We continue our conversation with Starpool, the Italian leader in the wellness sector, continuing with an in-depth look at topics related to design, solutions and places dedicated to personal well-being.
In this part of the interview we focus on the combination of design and technology, on solutions designed for B2B and B2C, on services the brand provides for the contract customer, the professional architect or the private consumer.
From design consulting to technical support, product selection to costs and quotations, and all the information needed for an all-round design that ensures a perfect fit of the products within the spaces and an effective and durable installation.
Until recently, the only influencer interacting with Starpool was the architect; now the demand for information also comes from the private sector.
This is not entirely correct. At Starpool, we have always dealt with various parties, including the architect. More specifically, for projects in the business sector, we interact with architects, designers, hotel chains, owners, contractors, spa managers, companies and sports teams. Recently, the demand from the private sphere has increased, particularly after Covid, which made many people aware of the importance of taking care of themselves.
It is interesting to note the path your brand has pursued focusing on personal well-being and health, on the design of technical solutions and products for Spas and Hotels, which can now also be customised for private individuals. What started this process and what results have you achieved?
Personal wellbeing and health have always been central to the company's mission; for instance, as far back as 1975, the year the company was founded, the company's bylaws include the goal of “taking care of people's mental and physical wellbeing”.
In addition to this, attention was also given to design. We took a simple, traditional product like the Finnish sauna and revised it from an aesthetic point of view.
In conclusion, we can affirm that two different approaches are applied: the first on benefits and the second on research in the field of design, elements that have made the company stand out over the years.
What is your approach to furniture design, how do your products fit into the home space, what kind of solutions do you suggest and what is their overall dimensions?
No clear-cut answer can be given when talking about “overall volume”.
The interesting thing to point out in this historical period is that we have changed the concept: in the beginning, the customers' demand was for products, styles, designs; nowadays, the question we ask everyone is 'What are your objectives? What benefits would you like to achieve?". Even before proposing the product, we provide the customer with a wellness consultation, trying to understand how the person wishes to work on a better condition of body and mind. We start from here to suggest the type of products that are best configured to achieve that goal, also taking into account the domestic space available, and then talk about design and materials.
How do you drive demand for home wellness, from architects or the end consumer; what strategy do you apply?
We don't solicit demand, but we know the market. Especially after Covid, people have started looking for new ways to feel better for longer even in their private, domestic spaces. Starpool strongly believes in well-being as a global need for everyone, and as an example of this vision, the company exhibited at the Salone del Mobile 2023 with an entire space exclusively dedicated to Home Wellness.
What is the consulting and support service you provide for professionals and how do you relate to them? How do you guide them in selecting a product?
To simplify, we can say that there are three important actions that Starpool undertakes when dealing with an architect. The first is to understand and define the client's business model. The second is to analyse a brief made by the professional and the client where there is valuable and useful information for the development of an ad hoc project for the client. Finally, we offer the architect assistance by creating the layout of the spa, based on the client's requests and our possible solutions.
Once the project has been defined, we provide all technical information, including engineering information, and investigate the individual products in detail, starting with the technical characteristics and ending with the final estimate and cost estimate.
What technical features does an architect need to know when designing a spa environment for the home and for so-called wellness centres?
First of all, the architect must rely on professionals in the wellness sector because building and creating a spa is a complex technical process. We must be familiar with the spaces, the materials and their special features, the characteristics of the products, and the course the user must take to achieve certain benefits.
Regarding energy consumption, what are your attentions and suggestions for both B2B and B2C?
The first step is to create a sustainable design, i.e. one that is as targeted as possible to the number of people who will use the spa. Therefore, verifying the availability, the size of the useful space and the characteristics of the products are the first step to ensure proper energy savings.
We also develop sustainable products and increasingly technologically high-performance systems that provide a bridge between tradition and innovation. We create technological solutions that increase the levels of connectivity to an increasingly sophisticated yet intuitive-to-use telematics network. We develop software that reduces energy consumption and improves the operation and automation of the procedures applied.
What ‘product design’ value is found in your products and how does design capture the various lifestyles of heterogeneous audiences?
We are recognised for having a vision for the future of the industry, for being an innovator and the first to work within certain parameters.
Nowadays, the value of design is not only linked to the aesthetics of the product but also to its usefulness and functionality; no longer design as an end in itself but design linked to the use of specific materials that improve product performance. A design aimed at the maximum exploitation of the product's characteristics.
The 'Signature' collection allows products to be fully customised and provides specific solutions in addition to those in the current catalogue that are designed so that they can blend and integrate with any existing style.
How do design and technology interact?
Harmoniously combining technology, wellness and design is a daily challenge for us. It is the main goal of our entire team: engineers, designers and programmers work daily to develop the best wellness solutions, combining and integrating design, technology, innovation, quality, hygiene, comfort, reliability and durability.
Design and technology are not two separate elements and when designing a product they work together to achieve a functional and quality product. Technology is a fundamental part of the product.
How does design for B2B differ from design for B2C; is it exclusive design?
Rather than a difference in design, there is a difference in the products and materials used.
The design of a private spa is not necessarily more exclusive than the design of a public spa. Starpool has several products, some of which are more in line with the private sector and others with the business one; the only difference between them is the technology and not the design. We must also remember that even the hotel has many areas that can be considered private (e.g. saunas in guest rooms, private spas).
What kind of characteristics should the space have and what are the proposals for domestic spaces?
The characteristics of the space are not decided in advance, but the customer's environment is analysed to see which products can be installed. It is clear that you need a minimum of 50-60 square metres to be able to fit more wellness components, but not always. Products such as the Wellness Coach or the Zerobody Dry Float require much less space.
However, the approach indicated in the question is not exactly in line with the above and with the Starpool philosophy.
What are the coating materials and what role do they play?
One of the most important objectives of our R&D department is to monitor and improve the performance of materials so that they are functional in the environments where they are placed, which is particularly challenging when heat and humidity come into play. Therefore, selecting the most suitable ones, capable of guaranteeing the best aesthetic performance and durability of all our wellness solutions, is essential for us.
For example, saunas are made of wood and it is important to select the most suitable type depending on the use and the different components. For wet cabins, on the other hand, one always tries to use materials with very large formats to reduce the number of joints. One does not only consider the aesthetic factor but also the healthiness of the environment, the cabins must be practical to maintain, to clean and to limit the proliferation of bacteria.
The choice of wood as a natural material: how does it fit in with the approach to people's mental and physical well-being?
Wood is chosen primarily because it has the most suitable characteristics for sauna construction. It is an important insulator and has a low degree of thermal conductivity so that people can sit inside a sauna without burning themselves.
Furthermore, wood is a natural material that stimulates serotonin production through essences, scents and aromas.