Bathroom evolution

What will the bathroom look like in twenty years? What spaces and technologies will reflect social changes? And in a world where ecology becomes an indispensable ethic, what are the responses of the world of production?

Research conducted by the Zukunfinstitut, the influential Frankfurt-based think tank helmed by Matthias Horx, with the collaboration of Grohe and Villeroy & Boch, has led to four scenarios, based on an online survey conducted with a sample of 1075 German citizens and integrated with analysis of social developments and present trends in international design.

The research points to a “multi-iD” bath, a multi-generational place using digital devices, capable of transforming based on the needs of the whole family, for example by altering temperatures, adding music or colored lights, but also with adaptable heights for fixtures and different wall facings. A bath where accessories are transformed thanks to the use of pervasive but invisible technology – as in the case of mirrors that can also be used as screens.

The “wellbeing bath,” on the other hand, responds to the need to feel healthy and fit. Tools installed in the space monitor the physical activities of users, checking on their state of health and proposing appropriate training activities thanks to dedicated apps.

The “zero emissions bath” reflects the need to reduce environmental impact. 75% of Germans see energy savings and efficiency as one of the most important aspects of the restructuring of the bathroom. New technologies could thus permit service modules, like faucets and drains, to self-regulate, recovering heat and transforming waste water into methane, so baths no longer depend on public water or electric utilities. This is a possible scenario, because the technologies are already in place.

Finally, the “relaxation bath” responds to the desire of 71% of the people interviewed to have a personal space in which to rediscover the balance between body, mind and spirit. It is an evolution of the concept of the spa, more focused on the holistic dimension and on private space, where technologies like virtual reality can produce therapeutic effects through practices of meditation.

“Time has become an increasingly rare resource and people are under greater stress. Therefore the new bath will continue to evolve from a rational space oriented primarily towards hygiene and care of the body, to a more emotional space where everyone can devote time to themselves, as desired, leaving the world behind,” says Paul Flowers, Senior Design Vice-President of Grohe AG.

by Valentina Croci