Duravit: Up Close & Personal With Karen Robyn
Today we are speaking with the dynamic General Manager of Duravit in South Africa, Karen Robyn. She shares what it means to be a woman in a predominantly male-oriented industry, and how Duravit continues to evolve.
How long have you been working for Duravit and how did you get started in the industry?
I started my career in Sales and Sales Management and then studied Marketing. In 2001, I started in the industry in Cape Town. Duravit approached me in 2009 to start their first subsidiary in South Africa. I was of course excited, as I was very familiar with Duravit and it is a great opportunity to support an international company in its expansion. We started small, but now we are responsible for a wide territory including Kenya, Senegal, Mauritius – practically Sub Saharan Africa.
Were there any significant challenges which you as a woman had to overcome while working in this particular male-dominated industry?
You have to make sure you can understand the products from a technical point of view to hold your own in a technically orientated meeting. But on the other hand, you really see a development – there are now many more women in our industry. There are female architects, project managers, home owners, developers and investors.
Do you remember any memorable or humorous stories from the past related to the Duravit product range?
The Duravit HQ in Germany is very pro-active when it comes to launching new products, always coming up with something new, new ranges, innovations, and ideas. I remember being bowled over when I went to my first ISH. We used to have a booth of more than 1000m2 – completely fitted with new products!
It’s always fun to see customers’ reactions to our SensoWash shower toilet range – at first they think it’s a bit weird and make jokes, but after they’ve tried it, the product often speaks for itself.
That’s also what makes my job great – customers giving positive feedback, especially when they’ve installed our products and then coming back to praise us for our products. Very, very rewarding.
Looking forward to the next few years, what plans are there in place for the Duravit collection to evolve?
One of our core competencies is design. This theme will continue to be the common factor, especially in the collaborations we have in the works for 2022. In addition, there are topics such as sustainability, smart home and innovation in all respects. We can’t say much more yet, but this much: the year 2022 will be spectacular!
Product Spotlight – What is your favourite product right now and why?
Like most Duravit employees, I redefine myself here every year, as every spectacular bathroom series is followed by an even more spectacular one. This year, it’s definitely White Tulip by Philippe Starck. The series is remarkably striking at the same time, but depending on the choice of finishes and highlight products, it also fits perfectly into different ambiences – from city lofts to seaside homes.
Duravit continues to look for ways to incorporate healthy and hygienic practices into our daily lives. Can you share more on this, especially considering the social distancing world we find ourselves in now?
Our HygieneFlush flushing technology starts a new era of cleanliness. The extremely powerful flushing flow cleans the entire inner surface of the toilet perfectly, with no splashes. Two offset openings ensure that the flow is set in rotation and thus achieves optminal results. Additionally, there is HygieneGlaze, an antibacterial ceramic glaze that is sealed into the interior up to the edge of the toilet and urinal, where germs occur particularly frequently.
We also have products that work without touching – for example, the actuator plate on our SensoWash Starck f shower toilet. Many of our mirrors and mirror cabinets are also touch-free.
You have witnessed bathroom design changing frequently over the years – what’s the next evolution in Bathrooms and what’s next for Duravit?
Duravit always makes a point of not going with short-lived trends but designing products and lines that are sustainable in production and also design. We have managed this very well in the past and will continue to build on it – especially with special functions that are integrated with comfort in mind, so that the design remains in the foreground, but our products offer added value every day.
Any exciting projects that Duravit is involved with both locally and internationally?
We equipped the Belmonte residential project in Lagos with high end products like our Luv above-counter basins, freestanding bathtubs from the Starck 3 series and Happy D.2 basins.
Other exciting projects are the Radisson at Kruger Park and the Ethiopian, Moroccan and Japanese Embassy.
For more visit Duravit.www.duravit.com