Category Archives: Featured Post

Wellness and the Home

Over the last few years, Wellness has become a word many have heard all too much. It is something we see on social media, on the news, and in magazines, and is now a word hard to escape from.

With various industries across the spectrum capitalising on it, a look into what Wellness really is, and what it can do for us, is long overdue. Holiday companies are selling out of mindfulness and yoga retreats, health-food accounts on Instagram are monopolising the web, and spa treatments are more popular than ever.

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Why are experiences more valuable than possessions?

Seeking out experiences rather than purchasing more stuff has been a trend lurking in the corners of psychology for the last few years.

Research in 2014 by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor from the University of Cornell, concluding that “experiences are the glue of our social lives”, mattering much more than the latest i-gadget.

Why do experiences matter?

  • Experiential purchases enhance social relations more readily and effectively than material goods
  • Experiential purchases form a bigger part of a person’s identity
  • Experiential purchases are evaluated more on their own terms and evoke fewer social comparisons than material purchases.

Studies also suggest that the anticipation of an experience is also crucial. Thomas Gilovich’s research showed that people reported being mostly frustrated before the planned purchase of a ‘thing’, but mostly happy before they bought an ‘experience’.

As that happy feeling is tied up with a memory, it lingers longer. Colin Strong, head of behavioural science at market research group Ispos, calls it the ‘hedonic adaption’, claiming that the hedonic payoff of experiences is much greater than material purchases.

The Experience Consumer

We are now seeing how this trend is affecting our spending habits and the way we consume, such as a 55% increase in ticket sales to events and live experiences, as research by the world’s largest event technology platform, Eventbrite, found.

And according to Barclaycard, which processes about half of all Britain’s credit and debit card transactions, their figures for April 17 show a 20% increase in spending in pubs compared with the same month last year. Spending in restaurants went up 16%, while theatres and cinemas enjoyed a 13% rise. Meanwhile, department stores suffered a 1% drop, vehicle sales were down 11% and spending on household appliances fell by 2.5%

Clothes retailer Next claim their first fall in profits in eight years is due to the experience economy, and Ikea’s head of sustainability, Steve Howard, is of the opinion that consumption of many goods has reached a limit, referring to this limit as hitting ‘peak stuff’

Building a Brand Experience

Fuelled by social media, the experience economy is a trend that will continue to grow. Instagram accounts used to be about our new car, handbag or pair of shoes, but now that seems slightly vulgar compared to our friend’s yoga holiday or sky-diving weekend.

Building a product brand that taps into the experience economy involves going beyond a ‘sell and forget’ mentality. When Meile launched their revolutionary steam oven, they also developed a set of cookery courses for their steam oven customers. After completing a hands-on steam oven cookery session, attendees proudly tweet, instagram and facebook the results to all their contacts, turning them into a very effective sales force for Meile, without even a mention of a Meile product.


What homes do the over-55’s buy?

The over-55s are an important and growing segment of the new-build housing market.  In their  report ‘Moving Insights from the Over-55’s‘, The NHBC Foundation looks at the reasons why the over-55’s move and the types of homes they buy.

The research is based on a sample of almost 1,500 homeowners aged over 55 who moved to their current new-build home between 2010 and 2016.

While equity release is a key motive for some, 46% of those surveyed invested more money in their home when making the move, and just under a third upsized to a home with more bedrooms. At the same time, hidden deeper in the evidence, is a strong demand for two-bedroom homes among those choosing to downsize.

Overall, a large proportion of households (40%) in this study moved either down or up to a four-bedroom home, making this the most common home size purchased by the over-55s.  The findings challenge the assumption that older home owners normally downsize to smaller properties, and instead highlight a diversity of moves: in terms of size (bedroom numbers) 39% of households downsized, many upsized (28%) and a third same-sized (33%).

While much of the evidence reveals a wide range of different motivations among the over-55s thinking of moving home, some key themes emerge with important implications for house builders. Older purchasers considering downsizing are about 20% more likely to choose a new-build home, and are particularly attracted by the prospect of living in a home which is easier to manage and enjoys lower maintenance and running costs, manageable gardens and a new home warranty – features which are high priorities for this age group.

