The company’s story begins in 1980 with the creation of rubber ice trays, followed by a wealth of other silicone-based kitchen products. But it was in 2005 that the company saw a major turning point with the incorporation of new capital and a new management team, headed by Xavier Costa and four designers, the latter supervised by Luki Huber, who has collaborated with Ferrán Adriá. Lékué went from manufacturing products for other brands to becoming a pioneering, leading brand in its own right in this sector.
Over the years, the design management company Nomon Design, which collaborates regularly with Lékué, has played a key role in the graphic identity of the latter, designing everything from the firm’s corporate image and packaging to visual merchandising in its many retail outlets.
Since 2005, Lékué has produced over 197 innovative products, which have revolutionised kitchen equipment the world over. These ideas both meet new social needs and constantly promote a philosophy of cooking as easy, practical and fun.
Today Lékué is a highly successful company. It employs 90 people, exports its products to over 40 countries, mainly to the EU, Russia and Japan, and has an annual turnover of 15 million Euros. In Japan, in the last year alone, Lékué sold half a million products.
We visited the Lékué stand at recent Paris design fair Maison & Objet, where we took the opportunity to chat to the company’s director, Xavier Costa, who filled us in more about the brand and its evolution.
Interiors From Spain: What are the main new products you’ve launched this year so far?
Lékué: In 2011 so far, Lékué has launched over 19 new products for its baking and cooking lines. These are designed so that both the youngest members of a household and adults can share the excitement of creating their own recipes in a more original way for special occasions. These products include moulds used to create Easter eggs or bunnies to suit anyone’s personal taste and moulds to create number-shaped lollipops and 3D lollipops.
Lékué takes a serious interest in healthy eating with its innovative products which introduce kitchens all over the world to new techniques of cooking by steam. An example of this is our Steam Roaster – this steamer allows you to roast food, too: you can use this to cook different ingredients at the same time and to enjoy food that’s steamed yet has a roasted texture. This is a truly revolutionary product, as is our special case for steaming (which recalls the French technique of papillote – steaming inside a paper package) and Fresh Bag (suitable for both cooking and storing food in the fridge or freezer to keep it fresh).
Lékué is also innovative in terms of creating utensils which surprise guests at very special occasions. This applies particularly to our new ice tray called Ice Cube, which allows users to create totally square ice cubes which give a chic twist to cocktails anyone can rustle up at home.
IFS: Can you let us know about any business news – new target markets, product lines and any forthcoming challenges and projects?
Lékué: Lékué’s products are currently distributed in over 40 countries in all five continents. These products adapt well to different gastronomic cultures of the entire word – and allow cookery fans to share their recipes with Lékué.
A good example of this cross-cultural exchange is Lékué’s first book, De Barcelona a Tokio en Boca de Todos (meaning From Barcelona to Tokyo in everyone’s mouths), in which users of the steaming case from around the world explain their favourite recipes and cooking tips to improve dishes. One of its main objectives is for this to reach homes all over the globe and to demonstrate the pleasure they can derive from home-cooking. To this end, this year one of Lékué’s main aims is to raise its profile in Asia. Lékué also senses that there’s the potential to do the same in the US, Brazil and other countries.
IFS: What’s the creative process at Lékué? How does the company spot new uses and needs which necessitate new gadgets which hadn’t occurred to anyone else before? How do you put together your team of in-house designers?
Lékué: As a company Lékué stands out for creating different, highly original products. One of its main working methods is to hold creative workshops organised by one of our main designers, Luki Huber. Taking different concepts as a starting point, these lead to the development of a whole raft of ideas which, as a consequence of a particular creative process result in ideas for innovative objects and products. The workshops seek out the creativity generated by groups whereby a large amount of hours of work can be achieved in less time by pooling together many people’s thoughts. What’s more, Lékué works with a group of in-house designers and collaborates with some external designers such as Edda Design and Compeixalaigua Designstudio. The latter designed one of Lékué’s most revolutionary products: its steamer which also roasts food.
IFS: What’s the secret of Lékué’s success? How do you see off competition, especially in Asia, in the market you operate in?
Lékué: Lékué arouses new emotions to the consumer. Its ideas make people smile in the kitchen, thanks to their designs (their funky colours and forms), as well as other factors: the way they allow for speedy cooking, are safe to use and make day-to-day cooking practical. What’s more, Lékué’s products invest in helping people to cook healthier food in order to make our lives healthier and to encourage them to make a special effort over every recipe. The design, features and functionality makes our products stand out from others on the market.
Lékué sees off its competitors thanks to its use of a very high quality material (100 per cent Platinum Silicone), which ensures that food cooked using it is wholesome and hygienic. It’s also resistant and adaptable to heat. Until Lékué began using this type of silicone, it had only been used in a medical context, for example for the teats on baby’s bottles.
Another distinguishing feature of Lékué is the fact that it invests heavily in good design, making it a pioneering company in this respect. Its designs are unique and have utterly unique advantages. Thanks to these attributes, it has garnered a number of prestigious international prizes such as Japan’s Good Design Award, the Trends 2009 prize at Frankfurt’s gifts and tableware fair, Ambiente, the CECOT 2010 prize for the most international business and the Premio Innovación (Innovation Prize) of 2010 awarded by Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce.
IFS: What new design trends do you see emerging – and more specifically in the world of kitchen design?
Lékué: When talking about trends in the kitchen, it helps to mention two main types of customer: people who take the idea of making healthy food on a day-to-day basis seriously, and those who look for innovative culinary ideas for special occasions related to our baking line of products. When it comes to healthy cooking, what we’ve noticed is that increasingly people have less time to prepare dishes but greater concern for a healthy diet. People tend to put great store by practicality, functionality and speedy cooking in the kitchen. Yet they don’t want to lose out either on the pleasure of enjoying delicious and healthy recipes. As for our baking products, consumers are looking for new experiences to create surprising dishes tailored to people’s personal tastes. People also yearn to spend quality time with their children, sharing moments with them that are both playful and educational. Lékué’s idea Time for Baking offers just such an experience – family leisure time spent cooking, whereby both children and adults can follow easy recipes which absolutely everyone can make.
Finally, people now want to cook in a way that’s pleasurable and which allows them to try out quick, easy recipes which delight both our own palates and those of others.