A revolution in ceramics — Laufen’s SaphirKeramik wins Design Prize Switzerland 2017/18

For developing SaphirKeramik, Swiss bathroom specialist Laufen is being honoured with Design Prize Switzerland 2017/18. SaphirKeramik is an innovative ceramic material, which has all the hygienic advantages of traditional bathroom ceramics, but is thinner, more defined, and extremely robust.

The nation needs new materials
Laufen wins the Design Prize Switzerland 2017/18 in the Investment Goods category for its innovative SaphirKeramik.
The jury’s verdict: “New materials have always been amongst the important drivers of design development. In SaphirKeramik, the traditional Laufen brand has created an innovation that is just as surprising as it is remarkable, whose impact on sanitary ceramics can only be estimated today.” The international jury chose Laufen as one of the winners from 45 nominees.
The revolution in ceramics was developed by Dr. Werner Fischer, Laufen’s Director of Research, and his team.

SaphirKeramik by Laufen is a very hard and rigid ceramic material, which allows for the first time in bathroom design very thin, but extremely robust ceramic walls, with defined edges at the same time. The name SaphirKeramik is related to sapphire glass, which is most commonly used in watches and also becomes an extremely hard material when corundum is added.

“The composite material, which does not require any additives, impresses with its specific characteristics: it is hard and rigid and, in addition, it offers the tremendous economic advantage that it can be processed using traditional production processes.” This was the jury’s statement on their decision to award SaphirKeramik the Design Prize Switzerland.

SaphirKeramik can be used to create delicate shapes and narrow radii with thin walls that could not previously be realised in ceramics. While edge radii of 7–9 mm used to be considered state-of -the-art, minimal values of 2–3 mm are now technically feasible.

“Although aspects such as ecology and sustainability may not have been the priority, they contribute substantially to the positive overall picture of the material,” continued the jury. Its statement highlighted the additional benefits of the material: For example, lower material costs thanks to the simplified structure of the ceramic parts as well as environmental and sustainability benefits, as firing, production and transport of SaphirKeramik consume less energy and raw materials.

An innovation that is just as surprising as it is remarkable
“Innovative material engineering right out of the textbook, which offers revolutionary design freedom for sanitary products, while also providing ecological advantages. Laufen’s cooperation with Konstantin Grcic, Patricia Urquiola and Toan Nguyen gives an impression of what can be achieved with the new material.” This is how the jury explained its decision to award the Design Prize Switzerland 2017/18 to SaphirKeramik.

About Design Prize Switzerland
Awarded for the first time in 1991, Design Prize Switzerland is now a recognised institution in the Swiss design industry.
Every two years, it honours outstanding achievements from all economically relevant design disciplines.

Mission Statement – Design Relevance
Design Prize Switzerland is committed to the concept that design is an economic factor with high social, societal and sustainable relevance. Swiss design embodies innovative vigour, competence, values and identity.
Design Prize Switzerland sees itself not only as an award but as an institution which, through its award and platform, aims to demonstrate the importance of Swiss design and position it as a success factor.

Mission Statement – Design Excellence
The nomination teams and the jury view design as the result of an integrated development process that utilises opportunities in the value chain, adding value.
The contest targets Swiss designers, brands, companies and institutions that are active in Switzerland or other countries. Foreign designers who study or work in Switzerland or who work for Swiss companies are also eligible.

We Provide Opportunities
As an institution, it observes and influences the market and sees its role as that of encouraging to brave ideas which promote Swiss design and raise national and international awareness.
The nominated and prize-winning works are presented to specialists and the wider audience by way of targeted activities and programmes which help make design a key part of the economy and society.

SaphirKeramik by Laufen
Design Prize Switzerland
Product – Investment Goods
Laufen Bathrooms AG
Dr. Werner Fischer – Director Research and Team,

Photo credits: Laufen


Vitreous china versus SaphirKeramik
Copyright free. Example copy requested.

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Media contact
Béatrice Rüeger
Laufen Bathrooms AG
+41 61 765 71 11


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