Although new-build homes are particularly appealing to the over-55s, the report finds that they often feel that new build marketing is directed at families or young people and argues that more should be done to reflect the needs of older home buyers in this sector.  There is a strong antipathy among those aged 55 to 75 to being described as ‘old’ and there are important lessons to be learnt for marketing to this age group.

The NHBC Foundation was established in 2006 to provide high-quality research and practical guidance to support the house-building industry as it addresses the challenges of delivering 21st-century new homes.

Moving house over-55s

Download the full report here >>

Source:  The NHBC Foundation

Ikea launches furniture range for pets

Ikea pet furniture range

Have you ever felt like your cat or dog wasn’t just a pet, but a member of the family?  You are not alone.

IKEA felt there was a gap in the market for reasonably priced, but nice-looking pet products and developed a pet product range.  The new LURVIG collection, which means “hairy” in Swedish, was launched in five countries — Japan, France, Canada, U.S and Portugal at the start of October.

Ikea pet furniture range

Created by pet loving designer, Inma Burmudez,  with support from veterinarians,  according to Ikea “the range covers all the bases of our shared life with pets indoors and out, so you and your pet can enjoy your home together“.

Ikea furniture for cats

Ikea furniture for dogs

Source:  Ikea 

Dulux Colour of the Year 2018

Dulux colour of the year 2018

Pantone has announced 18-3838 Ultra Violet as their colour of the year for 2018.

In a provocative contrast to Greenery, their 2017 colour of the year, which was chosen for its fortifying attributes, encouraging us to take a step back to breathe, oxygenate and reinvigorate, Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking that points us towards the future.

According to Leatrice Eiseman Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute “We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination.  It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level.  From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.

Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.

Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection.

Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet

About the Pantone Color of the Year

 “The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.” – Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute.

As individuals around the world become more fascinated with color and realize its ability to convey deep messages and meanings, designers and brands should feel empowered to use color to inspire and influence. The Color of the Year is one moment in time that provides strategic direction for the world of trend and design, reflecting the Pantone Color Institute’s year-round work doing the same for designers and brands.



RIBA House of the Year 2017

Riba House of the Year

This year’s RIBA House of the Year is a ‘brave new prototype for multi-generational living‘. 

Caring Wood is a re-imagined traditional English country house, designed by British architects James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell.  The house is divided into four interconnected blocks built from traditional materials which echo the neighbouring oast houses, and provides accommodation for four family units;  the owners and their daughters along with their husbands and children.

Caring Wood RIBA house of the year 2017

This ambitious house explores new architectural methods, materials and crafts and allows us to question the future of housing and the concept of multi-generational living,” said RIBA president Ben Derbyshire.  “I’ve no doubt many of the ideas displayed at Caring Wood will influence UK housing for many years to come.”

Caring Wood RIBA House of the Year 2017

According to RIBA House of the Year 2017 jury chair, Deborah Saunt Beyond the impression of sublime craftsmanship and spatial grandeur this house offers, Caring Wood leads us to fundamentally question how we might live together in the future.

“At a time when we are increasingly atomised, individually preoccupied and lost in personalised digital worlds, designing homes where families come together – in their many permutations – is an increasingly important aim. Whilst this might seem to be a particular brief for one extended family, it is one taking huge risks in asking how we collectively might live inter-generationally as social structures evolve.

“Here we find a family enjoying each other’s time and company, but also enabling timeless layers of support to emerge between generations. Grandparents and grandchildren exchanging experiences and enlivening each other’s sense of self, parents finding a place to catch up alone as children play. Siblings together with cousins, building the foundation for mutual support for years to come, the network that builds a strong society of mutual respect.

“This is a brave project offering a new prototype. In deploying homes that cater for extended families across urban, suburban and rural sites, this may offer solutions not only to the country’s housing crisis – where families might live together longer- but also by providing care solutions for young and old alike, freeing people from punishing costs throughout their lifetimes.

“This intimate house delights in the way it beautifully manipulates space and avoids grandiosity. Unobtrusive within its landscape, it builds on the pattern of settlement centuries old. This is a house for all ages.”

Source:  RIBA 


How much living space do we really need?

