News & Stories

100 years of LAUFEN in Gmunden

A Century of craftsmanship at LAUFEN's historic production site in Austria

One of the most important LAUFEN locations is celebrating a momentus milestone this year: 100 years of industrial production of ceramics in Gmunden, a site rooted in the region’s rich heritage and culture. From these beginnings, LAUFEN has developed into a global player in sanitary ceramics with unique expertise that has pioneered innovations that have shaped the industry. Visitors can experience the pivotal chapters of its history through guided factory tours that LAUFEN is offering during 2024.

European Capital of Culture

Gmunden also proudly participates in the “European Capital of Culture Salzkammergut 2024”. For the first time in 40 years, the European Union has selected an entire region – comprising 23 Austrian municipalities across two federal states – to spotlight the vibrant interplay of life, work, and culture within rural settings. The Salzkammergut region, renowned for its rich traditions that stretch back thousands of years and its contribution to world-renowned inventions, embodies the spirit of cultural richness and innovation.

Innovation centre of LAUFEN

Research & development has a long tradition in Gmunden: the first ever free-standing washbasin ingeniously cast as a single piece was developed here, as was the patented Saphirkeramik, which made its debut on the global stage in 2013 as a pioneering invention. This exceptionally strong material enables the production of thin-walled shapes and narrow edges for the first time, redefining the aesthetic of ceramic design for the bathroom.

10 years of Saphirkeramik

save!”, the pioneering urine separation toilet with worldwide applications, was also developed by LAUFEN in Gmunden together with the Viennese design team from EOOS. save! prevents the nitrate contained in human urine from entering waste water with damaging environmental effect and instead enables it to be processed into a valuable plant fertiliser.

Urine-separating toilet save!

World's first CO2-neutral tunnel kiln for sanitary ceramics

The new tunnel kiln in Gmunden is an invention of particular significance and a milestone for climate-neutral production: It is the world’s first and only tunnel kiln in the sanitaryware industry to be powered by renewable electricity instead of gas. As a company that manufactures products for the careful use of the precious resource of water, LAUFEN is committed to protecting the natural foundations of life.

After four years of development, the kiln commenced its role of firing the ceramics at the site in January 2024, exclusively utilizing energy derived from 100% renewable sources, and is testament to LAUFEN’s strategic approach to decarbonisation, energy efficiency and water conservation.

First CO2-free tunnel kiln

Region of ceramics and art

Gmunden, situated on the serene shores of Traunsee, is celebrated as a hub of ceramic artistry, a reputation that dates back to the Stone Ages. Since the production of the first clay vessels for salt mining, Gmunden has been an important source of inspiration for ceramic artisans across Europe. The town’s allure was magnified by the imperial family’s routine summer retreats, which brought a flourish of artistic vibrancy to the area.

Gmunden is also famous for its international symposia in the 1960s and 70s, positioning it as the leading European centre for ceramic innovation and a melting pot of artistic, craft and industrial ingenuity. A tradition which will be continued in the Capital of Culture year with The International Ceramics Symposium Gmunden.

Sanitary museum "Klo & So"

The K-Hof Kammerhof Museum in the centre of Gmunden is home to the “Klo & So” sanitary museum. This collection of historical sanitary objects, the largest in the world, has been meticulously curated by LAUFEN over more than 70 years, illustrating the history of bathroom culture and the changes in hygiene standards over the last few centuries. In anticipation of the Capital of Culture celebrations, the exhibition has undergone a comprehensive revision and is set to welcome visitors once again in May 2024.

“Klo & So” sanitary museum