On the occasion of the debut of RAK Ceramics in Milan for the Design Week 2022, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to Leonardo de Muro, Vice President of the Emirate brand. We talked about the RAK Ceramics sustainable approach, the relationship with the Italian market and also the choice of opening a big showroom in London.
RAK Ceramics has 21 factories in UAE, India and Bangladesh. How has the company become one of the most important brands in the world of ceramics?
RAK Ceramics is a real multinational listed on the stock exchange. It’s among the first industries in the world for ceramic production and it works in 150 countries with its own showrooms, branches and distributors that guarantee global visibility to the brand. The group, which grew up on its own strength, brings together various production companies and is able to offer custom-made design solutions through integrated products and systems of porcelain stoneware, ceramics, bathroom fixtures, furnishings and accessories.
We are currently proposing a new image of RAK Ceramics that fully reflects the strong capacity for experimentation, production and distribution of the company, pioneer in the introduction of hi-tech innovations for residential and retail projects. We have developed design collections able to stand out on the European and Italian market, where we are already becoming a reference point. This is also demonstrated by the success of visitors and the contacts gained during the Design Week in Milan, both at the Salone del Mobile with bathroom furniture and ceramic collections in large formats, and at the Fuorisalone with the Black Ink event, in the Brera area.
How was the partnership with Elie Saab born?
The one with ELIE SAAB, one of the most prestigious brands in the fashion and luxury world, is a multi-year license agreement signed with RAK Ceramics which gives us the opportunity to produce exclusive ceramic collections for floors, walls, bathroom products, items for the table and gift items. RAK Ceramics presented the ELIE SAAB Bathroom and Surface collections at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.
We are both leaders in our respective fields and we share a vision of refined design, with impeccable craftsmanship and uncompromising excellence. The collections are the epitome of luxury living in every touch created in a combination of beautiful finishes, elegant marble textures and classic and contemporary colors produced using only the finest raw materials. Elie Saab presents shapes, lines and combinations that evoke the atmosphere of a journey, which starts in Beirut and goes on in Paris, Milan, London, New York, the capitals of fashion. As RAK Ceramics, we will begin promoting ELIE SAAB brand products through our network of showrooms and distributors according to a plan established during the agreement with the brand.
In a word, what is the essence of RAK Ceramics’ design?
Only one is not easy, I need three words: technology, sustainability and innovation. Always be up with the times on a technological level, never lose sight of the innovative component and always honor sustainability, in addition to continuous investments in the field of design and collaborations with international designers.
Without any presumption, we can define ourselves as pioneers in the introduction of innovative hi-tech solutions in the ceramic sector. In the company’s avant-garde plants, modern technologies are used for the production of customized ranges, both for small and large-scale projects. The company has also won several international awards in recent years as the “most innovative company” and as “program of the year for health and the environment”. Sustainability in every field of activity is one of the main elements of RAK Ceramics’ corporate mission.
What kind of market does Italy represent for RAK Ceramics?
Italy is the home of world design. We are present with a branch in the province of Modena (north of Italy) from which we operate through various sales channels: from traditional ITS and retail distribution, but also the high-level showroom for prestigious representation. The brand is also working to organize direct collaborations with large architectural firms in the future. Despite the difficulties of the last year in terms of costs and delays, as a company we have managed to increase the quantities of products delivered. We have seen a significant increase in orders, which we hope will continue in the near future for all parties involved. We are proud to be able to maintain excellent relationships with our customers and to have introduced new commercial policies to optimize production and deliveries.
Which collection by RAK Ceramics do you want to talk about in particular?
Before that, a premise. Some of our sanitary and bathroom furniture lines are created in collaboration with internationally renowned designers, but they are also the result of incessant investments in young designers. Patrick Norguet, Giuseppe Maurizio Scutellà and the duo Debiasi Sandri are some of the designers who have collaborated with us in recent years.
RAK-Valet is the latest bathroom collection that combines the creative flair of Patrick Norguet and the manufacturing quality of RAK Ceramics. It tells a story of unique visions, patterns, shapes and frenetic rhythms that lead to some surprising solutions. The keyword of the project is balance: in the dialogue between lights and shadows, volumes, lines, shapes and materials, each element is designed for the users of the living space. Norguet’s work explores new ways of living and exploiting the domestic space, destined to become a place without constraints, porous and osmotic, traditional but at the same time innovative.
The RAK-Valet collection is made up of functional elements, available in matte and glossy finishes. The decorative volumes are devoid of any superfluous detail or shape, with the accent on formal purity, thanks to the thin-edged washbasins, a bathtub that is the result of great stylistic research and the “elongated” lines of the bathroom fixtures.
RAK-Valet coordinates perfectly with some of the most successful lines of RAK Ceramics, such as the new RAK-Joy Uno bathroom cabinets and mirrors, complete with accessories such as metal legs and towel rails or the functional and elegant ceramic shelf, yet another Norguet project.
Sustainability is becoming the central theme of every production process and company vision. What is the contribution of RAK Ceramics in this perspective?
RAK Ceramics is committed to protecting the environment throughout the production chain, from product design to efficient operational processes and plays an active role in building a better community.
The organization’s activities increase energy efficiency, reduce pollution, promote biodiversity and improve the quality of life, both for the inhabitants of the communities in which it operates and for its own workforce. In the production processes, we treat and recycle 100% of the water we use and during the firing phase in our furnaces, we fully recover all the waste heat. The sanitary division is particularly committed to the development of eco-sustainable products, in particular as regards water saving, which reaches 33% thanks to the new toilet flushing system. The company recycles natural raw materials to help preserve natural resources and adopts projects with the use of clean development mechanisms in order to reduce carbon emissions during production processes.
RAK Ceramics is a pioneer in its area to carry out a ‘Global Reporting Initiative’ (GRI) for sustainability and a ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) report based on the latest GRI-GR4 guides.
Before Milan, there was also another debut. How did the launch of the first RAK Ceramics Design Hub in London go?
We inaugurated our first Design Hub in the heart of London at the end of May, precisely in the Clerkenwell design district.
The Design Hub was conceived as a meeting place for designers and architects, allowing them to explore the many possibilities offered by the wide range of ceramic products that distinguish the RAK Ceramics brand.
It’s an environment designed to inspire the creativity of its visitors and includes functional installations intended for design: real micro-settings with the aim of concretely showing the great potential of Emirati products.
It will act as a global specification showroom and will allow architects and interior designers to use RAK Ceramics materials for their projects around the world. A real material library of almost 700 square meters at the complete disposal of designers and their needs. Many exclusive products are on display, including the new collection of furnishing accessories by ELIE SAAB and the bathroom collections developed by the aforementioned designers Patrick Nourget, Giuseppe Maurizio Scutellà and the duo Debiasi Sandri.
For more information, visit www.rakceramics.com
Article in collaboration with RAK Ceramics.