The bathroom is currently the most exciting domestic space in terms of aesthetic and technological research. Perhaps it’s the combination of physicality (the human body, water) and emotion (contact with one’s most authentic self), of archaism (nature, purity and simplicity) and futurism (home automation, advanced functions). But the fact is that the room devoted to wellness is a constantly evolving melting pot of ideas whose goal is to redesign the space in keeping with a total bath concept that leaves nothing to chance while creating consistent and appealing ambiences, magical moments of a private domestic cult. One of the emerging future-oriented trends is that of eco-sustainability, an area that has long been of interest to companies and designers but is now seeing particularly vibrant growth. The new space devoted to care for the body is becoming increasingly digital, responsible and sustainable, and is attracting numerous innovations spanning ethics, relaxation, design and technology. Bathrooms are becoming an increasingly hi-tech element of smart homes, incorporating technology which is highy advanced and actually invisible. Take a look at the seven bathroom trends of 2019 that we’ve picked from CERSAIE:
1. An increasingly green-oriented comfort zone
It all started a few decades ago when companies began introducing more environment- and consumer-friendly production processes, leading to the development of recyclable materials and energy-saving furnishing solutions. Today’s research efforts are focused on solutions such as antibacterial surfaces which ensure a high level of sanitisation and non-toxicity and allow for the use of smaller quantities of detergents in cleaning operations. Further important developments include the introduction of procedures and functions such as galvanic coatings for taps and digital programming to reduce the energy consumed by electric towel rails. WCs are also becoming increasingly effective at reducing water consumption, with almost all companies able to install 4.5 litre flush models. Considering that most toilets currently function with flush volumes of around 9-12 litres, it is easy to imagine the enormous scale of this innovation. As for lower production costs, one process that is becoming increasingly popular in the tap sector is that of additive manufacturing, i.e. 3D printing of objects in the desired shape and materials.
2. Investing in research - essential for everyone
Given the urgency of today’s ecological problems, all companies are looking seriously at how they can reduce their environmental impact. This is a perfectly feasible goal as the necessary technologies are already in place. The sector’s businesses are investing strongly in innovation, with both large brands and small and medium-sized companies devoting a sizeable percentage of their turnovers to research.
3. A focus on comfort and safety
The bathroom – and the shower area in particular – are the domestic spaces where we are most alone and vulnerable, so it is vital that they be as safe as possible. With this in mind, we are seeing increasing numbers of shower trays that combine plantar comfort with non-slip properties. Attention to corporeity (and to needs deriving from permanent or temporary disabilities) is another of today’s trends in wellness spaces, aided by the pervasive but invisible presence of technology and the development of ever more meticulously designed furnishing systems.
4. A holistic dimension
Today’s bathroom spaces are focusing not just on functional performance but also on their emotional and multisensorial components. Increasingly seen as the place for restoring a sense of harmony between body, mind and spirit, the bathroom represents the evolution of the spa concept in which materials, colours and technologies are designed to promote physical and psychophysical regeneration in a seductive context where lines and volumes are increasingly subtle, light, compact and versatile.
5. Ultra-customiZed wellness
Another major bathroom trend is that of home automation, an eco-sustainable and constantly evolving technology that allows water temperature, climate and other functions to be programmed directly from a smartphone or a touchscreen video system. But as a reaction to this pervasive technological presence – albeit one that is virtually invisible and easy to use – another trend is now making headway in the design and furnishing sector. A new simplicity, a low-tech design. We’ve arrived at this in stages, in step with the increased technological content. But let’s look back a few decades.
6. The new functions are advanced but discreet
We have recently begun to see a shift towards user-friendly digital technology and advanced but simple-to-use functions, as well as ease of cleaning and maintenance. And whirlpools, along with other wellness devices, are making a big return even in the home. Once simplicity has been rediscovered, there’s no turning back. Relaxation and psychophysical regeneration call for calm movements, harmonious forms and colours, emotional choices inspired by the concept of “less is more”. Paradoxically, however, the fact that technology is so advanced means that its physical presence is almost entirely eliminated, freeing the wellness space from the need to reveal its now outdated functional role.
7. Once simplicity has been rediscovered, there’s no turning back
Excessive technology, unnecessary frills and superfluous decorations are being replaced by essential, matt and soft-touch surfaces; serial furnishing systems that integrate solid surfaces with reclaimed wood; natural finishes and colours; the inclusion of objects and accessories that are not specifically designed for the bathroom; compact and organic forms and volumes; a return to neo-industrial solutions such as painted steel washbasins and light perforated metal tops. In short, everything is simple, basic and low profile. And of course sophisticated.
This article was first published in SURFACES REPORTER MAGAZINE, December 2018. The print copy can be Subscribed at http://www.surfacesreporter.com/subscription
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