New baths and more

Bisazza introduced a new division to its company, Bisazza Bagno, dedicated to the production and distribution of bathroom collections. It showcased its first range, the Hayon Collection, designed by Jaime Hayon, and inspired by the glamour of the 1930′s. The Hayon Collection included furniture, sanitaryware, shower screens, mirrors and lighting.

On a stand designed to resemble its HQ building in Switzerland, Laufen showed its latest line-up of products. lt unveiled Palace and Living Square sanitaryware, made from a ceramic, invented by Laufen, which it claims is stronger than fireclayand weighs less. The ceramic has enabled Laufen to create sharper edges, slim and long-line basins, such as a 35mm front on the Living Square basin.

Dornbracht looked to Matteo Thun to create the Gentle range of brassware and Sieger Design to create Deque. The Deque brassware features a flat, low projection with individual – streams of water dispensed from the fitting. It comes in a choice of chrome and matt black finishes.

Duravit exemplihed the story ofthe show having reworked popular designs, launched new bathroom collections and entered new market sectors. The Darling suite and Paiova bath tub were both rejuvenated with Darling New and Paiova Monolith. While Sergio Tchoban and Matteo Thun both provided new bathroom collections with Esplanade and Onto, respectively. Added to this was a Starck—designed shower toilet, steam shower, plus floating bath and space-saving shower enclosure from Eeos.

New innovations in the bathroom industry May 2011

The re-packaging of its Ross Lovegrove-designed Istanbul and MOD ranges under ‘Re-Vision’ allowing designers to mix and match, drew initial attention. But the real story on the Vitra stand was the launch of T4 and S50 bathroom collections. Created by the NOA Design Group, T4 includes contoured ceramic and rounded corner furniture as well as bath tubs and mixers with a choice of standard or cascade flow.

Among its launches, Bette showcased its BetteOne collection, which included a steel enamel basin, bath and shower tray, as well as a walk—in shower bath with electronic door Taking centre stage, however was its two colour monochrome option for its Bette·Silhoutte bath. BetteSilhoutte baths come in a choice of oval or Design Plus award winning rectangular option – BetteCuba Silhoutte.

Creating a focal point of the Kaldewei stand was its Asymmetric Duo, a double-ended bath with a wide rim on one side. The rim can be positioned against the wall to house brassware or outwards to act as a seat or shelf It was shown alongside a blank finish for its Conoduo and Elipso Duo baths, re designed Superplan Plus shower tray and re vamped tone on tone anti slip.

Sharing the ceramic expertise of its sister company Vitra, Burgbad unveiled furniture complete with vanity basins for the first time. Max featured furniture in eight varnished colours, either in matt or gloss, or real wood fronts. Its complementary basin comes in a choice of white or bi-colour for a surcharge.

Safe as houses

If we were to select one design story from Europe’s largest bathroom show, ISH, it would have to be a focus on safe but ultimately sellable designs. The products were sensibly styled to suit the tastes of the majority, creating the impression of ‘what’s not to like? It appeared the bathrooms were designed to quickly find their space on the showroom floor, and to sell out equally as swiftly. But don’t equate prudent design choices with being plain boring. Manufacturers took different and intelligent takes on product design, revisiting, rejuvenating and augmenting previous best sellers.

While a clear trend for slimline basins, although suitably stylish, suggested a conscious control of material costs. Bathroom trends that were cutting-edge two years ago had been broadly accepted. Digital tap technology, multi-media, waterfall and open spouts re – iterated the emotional aspect of bathroom design, creating an ‘experience’ for the user. And the black décor, introduced at ISH in 2009, looked to be a staple finish for furniture, sanitaryware and brassware. Of course, this judicious product development wasn’t really a surprise as it had all occurred during the last two years, in one of the toughest economic times in history.

Taking a balanced view of all the products showcased at lSH, it would be unfair to suggest that there wasn’t anything new at the show. There was. It did, however, appear to be more measured, than previous years, with the product targeted at the niche, luxury end of the market. We’ve selected just some of the product highlights which illustrate the exhibition themes. But take a look at Part Two in our May issue.

