German kitchen sink and mixer tap specialist BLANCO combines a ninety-year tradition of producing superbly designed products with a distinct flair for the Zeitgeist.
The sink takes centre stage: BLANCO’s Axial concept arranges the basin, drainage system, multifunctional bowl and wooden chopping board along two axes
Back in 1949 architect and artist Max Bill, known not least as the originator of the Ulm stool, pleaded in his famous essay on “Beauty from function and as function” for aesthetics to serve a dual purpose. Beauty – not just as an expression of great design but also in the service of functionality? This could serve as an apt expression of the philosophy of the southern German firm of BLANCO, which has long set itself the target of creating good design not just for its own sake but in order to enhance the functional value of its products.
The three-tier sink enables various operations at the same time. The BLANCO ETAGON 500-IF sink (below) in stainless steel with ETAGON rails and a glass cutting board has three different working levels
At almost the same time as Max Bill was studying at the Bauhaus in Dessau, the 28-year-old businessman Heinrich Blanc laid the foundation stone in Oberderdingen, Baden-Württemberg, for a corporate group which would later have operations and production on a worldwide basis. One interesting aspect of the history of BLANCO is that the company has always responded very flexibly to the specific requirements of a particular era. Whereas in 1925 it was still making tin-plated copper water troughs for regional manufacturers of coal-fired ovens, BLANCO is now not only among the leading producers of kitchen sinks and fittings, but also one of the most innovative developers of materials such as stainless steel or compound materials such as Silgranit.
With foresight, commercial acuity and an up-to-date product portfolio Heinrich Blanc set his metal goods company, known at the time as Blanc & Co, on course for regular expansion. In 1928 Blanc was producing hot water bottles, followed in subsequent years by boilers for commercial kitchens, milk churns and fittings for butcher’s shops. In the mid-twentieth century the company’s in-house stainless steel processing operations led to the production of kitchen sinks for private households, which to the present day represents BLANCO’s core business. However, this by no means exhausted the company’s capacities: in the Sixties and Seventies its portfolio ranged widely, covering not only facade and interior cladding made of stainless steel, but also the bodywork for a Porsche and even the flagpoles for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Further operations were added in the form of the present independent business division which produces equipment for medical technology and fittings for hospitals, canteens and hotels.
Coherent Design: The white colour of the BLANCO ZENAR SILGRANIT PuraDur Sink (below) transitions smoothly into the mixer tap BLANCO CARENA-S in SILGRANIT look white with chrome hose and lever
To return to the company’s core operations and accordingly to design – future-oriented thinking and keeping pace with the times represent a significant aspect of functionalism and the principle which was propagated by some of the leading creators of modernism: design which meets both the demands of the user and of form. In the case of BLANCO this potential for functional innovation resulted in a product such as the three-tier sink, in which different levels within the sink carry out different functions. The clear, clean-lined formal idiom is underlined by the subtle lines of the sink’s surrounds and made-to-measure inserts. Highly functional sinks, matching chopping boards made of wood or reinforced glass and a wide range of further accessories support the work at the kitchen in a way which is ingeniously thought-out and visually harmonious.
There are further examples of the way the multi-award-winning sink specialist demonstrates its in-depth dedication to the fundamentals of kitchen operations and ergonomics. The company’s so-called AXial concept enables efficient working operations along two axes within the functional area of the sink. The wide range of ingenious product design also features taps which fold down so that a window behind them can be opened, for example, or flexibly extending spray hoses.
The trend is towards single sinks without a drainage area – but the floating grid enables an extra work-level in the BLANCO PLEON. With the latest AVONA design in matching SILGRANIT-look, the overall composition is a visual treat for the purist
The extent of the company’s innovation is also reflected by the materials it uses. Perhaps in-depth expertise in terms of the materials applied and their continuous further development is what the BLANCO brand is really about, with design and function arising naturally as a result. For example, the Durinox stainless steel surface finish developed by BLANCO for sinks and worktops is twice as hard as conventional stainless steel, and accordingly extremely scratch resistant. The velvety matte structure is pleasing both to the eye and to the touch. On the other hand ceramics or the Silgranit PuraDur compound meet very different design requirements. This latter material consists to a level of 80% of the hardest elements of granite, and features an especially smooth, dirt-resistant and easy-care surface finish. Thanks to a patented hygiene formula it has antibacterial properties, which returns us once more to demands which were anchored in modernism.
There is only one aspect of the comparison which doesn’t fit. In line with the formal reductionism which was taught by the Bauhaus, Max Bill expressed his ideas on good design exclusively in lowercase letters. In contrast, the capitals in the brand name of BLANCO make a memorable statement in their own individual way.
At BLANCO many years of expertise in stainless steel have culminated in the development of its ultra-hard Durinox surface finish (top). Different materials are ideal for stylish combinations, such as Silgranit, wood and stainless steel (below)