Contemporary bathrooms in India get smart with the latest technology and materials
Minimalist designs, technology and sustainable materials define contemporary bathrooms in India
The contemporary bathroom is a perfect blend of simple form and high-performing functionality. Monochrome colour schemes, bold curves and angular designs, in addition to smart technology, characterise the 21st century bathroom. Explaining the latest technology-related products, Vikas Pandita, product manager – Sanitary, Häfele, says, “We now have digital showering with connected Cloud Infrastructure, to control the shower with a smartphone app or voice via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can control the entire functionality of a bathroom through IoT connectivity, including ambient lights, WC, showers, faucets and adjust the water temperature.”
Intelligent toilets, which have been around for a while, are now being introduced with more bells and whistles so as to be more in tune with basic customer requirements. Finishes have also made a huge foray into the market with many of the top brands doing multiple finishes in their fixtures.
‘Contemporary’ is a buzzword in the industry nowadays. “However, if we look closely, contemporary bathrooms are elegant, thoroughly planned spaces that are highly ergonomic and free from any unnecessary items. The clean design and an approach towards minimalism make them a good match for today’s home. For contemporary bathrooms, concealed installation system makes sure that everything related to the operation of the shower is hidden neatly behind the wall,” says Gaurav Malhotra, managing director, Hansgrohe India.
Minimalistic shower controls that sit snugly against the wall create an ultra-modern, uncluttered effect – and put the emphasis on design and making space. Faucets and mixers with precise, geometric design, linear lines and soft curves create a harmonious appearance. Organic materials such as glass, wood, marble are used...and sometimes, metals like copper uplift the ambience.
Today, the bathroom says more about an individual’s lifestyle, their views on design and approach towards planning. Rahul Kher, founder-director, Zalur Lifestyle, believes, “For us, contemporary bathroom means being a minimalist. With KEUCO, our flagship brand and with our other European brands, we not only focus on giving customers the essentials, but also making a bathroom which offers more time, more experience, more engagement, more contentment, more freedom -- clearly a clutter-free, design-oriented bathroom.”
Product innovation is gaining prominence with bath spaces being converted into zones for relaxing, recreating and achieving a sense of well-being. Products with a focus on design and technological innovation – such as smart showers, faucets and self-cleaning showers – are also trending this year. Sandeep Shukla, head - Marketing, Jaquar Group, states that the changing trend patterns in luxury bathrooms are now keeping ergonomics and the interface between people and technology firmly in sight. This has resulted in ensembles that are multi-functional and can be used jointly, allowing more time for individuals to relax and find a refuge from the hectic pace of life.
Nowadays, technologically-advanced products are preferred by clients over their traditional counterparts – not only for the ease-of-operation, but also for their energy- and water-saving properties. KE Ranganathan, MD, Roca Bathroom Products, observes, “At Roca, we have seen a shift in demand for energy-efficient and water-saving fixtures, as consumers are becoming smart about water usage. Water-saving faucets with world-class designs are a definite need for the bathrooms of today.”
WATER-SAVING AND ENERGY-EFFICIENT BATH FIXTURES
With changing environment conditions globally, customers are now aware of the ways in which water usage can be minimised. “Bathrooms being spaces that need maximum water supply and water heating, users are keenly interested in installing water-saving and energy-efficient bathroom fittings. It also becomes the duty of the industry players to educate the customers,” informs Malhotra.
Zalur has products that are high on sustainability and environment-friendliness quotients. For instance, their mirrors and mirror cabinets are equipped with LEDs, giving these products an energy-saving rating of A++. Similarly, head showers and hand showers are backed by ECOAIR and BOOSTER technologies that minimise water consumption without compromising on the water experience. Jaquar’s Shukla, too, highlights such green qualities in their product line: “Jaquar Group already has a variety of products that save water, such as Air showers, Pressmatic faucets, Sensor faucets, Dual flush, Sensor urinals.”
International standard organisations and the world’s leading quality certification agencies test fixtures for durability, flow ratios and performance. “As a company, VitrA carries out a number of steps to maintain the efficiency of bath fixtures. We emphasise on the innovations behind each design – like our European Water Label that indicates the water consumption level of faucets,” informs Serhan Ates Yagiz, India country manager, VitrA. VitrA makes sure that most of their designs come with water flow restrictors and flow rate limiters inbuilt in them.
New ranges in this space, like digital faucets, have smart functionalities and the latest designs. Ranganathan says, “Wastage of water has always been the major concern in bathrooms. Advanced technology and some water-saving habits are the way out for this. People nowadays start making water-conscious decisions and look for ways to combine luxury with technology. With Roca products, we understand the need for the customer’s personal space – so we design bathroom products by integrating advanced technology along with subtle aesthetics.”
MASTERING BATHROOM DESIGN
Today, bathrooms are considered as an extension of living spaces and not merely a functional place. Luxurious bathroom settings act as a refuge from hectic schedules and a place for pampering. Ranganathan believes, “Designing a bathroom is a pleasing yet challenging project. Basics like clear pathways for circulation throughout the space and space in front of sinks – so that if you share your bathroom, someone passing won’t bump into you while you are brushing your teeth – should be followed. Placement of products in the master bathroom should be such that it doesn’t make it look cluttered. Sinks should be placed at a readily accessible position while entering the room and from closets. Place beautiful bathtubs where they can be highlighted as focal points.”