A Rare opportunity

CEO Jeremy Ling and lon Cox, general manager of Bristan retail, point out they’ve never been in a nightclub with a journalist recording their conversation. But before you think |’m planning to expose some salacious details, I’m at 24 London for the launch of the upmarket Rare by Bristan collection and, just for the record, it’s 5pm not 3am… Although having had some success through bathroom showrooms, Bristan is an accomplished merchant brand. Now, the brassware manufacturer  is seeking a new direction, with the launch of Rare by Bristan, to specifically target specialist bathroom studios.

CEO jeremy Ling comments on the creation of the new brand: “We are a mid- market brand aimed at young customers looking at value for money but good quality. We identified a part of the market that we’re not addressing and although we’re not going to be right at the top-end of the scale, the brand is positioned towards the top. We are entering a high market segment but still with a value for money philosophy.”  And lan Cox, general manager of Bristan retail, agrees: “We realised that we are extremely strong in the merchant side. We are the number one brand in taps and showers in trade, but have also come on in leaps and bounds on the retail side. We did realise that this is an area that, no pun intended, we needed to tap into further it (Rare by Bristan) sits above the Bristan range but complements it. The products start at £175 for a mixer tap.”

Jewels in the crown

The move into retail with the Rareby Bristan brand sees the introduction of seven co – ordinated brassware collections, which are all themed under the title ofjewels. All the pieces have been selected to be a snap shot ofthe market. It includes open  spouts with its Aquamarina range and even mirrors the fashion for opulence with its neo-classical Coral design. But, arguably, stealing the show at the launch, is the 500 x 500mm Fixed Head Deluge Shower and Moonhead Shower which takes its design influence from the Arco lamp.

Marketing manager, Karen Wise, suggests the jewel-inspired names are to reflect the exclusive nature of the brassware.

A real exclusive

Infact, Rare by Bristan will be so exclusive; it will only be available through 250 bathroom specialists. Having researched the market, Jon and Jeremy explain that exclusivity was key for creating a bathroom specialist brand. Jeremy states: “This product will not be going to any other multi-outlet B&Q, Homebase or into the merchants. It’s going to be managed completely separately to the Bristan brand. The idea is to maintain and protect the margin of the specialist. It won’t be available in the contract market either We won’t be selling it into hotels or restaurants.”

lon explains the criteria: “First the business will have to be a specialist showroom. They need to be open six or seven days a week and the showroom must be manned. They need to be able to specify and fit, or recommend fitting of the product, and be happy to sit with our business development managers to help develop their businesses.”

Both Jeremy and lon deny that the decision to tap into the retail market is a knee-jerk reaction to drop off in the contract market. “We effectively started this over 18 months ago to move into retail in a much more meaningful way,” refutes lon. In fact, the company has in place a five year plan for the brand and as a group is spending £2milIion on product innovation, each year. In addition, lon explains that they employed business development managers prior to the launch, to quantify and qualify showrooms in the market.

Becoming more upmarket

But how easy is it going to be to change the perception of retailers and consumers about the Bristan brand and ultimately move the name more upmarket? Jeremy says: “If you take Bristan as a brand and spontaneous awareness from a customer’s point of view, it’s fairly non- existent. If you take the spontaneous awareness of plumbers, then it’s extremely high. Our research says 72% of plumbers recommend Bristan so we are extremely well-regarded, without being arrogant, and well – recommended by plumbers. So we’re not trying to take the brand in the consumers’ eye and move it upmarket. They are not aware of it. We are trying to play on the fact that the plumber or installer will recognise Bristan and it will give them confidence, and Rare by Bristan will set it apart for the consumer.”

