The desire for originality and self-fulfilment in the bathroom

It is a development so ubiquitous that we are barely aware of its true scope: individualism is the megatrend of our times. As if the uniformity that prevails all around the world – thanks to global brands, soaps that flicker across TV screens in every language imaginable and the smooth, faceless architecture of our megacities and capitals – were merely some kind of blue screen, a backdrop for the differentness of the individual. 


Is it globalisation, the standardised aesthetics promoted by magazines and the all-encompassing trend waves of fashion that sweep up everything in their path that create the pressure to define ourselves as “different” in the first place? Or is it exactly the opposite? Is it actually these very phenomena that have given us the freedom necessary for individualism? However that may be, the fact is that the desire for originality and self-fulfilment is growing stronger all the time. 


As a result, homes are no longer built for generations but for our own aspirations, for the here and now rather than tomorrow. And this development does not stop at the bathroom door, even if this particular area of the home resisted it much longer than others. After all, a bathroom is supposed to satisfy general requirements and look timeless so that, if necessary , it can be used by subsequent occupants. But what was regarded as progressive in the pioneering days of industrial design – i.e. standardisation – is now considered outdated, behind the times and, at best, a “satisfactory” status quo. Instead, today’s conventions of sophisticated bathroom design require a mix-and-match approach, an original designer item or at the very least a novel vintage piece, and even the flooring calls for something special, such as an up-to-the-minute used look. Throw in a little extravagance in the form of a rainfall shower and that’s it, you’re done. 


But is that really it? Is individualism really more or less synonymous with originality? Is there nothing more to it than “the trimmings”? What about the bathroom products themselves? The furnishings would seem the most feasible route to individualism because they lend themselves to customisation. But how realistic or practicable is made-to-measure furniture that comes from a factory and not from a carpenter? And what about bathtubs, fittings, showers and bathroom ceramics? How on earth are they supposed to be customisable? Or even modifiable? 


In fact, however, the industry is already developing what for many consumers might seem like a futuristic vision – actually, much of it is even ready for market. That’s why, with this year’s Pop up my Bathroom trend platform, we want to explore the possibilities for customising the bathroom, present the different solution strategies being pursued by manufacturers and point out the directions that bathroom culture is taking as a result of the individualism trend. 


Because besides demographic change and the adaptations bathroom design will have to make as a result, it is individualism that is providing the strongest impetus for the industry’s development. Retrofit-friendliness and modifiable components, customisable programmes and digital programmability, multifunctionality and sustainability are just some of the requirements it gives rise to. Trade professionals will need to come up with selection guides, intelligent installation systems – for both new builds and renovation projects – and a new training culture if they are to master the challenges of this megatrend successfully. 


Strictly speaking, of course, the idea of creating typically individual bathrooms is a contradiction in itself. But we’ve tried anyway – with the bathrooms presented here in the form of innovative 3D collages that draw a half realistic, half visionary picture of the customised bathroom. Because even individualism exhibits patterns that we can follow. I hope you and your readers/followers/individualists like them. 


Until the start of ISH you will get forther information about the single trends at our blog.