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