Mini Living Urban Cabin

As part of the London Design Week, a collaboration between the car brand Mini and architect Sam Jacob attempts to answer the question of how much living space we really need with the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin.

MINI created the Urban Cabin as part of its ongoing MINI Living project, which is exploring new forms of urban living.   Designed for a future when homes become a shared resource and with modern city living in mind, the Urban Cabin demonstrates how to maximise your living space on a small urban footprint, applying creativity and innovation to a limited space.   Although limitation can have a negative connotation when it forces us to do without the things we believe we need, the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin offsets this by showing that it is simply a matter of creatively exploring possibilities.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

At just 15 sqm, the Urban Cabin is a compact micro-house demonstrating clever alternatives to space-saving. Externally, the design is inspired by London’s rich history of geometric facades, emulating the surrounding architecture by reflecting them back with mirrored surfaces

Inside the imaginative space is a homage to British eccentricity and houses an innovative blend of areas for social gatherings alongside space to take stock and have moments of calm and privacy.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

Equipped with a shared kitchen and micro-library, the miniature space is intended to foster communal exchanges.  The kitchen for example has been created with London’s food markets in mind, aiming to bring their culture and diversity into the home, whilst the micro-library suggests the importance of preserving public spaces for people to read.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

White materials are predominantly used to create a light and airy feel, combined with modern touches.  And the whole space has been designed with versatility in mind, for example the table can spontaneously be moved outside to take advantage of warmer weather.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

Mini Living Urban Cabin

The Urban Cabin is the latest in a series of structures that MINI has built as part of MINI Living. The first was an installation at Milan design week in 2016, which also explored the idea of shared living spaces.

Six Design Trends Spotted at Sleep 2017

Sleep, Europe’s hospitality design and development event, is the place to be if you have a passion for creating innovative hotels, restaurants and bars – or if you want to spot the trends and new collections that will be crossing over into domestic interiors.

The 2017 show was no exception, and Trend Monitor joined the record number of visitors at The Business Design Centre in London in November to get an insight into the key looks of 2018.

Design Trend #1. Tactile times

Taps have tended to be smooth for the simple reason that we need to keep them clean. But, if you read our report from ISH 2017 , you’ll already know that smooth is giving way to decorative patterns, creating tactile brassware that has the power to elevate even the plainest of bathrooms.

Geometric patterns have a timeless appeal, so it’s not surprising that we’re now seeing them in the bathroom. Leading the way at Sleep was interior designer Jo Love, who’s collaborated with British brassware manufacturer Vado to create the Omika collection of taps, showers and accessories. These flirt with texture to great effect – think strong clean lines, a slim minimalist silhouette and a delicate geometric pattern.

Omika collection by Jo Love - Vado
The Omika collection by Jo Love for Vado

Texture has also captured the imagination of Italian manufacturers. Stella 1882 has incorporated guilloche, a decorative engraving technique based on intricate patterns, into the surface of its taps. There’s a choice of 12 patterns, available in any Stella finish.

Stella 1882
Stella 1882

The guilloche finish by Stella 1882 is hand-engraved by craftsmen at its workshop in Milan.

Design Trend #2. Broad appeal

It was good to see luxury French bathroom brand THG Paris step outside its comfort zone with Collection Bain, its first sanitaryware collection since the brand was established in 1956.

THG’s small stand at Sleep could only accommodate a freestanding bath, but the full collection includes different styles of bath and a series of basins and shower trays, all created to complement its handcrafted tap fittings. THG’s material of choice is MineralStone, a composite material containing natural mineral fillers and reinforced resins that create strong, easy-to-clean pieces.

Selecting a look for your bathroom has become a question of taste now that so many sanitaryware producers have set up customised production departments. THG is among them, offering its Collection Bain as made-to measure to individuals as well as hotel chains.

Collection Bain by THG Paris
Collection Bain by THG Paris

Collection Bain is the debut sanitaryware collection by bathroom fittings specialist THG Paris.

Brassware manufacturer Grohe is also looking to broaden its appeal with the launch of Bau, its first-ever ceramics range. Developed following research that found customers struggle to match a washbasin with a mixer, Bau is designed to address the problem head-on by complementing Grohe’s Bau mixer collection.

