Interview with Thilo Dreyer:
“The first step towards a holistic design is listening.”


After qualifying as a master gas fitter and plumber, Thilo Dreyer went on to specialise in bathroom design as a postgraduate. As a founding member of “Aqua Cultura”, a nationwide quality certification scheme for German bathroom designers, he is committed to promoting confidence in the planning competency of specialist tradespeople. Thilo Dreyer is also a member of the Sanitation, Heating and Air-conditioning Guild and head of Erlangen Sanitation, Heating and Air-conditioning Guild. As managing director of Dreyer Haustechnik GmbH, an old established firm with showrooms in Erlangen and Nuremberg, he has expert knowledge of the quality standards it takes to design a modern bathroom complete with feel-good factor. 

What status do you think the bathroom has today, and what direction is its development heading in?

The bathroom is being used as proper living space and has become a meeting point for its users as well. That’s led to increased requirements and growing expectations: more cosiness, more life – in the form of music, for example – surface textures, floor coverings and so on. Obviously the functions of a well-equipped bathroom have to be guaranteed as well, but it’s no longer necessary for everything that’s required to make the desired function possible to be visible. The bathroom is where the day starts and where the day ends. Our customers are aware of that; accordingly, they attach a great deal of importance to their bathrooms. After all, the time we have at home is scarce enough, and we want to enjoy it. And it makes a big difference whether it’s fun to enter a cosy, tempting room to perform our morning rituals and whether we can get ready for bed in the evening or late at night in a room where the lighting can be adapted to the time of day and the materials are welcoming. As for the future, the bathroom will increasingly turn into a room where the focus is on health promotion in conjunction with water.  

What do you understand by holistic bathroom design?

The first step towards a holistic design is listening to all the future users of the new bathroom and familiarising yourself with their aspirations, habits and needs – their rituals. It’s also important to regard the room as a whole, as an entity in which the products only play a role once you’ve got a coherent overall concept. Of course it’s important to choose the right products and brands – but the room shouldn’t just be designed around the products. 

What constitutes quality when it comes to designing a bathroom?

Quality isn’t something you can churn out just like that… Planning a bathroom is a lot of work and means dealing with partners who have different ideas about how things should be done. We bathroom designers are cast in a role where we have to agree with one of the partners. But that makes the other one the loser. It’s a difficult balancing act.  

Quality means being able to guide the customer and giving him the confidence and security he expects from a professional planner. That also means e.g. drawing up a shortlist for the customer and then endorsing his decision. 

What does the potential customer stand to get out of it?

If he chooses a company with Aqua Cultura certification, the customer can be sure that the firm really does know a thing or two about bathrooms and that he’s dealing with people who have made bathroom planning and renovation their hobbyhorse. Companies that have qualified for that kind of certification or belong to organisations like the Bad & Heizung consortium swap ideas with one another, they move forward together in order to stay bang up to date on the latest developments and trends and avoid mistakes – along the lines of “what one of us knows, all of us know”. 

Which of the three trends from Pop up my Bathroom do you think is particularly important?

That’s not an easy question to answer. All three of them are relevant. There are so many facets to sustainability that I wouldn’t want to pick out any particular aspect for preferential treatment. The way we handle the resources available to us is becoming an increasingly important issue, health plays a major role as well, and we’re getting older all the time. But at the same time, people don’t want to have to forfeit comfort or convenience, they want to spend their time in rooms made for living in. 

You developed three collage tables for the “Waterlounge”, the VDS Trend Forum at its ISH booth. What’s the idea behind these visualisations?

In our talks with customers, we use collages to illustrate the colour moods, surfaces and materials of a concept. When you can play with material samples, when you can touch and experience the surface texture of brushed natural stone, when you choose the wood to go with it... then you get an idea of what the finished room will look like. The collage tables on the three Pop up my Bathroom trends are meant to emphasise the moods of the respective pictures and depict interpretations as well. Anybody that visits the Waterlounge is welcome to mix and combine the various elements as he likes, and maybe even discover a few new materials he wasn’t familiar with before. 


Do you have a favourite place in your own bathroom?

Yes – on the floor of my rendered shower. Feeling the warm water from the rainshower head pattering down on me is a wonderful way to switch off. Many years ago, a customer told me that her husband showered like that. So I decided to give it a try – and can highly recommend it! 


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