Danish tap manufacturer Vola has just turned 50, but its sleek products, originally designed by no other than the country’s most celebrated architect, Arne Jacobsen, show no sign of getting old. Some of the company’s earliest products are still fully operational today – most notably Jacobsen’s iconic KV1 tap, which combines simple lines with innovative function.
The brand owes much of its timeless appeal to its dedicated staff, based at the Vola factory near Horsens in Denmark, where a warm welcome and a sense of team spirit prevail. Machinists, designers, apprentices, metalworkers and managers of all ages and generations meet around the table, just like a family at dinner time. Each bring with them a unique personality and dedication to the Vola design values of attention to detail and longevity.
This is apparent in The Home of Vola, the latest in a series of short films by the Danish brand to mark its 50th anniversary. Take a seat at the Vola table, and meet Hans, who has been working at Vola for over 40 years, and has seen the family grow from 30 to 230 people. His colleague Brian, who has been working at Vola for 12 years, describes Vola as a ‘little universe’ – because when you join the Vola family, you won’t want to leave.
Like the rest of the Vola team, Hans and Brian will ensure they continue to pass down the skills essential to their trade to the next generation of craftsmen and women. The company has also set up the Vola Academy to train the younger team members, who are first taught to brush and polish metal by hand. This grounding in craftsmanship enables traditional design to be combined with contemporary innovation.
Vola’s extended family includes a myriad of creative around the world. For example, the brand has collaborated with Sue Carr of Carr Design Group who has specified Vola for over 40 years. The Melbourne-based interior designer has included the company’s fittings in many of her projects, and shares the brand’s focus on functionality, proportion and detailing: ‘Vola tapware is a design classic. It’s simplicity in form and function,’ she says. ‘Its simple lines and its durability are testament to the enduring value of good design.’
Also featured in the anniversary celebrations are snapshots of architectural projects showcasing Vola’s signature pared-down designs, including Christoffersen & Weiling’s Casa Spodsbjerg on the Danish coast, where Vola fittings complement a limited palette of light-coloured Douglas pine surfaces; and a minimalist villa in Copenhagen, formerly owned by Danish design icon Poul Henningsen and renovated by Norm Architects. There, a bold Vola 590M tap in natural brass sits at the centre of the grey ceramic stone kitchen island.
Designed to help life run smoothly and meet the demands of a busy home – where kettles are filled and refilled all morning, children’s hands washed after a painting session, and sinks crammed with pots after a spot of baking, Vola taps are sculptural additions that can transform the most humble space into the heart of the home. Expertly made in Denmark by the brand’s tight-knit team, Vola products are sure to be at the centre of family life for generations to come.
Find inspiration in the warmth and simplicity of Danish design by exploring Vola’s minimalist fittings on Instagram and Pinterest
As creative partnerships go, there are few so serendipitously creative as the one between Verner Overgaard, the founder of Danish bathroom hardware specialist Vola, and one of Denmark’s most beloved sons, the architect Arne Jacobsen.
In 1968, the two unveiled to an unsuspecting world the ‘111’, a revolutionary wall-mounted mixer tap in which all the functional parts were hidden behind the wall, exposing only the brass of a streamlined handle and slender spout.
Since then, the ‘111’ has been installed in the bathrooms and toilets of homes, offices and public buildings all over the world, lending even the most quotidian setting an instant jolt of sophistication.
What’s more, its sleek silhouette is still instantly recognisable for the simple reason that Jacobsen’s original design has stayed remarkably constant in the intervening five decades – a quality of sustained individuality that, not surprisingly, has made both the tap and the Vola brand such a favourite with architects and designers.
“Homes are places of calm and for people with frantic schedules and for this client, their London home is a sanctuary from incessant travelling. The design is clear, considered, intelligent and relaxed - Vola in the bathrooms reflects this attitude with perfect functionality.”
My Vola collaboration
Fiona Naylor, Johnson Naylor
Bathroom 5401-061A and 111 in Matt Black
Kitchen: 590 in Matt Black
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It helps too that because the ‘111’ is the centrepiece, if not foundation, of a flexible modular design system which is only made to order in Vola’s factory, it lends itself easily to what the brand describes as ‘infinite possibilities’ of personalisation.
In most other contexts, such a statement would smack of hyperbole, but because of the sheer quality of Vola’s manufacturing process and its commitment to sustaining Jacobsen’s aesthetics, the ‘111’ more than stands up to the billing.
“Interior design is an intimate reflection of the way we live. What we choose to surround ourselves with can make an already responsive architectural space even more interactive and in tune with our sensory needs. For an art collector’s house in Beverly Hills, we wanted the master bath suite to be a beautiful, well-appointed retreat. T39 – sculptural in quality and the ultimate in luxury – was the obvious finishing touch.”
My Vola collaboration
Ron Radziner, Marmol Radziner
Master Bathroom: T39, SC10 and 590 in Polished Chrome
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Since every product is made to order – astonishingly, often within a day of receipt of the order – the factory keeps nothing in stock. Every handle, plate and spout can be changed and customised to spec. Each piece is selected and finished from a base palette of 14 colours, alongside a spectrum of darker metallic hues – a godsend for any designer, especially one with an indecisive client.
Even more remarkable is that the ‘111’ remains a truly contemporary modular system, its resistance to dating the result of a careful curation and conservation over the years of the creative process. Interchangeable parts are still available for every single Vola product ever made, which means that design models dating from the 1960s can still, incredibly, be specified today.
In every way, Vola represents the very best, if not timelessness, of Danish design. In fact, the unique quality of the ‘111’ modular system owes much to the individuality and durability that sit at the heart of the brand – dual aspects of an aspiration that, as it turns out, has also long defined us at Wallpaper*.