What will the bathrooms of the future look like?

Innovation is playing a huge part in the evolution of bathrooms, with technology, wellness and eco credentials at the forefront of their design

‘BettePond Silhouette’ bath, £7,822, Bette
‘BettePond Silhouette’ bath, £7,822, Bette

Take a look at the bathrooms of the future...

Spa & wellness

Creating an indulgent, restful bathing sanctuary is so much easier now, thanks to the introduction of mindfulness-focused baths and showers.

Gone are the days when the bathroom was simply a space to get clean. Now, it’s a place for rejuvenation and relaxation too. ‘Wellness and mindfulness are increasingly being sought at home to balance out the stresses experienced in everyday life,’ says Louise Ashdown, head of design at West One Bathrooms. ‘Not everyone has the time to visit a spa, so bringing spa-like elements into your daily routine can really help.’

Dornbracht’s new ‘AquamoonATT’
Dornbracht’s new ‘AquamoonATT’
Dornbracht

Baths designed for two offer an opportunity for a stress-busting catch-up, and whereas sharing used to mean an uncomfortable squash and somebody stuck with the tap end, now extra-large tubs such as the architect-designed ‘Forma’ bath by Inbani allow two people to soak side by side (£8,037, westonebathrooms.com). Bette’s ‘BettePondSilhouette’ is a generous, round design that’s also big enough for two (£7,822, bette.de).

Japanese company Toto continues to innovate with its new ‘Recline Comfort’ bathtubs that are made from welcoming, soft-touch material Galalato, and whose interiors are ergonomically shaped to ease the body into a position for maximum relaxation (from £7,320). These follow the success of its award-winning ‘Flotation Tub’,which relieves pressure on joints by mimicking the weightlessness of an astronaut in space(£27,000, gb.toto.com).

Also key to the home spa experience are the latest shower innovations designed to help create a holistic space. Pictured above, Dornbracht’s new ‘AquamoonATT’ features a domed, ceiling-mounted element that has four flow modes and three ‘signature treatments’: ‘Soothe’, ‘Nurture’ and ‘Empower’. Combining varying strengths, patterns and temperatures of water delivery with coloured light and scents such as ‘Citrus Blossom’, ‘OfMandarin’ and ‘Rosewood’, it’s designed to create a multi-sensory wellbeing experience(£32,800, westonebathrooms.com). Claudia Baillie

Technology

Everywhere you look, from taps to dials and lighting, the bathroom is getting smarter. But the move towards all-sensing, all- convenient tech doesn’t require surrendering design credentials.

Inax’s
  ‘Intelligent’ bathroom
Inax’s ‘Intelligent’ bathroom
Inax

As the whole house is becoming increasingly technologically interconnected, the bathroom is no exception. Just about everything in the space can be connected to one of the main smart home ecosystems – Amazon Alexa, Google and Apple. Smart heating company Tado can complete this 360-degree high-tech experience with its kits that bring underfloor systems online for app, voice and scene controls (£89.99), plus smart radiator thermostats (from £70) that add advancement to radiators and towel racks (tado.com).

Newly launched Japanese brand Inax’s sanitaryware and ceramics merge delicate, simple design with intelligent features. Its ‘S600 Line’ collection includes an intelligent shower system and antibacterial shower toilet – the Japanese, of course, being aeons ahead in the all-singing, all-dancing toilet sector (inax.com). Meanwhile, Kohler will soon launch a range of technological innovations, including t h e ‘ Ve i l L i g h t e d B a t h r o o m C o l l e c t i o n ’ , b r i n g i n g connected lighting to its freestanding bath, mirror and vanity units, its Alexa and Google Assistant-enabled ‘Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror’, the ‘Numi 2.0’ intelligent toilet – think personalised cleansing and drying, heaters and built-in speakers – and the ‘DTV+’ shower system, with voice-activated sound, water, steam and lighting settings (kohler.co.uk).

Kohler’s ‘Veil Lighted’ smart lighting
Kohler’s ‘Veil Lighted’ smart lighting
Kohler

High-quality portable speakers have become popular over the past few years, and the waterproof models are the easiest way to safely introduce sound into your shower space. The IP67-rated ‘Wonderboom 2’ Bluetooth speaker by Ultimate Ears is the best sound you’ll get. It will also survive being fully submerged in your bath – up to a depth of one metre for 30 minutes – and it floats (£89.99, currys.co.uk).

Over the past five years, we’ve seen a number of innovative showerheads from the likes of Crosswater and Hydrao with built-in speakers, lights or controls for water flow. Hansgrohe’s upcoming ‘RainTunes’ digital shower system ticks all of these boxes, with seven in-app ‘scenarios’ tailored to suit your mood, combining choreographed water, acoustic soundscapes, fragrances, mood lighting and even a sequence of images played on a video screen, all of which can be controlled with your phone (available late 2020, hansgrohe.co.uk).

