Roundtable: Bathroom Design

The hotel industry is constantly looking to reduce water consumption and conserve energy, and with bathrooms being one of the main areas that consume the most resources, experts tell HME how bathroom design has evolved to accommodate these vital factors

Sustainable designs are on the agenda for many bathroom suppliers, including Aliaxis.
Sustainable designs are on the agenda for many bathroom suppliers, including Aliaxis.

Meet the experts

Jane Jacobsen, Marketing and CRM Manager, Aliaxis MEA

Thomas Boyd, Managing Director, Dornbracht Middle East

Louise Pitt, Marketing & CRM Manager, Geberit International Sales AG

Christele Barakat, Global Projects Accounts Manager, Kohler Middle East

What are some of the latest developments in bathroom design in the region?

Jane Jacobsen: The latest bathroom trends combine aesthetics and functionality. Clean, space-saving, and smart designs are considered important. Water saving, recyclable material, and sustainable features with matching simple but diverse designs have never been more important in the region’s hotel developments.

Thomas Boyd: As a favourite place of retreat, bathrooms have become a personal ‘private spa’, where attention focuses on the needs of the individual: recharging the batteries, reducing stress and recovering. Dornbracht’s LifeSpa concept epitomises the holistic approach to bathroom planning and furnishing in the sense of a healthy and illness-preventive lifestyle – as much in the private bathroom  as in an exclusive hotel.

Louise Pitt: We see the maximisation of space with the removal of visual barriers in the interiors. Bathrooms are now becoming part of the living and sleeping areas, creating a natural flow between the areas.

Christele Barakat: The black bathroom. Black is back — or maybe it never really left. An iconic ‘goes-with-everything’ neutral that’s long signalled elegance and sophistication in fashion and home design, black is equally as popular for performance sports cars, nail polish, sneakers, and now, even faucet finishes.

What is your most requested product in the Region?

Jane: Aliaxis’ bathroom brand Sanit offers simple designs with concealed functionality. The product includes diverse models to different finishes in distinct designs.

Thomas: Our horizontal shower — launched  for the first time in the industry, it provides a reclining shower experience. Six water bars recessed above a reclining area and an electronic control element make up the application.

Louise: Shower surface Setaplano — the trend for bathrooms continues with the spa experience with larger spaces and a bathroom to pamper oneself  in. The space allows for rejuvenation with neat ceramics, sleek lines, wall drains, and stylish shower channel drainage and cisterns concealed behind the wall.

Christele: Kohler recently introduced two new vessels that reflect and build upon the essence of art in daily life. The new vessels collection, known as Mica, comes in two shapes of circular 
and rectangular.

What are some of the challenges you face as suppliers?

Jane: As a supplier of many concealed products that are vital for a healthy lifecycle of hotels, it is often difficult to create awareness of the importance of high quality mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) products and technical features.

Thomas: In the Middle East, we face challenges with fluctuating water temperatures especially when it comes to the use of thermostatic mixers for showers and baths.

Louise: 2016 emerged as a year of challenges which is not helped by the continued tightening on global liquidity and the drastic drop in oil prices. The effect in the construction industry was observed across the  Gulf.

Christele: What most challenges Kohler in the MENA region is what excites us; it is the opportunity to tackle some of the world’s interesting challenges when it comes to creating a customised, luxuriously comfortable bathroom experience that meets the Arabian taste and the desire for sustainable products.

Why do you think bathrooms need to be trendy?

Jane: The bathroom remains the first area that hotel guests have a close look at when checking their guestroom. Therefore, it is very relevant for a five-star hotel resort or mid-range hotel to have classy bathrooms; no customer is impressed by water leakages or visible low-budget designs. For a desired comfortable stay, bathroom design is very significant and essential.

Thomas: Bathrooms are no longer viewed simply as a place to wash and cleanse oneself, but as a place of retreat and the same is true for hotel bathrooms. Guests want showering experiences that balance, energise, and de-stress them.

Louise: Clients demand well-engineered products that offer sustainable solutions in durability, functionality, and design alongside a wide range to suit all types of projects and price expectations in line with market demands. We are certain that the bathroom of tomorrow will look different and need to meet these new demands in the region and worldwide.

Christele: The concept of the bathroom has evolved over the years from an area where we spent the least amount of time, to one where we spend a lot of time enjoying our moments of relaxation.

How do you customise your products for a property’s specific needs?

Jane: Beside many finishes, ranging from stainless steel, gold plated, glass, to plastics, Sanit has also developed a new design for a trendy bathroom look. The LIS flush plate includes a light-sensor for lighting effects when entering.

