive Editor, Timothy Alouani-Roby, made the trip to check out V-ZUG’s hometown operations.


Switzerland came as a welcome change of pace after the thrilling, though overwhelming, Salone del Mobile. The opportunity to visit Zug, home of the Swiss appliance designer and manufacturer – whose original name was Verzinkerei Zug – seemed like a fitting way to round off this European design trip. If in-person interviews and site visits are always preferable, then visiting an actual factory, where the objects are designed and made, promised to give me unparalleled insight.

The ability to see the full operation came as an especially welcome opportunity following Milan. The overwhelming thing there is precisely the inability to experience the whole operation, instead seeing product after product in its curated showroom or installation setting. This is a wonderful thing, but it’s of course not the full story; to really understand the design and the company behind it, you have to see where it’s made.

V-ZUG was formed in the historic lakeside town of Zug in 1913, holding a prominent place there ever since. With its campus-like factory set to expand further over the next few years, the presence is only getting stronger. My visit, however, really began with a tour of Zug’s historic centre. Small streets of colourful, timber-framed houses lean in and over you (apparently it had to do with higher rents for the ground floor), with glimpses of the lake as well as a notable old church and watchtower.

The Swiss roots are worth emphasising because they are one of the things that make V-ZUG distinctive. In a country with such a strong design history and culture, the brand is rightly proud of its continued commitment to manufacturing there on-site – it’s what guarantees the quality of V-ZUG’s home appliances.

Historic Zug.

The light snow continued as I arrived at the factory on the morning after the historic town centre tour, though I was already acclimatised after spending the weekend deep in the Alps. Just to underline the design heritage of this part of the world, I had stopped off at a few Peter Zumthor buildings – including a stay at the famous Vals Thermal Baths, where heavy snow and an overnight temperature of -7’C added to the architectural drama.

V-ZUG’s headquarters spans a full range of operations, from factory floor production to offices, museum space and visitor amenities. Everything being in the one campus gives V-ZUG a sense of coherence. Indeed, it’s a coherence that carries through into a strong emphasis on circularity and sustainability.

Ahead of a predictably delicious lunch, I heard from some of the design team about the concepts and aims behind their work. V-ZUG’s appliances are minimalist, aimed at stripping things back to the essential components. The amount of thought and testing that goes into the design of the user controls, with their pure geometries of circle and line, is also striking, while it was particularly poignant to experience this immediately after a visit to the on-site museum. There, an exhibition shows how the aesthetics and functionality of the appliances have evolved over time.

V-ZUG HQ Tour

The most notable takeaway, however, remains the focus on circularity. The large factory spaces and their rational division of labour are of course impressive, but a highlight for me came in a much more low-tech setting. A new scheme is being tested that involves the return of old machines in order for them to be disassembled and recycled or reused. The scene is one of organised mess, in the nicest possible sense: a large room full of neatly disassembled appliances, each set of parts grouped together for further sorting and work. The guide here explained that it’s all part of taking a wider view in order to achieve circular economy – designing in full knowledge that an item can be reintroduced into the production cycle at the end of its initial life.

With more buildings on the horizon alongside increased emphases on innovation and sustainability, V-ZUG is set to remain decisively rooted in its Swiss Zug setting. 

V-ZUG
vzug.com

V-ZUG HQ Tour
Vals Thermal Baths by Peter Zumthor, photograph by Julien Balmer.

About the Author

Timothy Alouani-Roby

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headquartersmilan design weektourV-ZUG


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Issue 60 - The Kitchen and Bathroom Issue

Issue 60

The Kitchen and Bathroom Issue

HABITUS has always stood ahead of the rest with a dedicated Kitchen and Bathroom issue of exemplar standards. For issue 60 we have taken it up a notch with our Guest Editor the extraordinary, queen of kitchen design, Sarah-Jane Pyke of Arent&Pyke, speaking directly to Kitchen and Bathroom design with some increadable insights.

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