Vola’s factory in Horsens, Denmark, opened its doors to architects, specifiers and media for the 2017 Rising Architecture Week in September. The Danish tapware and accessories brand took groups on guided tours through the factory, where they learnt about the design and manufacturing processes behind products such as the renowned Vola HV1 tap.
Rising Architecture Week focused on how architecture and construction can help solve future societal challenges. Torben Madsen, head of design at Link Arkitektur and a designer of Vola products since 2006, gave a talk on sustainability at the Vola Academy.
“We don’t need any more [products] that we throw away in a few years. We need products that last, and that bring us pleasure,” he said. “The small things [in design] are very important … it’s part of making a classic product, one that you really believe in. We don’t just say [it’s good enough], we’ll leave it like that and make a new one in two or three years. It has to be made with good materials, it has to be made with feelings … we want to make products that last for a very long time.”
Marketing director Birthe Tofting explained that Vola is working to counter “throw-away-ism.” She said the family-owned company delivers spare parts for Vola taps that are forty or fifty years old. And every time a technical improvement is introduced, it is designed in such a way that the older generation of taps can be upgraded.
The first Vola tap, the HV1, was designed in 1968 by Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen for the National Bank of Denmark, and it is still being specified today. It’s unusual for a tapware and accessories brand to only offer one line after almost fifty years in production, but that’s what Vola prides itself on. Each addition to the line is based on the “DNA” of Arne Jacobsen’s original designs for the brand, and new products are only introduced when the design team is confident that they’ve created another classic.
Vola’s mixers, taps and accessories are made from solid brass and gunmetal, with a few components in stainless steel. All valve housings are made using dezincification-resistant brass.
The production line is based on “lean” principles of manufacturing and each tap is built to order. Vola explains that by favouring one-off production over mass production, it can produce accurate bends and perfectly polished metal. Before packing, each tap is individually tested by hand. Vola is certified according to the quality standards ISO 9001, ISO 14001 (environment) and ISO 18001 (work environment).