FRANKFURT – While televisions, microwaves, and washing machines have gotten smarter, information technology has largely stayed out of the bathroom – with the exception of the occasional wall-mounted phone and TV screen in hotel bathrooms, and the infamously high-tech Japanese toilets. At ISH however, the new releases by exhibitors prove that when it comes to improving design and living standards with innovation and technological advancements, bathrooms are no exception.
The Connected Bathroom
Water and iPhones may still be a bad combination, but digitally enabled, data-enriched products are beginning to find a place in home bathrooms. At ISH, VitrA presented a prototype for a mirror that could be turned into an interface when connected to a smartphone, while Grohe showcased a little app-controlled water sensor called Sense, which monitors humidity to prevent domestic water damage.
Sense water sensor by Grohe
In turn, Roca displayed the smart In-Wash toilets, featuring intuitive remote controls and sensors for automatic functions. Even though opinions on whether technology should be allowed into the bathroom are mixed – some believe the bathroom should be a place of sanctuary – these developments show potential in increasing safety, sustainability, and comfort without compromising on design aesthetics.
Technological advancements can give us more than interactive sanitaryware – they also take manufacturing techniques and materials to the next level. For Gessi’s Intrecci tap, the company’s steel AISI 316 – a durable, 100 per cent recyclable material – is engraved with refined patterns that give it a futuristic feel. In a similar vein, the outside of Bette’s new BetteLoft Ornament series is embossed with a geometric pattern that demonstrates the adaptability of glazed titanium-steel.
BetteLoft Ornament bathtub by Bette
When Laufen commissioned Patricia Urquiola to develop a new concept for washstands and bathtubs using its SaphirKeramik, the Sonar collection was the result. Pictured in the main image of this article, Sonar uses ‘inclined planes, material cuts and small internal overhangs’ to optimize the flow of water – made possible by the material’s properties. Meanwhile at Villeroy & Boch, Patrick Frey utilizes the characteristics of the material TitanCeram to realize strongly contoured washbasins. ‘This material allowed me to make very thin and fine forms,’ he explains. Something that’s also possible with Alape’s glazed steel, which can be manipulated and adjusted to create all kinds of custom configurations – as exemplified by Scopio, the brand’s new range of basins by Sieger Design which showcases recessed edges and very precise and small radii.
The Converged Home
‘There is a growing convergence of bathroom objects and furniture,’ says Werner Aisslinger, who – together with Tina Bunyaprasit – designed Grid for Kaldewei. The collection features bathtubs and washbasins mounted on open framework structures, which can, in addition to these volumes, also contain handy baskets and planters, echoing the flexibility of contemporary modular furniture. Also taking cues from home furniture is Alberto Meda’s Origami radiator for Tubes. Inspired by folding-screens, the Origami radiator can change its shape to suit different environments and create a private area within bigger spaces.
Origami radiator by Tubes
Eugeni Quitllet, on the other hand, approached the bathroom as an open space, not one to be closed-in or sectioned-off. ‘We think of the bathroom [as] more like a living room,’ he says of his Mirage range for Pomd’or. The idea is substantiated with elements that hover on the border between sanitary design and decorative homeware, such as a flower vase and a waste bin that doubles as a champagne bucket.
Did you miss Frame's Best of ISH Part 1? Read how contemporary lifestyles are influencing trends in bathroom designs.