Benchmarking success

And how will the company know that the brand launch has been successful? Jeremy says mirroring its merchant success in showrooms will be a key  indicator: He comments: “Let’s just say, we have a 20% share of taps and showers in the whole market. In taps we have 38% share in the trade secton We have ambitions to bring our retail sales up to those kinds ot levels. And jon was equally optimistic: “Success to me is 250 stockists, with displays in place and business plans that they are comfortable with delivering. That will be my measure of success”. And with these brassware gems at their disposal, it’s easy to see how Bristan plans to meet its mission statement ‘to deliver the most desirable, value for money products and an extraordinary customer experience through an understanding of their needs.”

Latest products – bathrooms only

Ideal Standard has added Strada, a sanitary ware, furniture and accessories range to its offering. The range includes three basin sizes, two one-drawer unit sizes, one two-drawer unit, a base storage unit, two wall storage unit sizes and two combination unit sizes. Strada also comprises of three mirror sizes with ambient light. All  units and worktops are available in Gloss White and Gloss Grey finishes and come with chrome handles.

Hansa has launched its Hansaligna range of bathroom fittings. The range uses an adjustable hot-water limiten as well as an integrated jet former to minimise waterflow Hansaligna comprises ofa washbasin litting in three heights, a matching bidet fitting and manifold options for the bathtub and shower: The range can also be complemented by the Hansapurejet hand showen Hansajet shower system or the Hansatempra Style thermostat.

Ice Fall brassware has been introduced by Moods Bathrooms. The range features a single lever control and quarter – turn ceramic disc cartridge. The Ice Fall basin mixer includes a pop-up waste and requires a minimum pressure of 0.2 bar. Whereas the bath filler tap and shower mixer need a minimum pressure of 0.5 bar.

The Raindance Rainfall Lift from the Raindance Rainfall series by Hansgrohe, protrudes 60mm from the wall and is available in a corner-mounting option. Combining a RainAirjet and a RainFlow gush jet, the Raindance Rainfall Lift can be moved up or down 200mm, to aim the gush jet where desired. The control unit, integrated within the white shower panel, also moves to accommodate users of different heights.

Uzes has been introduced by Acajou, to its offering of Provencal vanities. Uzes comes with the option of a single or double basin and has hand-carved turned legs, a towel rail, drawers and a shelving area. The vanity unit is available with a bespoke Hnishing service, offering finishes including Warm Polished Wood, Distressed Rustic Provincial Green and Hand-Rubbed with Beeswax.

Galassia’s M2 range designed by Romano Adolini has been introduced into the UK. The range comprises of a floor-mounted toilet, a matching bidet and three wash basins. The tall cistern is 250mm wide with a 600mm projection, while the bidet measures 450mm deep and 350mm wide. The basins can befitted with a full-length pedestal and come in 500, 600 and 700mm sizes.

Italian shower manufacturer Bossini’s E88500 Waterfall Spout XL and E88600 Waterfall Spout Shower are finished in chrome. The range is designed to provide a full regenerating jet. an outlet to fill the bath or a wall-mounted basin spout. The XL measures 120 x 155mm and the Shower measures 80 x 126mm. The two models deliver 9-12 litres of water per minute.

The Eoos designed Paiova bathtub from Duravit has been updated since its launch in 2004. The trapezoidal-shaped bath is now available in a monolith version, measuring 1700mm by 1000mm and with the choice of a left corner or right corner version. Paiova Monolith is also available with air and jet systems, as well as the company’s coloured light module.

Want to know what is just out for bathrooms?

Vitra has added S50 Compact and S50 Comfort Height variations to its S50 range of sanitary ware. The S50 Compact includes five basins ranging from full-pedestal to wall-hung and semi-recessed, and two WCs with reduced projection. The S50 Comfort Height comprises of a range of WCs with a rim height of 480mm.

Hudson Reed has introduced Probe, a multi-function shower kit to its offering. Measuring 1050mm in height, Probe is available in a chrome or matt black finish and has two hidden wall fixings for installation. The shower kit has a tapered body and circular showerhead, with a soap tray and matching hand shower Probe is designed to work in conjunction with a separate shower valve.

