Kitchen and bathroom design: Reinventing classic luxury

Leading experts in the kitchen and bathroom design sectors tell CID about the latest design trends and solutions that are expected to make a big splash this year.

When it comes to kitchen and bathroom design, the theme of reinventing luxury by marrying traditional and modern design elements while leaning towards sustainable solutions, has been on the agenda for the last few years and it seems that this trend will likely continue through 2016.

Ola kitchen by Snaidero, limited edition

Commenting on the most interesting design directions in commercial interiors, Dimitra Dotsia, marketing manager of Ideal Standard MENA, says that nowadays trends take on a more emotional path, returning to softer shapes and taking aspects of nature and transforming them into functional shapes.

“The incorporation of such elements results in attractive and welcoming serene environments. And, of course, let us not forget that there is a strong urge – there has been for some years now – towards eco-friendly and energy saving buildings,” explains Dotsia.

Kitchen design by VSHD

On other hand, Rania Hamed, principal and founder of VSHD Design, sees it as the emergence of a new kind of minimalism “with a nonchalant sophistication that is bit imperfect yet cool”.

She says: “Today’s interiors fuse the new with the old, the intricate with the plain while paying great attention to details. Regardless of current trends, the need for kitchens to be sleek and modular will always remain. Yet the new trend is exposing kitchen elements that were before hidden or built-in.”

Fitted kitchen with island Mina professional by Minacciolo

Marcos Cain, director and co-founder of Stickman Tribe, a Dubai-based design firm, agrees that open shelving is now more common compared to the traditional closed kitchen cabinets.

He says: “Hoteliers are veering away from traditional design whilst keeping in mind the target market, the majority of which are now ‘millennials’. There have also been some really nice uses of chunky accent bars and counters, customised to-go concept fridges for an easy and affordable approach, and self-serve counters, giving the feel of an airport style executive lounge.”

Raw vs polished

For a more textured look, VSHD designers used wooden countertops as opposed to white cabinets.

Throughout its 70 year history, Snaidero, the Italian kitchen design company, has witnessed the subtle shifts in the role of the kitchen, currently being an essential part of both commercial and residential interiors.

“We see a growing trend towards generous surfaces devoted to cooking and food preparation with large worktops, functional islands and important storage areas for food and kitchen tools,” says Adeeb Karim Premji, managing director of Snaidero Middle East. “We see today a trend for a very industrial and non-conformist style, with no precise rules, inspired by the desire to be creative protagonists of one’s own space. Therefore, less ‘noble’ materials are preferred, such as laminates with different colours and urban-effect finishes like cement, iron and wood imitations which are both rustic and more textured and add a great aesthetic and technical value.”

Cain also notices that in both residential and commercial interiors there has been a return in the use of natural elements and materials such as wood, marble, brass and copper and especially concrete.

Worktops have come a long way in the past few years.  White marble and quartz still remain the top choice for many designers for both kitchen countertops and sinks.

Ali Maarrawi, general manager at Cosentino Middle East, comments: “To have an integral sink in the same finish as the counter can be achieved by using the XL Integrity sink from Silestone, which is made entirely from a single slab of natural quartz. It provides an even and seamless look, especially when using marble-look finishes where continuous veins are running throughout the sink and the countertop.”

Maarrawi adds that designers can accomplish this monolithic marble block look by using the large format ultra-compact surface Dekton Aura.

Silestone quartz surface, designed by Cosentino, comes in a wide variety of colors.

In past years, we’ve seen that bright chrome finishes haven’t been as present as they once were, but used only in moderation, mostly restricted to kitchens and baths. So, is chrome going out of fashion? Dirk Schilmoeller, sales director att Hansgrohe Middle East doesn’t think so, explaining that glass and highly polished finishes will continue to be big this year.

Schilmoeller says: “Glass continues to be big, with glass-front refrigerators increasing in popularity. Where designers don’t want to commit to a see-through model as the main fridge, a small one below the counter just for beverages looks great. Highly polished chrome is a design classic that won’t disappear as people love it. It’s tough and chic, even in big doses.”

What’s cooking at Eurocucina?

At this year’s EuroCucina kitchen show in Milan, Snaidero will position its range into three distinct areas. The first one, called Icons, is characterised by the projects designed by famous architects such as Paolo Pininfarina and Massimo Iosa Ghini.

“The second area ‘Systems’ features solutions distinguished by strong identity, great flexibility, intense research on distinctive and innovative materials plus internal accessories,” says Premji. “Finally, ‘Everyone’ is the most interesting challenge. This range maintains Snaidero quality, guaranteed by the same production chain, but it speaks to a young audience by means of a range of colours and materials.”

Taking technology to counter

Snaidero partners with world-renowned designers Pininfarina to create luxury kitchen designs.

The use of technology is allowing Snaidero’s designers to take universal kitchen design to a whole new level. The company has recently supplied King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center with over 500 units.