Thomas: Dornbracht is able to customise products through precise engineering and technology, be it a big Sensory Sky, creating different types of rain, fog, light, and fragrances or pre-programmed water choreographies.

Louise: Smart features are constantly being incorporated into modern bathrooms. Trends continue to move in the direction of relaxing and comfortable bathrooms. All Geberit products are exemplary in terms of water and energy consumption and sound insulation.

Christele: Kohler’s whole philosophy in design is to fuse local cultures and regional tastes with the values of the company to fuel creativity and design products that are relevant to the customer’s wishes.

Is price a major concern in recent times?

Jane: Price is always a concern, but quality should not suffer because of it. Especially with hotels, high quality standards of operations is a major factor in a hotel’s lifecycle costs. Investing in quality products remains an important factor in lowering operating costs.

Thomas: Dornbracht, as a premium manufacturer, stands for highest quality. An increasing number of people appreciate that the products they buy are produced with a focus on quality, sustainability, and precision. Transparency regarding the origin of our products and the materials used is important and offers them confidence.

Louise: Value engineering is a challenge but you have to look at the full life cycle of a product to see its true value, and the support we offer as a manufacturer is very important. Having had a presence in the region for more than 25 years, Geberit is committed to the Middle East market providing a support network of technical consultants for its customers.

Christele: Quality and design play a more important role than price when it comes to designing bathrooms. With our comprehensive portfolio we are able to provide a variety of affordable and luxurious options that can fit all hotel budgets.

What are some of the latest sustainability measures in the bathroom design segment?

Jane: Sustainable designs are on the forefront of many bathroom suppliers. Aliaxis’ companies are no exception with leading certifications, including ISO 9001, and Green Building Council certificates from Singapore. Sanit, Aliaxis’ bathroom brand, has furthermore obtained the water efficiency label and Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) to state its water-saving technology that meets LEED and Estidama standards.

Thomas: The issue of sustainability is of great concern in the development of our products, which are all ecologically sustainable. Dornbracht fixtures are made from 100% recyclable materials. For the purposes of sustainability and in accordance with technological progress, we introduced a copper-zinc alloy for all wash stand and sink fixtures.

Louise: Sustainability is of utmost importance to Geberit. We make every effort to use natural resources carefully, thus making a contribution towards protecting the environment. This begins with the development of our products and extends to their production and use through to responsible recycling.

Christele: Kohler’s new  rainhead showerheads use Katalyst technology, an air induction system that makes each drop feel bigger and perform better. Our other sustainable products include Kohler DTV+ system, a digital system that allows users to preset the duration of showers to save water. Kohler has  also introduced the first 3L flush toilet in the market complying with  Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organisation (SASO) standards.

Jane Jacobsen, Marketing and CRM Manager, Aliaxis MEA

Jane hails from Denmark where she began her career as an event coordinator at the University of Southern Denmark in Copenhagen. She moved to the UAE in 2014, and has been with Aliaxis since early 2015. She is currently the marketing and CRM manager at the firm and organises company events and activities to improve engagement and teamwork abilities.

Thomas Boyd, Managing Director, Dornbracht Middle East

Originally from Australia, Thomas has worked in all aspects of the kitchen and bathroom industry for more than 20 years, including installation, design, manufacturing, and supply sectors, working in senior management positions on major projects and national accounts throughout the Asia Pacific and MENA regions during the last fifteen years. Currently working with German Dornbracht Group, as the managing director for the Middle East, Thomas is responsible for brands Dornbracht & Alape.

Louise Pitt, Marketing & CRM Manager, Geberit International Sales AG

Louise is from London and has lived and worked in the GCC since 1986. She is currently with Geberit in the Gulf regional office in Dubai, ensuring brand’s desired image, position, and strategy is maintained in the GCC market. Formerly with Landmark Properties, Loiuse started her career with Thomas Cook Group as a business travel manager in Milton Keynes, England and then moved to the region with Gulf Air as a flight service supervisor.

Christele Barakat, Global Projects Accounts Manager, Kohler Middle East

Christele has more than 10 years of experience in sales and marketing in the interior design and construction industry. She began her career as a sales consultant at Yellow Pages Lebanon and then moved to ProCrea SAL, a supplier of interior design products in Lebanon. Christele moved to the UAE in 2013 and joined Chabros International Group, a producer and supplier of wood and veneer. Christele graduated from Université du Québec à Montréal with a master’s degree in marketing.

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