GLOBAL NETWORK WITH LOCAL SERVICES - 125 YEARS OF KERAMIK LAUFEN

Keramik Laufen has been producing superior quality products in the town of Laufen in the Swiss canton of Baselland for 125 years. Starting life as a tile and brick factory, it has gradually evolved into an international company and fixture in the world of bathroom design.

The company Tonwarenfabrik Laufen AG was originally founded on 4 July 1892 by Joseph Gerster-Roth, Johann Spillmann and Albert Borer at the Lamm Tavern in Laufen. Laufen's location was a key factor in the decision to found the company. The region's natural clay deposits, the hydroelectric power station, access to the railway and years of working with clay made it the perfect location to start the successful manufacture of tiles and bricks.

Guido Gerster, director and board member of the Tonwarenfabrik Laufen company, was behind the move to found the “AG für keramische Industrie Laufen” company on 25 November 1925, thus establishing the first and, to date, only Swiss ceramics company producing ceramics for the domestic bathroom market.

Keramik Laufen took its first steps onto the international scene in 1952, building a factory producing wall and floor tiles in Campo Largo, Brazil. Today, the company has production facilities in Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Over the years, Keramik Laufen has launched many pioneering innovations, such as the pressure casting method, which revolutionised industrial production, or more recently SaphirKeramik, which set new trends in bathroom design. Just as important at Keramik Laufen are the constant developments in design:

In 1989/1990, Laufen introduced the first design collection developed with the Porsche Design Group with a press release headed “The bathroom that’s a PORSCHE”. Since that time, Keramik Laufen has regularly created exceptional bathroom concepts in collaboration with renowned designers.

The group underwent a restructuring in the 1990s to refocus its core business on bathroom ceramics. Roca took over Keramik Holding AG in 1999. This transaction created the world’s second largest supplier of sanitary ware. One of the world’s oldest faucet makers, Similor AG, which owns the arwa, Similor Kugler and Sanimatic brands, joined the Roca Group in 2007. In 2009, the company moved to the newly constructed factory in Laufen. Similor’s move to Laufen allowed the group to bring together elements that naturally belong together: superior bathroom ceramics and faucets for bathrooms and kitchens. 

MILESTONES IN THE COMPANY HISTORY OF LAUFEN

2017

In 2017, Keramik Laufen AG celebrates its 125th anniversary.

2013

With the development of SaphirKeramik, Laufen once again breaks new ground and sets new trends in bathroom design. SaphirKeramik allows bathroom ceramics to be designed with extremely thin yet robust walls and finely-defined curves of only 1-2 mm, blowing the 7-8 mm that was previously considered state-of-the-art out of the water. The first SaphirKeramik collection is designed by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, marking the birth of Kartell by Laufen.

2009

The LAUFEN Forum exhibition building opens its doors. In addition, Similor’s headquarters and production are moved to Laufen. This was the last step in the process of making Laufen the Swiss hub for professional bathrooms.

2007

Roca buys Similor SA, Switzerland's oldest faucet factory, with its arwa, Similor Kugler and Sanimatic brands.

2002

With the launch of “Tam Tam” in 2002, Keramik Laufen introduces the first free-standing washbasin to be cast in one piece. The washbasin is part of the ILBAGNOALESSI One design line by Stefano Giovannoni.

1999

Keramik Laufen joins the ROCA Group, becoming part of the world's leading company in bathroom furnishings and ceramics.

1997

Between 1992 and 1997, the company falls into debt as a result of acquisitions, prompting a long-needed restructuring. 

1990

Keramik Laufen places a greater focus on design innovations with Porsche Design the first international name to be drafted in.

1982

In October 1982, the pressure casting process developed by Keramik Laufen is showcased to the public for the first time at the international CERAMITEC trade fair in Munich. This technology sets new standards for the bathroom industry.

1973

Excerpt from the company magazine Brennpunkt: “In the afternoon of 18 August, shortly before 3pm, a fire broke out in the floor tile factory belonging to the Tonwarenfabrik Laufen AG company. Most of the factory was completely burnt down...”

1970

Keramik Holding AG Laufen is founded. Creating a holding company had become necessary to respond to the individual companies’ diverse requirements and to manage their organisational structure appropriately.

1967

LAUFEN acquires Vienna-based OESPAG (Österreichische Sanitär-Keramik und Porzellanindustrie AG) with its two Austrian sites in Gmunden and Wilhelmsburg. 

1952

The AG für keramische Industrie Laufen company rapidly constructs a plant in Campo Largo, a suburb of the metropolitan region of Curitiba in Brazil, to also produce wall and floor tiles in Brazil in the future. The company is registered as INCEPA S.A.

1949

After WWII, a large part of the Swiss Federal Railways’ network (SBB) is to be electrified. The production of electroceramics, especially isolators, begins in Laufen to supply the SBB.

1938

Following the production of wall tiles, the production of floor tiles commences. The stoneware floor tile factory is built in Laufen, creating new jobs in a difficult economic environment.

1934

Tonwarenfabrik Laufen builds a factory to produce wall tiles and stoneware. This greatly benefits the construction industry, particularly during WWII (1938–1945) when Switzerland was unable to import goods of any kind for a long period of time.

1931-33

The “AG für keramische Industrie Laufen” company develops a new porcelain-like product called KILVIT. It is harder than fire clay with a completely white and waterproof body. KILVIT is an acronym created from the initials of the words K (Keramische) I (Industrie) L (Laufen) und VIT (Vitreous China), where “Keramische” means ceramic.

1925

The “AG für keramische Industrie Laufen” company was founded on 26 November 1925 on the instructions of Guido Gerster, director and board member of Tonwarenfabrik Laufen. For the first time, the company uses fire clay to produce sinks and basins.

1924

The boom of the golden twenties brings about a period of intense construction in Switzerland. A third kiln is introduced in Laufen. Having previously taken 170 hours, firing now takes just 40 hours thanks to the new tunnel kiln. In 1924, Tonwarenfabrik Laufen’s share capital is increased to CHF 1 million.

1905

A factory canteen is set up for the new factory, providing a nourishing meal for employees for just 40 centimes.

1898

Demand for products is so high that a second factory has to be built. The factory, which went into operation in 1898, mainly produced extruded interlocking tiles and beavertail roof tiles, as well as drainage pipes.

1892

On 4 July 1892, “Tonwarenfabrik Laufen” is founded by Albert Borer, Johann Spillmann and Joseph Gerster-Roth, and starts producing tiles and bricks.