Plumbing fixture stores today are showcasing numerous lavatory sinks in different shapes and dimensions. To complement the many forms, faucet manufacturers have stepped forward and are offering their collections in different heights and spout reaches to better suit the lavatory sink. The water stream should hit the bowl at the optimum angle to avoid splashing and allow the user to comfortably wash their hands. The spout design and more importantly the angle of the aerator are essential water flow delivery. Grohe, for example, for the premium collections has elected to use aerators that pivot and allow the user to fine tune the angle of the water stream.
Although in Canada, polished chrome remains the dominant, timeless finish in the bathroom and kitchen, new warm finishes are coming to the forefront. The tones are more realistic and reminiscent of real, aged metals. Different shades of dark grey to black are often being requested by designers. Designers like the stark contrast they create and to help anchor the space. Rose gold for years now has been a popular trend in jewellery. Both shiny and matte tones have made an entrance into home decor, including plumbing fixtures. Rose gold adds a feminine touch to the space and some manufacturers like Vissoni, have added details in other more masculine colours to balance the overall look. Various gold and bronze tones are also being proposed by North American manufacturers. Designers are leaning towards shades that are matte and more subdued but elevate the space and make it more luxurious. Although manufacturers are offering variety on the market, delivery times for a faucet in a finish other than chrome can be 10 to 12 weeks.
Today the majority of designs on the market are contemporary or transitional. They have simple, clean forms that are practical and functional. However, depending on the style of the home, the homeowner or designer can opt for something that speaks to the design aesthetic of the home. Pared down, square minimalist designs are best suited for modern spaces. European manufacturers are masters of this design aesthetic. The simplicity of the lines speaks volumes to the discrete design. Traditional faucets with ornate details and curved forms complement hundred year old homes that have retained the old intricate architecture. DXV, the luxury brand from Lixil make it easy for people. They offer collections that celebrate four distinct eras and capture all the nuances that recreate a room reflective of the period.
No longer just reserved for special occasions, jewellery with lots of bling is another trend that has influenced fixtures. We are seeing crystals and precious stones being integrated into the handles or the base of the faucet. People want to create more refined spaces and a touch of sparkle will add an element of personalization. The Grohe Kensington faucet with Swarovski crystal handles continues to be a favourite because of the timeless design and the sparkle it creates.
The latest technology is being used to either produce fixtures or operate them. American Standard used 3D printing technology to create a new breed of faucets for its luxury brand DXV. The water magically flows from the opening yet most of the spout is hollow. The faucets are as bewildering as they are bewitching. The technology pushes design into new directions and offers possibilities for the future. In the shower, fixtures by the main North American brands are controlled by smart devices or control panels that provide an intuitive user interface and a multi-sensorial shower experience.
Water shortages and new regulations to address conservation in North America have forced manufacturers to adopt new maximum water flow standards. Also the increase in numbers of builders constructing using LEED standards has prompted the shift to fixtures that deliver less water per minute. Everyone is doing their part to create living spaces and products that are more sustainable. Earlier this summer, lavatory faucets moved from delivering 5.7 L/min (1.5 gpm) to 4.5 L/min (1.2 gpm). A minor change that makes a considerable impact over the year, but it does not affect the performance of the faucet.
Many of these trends and more will be on exhibit at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Orlando in January 2017 and at ISH in Frankfurt, Germany in March 2017.
Maria Bosco is director of marketing and training, Grohe Canada.