Joy in technology
Jasmin Jouhar: These days our lives are mobile and interconnected. We listen to music via wireless speakers and watch movies on our smartphones. So what place does the humble television have in this world?
Mark Hüsges: What you’re describing is mobile usage of entertainment electronics on personal devices. The television, in contrast to this, has its justified place in the home. After all, the home cinema experience with the whole family can only be enjoyed with an actual television. Anyone who has watched television on a tablet in bed will know that it can quickly become tiresome. The important thing to remember is that the television can also be an extension of mobile devices. It’s no longer the standalone appliance it was before.
The essence of a television tends to remain fairly unchanged, yet the average price per device is rising. What is Loewe’s position in this environment?
Mark Hüsges: Of course there are very many households in Germany that can’t afford to buy a television. Growth comes about mainly through technological innovations, such as streaming. Where does the content come from and how is it consumed? How do people integrate the television into their network at home? That’s why, at Loewe, audio is becoming ever more important. The speaker is also taking over ever more tasks, for example with spoken commands that provide assistance with everyday life.
At the IFA in Berlin, you’re appearing under the slogan “Mensch im Mittelpunkt,” and are thus putting the “focus on people.” What does that mean exactly?
Mark Hüsges: We design devices and functions so that customers can handle them too. We don’t overwhelm them with too many technological possibilities, but rather are guided by actual use. This way, we put the joy back into technology. That’s something we achieve, for example, with central controls, which integrate all devices and functions: I don’t want to have five remote controls sitting in front of me and then not know which of the many buttons I have to press. One remote is enough.
Do people actually want their homes to be interconnected in this way?
Mark Hüsges: That’s where we need to differentiate between the idea of the smart home, in which everything is interconnected, and the networked entertainment platform at home. That’s what we focus on. Nevertheless, combining smartphones or streaming services conveniently with hardware platforms is far from the market standard, but it’s something Loewe is good at. Naturally we’re also working on the next step – the smart home. Yet here, we always place the customer at the heart of what we do: We don’t just want things to be interconnected for the sake of it, but because it’s useful to the customer.
Bodo Sperlein: Other brands are strongly focused on the smart home. I think some Loewe customers perhaps don’t want to expose so much data, so Loewe leaves it up to customers whether they want their devices to be networked or not. Other brands don’t even offer that choice. Loewe doesn’t sell its products in order to gather data.
Is Loewe a luxury brand?
Mark Hüsges: We see ourselves as a premium company but we don’t want to be an exclusive luxury brand. We want to bring people affordable luxury with desirable products: cutting-edge technology as part of an object that is haptically and visually appealing and that fits perfectly into the home environment.
Bodo Sperlein: The important thing for me is that Loewe creates added value through design. We were once referred to as “technology with soul,” which I really liked. We want customers to feel comfortable with the devices in their homes. It’s no secret that people are a bit embarrassed by their televisions and try to hide them.
Mark Hüsges: We place great emphasis on supplying our own solutions for positioning the television in the home. A stand for the sideboard, an attachment for wall-mounting – we offer all these things to match the appliances. Customers can choose and are able to adapt the products to their needs, even after purchase.
What place do the appliances have in terms of home furnishings?
Bodo Sperlein: I’m often asked if the television is dead. That is hardly the case, since studies show that it is the second most frequently purchased product for the home, after beds. For me, it is undoubtedly part of the furniture.
Mark Hüsges: I think there are different ways of looking at it. We offer classic mounting solutions for the television, but we also have types of stands that are very like items of furniture. These turn the appliances into a homely piece of furniture that I’m happy to display. In any case, our products are certainly eye-catching.
At the IFA you’re introducing the Bild 5 television model in a special edition with a colored stand, available in rosé, yellow and gray-blue.
Bodo Sperlein: Loewe’s design language is beautiful and timeless – it has a certain neutrality. The appliances work as well in a period home as they do in a super-modern penthouse, and that’s why we’re always having discussions about whether or not we dare use color – but why not? It provides inspiration; we set trends. When I began working for Loewe I tried to make the television a unisex product, because the industry presented the appliances in a very masculine way back then. Now some manufacturers photograph their products in a pink-colored setting – something that would have been inconceivable five years ago.