Smart features are now regularly being incorporated into the modern bathroom and, with this in mind, Commercial Interior Design speaks to leading bathroom manufacturers about their recent projects in the region, collections and the growing demand they are seeing for water-efficient products.
Looking back at last year’s market, Louise Pitt, marketing and CRM manager at Geberit, says that 2016 emerged as a year of challenges, not helped by “the continued tightening on global liquidity and the drastic drop in oil prices”.
Pitt comments: “We were all stunned to see the cost of a barrel dip under $35 at the end of FEBRUARY 2017. The knock on effect in the construction industry was witnessed across the whole Gulf region. We face the usual challenges in a competitive environment but look optimistically forward to growth this coming year.”
Geberit’s recent projects in the region included high-end residential developments, such as Al Barari Seventh Heaven in Dubai, as well as W Hotel & Aleef Residences Palm Jumeirah, Viceroy Hotel Palm Jumeirah, Bulgari Resort and Residences Dubai. The Swiss pipe and bathroom fitting manufacturer also supplied its products for the Jabal Omar Development in Makkah and two hospitals, Furwaniya and Al Sabah, in Kuwait.
“Geberit product ranges allow you to plan and implement solutions which are aesthetically and functionally tailored to meet the requirements of different applications, so with this in mind we look optimistically forward the challenges ahead,” she adds.
German supplier of sanitary ceramics and bathroom furniture, Duravit, has also provided its products for the luxury mixed-use development on the Palm. Apart from the Aleef Residences, Duravit’s latest projects in the GCC include The BlueWaters Island Project in Dubai by Meeras, as well as two major cultural buildings – the newly opened Etihad Museum in Dubai and the $650m Louvre Abu Dhabi museum.
“There is continuous and positive growth of the markets, which is driven through the diversity of the projects in the region and the preparation for the Expo 2020 and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar,” says Duravit, Toni ElKadi, head of projects at Duravit Middle East. “Landmark projects, hotels and even entertainment projects are playing a major role in the growth. This positive development also pushes us to invest in new products to be innovative and equipped with a professional customer service.”
Celebrating its 100th anniversary, Spanish sanitaryware manufacturer Roca has a long association with luxury hotels and resorts in the Gulf region. Samer Deeb, area manager at Roca, says that the company experienced sustainable growth last year and is positive that the region’s bathroom market will maintain its upward trajectory. Emaar’s Burj Vista development in Downtown Dubai has recently been added to Roca’s portfolio of projects.
“The main challenge we face is executing projects with European-made products and fitting within the budget of the projects. The majority of our production plants is in Europe, and we are competing with other brands in the region, mainly sourcing from Asia and Africa.”
TRENDS & TECHNOLOGY
Looking at their latest projects, Markus Singler, managing director at Hansgrohe Middle East, says there is a definite trend for transparency in the bathroom – unmasking what is usually concealed.
“Bathrooms and shower areas are becoming living spaces, not just somewhere to get clean. This has resulted in a desire for open design with few or no thresholds. The trend is for solutions which blend in smoothly with the architecture: floor-level showers big enough to move around in, no frames or door mechanisms, with an almost invisible pane of glass acting as a splash-guard.”
Singler also notices that high-tech features continue to move into the bathroom space.
“Multi-hand showers are providing an individualised experience with different kinds of spray such as a soft rain shower, intense rain mode, and a pulsating water jet massage. For minimalists, there are also iPhone-inspired thermostat modules with all functions concentrated in one central control unit,” he says.
When it comes to bathroom trends, Geberit’s Pitt anticipates that modern, space-saving and sustainable designs will be on designers’ agenda this year.
She says: “Smart features are constantly being incorporated into the modern bathroom and trends continue to move in the direction of relaxing and comfortable bathrooms. All Geberit products are exemplary regarding water consumption and sound insulation.
“Design innovations have become more important, along with technical innovations, and have become an important cornerstone of product development. Geberit is increasingly also offering products that make a convincing statement about comfort and design and offering complete bathroom solutions.”
Whether in the form of products designed to make the bathroom more comfortable and smarter, or optimising hygiene, Duravit’s ElKadi agrees that technology is now playing an increasingly important role in the sanitary industry.
“Global trends such as clean eating, living a healthy lifestyle, staying fit and in shape through sports and fitness, and living consciously and sustainably by relaxation and wellness, sum up something we can call ‘clean living’. Since health goes hand in hand with hygiene, the number-one product to meet this trend will be SensoWash,” he says.
Characterised by simplicity, minimalism and functionality, Scandinavian styles have been dominant in both residential and commercial bathrooms in the past years.
“Nordic styles will remain popular,” adds ElKadi. “Simple design, clear shapes, cool and bright colours, and overall a reduced look with a few highlights in order to make a room individual are a way to furnish bathrooms. All our products stay true to this motto of reduced design, and we will keep our focus on our design core competence.”
Likewise, Ali Maarawi, general manager at Cosentino Middle East, a Spanish manufacturer of natural stone, quartz and architectural surfaces, sees the prevalence of the “less is more” concept.
“It is becoming more common to choose simple styles rather than overloaded, a space that seems carefree. We believe that 2017 will be a year in which the simplicity of designs and inspirations will be taken from nature but with a human touch.”
In 2014, Hansgrohe became one of the first bathroom manufacturers in the region to be awarded the Trustmark for Environmental Performance by the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council.
“Awarded for 11 of our products, the Trustmark reaffirms our position as a leader in sustainability, setting the standard for fellow industry specialists in the region. Decades before it was the trend, the company set high goals for an ecological future,” says Singler.
For Duravit, sustainability has an important impact on the design process.
“Duravit meets all international standards in terms of quality (ISO 9001), environment (ISO 14001) and energy (ISO 50001). By meeting these standards, we pave the way for other suppliers to follow this example. In general, the sanitary industry has been making a decisive contribution regarding global sustainability targets for many years,” says ElKadi.
Bradley Corporation, an American manufacturer of public-space plumbing fixtures and washroom accessories, has been expanding its global reach into Middle Eastern markets and recently opened a showroom and sales office in Dubai. Some of its recent projects include Dubai Airport, Hamad International Airport, Princess Noura University in Riyadh, Qatar University in Doha, Madinah Haram in Saudi Arabia and Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.
“Bradley is committed to using resources wisely as well as safeguarding the communities and environments in which we operate. We are a member of the USGBC and have implemented many internal procedures to reduce waste and conserve resources in our manufacturing processes as well as continue to introduce products that conserve water and energy that incorporate recycled and renewable materials,” says Mohamed Barakat, Middle East sales manager at Bradley.
Pitt adds that Geberit has in-depth expertise in the areas of water conservation. She says: “The range of Geberit products facilitates the implementation of green building and the fulfilment of standards such as Estidama, LEED and Minergie.”
Promoting new water culture, Roca established in 2010 the “We Are Water” Foundation.Deeb says: “We were one of the first companies to introduce technologies in the market such as the Cold Start to save energy and the 4.5/3 litre flush to save water,”
The theme of reinventing luxury with more natural materials by marrying traditional and modern design elements while leaning more and more towards sustainable solutions, has been on designers’ agenda in the last few years, and it seems that this trend for bathroom design will likely continue through 2017.