Bathrooms are a direct reflection of current lifestyles, and as aspects of human living evolve so will bathroom spaces and sensibilities.

Today’s trend is towards being clutter-free: Large open-plan shower areas and wet room style layouts with wall-hung sanitaryware and furniture. The future will provide multiple devices using invisible technology; offering luxury, convenience and style seamlessly integrated into our surroundings. So, discounting far-fetched fantasy, bathing areas of the future will involve several essential and very real factors: sustainability, technology and intelligent design; all key in bathroom innovation.

Key opinions from those in the know reflect what will characterise the bathroom of the future?

‘It’s become increasingly apparent that the bathroom serves as a space where people retreat to recharge through the incorporation of self-care rituals that assist in health and stress management. This trend has contributed to bathrooms being transformed into sanctuaries.

‘With that in mind this is an interior where a lot of waste can occur among users who are more aware of their impact on the environment, and I believe it will increasingly take more than good looks to keep them happy. The bathroom of the future will be all about technology, sustainability and good design, a hallmark of which will be the form and function of items that are in tune with the environment – and the user.’ Dessie Nikolova from DISTINCT Collection, official distributors of BETTE Baths.

Karen Robyn of Duravit SA says: ‘Heightened emotions contrast with state-of-the-art technology, soft forms meet geometric contours. New trends in surfaces, colours and materials round off the doctrine of holistic, individually designed bathrooms of unique quality. Wherever state-of-the-art, comfort-enhancing technologies are used, they’re always invisibly integrated and define the future of designer bathrooms.’

‘An increasing number of digital functions manage almost every aspect of life in 2019, using smart technology. With the increasing popularity of smart homes, a smart bathroom is a given, which offers smart living and more relaxation. One such innovation is RainTunes by Hansgrohe, which will provide the ability to control multi-sensory shower scenarios via an app. Amazingly, users will be able to touch, see, hear and smell these scenarios, transforming showering into a personal attraction,’ so says Shazeen Jooma of Classic Trading.

‘Depending on the programme, the user will see set sequences of images on a video screen. Acoustic soundscapes play in harmony with the respective choreographed water. Users can select one of these preconfigured scenarios at the touch of a button.’

Ronelle Badenhorst of Kohler: ‘Indeed advances in bathroom technology are very exciting and we’re seeing bathrooms of the future emerging at this very moment. The quintessential hi-tech bathroom merges conventional bathroom activities with technology, but in a seamless and stylish way that enhances the user’s experience. It’s about transforming and personalising all the aspects of the bathroom experience, either at the touch of button or through voice activation.’

Bathrooms demand a combination of aesthetics and luxury in their design and décor. What will 2019 / ‘20 reveal?

Larusha Pienaar of bathroom supplier Macneil lists renovation priorities – and champions black: ‘For me, the design target is a bathroom that reveals classic and coordinating colours, clean lines and timeless features. Older more refined examples can be modernised with the all-encompassing Bijiou collection and currently black is highly popular in a wide range of products: freestanding baths, slim-line basins and complementary taps.

‘The combination of matt black and chrome for taps and accessories is matched to baths of exceptional quality; in complete acrylic, which makes the bath thinner, lighter and visually more alluring. Coordinating sanitaryware collections are stain-resistant and resilient to micro-organism and bacterial growth, providing for easy care and maintenance.

There are interesting developments in vanities and surface finishes. Says Mar Esteve Cortes of Neolith: ‘Informed homeowners are selecting the darker, inkier tones found in igneous rock – such as basalt and soapstone effects. Natural detailing within these ancient stones includes complex, swirling, deep grains and organic continuous patterns, which means that no two projects will look the same. The old adage that opposites attract applies even in the bathroom, where dark materials are being used to create striking statements in otherwise light, airy settings.

‘We’re also noting an increase in the use of wood effects in a variety of materials that mimic timber, which adds more natural organic quality. The unpredictable, knotted grain of wood is versatile, yet able to evoke a rustic atmosphere, or combine sympathetically with dissimilar patterns for an arresting result.’

Steve Joubert of Stiles comments on tapware and tiles: ‘O’Rama by Newform is the re-interpretation of simplicity as a means of expression. An elegant and discreet design, with minimal and simplified forms, makes this an iconic tap that consists of a compact body and lever that characterises the product; a mixer illustrating harmonious lines that’s easy to use. The O’Rama range is both extremely stylish and versatile and thus suited to bathrooms both classic and contemporary, which makes it very appealing to interior designers.’

For tiled surfaces he adds: ‘Create a classic bathroom with selections that add value and are durable, such as the Uniquestone bathroom tile collection, inspired by the aesthetics of different stones, granites and marbles, skillfully mixed together. It’s available in three colour options: nite, titanium and silver tiles that will create a bathroom with incredible style. The material surface is distinguished by well balanced graphic colouration and by a soft and uniform tonal background, which is very stable in its variability.’

‘With more compact living spaces increasing, new innovations to accommodate smaller bathrooms are emerging. Toilets made for compact bathrooms are now multifunctional with a toilet and sink combined; these units feature slim lines and edges, while providing all the functionality without compromising on design,’ so says Oren Sachs of WOMAG.

Nicole Russell of Italtile confirms this trend: ‘Small but modern bathrooms are more fashionable, with retro tiles of varying designs; the brick-like tile with a gloss surface is being specified more. A different looking tile on the shower floor adds a spatial impression and an elegant option that retains popularity is the stone pebble tile. Certain elements within stone manage to turn a normal bathroom into a more contemporary interior.’

Michelle Lowe of Lixil Africa feels that freestanding sanitaryware is the way forward: ‘Freestanding showers, freestanding basins and / or freestanding bath mixers can add the extra wow factor but ensure that the piping installation is able to allow for these solutions. Sanitaryware-wise, the shower toilet option is growing in popularity annually. The GROHE Sensia® Arena offers innovative functions tailored to individual needs and a new standard of personal hygiene.’

Despite changes, some bathing items remain classics and one such is the appealing, freestanding bathtub. Holding centre stage, despite a variety of burgeoning contemporary advances, it retains its charm and continues to destress users with warm soaks. And it can create focus in bathing areas with a variety of elegant profiles.

Bathrooms are becoming an individualised interior for a family or single user, matching moods, personality, preferences, and perhaps even reaching synchronicity with health needs. They can serve as havens of relaxation and convenience, while also taking better care of ablutions and other bathroom routines.

Amidst this finely detailed setting is automation: unobtrusive, quietly hidden, doing its job with discretion, yet contributing to the bathroom’s overall ambiance. Rather than being hidden in a dark corner, today’s bathe space is trendy and tranquil. The result being an interior of personalised luxury in synergy with technology; the very essence of the future.

For the full article see Habitat #273 September / October 2019

cover image: Duravit SA

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