Q&A with Sanipex Group Managing Director, Daryl Barker

Q

Open-plan and wet room showering has become a popular way of making compact bathrooms feel bigger and creating a luxury finish. Do you think this market has room to grow further?

Wetroom showering is becoming the standard in the luxury and hotel sector, and will eventually cascade down into other segments of the market as costs of products reduce due to increased volumes. A morning shower is the wake-up call for most people and sets the mood for the day and should therefore be an important area in the home. In the luxury and hospitality sector the wetroom is becoming a home spa area.


Q

Recently there has been a shift towards hotel-inspired bathroom design, particularly towards the higher-end of the market. Do you see this continuing?

The increase in the tendency for people to travel and the growth in the number of boutique hotels is having a major influence on bathroom tastes for the home. Resort and boutique hotels are designed by interior designers rather than architects, who are more creative and have a wider scope, bringing colour and texture to their designs. When staying at such hotels, people appreciate that a bathroom is a place to relax and rejuvenate, rather than just a functional room with a specific purpose. We can see tremendous growth in the luxury resort and boutique hotel sector worldwide.


Q

How important is storage as part of a bathroom’s design?

Until five years ago, storage in the bathroom was functional and not very well designed. Nowadays the bathroom has many options for storage solutions, which set the tone for the design of the bathroom. We are seeing a lot more natural looks coming into furniture design, with major emphasis on heavily grained woods and hand painted finishes, therefore mixing practicality of effective storage with pleasing aesthetics.


Q

The bathroom has become a place of well-being and relaxation, rather than a purely functional space. What are some of the products/solutions that help create the right ambience?

Most high-end resort bathrooms now feature freestanding soaking baths in a wide variety of materials. As BAGNODESIGN we are mainly supplying bath tubs in our own Bagnotec and Bagnoquartz material, which has a matt finish and hence adds a soft look; the less reflection in the bathroom the better. Likewise, we are seeing huge growth in non-reflective finishes for taps and showers such as Matt Black, Brushed Nickel and Brushed Gold or Brass. Our tile sales are more focused around matt finishes and natural stones, rather than high gloss finishes. A sanctuary such as the dream bathroom should be calm and the only light reflection should be from a subtly lit mirror.


Q

With the trend residentially towards hotel-inspired bathrooms, how has this impacted on the hospitality sector? Is comfort and luxury now at an even higher level here?

Resort and boutique hotels are obliged to offer an experience to their clients that is better and more exciting than what they have at home. So it should be a better sanctuary, offering special spa showers or perhaps a bathroom within an open bedroom, such as the recently opened Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel in Dubai. Toilets are becoming more hidden away, which we see as an ongoing trend in hotels, which I believe will happen in the home as well with a separate space between the bedroom for showering, bathing and dressing. We are fortunate to work with some of the world's leading hotel designers who are continuously innovating for the flagship hotels and resorts.


Q

How have trends in washroom design changed/developed over the past five years? Have designs followed the bathroom in terms of comfort taking more of a priority rather than just being practical spaces?

Washrooms break into two sectors, the first being office and institutional. This market has become more about practicality and durability and is heavily driven by the architects. We see a lot more stainless steel products, more hands-free and concealed dispensers with a massive reduction in paper. Washrooms are more coordinated and really reflect the stature and philosophy of the owners; they are very much a status symbol for the company. The second sector is food and hospitality, which tends to be driven by interior designers, therefore usually making a statement on behalf of the hotel, restaurant or club or it may even be a showpiece for the designer. A lot of black sanitaryware is being used as well as feature basins in wood, marble, metal, glass or coloured ceramic.