Expert opinion: The rise of inclusive bathroom design
Glen Wilson, Head of Projects from GROHE UK, discusses which product categories the brand forecasts to experience growth in the coming months
Inclusive design is by no means a new practice for designers. However, with increasing legislation, discussion in the media and activists promoting the need for more accessible design, more and more are looking to increase their knowledge on the subject and ensure they are privy to the latest innovative solutions on the market.
As a leading global supplier of complete bathroom solutions, GROHE’s R&D team has pioneered the seamless integration of accessible features into its product design, in a way that benefits the wellbeing of all individuals. Here, Glen Wilson, Head of Projects from GROHE UK, shines a spotlight on product categories the brand forecasts to experience growth in the coming months.
Whilst many may look immediately to sanitary and brassware fittings as a first point of call, the precedence is much more now on first-fix solutions that future-proof a property or building, allowing them to be flexible to change in years to come to suit its users. Shower toilets are incredibly important when thinking about inclusivity, and the installation frames that sit behind the wall are also being viewed as key investments for improving longevity of a build, particularly in the residential market.
The first fix
The latest installation systems for wall hung toilets are designed with future changes and adjustments in mind, taking into consideration how family homes might need to adapt in years to come. Features include integrated flow managers allowing for simple adjustment of water flow; and integrated electric sockets which facilitates easy plug-and-play installation for shower toilets. Whilst shower toilets may not be the right specification for the project at this exact moment in time, designers can now also specify for the future as well as the present and ensure their client has flexibility later down the line, without significant additional investments.
Shower toilets continue to grow across all sectors in the UK market with continued projection to do so over coming years, making flexible installation systems an ever more logical solution. From an inclusivity perspective, this product category is by far one of the most innovative and accessible around due to the features that promote intimate wellbeing, hygiene and optimise independence in the bathroom for less able users; from automatic flush and lid opening and closing, to personalised app-controlled washing and drying functions.
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The importance of tech
Technology is changing the way we interact with every day fixtures in the bathroom. From app connectivity and smart features in shower toilets to completely touch-free interactions thanks to innovations like infra-red technology. Infra-red taps are already commonplace in many commercial settings, in part due to their water-saving capabilities but their touchless design also make them excellent considerations for inclusive spaces. With no buttons to push or handles to turn, water flow is started and stopped purely via sensors detecting movement in or around the basin. Some designs also come with pre-installed programmes as standard so that temperature is also optimised for both safety and hygiene.
The same reasoning is being applied to showers too. Intuitive push-and-turn style buttons with pictograms are just one of the more accessible options beginning to infiltrate the market. Smart options such as Bluetooth-connected shower heads that connect to a remote control are also new innovations launching this year, meaning the lightest touch of an icon button can activate the shower. The remote can be placed within the shower enclosure or outside of it and affixes easily to the wall, offering the opportunity for architects to design flexibly and tailor the specification to their clients’ needs.
Inclusivity across all touchpoints
Designers and manufacturers are beginning to change the way they design accessible bathroom features, helping to bring accessible design firmly into a 21st century mindset.
Practical additions that can help provide increased independence and easy movement around a space such as grab bars and arm supports for toilets are now being offered in a much wider range of colour finishes. Now no longer designed to stand apart from the rest of the design but fit seamlessly into the aesthetic, coordinating perfectly with other accessories and brassware in the room.