Design Prize Switzerland
At the beginning of November, the pioneering urine-separation toilet save! by Laufen was awarded the Design Prize Switzerland 2021, beating the competition in the “Product Consumer” category. The internationally respected design prize is awarded every two years to products which are suitable for daily use and boast not only aesthetic qualities, but also economic and social importance.
“We are delighted to receive this design prize, as save! continues the success story of Swiss design into the future. Eliminating the superfluous while maintaining high functionality and the best possible user friendliness is essential for sustainable, long-lasting design, which is something we’ve been practising at Laufen for decades”, says Alain Reymond, Head of Design Management at Laufen. The bowl of the save! toilet is designed for circularity, addressing two problems at once at the interface to the sewer system: the expensive and complex treatment of urine in wastewater and the loss of valuable resources.
This new style of WC pan uses the concept of “Source Separation Technology”, in which urine is diverted from the remaining wastewater through a channel inside the toilet bowl. The different waste streams can then be more efficiently processed, allowing valuable resources to be recovered. Human urine is rich in phosphor and nitrogen, which are valuable resources for the production of fertiliser. In many parts of the world, however,these substances currently end up discarded in natural bodies of water, where they lead to a dangerous overstimulation of growth of aquatic plants and algae.
The separation of urine inside the WC pan is ensured by the the sophisticated geometry inside the ceramic bowl, without the need for any mechanical or electronic aids. Surface tension, also called the “teapot effect”, ensures that the urine is directed towards the urine trap, a separate outlet integrated into the ceramic body. Solids, toilet paper and the flush water are all sent down the usual siphon. The urine trap is entirely imperceptible to the user, as save! has deliberately been designed to look like a standard WC pan. And it can also be used as per usual; no changes whatsoever in behaviour are needed.
This intelligent, pioneering design is the result of a collaboration between Laufen and the Austrian design studio EOOS. The nomination team of the Design Prize Switzerland rated save! as “an invention that could play a key role in future wastewater management and whose potential impact can hardly be overestimated”. Since no single company can achieve such profound, systemic change in infrastructure on its own, the industry, architecture and urban development sectors must work together to enable a transition towards a more sustainable wastewater management. With save!, Laufen is doing its part to make source separation and nutrient recovery mainstream.
The jury was also enthusiastic about the concept and made the following comments: “The separation of urine […] reduces disposal costs, protects the environment and offers the chance to make human waste, currently discarded, fruitful in the literal sense.” They continued: “A commitment that deserves recognition and applause and will hopefully be perceived in the industry as well as in the public sector as an encouragement to develop comparable sensible solutions.”
About Design Prize Switzerland
For thirty years, the biannual competition Design Prize Switzerland honours the best achievements of the Swiss design industry. Awarded for the first time in 1991, the Design Prize Switzerland has become a ground-breaking institution in the Swiss design industry. The competition is organised as a not-for-profit association based in Lagenthal. Both the nominators and the members of the jury are independent and committed to the highest quality criteria.
Nominators’ comments on save!
“This toilet, which at first glance appears completely unspectacular, conceals an innovation that is as remarkable as it is hidden: by intelligently shaping the ceramic body, this achieves a separation of urine from other waste streams without the need for any further technical aids. An invention that could play a key role in future wastewater management and whose potential impact can hardly be overestimated”.
The jury’s opinion on save!
“The idea behind this truly innovative toilet addresses two problems at once: the expensive and time-consuming treatment of wastewater and the loss of potentially valuable resources. The separation of urine made possible by save! reduces disposal costs and water usage, protects the environment and offers the chance to make human waste, currently discarded, fruitful in the literal sense. Thanks to its expertise and exemplary cooperation with the Viennese design studio EOOS and Eawag, Laufen has succeeded in translating this idea into a functional, absolutely marketable product that can only be wished the greatest success. A commitment that deserves recognition and applause and will hopefully be perceived in the industry as well as in the public sector as an encouragement to develop comparable sensible solutions.”