Bau Sanitaryware Collection by Groh
Bau Sanitaryware Collection by Grohe

Grohe has dipped its toe into the ceramics market with Bau, its first sanitaryware collection.

Design Trend #3. The thinner the better

‘The thinner the better’ seems to be the mantra of modern sanitaryware – as seen in the use of cutting-edge materials that allow manufacturers to reduce rim width on basins and baths without compromising strength.

Previously, fine edges wouldn’t have survived the firing process, but materials such as Cerafine, seen in VitrA’s Outline collection of ultra-fine countertop basins, mean that manufacturers can now create slim, elegant shapes with defined edges.

The advantage of these slim rims is more than sleek good looks. It means that the modern basin can hold more water than its bulky predecessor, making it a practical addition to the bathroom.

Manufacturers continue to stress the relationship between their products and the primary function of the bathroom: hygiene. For example, VitrA basins are coated with VitrA Clean surface finish to keep them easy to clean with just a mild detergent and a damp cloth.

VitrA's Outline collection
VitrA’s Outline collection

These ultra-fine countertop basins from VitrA’s Outline collection are manufactured from Cerafine, a new material that’s both strong and elegant.

VitrA isn’t the only manufacturer looking to slim down. Since the launch of SaphirKeramik in 2013, Swiss manufacturer Laufen has worked with numerous designers on products for a variety of collections.

For those not in the know, SaphirKeramik is a hard and rigid ceramic material that can be sued to create super-thin but extremely robust ceramic walls. These can be as narrow as 2mm (traditional ceramic measures between 7 to 8mm).

Laufen’s third and latest collaboration is with Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, who has used SaphirKeramik to create her Sonar range (launched at ISH 2017). Although Sonar was not on display at Sleep, SaphirKeramik was well represented by existing products from Konstantin Grcic’s Val collection.

Val by Konstantin Grcic for Laufen
Val Collection by Konstantin Grcic for Laufen

The internationally acclaimed German designer Konstantin Grcic worked with Laufen’s SaphirKeramik to produce Val.

Design Trend #4. Get smarter

You know when a trend has truly arrived when the world’s biggest sanitaryware brands sit up and take notice. Cue Japanese-style washlets, which have spent years lurking on the periphery of the UK bathroom, possibly because their spacecraft-style looks tend to intimidate the conservative-minded British consumer.

Realising the key to success was to redesign the washlet to look like a regular WC, Laufen set about developing Cleanet Riva, defined by a streamlined aesthetic but packed full of high-end engineering.

At the heart of Cleanet Riva is the shower function, which is operated using the button located on the side of the WC bowl or via a touchscreen remote control. This also provides additional settings and personal preferences, including a choice of various spray modes, based on pressure, temperature and timing.

Laufen’s Cleanet Riva
Laufen’s Cleanet Riva

Laufen’s Cleanet Riva boasts various spray modes that can be personalised by pressure, temperature and timing.

Design Trend #5. Ageless design

Our post-ISH report touched on the growing influence of multi-generational households on bathroom design, and how manufacturers are now creating products that are accessible to all the family.

Hansgrohe’s understated Unica Comfort shower bar is just one example. Doubling as a sturdy grab handle for those less steady on their feet, it can support up to 200kg in weight. The hand shower can be easily positioned at the desired height using just one hand, and an additional hand shower holder at the lower end of the bar is ideal for children, wheelchair users and those who like to shower sitting down. A detachable shower caddy provides the finishing flourish, creating essential space for toiletries.

Unica Comfort by Hansgrohe
Unica Comfort by Hansgrohe

A shower bar or a convenient grab handle with integrated shower caddy for toiletries, the Unica Comfort by Hansgrohe is ideal for multigenerational households.


Design Trend #6. Pretty and practical

You can’t fail to have noticed the wide range of brassware colour options now available, including bronze, brass, rose and brushed gold, copper and matt black. These aren’t exclusive to brassware either, with designers keen for other elements of the bathroom to match up in the style stakes.

VitrA has collaborated with product designer Sebastian Conran to create a new bathroom accessory collection aimed at both domestic and luxury hotel markets. The Eternity collection comprises 31 products that combine luxury with practicality, including a toothbrush holder that incorporates a removable strainer so that toothbrushes don’t languish in stale water, and robe hooks designed not to leave pinch marks in collars and necks. Within the range there are three finish options: white with chrome, black with chrome and black with gold. All have hardwearing teak wood accents.

