For better or wurst

18 Jun, 13

Editor Philippa Turrell looks at the show barometer ISH to gauge how bathroom industry is performing

While most people may judge the passing of a year by a significant date or event, in the bathroom industry the marker is biennial and it’s the trade show ISH. It not only showcases fashion trends, introducing the latest lines and colours palettes but also reflects society-related issues such as how bathrooms will address ageing populations and need to reduce water usage. Most importantly, however, ISH is also a barometer of how the bathroom industry is currently performing and its confidence in the years ahead.

The 2011 event was a clear indication of how the bathroom industry had been rocked by the recession, which started two years previously. Although ISH was still well attended, the Masco group no longer had a hall entirely for its brands and one well-known manufacturer – in particular – had a large, but sparse stand. It was to be expected as the research and development of product launches were developed during what had been one of the toughest economic periods in history. Manufacturers had been prudent by revisiting, rejuvenating and augmenting previous bestselling designs. It appeared the product launches were created to find their space on the showroom floor and to sell out equally quickly, with safe but ultimately sellable designs. Interestingly the last outing of ISH had attracted UK manufacturers to exhibit at the show, many for the first time. As the home market toughened, they were looking to attract export business.

So what has changed over the last two years? Well, very little. As consumers look to security in this economic climate, expect to see the continuing influence of nature, with organic shapes replacing clinical lines and – perhaps – splashes of country colours. But that’s not to say, ISH didn’t offer anything new. They may not be startling styles, evoking ‘marmite’ love it, or hate it responses but they will be (hopefully) designs that can SELL, securing the future businesses of bathroom designers and showrooms.