While the bath is often seen as the centrepiece of the bathroom, it could be argued that the basin and taps are the most ‘hands-on’ component. Getting these right in terms of style and usability is vital to the success of any bathroom design scheme, and product selection has become increasingly challenging given the diverse range of options on the market today. Consumers and designers alike are gaining inspiration from a multitude of sources.
“With the latest trends towards luxurious finishes and hotel-inspired bathrooms, brassware design is steering towards sculptural shapes and sleek profiles, with pares down,soft and fluid lines,” says Richard Nicholls, UK sales director at the Sanipex Group.
“Basins are increasingly being chosen as a way of creating a luxurious statement piece within what is often a compact space. For basins, materials including marble, metal, and glass are being chosen, with brassware also seeing new finishes coming to the fore. Expect to see much more in the way of brushed nickel, anthracite black and white for bathroom taps going forward.
Sarah Evans, head of channel marketing for trade at Hansgrohe, believes that 2017 will see further exploration of different finishes on brassware, such as the combination of chrome and gold. She adds that the Axor Manufaktur metallic finishes of Red Gold and Black Chrome are still increasing in popularity so they will remain an important focus point for the manufacturer.
She adds: “We will also continue our search for new, innovative, and sustainable ways to play with water, especially with regards to new spray patterns and technologies. The latest showers and shower controls are all about quality manufacturing and simpler design for ease of use. Intuitive operation by pushing buttons rather than gripping and turning dials are popular as they are not only easier to use for all ages, but also enjoyable as part of the shower experience. For some brands, this means digital controls, but Hansgrohe leans heavily towards its simpler, manual solution called ‘Select’.
Evan adds: “Showerpipes are our fastest growing type of shower. Comprising and overhead shower and an adjustable hand shower in a single product, showerpipes are great all-rounders as they offer ‘his and her’ choice. We know from research that men often prefer an overhead shower and woman a hand shower owing to the choice of spray and flexible positioning a hand shower allows.
Sam Ball, Marketing Services Manager at Utopia Bathrooms, says: “As ever, at the higher end of the market, it’s very much about style and statement pieces. Minimalism is key, whether it’s a bathroom in a luxury apartment, a barn conversion or a new build. White on white or bang on-trend grey tones predominate while combining textures is also a hot trend. The combination of rough concrete and high gloss can create an edgy look, whilst feature grout and stylish basins create key focal points.”
Micheal Gray, product manager at Grohe UK, believes that the finish of brassware is a big emerging trend factor, and this can affect whether a product looks contemporary or traditional in design. “For traditional styled rooms, consumers might consider a rose gold finish, which adds a touch of classic elegance to the room. If a consumer is looking to create a modern space, they might opt for white or choose between hard and soft granite which makes a statement and can add a futuristic element to the room’s decor”.
He adds that water saving in the home is becoming more relevant than ever before, as people are increasingly aware that the products they use can have a significant impact on the environment. “Consumers are now looking for appliances and gadgets that help converse precious resources, use less energy, and are kind to the pocket. Specifies should look out for products that feature clever technologies, such as Grohe’s EcoJoy, which works to conserve water and energy, without compromising on the performance of the shower or mixer. Also take note of products listed under the WELL Water Efficiency Label, which recognises products that are designed and tested to reduce water consumption.”
Paul Dwyer, managing director, Thomas Crapper & Co, believes that the classic style is seeing a resurgence in the bathroom, being brought up-to-date with modern touches such as geometric tiling and accessories for a more eclectic feel. “Customers are opting for a more traditional aesthetic, especially when it comes to fittings and sinks,” he explains. “Our original washbasins are very popular for their nod to vintage styling. A nickel-plated washstand provides a more contemporary feel, whilst a polished finish on washstands and taps is the go-to for a classic look. In bathrooms where space is at a premium, wall-mounted brackets are the preferred choice as they give the illusion of space and leave the floor space free.”
Helen Clark, marketing manager at Abode, says: “The hot topics for 2016 – the economy, energy, efficiency, inclusive design and market technology – will continue to be key for 2017 and any approach we can take to become more environmentally friendly is always good, whether that’s how we manufacture, how the product operates or how we dispose of the product at the end of its life cycle.” She adds: “I also predict that usability and smart technology will advance throughout the coming year.”
“With the market offering such an eclectic mix of tap designs, bathroom interiors are no longer playing to a uniform ideal,” says Clive Griffiths of Grange Design. “Such diversity in the marketplace has meant that luxury bathrooms are now welcoming new antiqued, matt and burnished finishes which are competing with the more readily available chrome plated options.
“Trends have shown that homeowners are now more likely to err towards more atypical finishes such as dark matt and industrial or polished metallic styles to create that fundamental ‘wow-factor’ and increased viability. This has seen one-off hero products, such as 24k gold finishes being used to heighten the feeling of luxury and enhance existing sanitary ware or bathroom accessories.”
Margaret Talbot, marketing manager at VitrA UK, says: “We expect the trend for spa like bathrooms to continue as a key interior trend for 2017, with products such as freestanding baths and luxury designer products answering this demand. This provides beautiful luxury in the bathroom and contributes to a harmonious living space.”
Talbot adds that single lever taps remain popular due to their classic appearance, hygiene and ease of use, adding that they also lend themselves to contemporary bathrooms which are hugely popular. “Materials are dictating current trends too as unusual finishes are seeing a resurgence. Our customers are more than ever embracing metallic designs across both brassware and sanitaryware, seeing finishes like gold, copper, and platinum. I believe this trend has partially been influenced by homeowners wanting to replicate experiences that they have enjoyed when staying in luxury or boutique hotels and spas. Despite a rise in popularity in new or unfamiliar materials, chrome remains by far, the preferred choice of UK consumers.”
David Cole, sales director at Perrin & Rowe, says: “Consumers are continuing to seek out unique pieces investing heavily to ensure their bathrooms are one of a kind. With this in mind, our special finishes create that opportunity. As well as traditional polished and matt finishes, what we call ‘living finishes’ such as Polished or Satin Brass will enhance with age depending on their surroundings and overall usage, creating a truly personal feature in a bathroom.
“Another key trend we’re seeing is customisation,” adds Cole. “Customers are enjoying the opportunity to customise their brassware through the use of a range of different colour and texture handle inserts, such as the black porcelain that we offer. With the increasing popularity of combining textures, colours and finishes, these inserts add a new dimension to taps and ultimately their surroundings.”
Whilst high impact is key, there is also much to be said for subtlety according to Sven Rensinghoff, head of marketing at Bette: “Customers want their washbasin to make a statement but, at the higher end of the market, are looking for styles that achieve this with a lightness, rather than looking heavy and bulky. A good example of this is slim-rimmed monolith options.”
‘We are also seeing an increase in sales of steel/enamel washbasins. They are being chosen for their durability and because customers want an exact match in material and colour for their two statement pieces, the bath and the washbasin.”
To see this feature in full please see the February issue of Designer Kitchen & Bathroom Magazine.