Fixtures and fittings

Andreas Dornbracht, CEO of the German company of the same name, unveils his plans to take on the accessories market in the Middle East.

Aloys F. Dornbracht GmbH & Co KG, INTERVIEWS, Design

Andreas Dornbracht, CEO of the German company of the same name, unveils his plans to take on the accessories market in the Middle East.

Dornbracht is a Germany-based company that manufactures high-end fittings, fixtures and accessories for bathrooms and kitchens.

A market leader in its field, the 58-year old firm is starting to take a bite out of the Middle Eastern cherry, having secured a number of key contracts in the region worthy of the very best multinational companies.

We'll be featuring heavily in that rather tall building across the road," says Andreas Dornbracht wryly, as he points towards the Burj Dubai. The company's CEO is in Dubai to see the regional office that the firm established in the city over a year ago.

We are also in the Ritz Carlton in Dubai, the Four Seasons in Beirut and Bahrain, as well as the Al Bustan Palace InterContinental in Muscat," he adds.

The list he provides is far from exhaustive, as Dornbracht reaps the benefits of the Middle East's increasing demand for high-end goods with regards to bathroom and kitchen fittings.

The Middle East region is now the fastest growing market for the company, something that was not always the case, in a market with significant competition for high end contracts.

The trend now, according to Dornbracht, is towards branded products that provide better quality and functionality.

There has also been a change in the buying preferences of local customers away from the more ornamental and luxurious designs, which are in contrast to our own," he explains.

"This has been fueled by the number of expats and international people coming here bringing their tastes, but also because there has been a change in generation of the local consumers who are more traveled and who want a more international product.

One of the most distinctive facets of Dornbracht is the signature style that it developed through its longtime partnership with Sieger Design. Dieter Sieger came up with the Domani water tap in 1985 and the rest, as they say, is history.

The company's most successful tap, the Tara followed, selling in over 60 countries worldwide.

"We concentrate on Sieger Design and we work with other designers. But it is our partnership with Sieger over the last 25 years that has given us the chance to develop a brand language by designing products with a single handwriting, so to speak," says Dornbracht.

And while other companies strive to get as many designers as possible into their portfolio of products, Dornbracht believes establishing brand awareness is more important. He insists the company has a particular style and that that style is Sieger Design.

But whilst Dornbracht makes products that are contemporary, its CEO is keen to stress that they are not overly fashionable, something that he puts down to the need for sustainability.

The aesthetics need to be sustainable, so that after 15 years you still like the product. Fashion is against sustainability as once something goes out of fashion you need to replace it," he explains.

An even more pressing point is whether the drive for sustainability is in conflict with companies like Dornbracht, who strive to create the best possible bathroom. Not so according to the company's CEO.

He believes that greater sustainability will focus on greater use of recycled grey water rather than on reducing the amount of water used through changing fixtures and fittings.

"You have a conflict between the needs and preference of the consumer. Taking a shower with four litres of water a minute is just not satisfying, so a big water spender like our RainSky E is in conflict with water conservation," he says.

However I believe the trend will be towards recycling and using grey water.

Especially in a region like the Middle East they will have to invest more in grey water systems for use in washing machines and other appliances, which means that you will be able to have a nice functional shower.

The future has never looked better for companies that manufacture high-end kitchen and bathroom fittings and accessories, as the number of people able and willing to pay top-end prices increases.

Dornbracht also highlights the tourist boom as a major contributory factor for the company's success, with every five-star hotel built being a potential order.

But the bottom line, says Dornbracht, is that the role of the bathroom has changed over the last decade as the bathroom has become more about wellbeing.

The change in bathroom design that has occurred over the last ten years is phenomenal. Who could have thought that five years ago someone would spend 5,000 euros on a showerhead?

As we have seen in Europe over the last 10 to 15 years people are spending more and more on the kitchen and we are now seeing the same thing replicated in the bathroom," he says.

And it is not just the bathroom that the company is concentrating its efforts on.

The firm also supplies fittings and accessories for kitchens. Its latest venture, unveiled in January this year, is in zoning the kitchen into separate areas for preparation, cleaning etc.

Although Dornbracht has only been in Dubai for the past year and a half, it seems the company has a promising future in the region.

With the growth of Dubai as well as the expansion of cities like Doha and Abu Dhabi opening up new contract opportunities, the possibilities for the company in the Middle East are endless.

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