Eternity by Sebastian Conran for VitrA
Eternity by Sebastian Conran for VitrA

VitrA has teamed up with product designer Sebastian Conran to create Eternity, a new bathroom accessory collection for domestic and hotel bathrooms.

Storage room required in showers

Bottles in shower

Our latest mini-poll asked over a 1000 people how many bottles of shampoos, conditioners and shower gels were kept in the shower at any one time.  

The results, which can be seen in our chart below, show that over half of us are quite restrained and only keep between 2 and 5 bottles in their shower.

However 10.23% of us require much more storage room in our showers as we are keeping over 10 bottles of shampoo, condition and shower gel in the shower at any one time.

Number of bottles kept in a shower


Our mini-polls are run on a regular basis.  Contact us if you would like to add a question to the next mini-poll

Click here to see the results of all our mini-polls



Design Trends spotted at 100% Design 2017

100% Design 2017

100% Design is the showcase for leading contemporary design and is the largest and longest running design trade event for industry professionals in the UK

First staged in 1995, the show is now in its 23rd year and is widely considered to be the cornerstone event of the London Design Festival, as well as one of the most significant events on the global trade calendar

The show,  held between 20-23 September at Olympia London, featured over 400 exhibitors, from internationally recognised brands through to younger design studios and new design talent emerging on the market.

Trend-Monitor was there too, checking out the strongest design trends …

Design Trend #1. Indoor and Outdoor Brights

In a refreshing move away from whites and neutrals, 100% design was crammed with vibrant colour, pattern and texture.  Interiors, outdoor living, bathroom and kitchens were all showing their colourful sides at the show

Wilful Ink 'Gallinule' wallpaper
Wilful Ink ‘Gallinule’ wallpaper

The 2018 Sunbrella outdoor upholstery collection
The 2018 Sunbrella outdoor upholstery collection

More information at

Although Smeg launched their sleek new premium range of kitchen appliances at this year’s show, it is still their iconic retro range in eye-catching colours that draws the most attention.

The Multicoloured Smeg range


Design Trend #2. Modular Goes Home

Modular furniture has been fundamental to offices and work-spaces for many years, but we are now seeing the trend for modular applications growing in popularity in the home environment.  Driven by today’s transient lifestyles and the growth of the high-end rental market, there is a demand for functional, stylish furniture pieces that are also flexible in terms of assembly and arranging.

Leaf Seat from Design by Nico
Leaf Seat from Design by Nico

The Modulo cabinets by Ercol are available individually, or can be stacked up to three high, in any combination of the customer’s choosing.

Modulo by Dylan Freeth for Ercol
Modulo by Dylan Freeth for Ercol


Design Trend #3. Metallic finishes go commercial

Stainless steel and chrome has continued to dominate the commercial environment long after metals have warmed up in the more design-led interiors and homes.  Simple Human has changed this and launched their commercial bins in a range of warmer finishes such as rose-gold.

Simple Human commercial bin in rose gold
Simple Human commercial bin in rose gold


Design Trend #4. Tubular Steel

The use of folding tubular steel for furniture started in the 1920s and 1930s with the Bauhaus movement and their innovative use of steel tubing.  At 100% Design this trend was clearly enjoying a revival with the simple clean lines of tubular steel featuring in furniture and storage.

Vzor RM56 in wood
Vzor RM56 in wood

Olly bar stool by Junction Fifteen
Olly bar stool by Junction Fifteen

Anywhere Shelving by Korridor Design
Anywhere Shelving by Korridor Design


Design Trend #5. The Gin Revolution

Carried by a wave of craft distilleries and boutique bars, gin is fast becoming the nation’s most fashionable spirit, available in every conceivable flavour from citrus to seaweed to tea.  It’s not surprising therefore that the gin revolution is now hitting the homes and interiors.

(Ok, we admit it’s probably more of a fad than a true trend, but we spotted this fabulous gin trolley and wanted an excuse to feature it)

The Gin Trolley by Quench Home Bars
The Gin Trolley by Quench Home Bars