Simon Keane-Cowell

Author

Simon Keane-Cowell
Zürich   Switzerland

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme


Makro doesn’t do compromise. Its second-to-none bathroom concepts respond to the precise needs of its customers, providing the perfect solution for even the most demanding of architectural projects.
 

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme
'Wave', Makro's single-block, high-quality-acrylic under-mount bath – available in three sizes – is incorporated into an expanded-polystyrene structure, allowing a myriad, project-specific design possibilities

Good design meets the needs of its users. But beyond this, there’s long been a committed set of premium-segment manufacturers who’ve made products that respond in a highly precise way to such needs. Key among them is Italian bathroom brand Makro, which, further to its standard collection of products, offers its customers the option to participate in the design process by customising the products they order. Resolutely architectural in its approach (indeed, the company was founded back in the 1990s by an architect and two engineers), Makro understands, and has built its business on responding to, the exacting needs of its customers, customers who have a clear, planning-driven vision of the way in which a bathroom should perform in terms of utility, aesthetics and interior architecture. In short, such clients are looking for a total bathroom programme that exceeds the sum of its parts. The clue is in the company name, after all. Makro. This is big-picture stuff.

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme
It's all systems go with the 'Makrosystems' concept, where separate product types, such as wash basin and bath tub, can be integrated into one unified element

Of course, individual, standard products – such as bathtubs, shower trays and enclosures, cabinets and accessories – are also available from Makro. But it’s when the brand’s product offering is applied as a high-tech and visually rational complete system that it comes into its own. Such an innovative approach has formed the central strand of Makro’s DNA from the outset: ‘From the very beginning,’ explains Fabio Gechele, company co-owner, ‘the idea has always been to manufacture products with new technical and construction features, in order to meet planning requirements and solve on-site building problems. That’s why we introduced onto the market the first floor-flush shower tray and under-mount bath tubs, which can be customised, like most of the products in the Makro collection, solving many site problems.’

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme
'Look', a line of high-quality-acrylic under-mount baths with an oval, symmetric tub, clad with various finishes

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme
The long-selling 'Eclettico Square' under-mount bath tub with oval basin, integrated into a rectangular polystyrene structure that's available in different sizes

And solve problems Makro products do. With the business expanding beyond its European core market including Spain, France, the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Austria but also China and the UAE ,the bathroom spaces of hundreds of contract and residential properties such as hotels and villas have been transformed through Makro’s collaboration with architects, interior designers, planners and building owners. Rather than making do with generic bathroom products that sort of work within the spaces into which they are introduced, these discerning customers have elected to continue the rigour of their architectural and interior-architectural projects through to their fit-out, deploying Makro’s emphatically project-oriented products in the knowledge that they will become an integral and active part of the interior-architectural landscape. You won’t find any compromising going on here.

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme
'H-Hammam' is a steam bath designed for both the hotel and the residential sectors. Like all of Makro's products, it can function as part of an overall system or as a stand-alone element

‘Makro has always had a second, “customisation”-oriented strand to its business, in addition to its standard products’ explains Gechele. ‘Over 50% of the entire production can be made-to-measure. Customisation belongs to Makro’s very essence, since we have always developed products dedicated to projects and contract supplies characterised by a high level of individualisation. That said, many of our customers find our standard products the perfect fit for their requirements.’ With production almost entirely in-house, Makro, whose team is supported by a wide network of agents both in Italy and abroad,has succeeded in developing a highly successful manufacturing strategy, which sees skilled craftsmanship married with the latest in CNC machinery. The latter gets to work on the precision-forming of such materials as glass, Corian/Makril, wood, marble, aluminium and HPL, while further machinery and thermoforming centres are dedicated to the expansion of polystyrene.