Hansgrohe’s
 ‘RainTunes’ shower system
Hansgrohe’s ‘RainTunes’ shower system
Hansgrohe

VitrA has been concealing technology in every part of the bathroom suite for a while. Its ‘V-Care’ shower toilet (from £585) has a heated seat, air purification, bidet and drying functions, and the glass-fronted, touch-sensitive smart control panels (from £1,469) optimise the flush cycle to use the minimum amount of water. Coming up next year is something even more ambitious. The VitrA smart mirror has a built-in phone- charging stand and proximity sensors. It looks like a simple mirror until someone stands in front of it, when it springs to life, offering voice-controlled assistants who can find music and check the weather (vitra.co.uk). Sophe Charara

Eco

Green credentials are more important than ever in our homes, and all areas of the bathroom are developing a green outlook.

Aston Matthews’
 reclaimed teak ‘Timor’ unit
Aston Matthews’ reclaimed teak ‘Timor’ unit
Aston Matthews

Thoughtful, intelligent design is the hallmark of an eco-friendly bathroom – as is following the golden rules of reduce, reuse and recycle. To create environments that cause minimal damage to the planet, the most effective solutions are a blend of hi-tech and lo-fi.

Toilets and showers that cap H2O are a boon as loo flushing currently accounts for a significant third of household water usage. A minimal-flush, maximum-effect toilet is Crosswater’s ‘Wild Rimless WC’ (from £465, crosswater.co.uk). ‘Harvesting rainwater and siphoning it from underground storage tanks for use in toilets and washing machines is an excellent way to create a closed loop when it comes to resources,’ says architect Sean Hill of Rise Design Studio (risedesignstudio.co.uk).

Tubes’s ‘Rift’ radiator
Tubes’s ‘Rift’ radiator
Tubes

Smart showerheads and taps – such as Grohe’s ‘EcoJoy’ water-saving system and ‘SmartControl thermostat’ (grohe.co.uk) – are now designed to splash with precision, offering high-pressure but low-water usage. Laufen’s Konstantin Grcic-designed ‘Val’ mixer has an energy-saving function that reduces water usage by 30 per cent (from £149.81; laufen.co.uk), and the ‘Diametro35’ range by Ritmonio runs at a reduced water flow rate (from £248, ritmonio.it). Tubes’s ‘Rift’, ‘Origami’ and ‘Agorà’ radiators, meanwhile, use up to 85 per cent less water than traditional designs (tubesradiatori.com).

walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s ‘Aura Bath & Spa’ paint in ‘Seapearl
Walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s ‘Aura Bath & Spa’ paint in ‘Seapearl
Benjamin Moore

Sustainability is helped by imaginative upcycling – from recycled flooring fashioned from crushed glass, remixed porcelain terrazzo or reclaimed timber. Meanwhile, bathroom units are following a similar ethos – Tikamoon has a variety of washstands and cabinets made from recycled pine (tikamoon.co.uk), and another smart alternative is Aston Matthews’ reclaimed teak ‘Timor’ basin unit (£1,331; astonmatthews.co.uk).

Environmentally friendly bathroom paints are a non-toxic counter to urban pollutants, propagating fewer chemicals into the atmosphere. Edward Bulmer (edwardbulmerpaint.co.uk), Earthborn Paints (earthbornpaints.co.uk), Benjamin Moore (benjaminmoorepaint.co.uk) and Bert & May (bertandmay.com) all offer paints that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and free from benzene and formaldehyde.

Ritmonio tap
Ritmonio tap
Ritmonio

Changes to the way you live in the space can also contribute to a greener bathroom profile. Silvon’s organic cotton towels are woven with pathogen-killing silver-coated threads to restrict bacterial growth and reduce the need for laundering (silvonhome.com). Single-use plastics are an issue, too – eschew bottled body and household products and go packaging-free with forward-thinking products such as the shampoo bars from Lush (uk.lush.com), which are made with natural ingredients such as honey, flowers and fruits – a single bar promises 80-100 washes. Non-toxic cleaning products, such as Tincture’s bathroom cleaner (tincturelondon.com) or Norfolk Natural Living’s botanical-based spray (norfolknaturalliving.com), also tick the ecofriendly boxes.

What do we need next? Perhaps a Fitbit- style carbon-footprint analytics app to conflate our data on one dashboard, to incentivise and reward those who live a sustainable lifestyle, and make the future greener. Juliet Kinsman

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration October 2019

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