The bathroom was long considered a purely functional space. Today, its white, cold, sad image is gradually fading to give way to a livelier, warmer, open room. Designers are paying attention to details all the way down to the design of plumbing while industrials see this as a sales opportunity for contemporary collections. The “new” bathroom corresponds to a new functionality that is both hygienic and energizing, a room that satisfies the need for relaxation as well as fitness. And it also participates in a basic trend: responsible behavior leading to a quest for water and energy savings.
So what happened to the bathrooms of hotels of yesteryear? Fortunately it has increasingly given way to an “extension” of the room, transformed into a veritable living space that stimulated the creative spirit of designers. After Philippe Starck, India Madhavi and Andrée Putman, other famous signatures from the design world found their way in. Creator Terence Conran made no mistake. In his book, "Bathroom, the pleasures of water," he studies the role of this room in today’s interiors. Once tiny with no natural lighting, today more space is given over to it by opening it onto the room by using partitions, screens or glass walls that become opaque at the push of a button. The Zen version is the best example of this trend that aims to fully transform the bathroom: in all sobriety, pure and without flourish, under the sign of well-being, it consists of furniture, basins and bowls with rounded forms for more softness: rounded forms, curved tubs, transparency... the trend is for bathrooms worthy of transporting meditation... the rooms are inspired by nature, Moroccan hammams, Asian spas and Japanese estheticism. A universe dedicated to pleasures and wellbeing, between modernity and hedonism. The Asian influence is noticeable.Beyond the relaxation and wellbeing aspects, the functional aspect has, of course, been preserved but the arrival of new materials expresses the evolution of the bathroom in recent years as well. Warmer and more colorful, it becomes a place where one may give free reign to one’s imagination and unrestrained creation. Traditional materials such as glazed porcelain have given way to soft resins, glass, wood, waxed cement… Colors and lights are a must, and they are even studied meticulously: playing on tonalities, lights may be tilted upward, mirrors face one another appearing to double the space… tricks are multiplied to transform the bathroom into a haven of peace. The functional aspect has not been forgotten of course, but the invitation is first and foremost to come, relax and enjoy the pleasures of water.Manufacturers and distributors are getting in synch with this quest for elegance and design with their own collections and more personalized work. “We take into consideration the esthetic evolution of the bathroom,” confirms Jean-Guy de Russé, in charge of design for the company JVD. “Our brand strategy is to realize a more innovative and even more qualitative design for products in order to move away from the competition where the comparison is necessarily in terms of prices.” He also regrets not having greater contact with interior decorators who could share their visions to provide more adequate responses. “Even if it presents industrial difficulties, we could arrive at “customized” solutions that shift away from the conventional,” continues Jean-Guy de Russé.“As a distributor, we are trying to present wide ranges that correspond to different atmospheres,” indicates Olivier Collin, communications director at Manusec. “We work exclusively with brands such as Valera, that take a design approach to products such as dryers. We have also developed a series of collections: Argos, Modern Art, NexXt, to cite just a few that offer a full universe with of different bathroom accessories with truly unique qualities.” “We work with decorators, such as Pierre-Yves Rochon, who have their own idea for the bathroom. They tend to want to make some of the equipment disappear and melt into the décor for pure lines. We are working on custom designs with them for luxury hotels,” explains Jan Hellfritz, general manager of Aliseo. His company explores another area of research around the mirror with light that varies in function of the ambient luminosity. His teams have designed a new mirror using economic LED technology that gives off its own light: white light in the morning and softer light for makeup in the evening.Lighting studies are a major trend in bathroom design. Whether indirect or associated with a mirror, lighting has both a practical and an esthetic function. Chrome, silver or gold materials have not deserted this space, particularly in Asian and Middle Eastern countries where they are associated with opulence.The demand for eco-designed bathrooms that has grown gradually with citizen’s rising awareness of their environmental impact on the planet continues to grow. The bathroom is the space in the hotel room that represents one of the biggest ecological challenges wince an occupant can consume up to 150 liters of water a day. It is possible to counter this phenomenon of overconsumption in the bathroom when choosing materials and equipment, as well as by encouraging guests to adopt more economic habits.Choosing faucets: mixers are indispensable when it comes to saving water. They minimize water consumption by 10 to 20% and up to 40% for thermostatic models that automatically adjust the temperature to the setting. It is possible to opting for “healthy” and ecological materials such as the new generation of bathroom ceramics that are surface treated to protect them against soiling to reduce the water used in cleaning. Similarly, glazed showers receive an anti lime scale treatment, and spa bathtubs are self-cleaning.Choice of maintenance products also plays a role in this effort towards environmental responsibility and application of new standards. “For showers and hand-held showers, we respect the system of Attestations de Conformité Sanitaire (ACS), a strict French protocol regarding hygiene and cleanliness,” insists Olivier Collin of Manusec. In the field of dryers, very present in hotel bathrooms, Manusec wanted to be as innovative with its Machflow device, a new generation product that has no heating element (resistance) and very low power consumption. A silver-ion element prevents the bacterial growth as air is propulsed at a very high speed.Distributed in France by the Alsatian firm Products & Techniques, the Aliseo range also participates in this responsible design trend. “Our firm has committed itself to a responsible approach by working with recyclable materials, limiting energy consumption and improving our logistics platform. This may also be observed in our manufacturing for the hotel industry,” explains Jan Hellfritz, general manager. The company is good at PTC technology which is making miracles in energy control. “We have produced a hair dryer that uses PTC materials and produces 300 W power that is as efficient as 1000 W. it will soon be available in a battery-operated version to give guests greater freedom.”.
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