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Bathrooms of the future

Bathrooms of the future

Bagno Design, Delta Faucet Company, Dornbracht, Geberit, Grohe, Kohler, Laufen

The hotel bathroom is heading for a major revolution which in the next 10 years will completely transform how people use this environment and interact with water, according to Paul Flowers, senior vice president – design, Grohe.

Flowers, who also headed the team that won the prestigious “red dot: design team of the year 2011”, said the challenge while transforming the bathroom is that water is increasingly becoming more expensive and hotels consume vast amounts. This is why products which reduce consumption will help to reduce running cost and be more sustainable, he added.

Helga Feghali, marketing manager, Delta Faucet Company agreed with Flowers and said water efficiency also continues to be a primary demand in hotel designs.

“Minimalism and streamlining are buzzwords for the hotel bathroom where less is most definitely more. Guests want to feel that they can spread out and relax in the bathroom where perhaps there just isn’t the luxury of so much space in their bathrooms at home, so storage space and wide open spaces are vital,” said Ivan Zupanovic, head of international project sales and export, Laufen.

This view was similarly taken by Stefan Schmied, MD, Geberit, Middle East, who said the trend in hotels is moving towards more relaxing and comfortable bathrooms with the need for the spa element at the top of the list. He said hotel statistics show that guests spend as much as two-thirds of their en-suite waking hours in the bathroom.

Phillip Payne, general manager, Dornbracht Middle East agreed with the trend of moving towards relaxing spaces and said specific trends in the Middle East include the use of new materials in the bathroom. These include vibrantly coloured glass tiles, glass mosaics, braided glass mosaics and stained glass, among the more popular trends. “We are seeing big, bold colour statements in ceramics in platinum, gold and black.

Inside the shower and on the walls, designers are being very creative with their use of custom and signature designs.

Classic monochrome is back again, with black and white sanitary ware and brassware gaining favour,” he said.

Zupanovic largely concurred and said there has been a shift in colour schemes, although not a very drastic one. While white sanitary ware will forever be the favourite, according to him, there is now more call for coloured suites.

“These tend to be muted shades such as grey, though, to ensure that it blends into the design, leaving the more daring, brighter colours to be added with accessories if desired,” he said.

Ben Bryden, specifications director, Bagno Design, said market trends are leaning towards nature designs with cleaner lines and a spacious environment. Apart from the general trends, specific products and technology are coming becoming more fashionable.

Feghali said Delta Faucet has seen an increase in shower-only bathrooms as many hotels choose to forgo tubs all together. “Hotels want a low flow showerhead but they don’t want to compromise user experience with a low-volume spray,” she added.

Flowers said the digital revolution will introduce personal lifestyle and health functions such a diagnostics, which measure and monitor the status of our mental and physical health.

“Lighting, projection and sound will bring entertainment into the room and will help to facilitate the many transitional states a person would like to experience at different times of the day; for example in the morning you will be revitalised and energised for the busy day ahead, in the evening however you might want to relax and be free from stress and tension. This flexibility will be even more important to travellers from different time zones,” said Flowers.

Another technological movement can be seen as touch-less faucets or electronic taps, according to Schmied.

“Sanitary is increasingly disappearing behind the wall; installation is faster and creates appealing, aesthetic living spaces. Bathrooms now have sleek smooth lines, surface even products and digitalisation of products has a big impact in today’s modern bathroom with innovative new technology emerging forward,” he said.

In addition, building quality has improved so acoustics within buildings is of importance. People now look to upgrade and renovate bathrooms using acoustic pipes and quiet fill valves in the toilet cisterns which allow acoustic levels in living spaces to be reduced dramatically.

“One key trend of the contemporary hotel bathroom is the large washbasin, which is being used more and more as a statement piece in hotel bathrooms big and small,” said Zupanovic.

“In terms of sanitary ware shapes, sculptural aesthetics are very much in vogue, with thinner profiles replacing the chunky, angular basins and baths previously seen in hotel bathroom design,” he added.

Mohamed Nada, marketing manager, Kohler, said against the backdrop of the continuing recession and uncertainty in Europe and the US, international luxury trends are going to be more and more influenced by emerging markets.

“We will see strengthening of the leading local brands in growth markets as they capitalise on the opportunity, but also global brands focusing deeply on the local culture and customer and exploring and innovating with this culture/brand intersection,” he said.

However, new trends also present certain challenges designers need to work around. Bryden explained, while the spend in hotel bathrooms has reduced since the global economic crisis, standards have been maintained.

This has led to a wide product portfolio being essential. Another challenge faced by interior designers is a space that may not work for a hotel, with bathrooms that are too small or poorly designed, according to Payne.

“How often do we see a structure partially completed before the function of the building, or hotel operator is known? The quality of workmanship versus the product knowledge of installers does not always support the bathroom concept.”

According to Zupanovic, beds and bathrooms are the business card of every hotel and studies show that they are decisive for the hotel guest when judging if a hotel meets their expectations or not.

He said hotel bathroom design is becoming more and more sophisticated, thanks to new manufacturing techniques, innovative materials and features that users don’t see at first glance.

“We predict there will be even more sophisticated technical solutions that help save water and energy without losing comfort,” added Zupanovic.

Flowers agreed and said a challenge hotel bathroom designers face is knowing how to delicately balance design, quality and technology to create products which consumers instantly know how to use. “Designers have the arduous task to reduce the amount of water and energy consumed yet improve the experience for the user,” he said.

Nada agreed and added there were three challenges in bathroom design today, which included health and safety, space and water-saving measures.

Feghali said a popular trend seen in hotel bathrooms is the use of multi-functional showerheads.

“However, incorporating rain showerheads (which get mounted into the ceiling) may not be the best practical solution, since some women do not want to get their hair wet when they shower. One possible alternative to this obstacle is to place a fixed showerhead on one wall and a hand held on the other. This gives users more functionality without impacting the different needs of various users.”

Many hotels are looking for high style at a price that meets their budget, according to Feghali. For example, while vessel faucets look very nice, they are a more expensive option as compared to lavatory faucets, and are typically found only in high-end hotels.

Value engineering is a great challenge in today’s hotel bathroom, according to Schmied. “The need to supply all necessary function and eliminate any unnecessary cost is even more important with today’s market conditions,” he added.

Going green and sustainability also ties in with this. “Sustainability is high on the Geberit agenda and we consider the environmental impact of a product over its entire lifecycle which is summed up and weighted in the LCAs – from the extraction of raw materials to disposal. This is important to consider when making the claim of having a green product,” he added.

Recognising and working ahead of the fast-changing trends is important. Flowers, who said he draws inspiration from a plethora of sources, from the people he meets on his travels, nature, exhibitions, fairs, and galleries, to name a few, said Grohe is working three to five years ahead of its production cycle on revolutionary concepts to evolve how people experience water.

“Recognising trends, setting trends, actively designing the future is what’s important now. Our developers and engineers are working meticulously on new technologies because we are certain that the bathroom of tomorrow will look different and will need to meet new demands,” said Schmied.

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