“We truly believe in technology, but only insofar as it contributes to improving the quality of life at home,” says Premji. “This philosophy has inspired the project Touch Kitchen prototype that we presented at the last Furniture Fair in Milano and that integrates domotic technology besides new interfaces to provide distance services aiming at promoting independent living for elderly people in terms of home safety and comfort. The kitchen environment will recognise the person at risk, monitor the proper functioning of household activities, support the progressive loss of cognitive functions and encourage the remaining skills.”

New on the market

New products by Hansgrohe

Hansgrohe has set a new benchmark in the mass-market segment with its Croma Select range, which consists of hand showers, overhead showers and shower pipes. All products have a two-tone finish with a white spray disc, a shiny chrome casing and a convenient handle. It has also recently launched Metris Select and Talis Select, the new kitchen mixers that combine a pull-out spray head with Select technology, which controls the water temperature and turns the flow of water on and off by turning the valve.

Schilmoeller explains: “This innovative solution increases the operating range around the sink, making work in the kitchen considerably easier. Metris Select and Talis Select kitchen mixers fit in well with a variety of kitchen design styles. The Select button is located on the top of the pull-out spray head and is thus ergonomically positioned to accommodate the thumb.”

Bathrooms get smarter, with style

Bagno Design has designed the guest bathrooms and the spa area of the JW Marriott Marquis.

The modern, cool, angular aesthetics that we have been accustomed to in the past decade are becoming softer, warmer and more emotional. By mixing modern with some more traditional elements, we are getting the best of both worlds, thinks Dotsia.

She says: “Nature is a big inspiration pool. In past two years, Ideal Standard has launched two mixer ranges under the Jado brand that take after the shapes of plants. Jes is inspired by the Aloe Vera plant and Joy is inspired by trees and their branches.”

Founder of Stickman, Marcos Cain explains that the bathroom has been one of the most technologically neglected rooms in the past, but with new technologies saturating all parts of our lives, it seems that we cannot escape it.

“We’re seeing real advances thanks to a rise in available and reliable technology,” says Cain “Suppliers have also introduced a touchscreen-operated shower, where the user can control all the features by a touch of a button. With reference to tradition, it’s interesting to note that perhaps one day we will see five-star classification for hotels remove the requirement for a handheld phone in the bathrooms.”

Similarly, Sophay Young, senior project design consultant for Bagno Design explains that the bathroom is beginning to meet the needs of a technology-driven culture, creating more livable spaces that strike the right balance between design and experience.

“Digital showers emerged on to the market with button controls, but are now starting to feature simple touch-screen controls,” says Young. “Our new BAGNOSPA digital control steam room has touchscreen operation to operate a steam app on your smartphone as well as Wi-Fi, lighting, scents, varying water temperatures and pressures.”

Hansgrohe has been at the forefront of creating new technology for bathroom design. At last year’s London Design Festival, Axor, the designer brand from Hansgrohe, and British designer duo Barber and Osgerby presented their first all-in-one interactive shower control element, Axor One.

Schilmoeller says: “The thermostat module for the shower, due to its simplicity, flatness and size, creates a new feeling of spaciousness in the shower. It features generously proportioned paddles and is flat and gently rounded. All functions are concentrated on one central control unit. Thanks to its minimalist design, the new shower encourages bathroom professionals to make full use of their options when planning and designing customised solutions.”

Samer Deeb, area manager at Roca, shares the opinion that bathroom design had come a long way in the past decade. Strongly committed to excellence in the design of its products, the Roca Design Centre was redefined back in 2005, centred on research in design trends on the basis of a multicultural and multidisciplinary approach.

“The study of space and product compensation has changed and that is all because of the new designs and innovations of bathroom products,” says Deeb. “Digital communication and smart objects are taking over our daily lifestyle and bathrooms are not far from these technologies with smarter toilets like our W+W and also wash-let WC’s combining the WC with the bidet. Our recent launches are the Inspira collection and the Atlas faucet range.”

Behind the wall heroes

The Neorest collection by Toto seamlessly combines technology, comfort and design.

Bathrooms have evolved from pure functional areas of the house to living spaces, personal havens, making them functional spaces to retreat and relax.

Louise Pitt, marketing manager at Geberit agrees that the current trends for bathrooms revolve around the idea of creating the spa-like experience.

“Larger spaces and a bathroom to pamper yourself in — space to allow for rejuvenation with elegant ceramics, sleek lines, wall drains and stylish shower channel drainage, cisterns concealed behind the wall,” says Pitt. “Acoustics play an important part of the material selection process within buildings. Building quality has dramatically improved, people are using acoustic pipes and toilet cisterns with quiet filling valves which allow acoustic levels in bathrooms to be reduced dramatically.”

Answering to market demands, Geberit launched a new front actuation slim cistern catering to the residential sector. With attractive actuator plates, this new product offers the perfect solution and finishing touch to today’s modern bathroom.

