Thomas Gerig: “Badu is the first bathtub you can really relax in.”

Designer Thomas Gerig
For burgbad, designer Thomas Gerig created the Badu bathtub with the perfect angle of inclination.
1. July 2021

Listen carefully and analyse what customers and users really want and need – that’s exactly what designer Thomas Gerig and his team did for burgbad. The result of the needs and product study is the Badu freestanding bathtub. Freestanding baths are a trend among bathroom planners and customers alike. But what’s special about Badu is its patented ergonomic reclining position. And that means Badu can help many a bathing fan satisfy their desire to relax properly while soaking in the tub.

burgbad magazin: What role does the bathtub play in the bathroom?

Thomas Gerig: The bathroom isn’t primarily a status symbol. It’s fine for it to be impressive too, of course, but first and foremost it should serve its users. According to the burgbad study, the average user spends about 40 minutes a day in the bathroom. Whereas the main benefit of the shower is that it cleans and refreshes, the bath meets the need for relaxation, as well as relieving pain and stress.

burgbad magazin: You developed a freestanding tub for burgbad – is it actually possible to reinvent the bath?

Thomas Gerig: Basically, it’s never possible to reinvent an existing product. However, you can listen afresh and very carefully to what users’ needs are. We did that by conducting a study in which we asked 450 people in Germany about their bathroom habits and rituals. It emerged that 80% of homeowners have installed both a shower and a bathtub. That circumstance means the bath can be relieved of its dual function – showering AND bathing – and be focused entirely on the key need for relaxation instead.

“Badu is the first bathtub in which you can really relax, enjoy bathing and submerge yourself all the way up to your shoulders.”

burgbad magazin: So does a bath meant for relaxation have to meet different criteria?

Thomas Gerig: Yes, because originally conventional tubs weren’t designed for bathing at all, but for washing while sitting down. But you can’t relax in them. The flat floor, steep walls and smooth surface simply don’t allow you to adopt a relaxed reclining position. The neck is supported by the rim of the tub, which means it’s impossible to get your shoulders deep enough into the tub to submerge them, and as an extra precaution you have to bend your knees to make sure your bottom doesn’t slip forwards.

It’s the sloped backrest of a tub that determines how relaxing it is to bathe in.A sense of relaxation only sets in when the backrest has the perfect angle – as with the Badu tub from burgbad: the buoyancy of warm water changes the reclining position when the tub is full.

burgbad magazin: How important is it to find the perfect angle of slope for the backrest if you want bathing to be a relaxing experience?

Thomas Gerig: As we continued working on our concept for burgbad, we thought about the fact that everybody sits on two ischial tuberosities, or sit bones as they’re commonly called, and that they’re always more or less the same size in any adult – regardless of body type. Based on that insight, we conducted a great many experiments to explore the ergonomic shape of the tub and came up with the ideal angles of inclination.

A tub for relaxing in: the ergonomically shaped tub from burgbad’s Badu series
Form follows function: the shape of the Badu tub was determined by the angles of inclination required for the ideal reclining position.

burgbad magazin: So what exactly is it that makes Badu so special?

Thomas Gerig: Badu is the first bathtub in which you can really relax, enjoy bathing and submerge yourself all the way up to your shoulders. During the development phase, a very special effect became apparent. If the sit bones are lying in the indentation in the floor of the tub, you can relax completely. Because the legs aren’t fixing the body in place and don’t have to stop you slipping, they can float in the water – it’s a unique sensation.

I regard a product like a bathtub as a tool: the design ought to serve the human user. If it enables people to achieve optimal relaxation, we’ve accomplished our goal. Many of the people who took part in the study associate the way they’ve been used to taking a bath up until now with unpleasant aspects like not being able to get their shoulders or knees under the water, with the result that they get cold, or with tension in the neck and legs. During the test phase, the development team bathed in the prototype in our workshop, which wasn’t just very enlightening, it was quite amusing as well.

“Badu embodies the approach of paring something down to what really matters and allowing that essence to shine with poetic beauty.”

burgbad magazin: What material is Badu made of?

Thomas Gerig: Badu is made of mineral cast: the material is durable, has good heat storage properties, very good damping properties, permits good soundproofing, has good chemical and mechanical stability, and you don’t have to worry about corrosion. What’s more, mineral cast is eco-friendly and can be recycled.

burgbad magazin: Why did you choose an organic design language for Badu, with no edges or corners?

Thomas Gerig: As is mostly the case with simple, sustainable design, form follows function in Badu’s case as well. Its shape was determined by the angles of inclination required for the ideal reclining position. The lower section of the bath references an archetypal tub. The curve of the integrated handrail that runs round the rim of the bath is based on the palm of the hand. And the rim is lower on one side, which makes the tub safer to get in and out of and underscores its inviting, shell-like shape – a look that’s accentuated even more by the variant with a smooth inner side and matt outer side. Badu embodies the approach of paring something down to what really matters and allowing that essence to shine with poetic beauty.

burgbad magazin: Did you think about aspects like maintenance and ease of installation as well?

Thomas Gerig: When I talk about users’ needs, I mean the people who will be installing the product as well. So it was important to me not to put unnecessary obstacles in the fitters’ way. That’s why we designed the bath in such a way that it’s easy to position in the bathroom; the connections are fitted via an opening on the back, which is then closed with an inconspicuous cover. As a result, the tub is quick and easy to install – and just as simple to service. The cover is integrated into the design so that it’s unobtrusive. And besides the usual adjustable feet for concrete subfloors, there’s an optional levelling plate for difficult surfaces as well. And it goes without saying that the tub is extremely steady too.

About Thomas Gerig:

Thomas Gerig is a Swiss inventor, innovation manager and industrial designer, as well as owner and founder of Gerig Design AG.After training as a typography and advertising designer and an apprenticeship as a joiner, he studied construction engineering, communication design, marketing, management and vocational education, as well as industrial design and innovation, graduating from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – School of Engineering and Architecture.He founded Gerig Design AG in 1993.

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