The Frankfurt Trade Fair is simply vast. It’s impossible to stop at every stand for a journalistic chat. That is why, in line with our magazine’s motto, we decided to focus on the bathroom.
Strong colours: the market sees things in colour
We’re with one of the manufacturers; who is telling us all about free-standing shower glazing. Striking: the models on display are all in strong colours. Red, green and blue – and others are available. “Of course, we also adapt to our customers’ tastes,” explains the member of staff.
We hear the same from an Italian supplier. Red, yellow, green and other strong colours, often with a touch of retro, are much in demand at the moment. For hotels as well as in private households. The former would probably also be interested in easy-care materials. Another contact comments: “Of course, there’s a certain amount of experimenting. And then there is less demand for materials like Perspex in the shower. Today’s customer has a number of expectations. If they’re investing in a new shower, they expect to have non-corrosive glass, drip-off effect included.”
A few stands along, the topic of colours and forms is being addressed with a little more discrimination. And straight away the subject of the Smart Home crops up.
Smart Home: which way is it headed?
“The range of colours and shapes available today is simply unbelievable. After all, every provider wants to address as many customers as possible in his field. But the European market actually wants colour at the moment,” explains one bathroom manufacturer’s trade fair representative, and points us in the direction of his colleagues “from Italy” – the very ones we have just been talking to. Interestingly, the market in the Far East is vastly different. “There, people are tending to stay with the traditional grey and black, although they also like soft and flowing forms.”Smart bathroom technology is very important. The free-standing baths are also extremely easy to control using an app.
A development that is then confirmed by the representative of a Swiss bathroom company. He shows us a shower toilet, which the user is not supposed to need any toilet paper for at all. “You can also use the remote control or the app to control the water temperature and the force of the spray.” However, connectivity with other Smart Home systems was not currently an issue.
So there are certainly a number of possibilities for using certain network standards to quite literally get various manufacturers under the same roof, such as the KNX system.
Virtual and augmented reality
The same manufacturers also presented an Augmented Reality System on his stand that tells the user on its screen what technology the manufacturer has installed behind the walls of the showroom. It’s nice to look at, but also quite sobering when you consider what AR apps can already do today when buying furniture.
Companies such as Palettecad and Campusoft use virtual reality tools to present the options in kitchen and bathroom planning. Trying them out showed us just what the systems could do. The graphics are sufficiently developed to give an impression of the future bathroom. The digital bathroom is constructed digitally to the customer’s wishes. In some cases, customers can also use free online applications. Depending on the particular system, only a smartphone may be required that can then access the 3D model using cloud storage (WebVR). Another version uses a high-end VR headset (e.g. HTC Vive). The latter is quite clearly intended for stationary use in showrooms and shops, because not many end users will have the necessary hardware.
Alight-and-fluffy interior where you can walk through your future bathroom, perhaps changing the colour of the shower if you want to, or with a different toilet and so on, is sadly still a long way off. Even though virtual planning in real-time is the declared aim of many providers. Until such time, though, the possibilities are short-term entertainment and a pleasant enhancement, but by the same token also more of a pleasant gimmick than a must-have.
Zeitgeist: innovations for the today of tomorrow
Once we had shifted our gaze slightly away from the established economy and industry and towards the current research, we came across three concept studies that impressed us.
Saguaro, the island solution: At first, the matt-black structure looks like a sculpture. When we discuss it with the two design students Vitalij Krist and Florian Wagner of the University of Applied Sciences in Hanover, they briefly explain the concept to us. Toilet, washbasin and shower are each arranged around the centre at an angle of 120 degrees. The inflows and outflows all disappear together down the central concrete plinth. The use of a vacuum discharge (cf. an aeroplane toilet) saves water. The entire concept reflects the current zeitgeist of interior design: open-plan living, space-saving, sustainable. And all inspired by a giant cactus: saguaro.
Badroschka, the pop-up bathroom: Right next door, the design students Elena Gfroerer, Giulio Grasso and Philipp Cartier present Badroschka. Based on the well-known Russian stacking dolls, the matryoshkas,the pop-up bathroom can also be dismantled into four segments and reassembled just as easily. The shower section folds together, while the mixer on the washbasin folds down. At the end, the models should all fit together in a standard house-moving cardboard box. The trendy colour design with pink and black was deliberately based on the Memphis style of the 80s. In a time when urban hunters and gatherers move from one job to the next and have to take all their possessions with them, the bathroom shouldn’t have to be an exception. Badroschka is the perfect solution.
Care bath 2030: What would the bathroom for a person who requires special care look like? What can a bathroom look like so it also suits the requirements of the carers? In this concept study, the solution consists of a sophisticated rail system on the ceiling. The modules that are attached to these rails can be turned around their own axes. The washbasin and toilet are both also height-adjustable and rotatable. The bottom line is that even a small amount of available space can be used extremely efficiently. Genuine added value. When asked about it, research assistant Karlotta Klussmann explained that the concept study was created at the ISH between January and March. The project was commissioned by The German Sanitation, Heating and Air Conditioning Association and realised by students at the Offenbach Academy of Art and Design .
So in conclusion, we can safely say that in the end, and even on a daily basis, the bathroom will continue to adapt to the users’ desires. Whether this means it getting smaller, more intelligent, more mobile – or simply colourful. So let’s wait and see whether the first bathrooms with real-time colour changers will be on show at the next ISH in 2021.
Were you at the ISH? What were the highlights for you? We’d love to hear from you.