Tandem is manufactured by Azzurra of Italy for Alchemy Design Award. The basin features an integrated laundry basket beneath it and is designed by Paolo Ulian. Available in pure gloss- white, Tandem measures 420mm across. the basin.

Supr saver showers

While large shower enclosures simply scream luxury, with the price tag that extravagance affords, those designed for smaller bathrooms are often considered a cheaper option. But a small bathroom doesn’t necessarily equate to a low budget.

Bob Bowlen, managing director of Showerlux, points out:“With the average UK bathroom getting smaller due to   new builds and properties with multiple bathrooms, this is an outdated perception. Homeowners, today, want as much luxury from a small bathroom or en-suite as they would from a spacious one, which is why you can now find luxurious I enclosures to suit the smaller bathroom.”

And Pete Mills, sales director of Aquaplus Solutions, agrees:“Space-saving certainly doesn’t have to mean boring, cheap or uninspiring. Even in the gmndest of homes and apartments, you will find bathrooms and en-suites that aren’t blessed with endless amounts of space.”

Seeking style leaders

Such is the demand for stylish, space-saving shower enclosures, manufacturers have worked hard to create models for the most design – savvy of consumers. People now expect their space-saving shower enclosure to provide the same coveted look of larger models. It means that the semi-frameless or frameless look, together with thick glass options and even ‘easy clean’ treatments are filtering from walk-ins to space saving models.

Loraine Henderson, marketing director at Roman, says: “The latest look for  space-saving enclosures is in-line with the current trend towards minimalist design with limited framing and glass at least 6mm or 8mm thick.” And Clive Organ, salesand marketing director of Lakes Bathrooms, agrees: “The trend is towards heavier, thicker glass and reduction in framing on doors. The quality and luxury suggested by 8mm models is growing rapidly in demand.” ln fact, Aquaplus Solutions has taken it one step further and has just launched sliding door enclosures and three-sided enclosures with 10mm thick, ‘easy clean’ glass as standard.

Letting slide

Semi·frameless or frameless designs are available in a raft of space – saving shower surrounds. Quadrants, pivot, sliding doors and inward openings are among the models that designers can use to help maximise showering space.
Jayne Barnes, managing director of Aqata, says: “Space-saving enclosures can be placed in corners, in alcoves or against a wall. A pivot door on an enclosure set into an alcove can save space, or curved glass against a wall rather than a corner… can save space.”

Michael Hoyne, CEO of Merlyn Industries, agrees and points out his most popular models: “Traditionally, space-saving shower enclosures have been curved quadrants, bi-fold and pivot doors. The sleek sliding doors and clever in-fo|d doors are becoming increasingly popular and meet the design needs of consumers.”

His views are re-iterated by David Savage, general manager of Heritage Bathrooms: “Single panel in—fold doors and single sliding doors are popular because they help achieve a more minimalist look and, as they do not swing open outside of the shower are much more efficient on space.”

Tailor-made enclosures

However an interesting proposition for bathroom designers has been the introduction of bespoke showering screens. Created to match the exact dimensions of an area, bathroom designers can begin to explore using otherwise redundant bathroom space for showering. Bespoke enclosures can be considered for areas too small or just too awkward to lit a standard enclosure, such as beneath a pitched ceiling. Loraine Henderson, of Roman, suggests:  “Retailers and designers need to forget about the space they don’t have and think about the space they do have – how it can be used in the most effective way, so that the biggest showering space is the one presented.”

And, arguably, one of the best methods is by creating a tailor-made showering area. Jayne Barnes, of Aqata, says she has noticed a demand for bespoke showering enclosures: “In terms of offering a tailored solution to the consumer the increasing prevalence of bespoke personalised products is certainlygrowing in the premium end of the market, particularly semi-frameless styles.” She continues: “Our service is showing increased demand not only for bespoke products, but also specialist survey and installation direct from Aqata.”