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme
'Pluvio' is a to-the-centimetre customisable shower basin, made of thermoformed PST, up to 210 x 110cm. The grille is stainless steel

Needless to say, this optimised and highly efficient production set-up has a strong R&D division behind it, ensuring that innovation is built into every element of every Makro system. This is research-led, joined-up manufacturing in action. The ‘Ecletticio’, ‘Wave’ and ‘Street’ bath tubs, for example, bear this out, as well as the ‘Pluvio’ and ‘Basic Shower’ shower trays; each product articulates Makro’s highly rational design language and embodies its high-quality material focus, while allowing a high degree of customisation in terms of dimensions and finishing for those clients that require this. It’s no wonder that scores of hotels, from Venice’s Hotel Ca’ Maria Adele to the Net Center B4 Hotel in Padova have specified Makro bath tubs and showers for all of their guest rooms. In Rome’s Hotel Radisson Esquilino, the ‘Eclettico’ bath tub has been made to measure and clad in mahogany, placing it centre-stage as a striking project feature. Further afield, visitors to the Hotel Aqua Ohla in Barcelona, the Hotel Saltanat in Kazakhstan and the Montecarlo ad Azov in the Russian Federation are also able to enjoy a high-end bathroom experience thanks to Makro’s systems. Dozens of private residences, from St Tropez to Baku, are home, too, to the Italian brand’s products.

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme
Both the aptly named 'Space' shower enclosure (top) and the 'Steel' shower tray (above) express Makro's resolutely architectural design language

Makro has spent the last few years developing its ‘Makrosystems’ concept. Physically integrating the traditional, discrete product types of bath tub, wash basin and shower into one continuous element, the paradigm-shifting ‘Makrosystem’ presents itself as a completely new typology for the bathroom, eschewing as it does the traditional organisation of bathroom products. The configuration of its components is determined instead by the technical and formal considerations; in doing so, it offers an optimal solution with regard to services, and can be assembled and disassembled. ‘The result is a wide variety of products,’ says Gechele, ‘that overcome traditional building and plant-site constraints that don’t allow freedom in a project.’ Once again, Makro has responded to the genuine need on the part of architects and interior designers for bathroom solutions that permit an undistorted translation of creative vision into real, finished projects. The selection of ‘Makrosystems’ by AD INDEX 2013 for that coveted plaudit for exemplary industrial design, the Compasso d’Oro, testifies to this.

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme
Endless project solutions for the bathroom via 'Wave', the single-block, under-mount bath tub, integrated into a customisable expanded-polystyrene structure

Makro has also responded to the long-overdue responsibility that manufacturing as a whole now has to operate, right across its activities, in the most sustainable way possible, to take responsibility for the impact its products has on people and the environment. Beyond the careful selection of raw materials and energy-efficient production processes, the company carefully considers, as Gechele explains, ‘all the product’s management phases, before, during and after their installation and all components involved in the installation and use of the products’. Witness Makro’s long-selling under-mount bath tub: consisting of an acrylic base integrated into an expanded polystyrene structure, it forms a single, compact element. In addition to its excellent energy-saving thermal insolation, as well good acoustic isolation (very important in such contract contexts as hotels), it’s easy to transport and install, meaning a reduction in both costs and energy consumption.

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme

The Big Picture: Leading Italian manufacturer Makro’s total bathroom programme
Makro's 'H-Hammam' steam bath, with integrated shower, marries high performance with a pared-down, rational design expression

Having secured its position as an innovator in the field of project-focused bathroom systems, it has its sights set squarely on the future. Not content with providing innovative solutions that feature the usual product types of bath tub, shower and wash basin, it’s working on the concept of ‘the complete bathroom’, which will address every component within this landscape. Underpinning this is a commitment to elevate the bathroom to the same level as the living room, bedroom and kitchen in terms of quality and experience, something that the high-end hotel sector has been striving for for a number of years now, but which Makro has identified on the horizon as a trend in the residential sector. ‘This is the real challenge our brand wants to address, launching in the not-too-distant future,’ says Gechele.

When it comes to Makro’s vision, it’s anything but micro.

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