The bath of tomorrow – Arthur and Louis’s degree project for Allibert – an AFISB award winner
As part of the fifth-year degree project, students undertake a strategic project for a company. In 2019, Louis Mimpontel, a fifth-year design student, collaborated with Arthur Caminade, an engineering student at ESTP in the engineer-designer stream. Together, they designed the bath of tomorrow suited to everyone’s needs for Allibert, a company specialising in bathroom design. The bath – with its blend of design and innovation – is now being sold by the brand. This innovative concept designed by the pair of students (now graduates) has just won an award from the Association Française des Industries de la Salle de Bains. They tell us more about the project.
What motivated your choice for this degree project over another?
Louis: I wanted to choose a company that met two main criteria: a project in furniture design or relating to the home, and a company capable of making my project a reality. In addition to these two criteria, the energy given off by the Allibert representatives during the call for proposals convinced me once and for all.
Arthur: Personally, my priority was to be part of a project with an emphasis on industrial design. From the shortlist of companies that met this criterion, I soon homed in on Allibert, which not only gave me the option of working on quite an emblematic object but also allowed me to work side by side with a design student from the École Supérieure de Design.
Were you obliged to work on this project with a partner, or did you choose to?
Arthur & Louis: A little of both. Early in the piece, we were advised to work in pairs on this project. We wanted to work together, as we sensed it was an opportunity for collaborative learning which would prove useful in our future professional lives.
Was the topic determined by the company at the outset, or did you arrive at it yourselves?
Arthur & Louis: It was initially put forward by the company, and we later made it our own, taking it further and incorporating our designer’s eye. We decided to become familiar with the thermoforming manufacturing process and accept its restrictions (i.e. size, shapes, materials, installation and storage), so instead of being obstacles, they would become a key aspect of our approach. At the centre of this process is a fundamental component – the mould – which would be our starting point in developing a coherent range.
We then started from two assumptions: we wash differently depending on how old we are, and the size of our bathrooms changes, with baths becoming cumbersome. Our aim was to come up with a simple object that might not only facilitate washing for everyone, from children to the elderly, but also support day-to-day cleaning and personal hygiene operations.
What were the project’s main stages?
From launch to oral presentation
Arthur & Louis: The project unfolded as planned. In the beginning, we wanted to forge ahead so the project would be as close as possible to our idea. Although both fun-loving by nature, we worked hard over the seven months, which made it possible to meet the imposed deadlines while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere.
First of all, we had a meeting at Allibert to define the project, as well as to understand their processes and how the company is run, which is crucial for the role of designer/engineer.
Then, we began to explore, producing rough sketches and looking for an innovative idea. We deliberately cast the net wide in the beginning so we wouldn’t overlook any avenues, then funnelled those avenues into a single idea. We then developed this idea before presenting it to the company.
Once our idea was approved, we began producing more detailed sketches, 3D plans and mock-ups. Initially, these were on a 1:10 scale, and later we made a full-scale mock-up from melamine board.
Finally, our concept was presented to the degree project examination board, comprising company decision-makers, our tutor and members of the school’s teaching staff.
Relations with the company
Arthur & Louis: Relations with the company were great from start to finish. We were in constant contact with company employees, whether that was with decision-makers, Jean-Charles and Stéphane, Allibert’s project manager, Augustin, or with the communication department, specifically
Pierre and Charline, who even came all the way to Grenoble to discuss the project.
Not to mention the constant presence and unwavering support of our tutor, designer Thomas Angioni.
We were thus well-supported and all on the same wavelength, which helped us immensely. We would like to thank them again here, as we know they all played an important role the project’s success.
What was the greatest challenge in this project?
Arthur & Louis: There were several:
Thermoforming of the baths, which limited our options as we had to comply with certain dimensions, angles and degrees of inclination.
The coordination required to produce a single aesthetic line for four different technical functions.
And creating the full-scale mock-up, which, despite some kind help from Louise, a third-year student, required few all-nighters!
What does a designer/engineer partnership offer in managing a project of this type?
Arthur & Louis: We think it’s the perfect fusion of two worlds – that of the dreamer and the Cartesian, the beautiful and the functional, right brain and left brain, Yin and Yang – which leads to a single, novel yet realistic idea.
What was your reaction when the company announced it was going to sell the bath you designed?
Arthur & Louis: We were convinced our project had real strength, and as our primary goal was to realise this bath, we greeted the news about the company wanting to sell our creation with pride.
Also, seeing our names in national interior design magazines alongside prestigious names like Patricia Urquiola… what more could we ask?!
Bathroom industry experts have just awarded a prize for this project – how do you feel about that?
Arthur & Louis: It’s like the icing on the cake, recognising our hard work. Now, we hope for a national and why not international
commercial success for our creation!