When he saw a CURAPROX toothbrush for the first time, he considered it as a hidden treasure that deserved the finest colours. Max Wettach, Curaden’s designer and Head of Communication, explains why the design of the iconic toothbrush hasn’t changed for almost forty years.
CEO of Curaden, Ueli Breitschmid, said that it was your idea to make the CURAPROX toothbrushes colourful. Were you also part of the team that designed the first iconic CURAPROX toothbrush?
Actually no, I wasn’t. Ueli originally asked me to design a new catalogue. At that time, the CS toothbrushes were inconspicuously reserved in their design – it was as though they were a hidden treasure. For me personally, I found it comparable to the Cinderella fairy tale – it was obvious that we needed to give these brushes attractive colours so as to bring them to life. The toothbrush was originally designed by developer Noldi Braun, focused on high functionality with minimal form: “As little design as possible”, in the words of famous designer Dieter Rams.
How has the design of CURAPROX toothbrushes changed in the last 40 years?
The design has remained practically unchanged. The only thing we worked hard on was the bristle technology. Some time ago we made a small design change at the end of the handle, and the slightly bevelled surface is now marked with a Swiss cross, but the base hasn’t changed.
You are a designer, but also Head of Communication. What does your usual day look like?
I have been working closely with Ueli Breitschmid for almost 30 years. Every day we spend a lot of time together. We analyse, advise and inspire each other. The cooperation with our marketing team is also very important to me, not to forget our brand management and our product management. We all meet regularly in meetings. Another important part of the day is working with my team in the Curaden Brand Center. There are countless tasks waiting to be resolved.
What is Curaden Brand Center? How big is your team?
The Curaden Brand team’s field of activity is very extensive: from advertising to photos, magazines, catalogues, packaging and much more. We also support the brands with the appropriate strategies. We are currently working as a team of six employees and one trainee: Thomas Bolliger (AD), Fabienne Scherrer, Fabienne Schmutz, Norbert Brunner, Lucas Guidetti and myself, and our trainee pupil Julian Eigenmann.
“The design has remained practically unchanged. The only thing we worked hard on was the bristle technology.”
Curaden is a fast growing company with a worldwide presence. Under these circumstances it is not easy to keep a brand compact and strong. How do you manage it?
The markets are changing rapidly. In the past, our partners across the world have indeed worked very autonomously, and in some cases developed their own strategies, but only strong brands can survive in this increasingly difficult market environment so it was vital that our strategy needed to be more focused and more strongly controlled.
This is a daily collaboration with many specialised teams – in Switzerland, but also abroad with our partners. My constant goal is to have a vibrant brand and properly designed products. At the end of the day there has to be a brand that you can trust. I love this work and, to be honest, I am proud of what we have achieved with this small team in recent years.
“My constant goal is to have a vibrant brand and properly designed products.”
Can you explain the process of developing CURAPROX products?
Our CEO Ueli Breitschmid is still an important influencing factor for our design language. Unlike in the past, we are now a large development team and always have to think about the manufacturing processes. We want to produce as much as possible in Switzerland, so it’s very important to have costs under control. Chief Operations Officer Marco Zavaloni, with his knowledge, is able to keep an eye on the costs so it’s a big help.
How do you choose the colours for the brushes and other products?
There are many concerns. I try to choose colours that appeal to a wide audience, and the colours must always match and give a harmonious overall picture – another reason why I’m always watching trends. And one little secret in advance: this year we will produce a surprising new CS toothbrush collection with 12 breathtaking colours. Not only will the colours be a surprise, but also the feel of the surface.
Do you think people buy CURAPROX toothbrushes because of the design, without sometimes knowing their health benefits?
I’m sure there are a few. Who hasn’t bought a bottle of wine just because the label was beautifully designed? However, I am sure that most people want to buy a product that optimally supports their oral health.
Many people try to copy the CURAPROX design, how do you fight counterfeit products?
Coco Chanel was very relaxed in this matter, and famously said: “For me, imitation means success”. This is true, and there is no success that is not imitated in some way. We do our best – today, products are copied overnight, all successful companies are confronted with this circumstance, and without specialised experts and corresponding costs this battle cannot be won.
What is the product you can’t imagine your day without?
In addition to our CS 5460 toothbrush, there are fantastic Muji pencils. They accompany me through the day.
What is your favourite colour combination of the CURAPROX brush?
Oh, it’s hard to say. There are so many! Perhaps unusual for men, but I often prefer a pink toothbrush.
Max Wettach is the chief communication officer and designer of Curaden. In 1987 he founded his own design studio, and in the mid–1990s he started to cooperate with Curaden. He joined the company’s headquarters in 2016. Since then he has been coordinating the communication and brand team and working on the design of the product portfolio. Max is interested in many topics, such as literature, art, design, health and music. However, his real obsession is reading and collecting international magazines, such as Tyler Brûlé’s Monocle.
Photography by Lousy Auber