design Case:  a Longstanding innovator in the home

Robin Levien (640px)

Above: Robin Levien, co-founder of Studio Levien. Image copyright: Studio Levien.

Studio Levien is a small UK product design company, with long-term relationships with many of its clients, including a three-decade partnership with the US company, Ideal Standard.

London-based Studio Levien specialises in products for the bathroom and tabletop industries that combine creativity, craft and technology with an in-depth understanding of manufacturing processes and the marketplace.

Robin Levien, who co-founded the company with his partner and wife, Patricia Stainton, says the studio's work on bathroom products for Ideal Standard "completely changed the rules at the fighting end of the market with the Studio range designed in the 1980s.

"This was followed by the highly innovative Space range for small bathrooms which again revolutionised the bathroom market. The Concept range was launched in 2008 on the day that Lehman brothers went down, fortunately it has gone on to be a best seller across all major European markets.

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Above: The innovative Space range created for small bathrooms by Studio Levien for Ideal Standard. Image credit: Ideal Standard. 

"Our clients are leaders in the domestic products field from all over the world and we collaborate with them to create functional, affordable and beautiful products."

The ‘Trend’ range of porcelain tableware for Rosenthal Thomas is recognized worldwide as one of the most successful designs of the last quarter century with annual retail sales of approximately £20m. Through the studio's work with Ideal Standard one in seven homes in the UK has a Studio Levien design in the bathroom.

The Concept range for Ideal Standard has quickly become a big success across the whole of Europe, having got off to a great start by being specified for the Olympic Village.

Other hits have included a successful tableware ranges for Villeroy & Boch in Germany and five full ranges of tableware for Portuguese restaurant porcelain company Costa Verde. Work for Costa Verde has also included the company’s identity and exhibition stands at major trade fairs.

Studio Levien has also had a long collaboration with Fratelli Guzzini in Italy in particular developing the pioneering combination of plastic handles fixed to porcelain. 

Levien says: "The main reason that the UK is the premier location for design is because we still have the best design education in the world. London in particular is a great place to run a design studio because the most talented young designers who we want to employ want to live in London. When we set up the studio in Southwark 14 years ago the area was predicted by Time Out magazine to become London’s new creative quarter, it has been exciting to see this come true."

Asked to nominate an innovative UK designer, Levien picks Goodwin Hartshorn, a young design studio run by Oxford and Cambridge graduates Edward Goodwin and Richard Hartshorn.

Levien explains: "They are engineers who met on the Industrial Design Engineering course at the RCA. I worked with them at Ideal Standard on the development of their idea for a highly innovative ‘anti-splash’ urinal. They have recently won the ‘Technology of the Year’ award in the Icon Awards 2013 for their child vision glasses. They are a perfect example of engineers becoming industrial designers as intended by the IDE course at the RCA. I expect to see many more great designs from Goodwin Hartshorn."

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