In fact, Pete Mills says tailor – made enclosures will be the future for space-saving concepts: “It is bespoke offerings that will have an impact (on sales). I expect, over the next few years, manufacturers will follow suit and start to offer made to-measure shower enclosures and wetroom panels.”

Small is beautiful

Whether tailor-made or a standard-shaped and sized enclosure, certainly there will continue to be a market for space- saving models. And with the continuing trend for premium- priced but bijou city apartments, it supports the theory that not all small bathrooms are low cost. Retailers and designers should ensure that their enclosures cater for a wide range of budgets, offering space-saving models at the luxury end of the market too.

Fair trade

The recent Mary Portas ‘Secret Shopper’ TV programme, featuring the sofa furniture retailer CSL, could have easily been substituted for the kbb industry. She helped increase the fortunes of this company, simply by focusing on improving customer service. Mary suggested it removed promises of discounted prices, with ‘can’t buy cheaper’ quotes, by introducing a ’best price’ for all sofas in the store.

I constantly hear the mantra that ‘you just have to discount’ in the kbb industry to secure sales. No-one wants to be the first to break the status quo and yet CSL did just that – and won. And it’s all the more impressive in an industry where discounting is not just expected, but where advertising messages focus almost entirely on this tactic.

Deadset against sales

The sale becomes a vicious circle. Prices are discounted and sales go up. Yet they are often simply cannibalising future potential sales. This results in sales reducing post discount period, leading to the decision to go back into a sale period and so on. The CSL approach to always offer their best price – no sale, no discounts, no misleading pricing was a brave move.

Not running a sale period in December last year was even braver. The results spoke for themselves. Despite a slow start, CSL had its biggest trading day ever, with a 30% increase on its previous best performance. It was making a very  clear statement – the product is worth the price.

Delivering customer value

Conventional marketing wisdom suggests that there are two clear drivers for delivering customer value – economic and psychological. Economic value is driven by function, reliability and durability. For a kitchen or bathroom purchase, this is delivered by ensuring the customer buys good quality product that fits their home and works well. Psychological value is delivered through the relationship created between consumer and reseller during the transaction.

Creating a level of trust with the customer by considering their requirements, making suggestions and developing a proposal that delivers on these. And then ensuring goods are received in a timely manner; in good condition and resolving any issues promptly. Added value services, such as installer recommendations (making sure the end to end experience is positive) and following up after-sales messages to ensure all is to the customers satisfaction, can all add further to this psychological value. Deliver on this and economic value is also enhanced. And perhaps, one day, we may be ready to follow the example of CSL and create an industry where the question of price becomes a distant second to that of value.

Most wanted May2011

An electrical switch with wave control, for touch-free operation, has been launched by Niko. A wave within 100mm of the switch will cause the edges to illuminate and the light to operate. Approach sensors are built into the light, so the switch recognises when someone approaches.

Part of the Hydr8 shower enclosure range from Twyford Bathrooms is this walk-in enclosure, complete with side panel. As the name suggests, it is made from 8mm glass and measures 1950mm in height. The enclosure boasts 50mm adjustment for walls which are out-of-true.

AEG has introduced the MaxiSense induction hob with a zoneless hob surface, meaning you can use pans of any size, almost anywhere on it. It measures 910mm with bevelled edges and features Direktouch controls. The hob has 15 power levels, a Stop & Go function, programmable timer and child safety lock.

Water saving showers

The Maia Skincare Shower from Methven is part of the Kiri collection featuring ten single function designs. The Maia features an integral vitamin C cartridge to reduce chlorine in the water  as well as rotating head, offering four settings. The shower includes three models, a shower kit, handset and hose with wall – mounted bracket and handset and hose, all of which require high pressure installations.

The V2—T Thermostatic bath shower mixer was showcased by Roca. The handset can be fitted with a flow regulator or limiter valve to control the amount of water flow,  ranging from 4 litres per minute to 12 litres per minute. The V2-T has a built-in temperature restricton limiting the temperature to 48°C to meet Part C of the building regulations.