Showers must be positioned in a manner that moisture and overspray are contained to water-resistant areas. Water closets should ideally be placed where they are out of sight lines. Windows are desirable, but alternatively, exhaust fans work as well. Lighting plays a big role along with the bathroom furniture that is used, as all these not only add value but also some sense of comfort to the space. Pandita states, “We are moving away from the concept of toilets to the concept of ‘Spa-lets’ where the space has to double up as a tranquil space for rest and relaxation.”
According to Malhotra, a master bathroom should be the space that reflects one’s personality. “There’s no rule to allocate a big space to the master bathroom. The idea is to assess the space available to you and make it your own tranquil sanctuary. A good idea will be to have products that you really need in the bathroom, install smart fittings that are minimal in design and uncluttered for more freedom of movement,” he adds. Many clients demand couple showers and low light for a sensuous showering experience; they feel relaxed in low light ambience. Use of natural materials such as marble, stone, wood, etc, is suggested for a fresh look. It could include whirlpools, steam and sauna enclosures as well as experiential showers that can elevate the bathroom and transform the experience. At end of the day, the master bathroom is a blend of comfort and intimacy. Powder rooms, which include only a toilet and sink, toe these design guidelines too.
Hansgrohe came up with EcoSmart and CoolStart technologies way back when water was abundantly available. EcoSmart products limit the flow of water from the spout to as low as 3.5l/min and to 5.7l/min in showers at 3 bar pressure, both the lowest in the industry. CoolStart products are for the customers who are also concerned about the limited energy usage. With CoolStart in the products, the water heating system starts only when one needs hot water from the mixer.
KEUCO uses lead-free brass in faucets, water-saving aerators and chrome plating – which are low on maintenance.
High-standard VitrA faucets make life better with award-winning designs and functionally superior features. For example, The Memoria Faucet designed by the world-renowned designer Christophe Pillet, has a cache silicon aerator with a flow restrictor that limits flow rate to 5 lts/min, which is one of the most important criteria for conservation of water. The cartridge has a unique component which can control the flow rate and has a temperature limiter. “All our faucets save as much as 190 tons of water per year. Our Blue Step technology is a water-saving control function that ensures intentional increase to the high flow. Our manufacturing plants make smart use of resources and invest in recycling systems that minimise raw material consumption and energy waste,” says Yagiz.
Ranganathan states that Roca keeps investing in the production of sustainable and fashionable bath products specifically for India, and also transferring products developed elsewhere to the Indian market. The eco-friendly electronic faucets come with smart functionalities, making them a great fit in the modern-day trendy bathroom spaces. With its state-of-the-art technology and unconventional approach, Roca’s Hall Flush Free Urinals work without flushing water, making it the most advanced product in the category and giving a new name to efficiency. The product is built in such a way that it does not require any electrical power or liquid barrier for the closure of drainage, thus saving two very important aspects of today’s life – water and electricity. The Flush Free Urinal comes with inbuilt air perfume, preventing the escape of smell.
Designed by Gabriele and Oscar Buratti, Roca’s W+W is a rather unusual design with a number of unique features and benefits. Stands for Washbasin + Watercloset, the unit combines functionality and water saving benefits in a space-saving package. It reuses waste water from the washbasin to fill the toilet cistern. Here, integration took on the expression of innovation and design.
Häfele’s products come under the green category, which actually save water with some changes in the basic product (addition of aerator or flow restrictor), and there are several basin mixers and other products which also help in the conservation of water.
Ranganathan explains that Roca uses Fineceramic for their Inspira basins, which makes the products 40% lighter and 30% harder as well as scratch-free, compared to the conventional products. Supralit, a resin manufactured by Roca, makes the entire range of seats and covers more durable and noise-free. The Surfex finish offers a high anti-slip property and also great thermal resistance.
Materials are being ‘borrowed’ from other industrial segments to create innovative bathroom products. Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) is taking the bathroom industry by storm as finishes are making inroads into bathrooms. Kher informs, “PVD is travelling from industrial usage to bathrooms, which demonstrates the potential of good material. A similar case is Carbon, which has come from cars and jewellery, and is now slowly making inroads into bathrooms. As for lights, LED is also making a huge impact on the illumination side of the bathroom, especially over the washbasin with LED light mirrors and mirror cabinets.”
Some of the materials that make regular appearances in a contemporary bathroom are ceramic, mineral cast, Varicor, brass, PVD, chrome, aluminium, tempered glass, looking glass, flexi glass, LED, ABS, original wood veneers, high-quality HDF, chip boards, hardwood, porcelain, stainless steel, carbon, terracotta, and artificial marble. Pandita adds, “Stainless steel is being used a lot more, as it basically reduces the lead content in the water – which allows for better product life and plays into the overall ideology of using environment-friendly and sustainable products.”
Convenience, consciousness towards the environment, technology and unfussy design are generally the norms that drive today’s interior products – and contemporary bathrooms are no different.