> posted by   on May 5th 2017
 

ISH 2017: “Young people need space. Old people need time”

Below text was commissioned by Geberit Poland and it was originally published in Polish.

 

For 5 days, the Frankfurt Fair turned into an oasis of water and bathroom equipment. Over 2,480 exhibitors from 61 countries occupied 260,000 square meters of space to present new solutions for the bathroom industry.

It was my seventh visit to the ISH Fair. Out of curiosity, I compared this year’s proposals with what caught my eye and made it to my report back in 2005. As it happens, in 2005 the most important aspects were colorful bathroomware, integrated LED lighting, geometric forms, sensors and touch screens, as well as conspicuous transformation of the bathroom into a wellness room. What has changed in the bathroom industry over the 12 years? What where the most prominently featured themes at the ISH Fair 2017?

Polarization and redefinition of luxury

You could say that the leitmotif of this year’s fair was “luxury at your fingertips”. In the past, only the biggest brands dared to present bold visions and new concept of bathroom furnishings. Today, the general accessibility of many new technologies makes this “modernity” available even from the smallest ones. The leaders clearly show that the Internet of Things will not steer clear of our bathrooms controlled by smart systems that optimize water flow, monitor water consumption or even trigger failure alarms. Such solutions show that technology is becoming omnipresent, but stays invisible. This invisible technology can be hidden behind “old-fashioned” retro designs. And that’s why this paragraph’s heading says “polarization” – its about technologically advanced applications combined with traditional, ordinarily shaped fittings and bathroomware.

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A new room

Over many years of observation I have noticed that the biggest changes in bathroom interiors took place in the hotel industry. Hotels are always hungry for novelties and high-tech solutions. Let me refrain from mentioning private made-to-measure projects, because a John Smith business traveler will never get there. Quite surely however he will get to a hotel. The best place to interface with the new are team-building events, trainings or business trips. That’s where Mr. Smith can experience new, unusual solutions he doesn’t enjoy at home. The newest hotel bathrooms have become more like living rooms (or bedrooms), or perhaps have began to invade them, pulling down the walls between them. This is how a new room has been created – an interior somewhere between living and working, between relaxation and daily routines. It is a place where toddlers play and where our teenage daughters host makeup parties. This new interior is important enough to make us pay attention to every detail and to matching accessories. A contemporary bathing room is undoubtedly a place that oozes its own energy and atmosphere. It is a new, important room in our home.

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Staying healthy

The National Museum in Amsterdam boasts many true gems by 17th century Dutch masters. Many of them show a visiting doctor. However, the doctor doesn’t have any of today’s accessories that make a doctor look like a doctor. Back then such an accessory was a chamber pot. Today, our homes open up to technological innovations and solutions that make taking care of personal hygiene extremely enjoyable and simple. One of the premieres at this year’s fair was the new shower toilet Geberit AquaClean Tuma designed by Christoph Behling. This one-size-fits-all solution for every interior is characterized by extremely elegant design and exceptionally sleek and flat form. The sophisticated and smart concept of the product is combined with an advanced technology. The product comes with a range of functions, such as odor extraction, readily available hot water, ergonomic and heated seat, warm air dryer and intuitive remote control. A smartphone app controlling Geberit’s shower toilet will be launched soon. All this makes us begin the daily care and health routine already in our bathrooms. Also, this year the world famous producer of bathroom solutions Duravit celebrates its 200th anniversary and it’s breakthrough of this year was the BioTracer – new toilet with application that analyzes urine. The app values 10 urine values, including the number of white cells, glucose level, protein count, pH and etc. The data is transmitted via Bluetooth and is password-protected, so you shouldn’t worry about any leakage of your personal information.

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Gym

A private gym is something that brings to mind Hollywood movies from the 1970s. The spoilt, beautiful and rich began their day with fancy breakfasts and workouts with personal trainers. After 40 years exactly the same lifestyle began to dominate our world. Today, most people working in big offices and corporations begin their day with coffee and jogging or swimming. Such a lifestyle is no longer the exclusive privilege of the upper class and has become a standard denoting the quality of life of the middle class. That’s why it can be rightly pointed out that our bathrooms have taken on a new function – they have become mini-gyms. At the fair, I saw a number of interior styles that promote this new function.

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Hold on to your bathroom!

Forecasts (US and EU statistics) show that over the next 10 to 15 years the number of people over 60 will grow by 70%. Despite good health and well-being, our bodies won’t ever be younger. Sometimes we’re trying to deceive them, but nature relentlessly keeps telling us that everything moves on at its right pace and we are indeed getting older. Many everyday situations show us quite clearly that most bathrooms are not ready for our “new age”. I myself recently injured tendons in my left foot in a small accident. That very moment made me realize that good health will not last forever. When I’m traveling, I’m on my own and even in the most luxurious hotel bathroom there’s nothing to hold on to. Walking around this year’s ISH I was surprised by the multitude of new solutions in which a no-barriers bathroom is safe and fun, and doesn’t make you feel like a hospital patient. You can sit on a wide edge, rest your leg under the shower, hold on to a handle when leaving the bathtub, or even safely take out and put back all your bathroom “must-haves” in a cabinet above the sink.

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Light and airy designs

Would it be the end of large, monolithic blocks in the bathroom? This year’s ISH showcased new, light-weight designs. Their transparency is a sight for sore eyes. Delicate mesh-like lines fit well into every interior, although they are particularly suitable for smaller bathrooms. Many manufacturers show new forms and their unusual, simple functions. “Less is more” is a very interesting direction in the bathroom industry.

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Sculptures and water

One of the biggest attractions in Las Vegas is the spectacular fountain at the Bellagio hotel. It is particularly pleasing at night, when jets of water are illuminated from below, fully showing the mastery and precision that was required to design those water shapes. The fountain is a big project and a huge water machine, but “water designers” largely transferred this magic and shape to luxurious spas. Designs by Dornbracht or Axor prove that we’ve tamed water and can even manipulate it. Cascades of crossing flat jets of water multiply its force, imitating a waterfall. But this year’s fair was not only about water – it was also about surprising figures, sculptures that serve the function of bathroom fittings. Taps by Gessi are works of art. Levers made of natural materials look like sculptures from a Zen garden.

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Materials and craftsmahship

This year’s lSH Fair showcased high-quality materials and know-how of manufacturers. It was dominated by metals in various shades of vintage gold, brass and copper. Unimpressive chrome is becoming obsolete. Stone, marble and all kinds of composite materials give the bathroom a completely new character. It’s not only the material that matters, but surface finishing as well. Jewel-like items hanging from the wall attract attention with their radiance of light. Tactile, sensual, playing with shadows – that’s the new elegance and new luxury of our future bathrooms.

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