Pop-up the Bathroom!
Text: Katharina Altemeier
Taking as its motto “Pop-up the Bathroom” the Association of the German Sanitation Industry (VDS) recently identified ten distinct trends for current bathroom design. “Soft bathroom”, “Green bathroom”, “Fashion bathroom”, “Easy bathroom”, “Design for a better bath”, “Private spa”, “Water love”, “Techness”, “Interior concepts” and “Homing” are the names that they have given to these different and yet complementary trends. They are being presented in a location known as the “Water lounge” within the framework of the VDS stand at the ISH trade fair. Here we present the three most important trends.
“Green Bathroom”: The general trend towards more sustainability has long reached the bathroom, too. In particular, here in fact. Because alongside the kitchen, the bathroom is known as one of the places in the house where both a great deal of water and a great deal of energy are used. This being the case, a clear awareness of the ecological considerations is important. Specifically in the area of sanitary ware because here consumers can make a major contribution to environmental protection by opting for sustainable designs and leading-edge technologies. But what does a “green bathroom” look like in real terms? Here, the general rules of eco-design apply. The focus is on timeless, durable designs and on natural, ecologically acceptable materials. Moreover, new technologies are crucial. The reason: it is only appropriately innovative sanitary fixtures and fittings that make a sustainable approach to natural resources possible in the first place. For example, special waste water systems ensure that water already used in the shower or the wash basin is fed directly into the toilet bowl, avoiding the use of fresh water in the toilet. And of course in this context water-saving faucets and hand showers should be mentioned. The green bathroom combines sound economics, a clear conscience and, to a great extent, wellness, as well. Given its importance in the context of the global energy discussion, the trend towards green design is perhaps the most influential trend in the conception, design and technical equipment of the bathroom.
“Private Spa”: Wellness continues to be all the rage. This fact was confirmed by a recent Infratest study which showed that 14 percent of the German population (= 8.8 million people) regularly engage in wellness activities, investing a total of some 73 billion euros per year in the privilege. And the trend is upwards. In accordance with this development, the target group is happy to spend money on wellness, even within the confines of their own four walls. Accordingly, “private spa” is the magic term, introduced by the Association of the German Sanitation Industry back at the time of the 2007 ISH and now taken on as an expression by many bathroom planners and manufacturers of sanitary equipment. “Private spa” is the expression of a new understanding of luxury, born of the desire to enjoy the spa experience, i. e., to have the space and time for physical and emotional wellness at home, too. Private spa is a bathroom concept that transforms routine into a ritual and water into an experience. The wellness effect is achieved both by fitting elements such as a rain shower or whirlpool bath and by furniture and sensual aesthetics. In contrast to the kitchen, which acts as a communicative center in today’s culture of the living domain, the private spa remains a very personal area, defined primarily by the atmosphere of the place, by the moods generated and by the opportunities offered for ritual uses.
“Interior Concepts”: The image of the bathroom as a merely functional room has long been obsolete. Wash basin, toilet and bathtub lined up along one wall and built-in cupboard elements are now passé. Instead, showers have become room dividers, front wall elements made to hold faucets and wash basins and the toilet has disappeared, if not completely from the bathroom, then at least into a separate niche. “Interior concepts” means holistic bathroom design. Like any other room, the bathroom is now divided up using interior design criteria. The sanitation industry has transformed the bathroom into a room with various different zones suitable for hygiene, styling and regeneration. The sanitary objects project into the room or are placed in the center; lines of view are generated. Accordingly, bathroom design is no longer “just” product design. And increasingly, manufacturers are including opportunities for embracing certain products in their use and design of space in their concepts for new collections. Interior design, materials, colors, combinations, the direction of light and accessories play an important part in this. Sections of the bathroom can be used as living areas. Things that were unthinkable in bathrooms at one time are now a possibility: a chaise-longue or a rug.