“Alongside this, the need to design and build sustainable human dwellings has now encouraged architects into thinking beyond geometry, to solutions that are not only aesthetically pleasing in the classical sense but are also environmentally conscious. When the sustainable design is integrated into the design process early on, it yields significant benefits that outweigh the initial design and construction costs.”

Hansgrohe’s Axor One collection features plain surfaces, rounded edges, and an integrated mechanical interface.

Jane Jacobsen, marketing executive at Sanit explains that in the Middle East, concealed cisterns were discredited at first because they were thought to have had less accessibility in terms of maintenance and repair.

“This was one reason why flushing technology and concealed solutions had to be high quality while enabling access for potential maintenance. Nowadays the beneficial concealed cistern is essential in every bathroom due to space and hygiene standards,” says Jacobsen. “Sanit has proven great technical flexibility with its so-called ‘cable technology’. Unlike with other concealed cistern manufacturers, the two cables that connect the flushing mechanism with the adjusted push plates offer a great variety of in-front-of the wall designs— as the push buttons are not limited to a specific one-on-one radius. For plumbers, the cable technology also offers easy maintenance and installation. Sanit has developed a push plate including an illumination sensor that offers a great lighting function, providing a comfortable bathroom atmosphere.”

More than 30 years ago, Toto started integrating technologies into products in a way that allows people to enjoy them but not see them. When it comes to 5-star experience, guestrooms at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Palm Jumeirah, Hilton Conrad on Sheik Zayed Road and Le Meriden Hotel near Dubai Airport are among Toto’s recent installations.

“We believe that technology is here to serve people and make their lives easier. Thus, we hide technology in good design,” says Daisuke Endo, general manager of Toto Asia, Oceania and Middle East branch. “One of our flagship products, Neorest toilet, has redefined the luxury bathroom experience. It is a touch-free toilet that cleans and dries you with an automated open and close of the lid and flush. The latest model of Neorest toilet offers a water saving, high-efficiency dual flush system along with eWater+ technology to keep the bowl fresh and clean longer.”

New ranges from Bagno

Bagno Design has recently launched new Mezzanine and Teatro tap ranges.

“These are available in anthracite, gold, brushed nickel and chrome finishes. The Mezzanine range also includes modern, modular bathroom furniture available in five new colours. The Teatro range includes a full range of sanitaryware,” says Young.

Sustainable solutions

Geberit has recently supplied its flush solutions with sensor actuation technology for the Midfield Terminal building at Abu Dhabi airport as per Estidama requirements.

Pitt says: “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 manufacture through to responsible recycling.”

Make way for big tiles

For the Zaya Nurai Island beach villa bathroom, Stickman designers used wide concrete tiles instead of the usual mosaic.

Instead of plain white, today’s floor tile designs feature exciting and bold patterns and are being used in fresh new ways.

Cain says: “In bathroom design a few prominent trends emerged, like using patterned and handmade tiles with a neutral palette to make spaces really pop, or captain’s mirrors which in turn introduce new materials such as leather and rope. There’s also been a rise in indoor planting to bring the outside in.”

According to Maarrawi, spacious walk-in showers will prevail in 2016.

He says: “With Dekton’s wide range of more than 150 colours and finishes and large slabs in 320x144cm format, Cosentino can accommodate such design requirements. Walk-in showers are elegant and functional for any bathroom and this can be easily achieved by using the Dekton full slabs with the increased slip resistance. The innovation behind the unique design and the superior technical features make Dekton a perfect solution for both commercial and domestic kitchens and bathrooms, health care centres and heavy traffic public areas. We have recently launched new wooden and concrete finishes, as well as the embossed Arabesque patterns.”

Water efficient products

Water consumption is a big factor in the bathroom, so there is a strong drive to minimise that consumption for both ecological and economic reasons. Ideal Standard’s products incorporate the latest water and energy-saving innovations and the company has been awarded for its expertise on water efficiency and energy consumption for Baytna – Qatar’s Passive House – the first energy-efficient house in the Gulf region.

Ideal Standard launched Tonic II bathroom solutions of ceramics, fittings, furniture and bathtubs.

Dotsia says: “Click Technology, a water-saving mechanism, or integrated flow regulators in all our mixers allow the user to reduce water consumption by up to 50% or more.  The dual flush mechanism of 4.5 / 2.5 litres in the toilet cisterns, saves more than 50% of water waste. In showering, the integrated Flow regulators cut almost 40% of water consumption. The same philosophy applies in water-saving baths and water-saving or waterless urinals.”

Roca’s faucets from Atlas collection.

We are water

Roca’s commitment to responsible water consumption has taken on a new dimension with the establishment of the We Are Water Foundation.

Deeb explains: “In the first phase of the campaign, under the slogan ‘Action/Reaction’, we give a rational and up to date account of the actions Roca is taking to protect the environment. In the second phase we communicate the same message, this time using the testimonials of people who have taken different initiatives, for example, saving water in the bathroom, which is easy to do when you use Roca products.”