From touch-free and added texture through to their significance in the totality of room design, we check out the impact of bathroom taps and accessories
With the past year focusing on the importance of handwashing and consumers realising the value of investing in their home, following multiple lockdowns, it’s unsurprising there has been a focus on bathroom mixer sales.
According to product manager of showering, bathing, brassware and heating at PJH Richard Eaton comments: “Here at PJH, sales of our Bathrooms to Love taps over the last year have been on the increase, with a 37% increase in sales compared to the previous year.”
In a post-COVID landscape, brassware has been influenced by hygiene measures, adapted from commercial applications and now featured in homes.
In equal measure, the continuation of the trend for the bathroom to form an escape space from the stresses of the outside world, is also more important than ever, is supported by a growth of desirable designer fittings and matching accessories.
Touchless tap technology
Reducing touch points has seen growth of contact technology, which has included flushing systems and more recently touchless bathroom taps in the home.
Michelle Noakes, managing director of Mereway Bathrooms, comments: “Infrared taps are becoming increasingly popular at a time when hugiene is at the forefront of all our thoughts.”
And Paul Bailey, leader of category specialist UK at Grohe and Lixil EMENA, is even more emphatic when he states: “We have seen an unprecedented demand for products such as infrared taps in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, which suggests the hygiene trend will be on the fore of everyone’s mind moving forward, regardless of size or budget.”
Interestingly, the use of proximity sensor technology also supports the sustainability agenda, reducing water use and the energy needed to heat it.
Monochrome and warmth
However, it’s not just the operation of brassware driving sales, but its role in creating a fashion-led, spa-like retreat from the stresses of the outside world.
Marketing manager at BC Designs Sally Cutchie explains: “Brassware is a crucial element of bathroom design and an area we always recommend that consumers invest in.
“It can make mid-priced sanitaryware look expensive or can be the downfall in making expensive sanitaryware look cheap.”
But what are they key looks for bathroom brassware for 2021 and going forwards?
Crittall-style enclosures continue to support sales of black finish brassware, buoyed by the trend for monochrome and industrial-inspired settings.
And sales director of HiB Ash Chilver agrees black is popular, adding: “For us, sales of our Atlas range in the black finish have always been excellent, but recently we launched our brushed brass Atlas brassware finish and this has become a strong range for us that has been welcomed by retailers.”
While chrome undoubtedly remains the most popular finish for brassware, alternative metals such as brass add warmth to the space. Paul Bailey of Grohe and Lixil EMENA, comments: “An easy, yet effective, way of creating that ‘at home space experience’ is to update the classic chrome tap for a coloured alternative.
“Metallic finishes, such as brass, copper and gold are a great way of adding colour in a subtle way and will add warmth to the space too, which is important when creating a luxurious space.”
It meets the trend for personalisation, which not provides consumers a wide array of finishes but can also mean a choice of handles or inserts in a variety of materials.
An equally strong sales story has been the progress of texture, from the likes of matt and brushed finishes through to crackled detailing and even knurling.
And these knurled details are now appearing on a broader brushstroke of brassware. Swadling Brassware, Vado and Cubico have all recently introduced bathroom mixers with a knurled finish.
Richard Eaton of PJH adds: “More finishes and textures, such as matt black, brushed brass and industrial-inspired knurled textures are gaining popularity.”
And sales director of HiB Ash Chilver agrees, commenting: “We have found that the knurled effect has become a popular texture for customers looking for something a bit more attention-grabbing without going for a different finish. We predict this will remain popular for customers.”
Seamless accessory design
However, arguably one of the greatest movements has been the coming together of brassware and accessories, helping create a cohesive look for the bathroom.
Paul Bailey of Grohe says brassware manufacturers have recognised the tendency for consumers to want a consolidated look by now offering a seamless brassware and accessory solution, adding: “There has been a significant shift into the importance of bathroom accessories as part of the overall design and aesthetic of the bathroom as consumers’ views change.
“Brands are beginning to offer complete accessory packages that are of more value in price, however offer a convenience to consumers.
“Complete accessory packages offer the product in matching design and colour, taking out an additional planning step for the consumer and helping to create a seamless aesthetic within the bathroom space.”
And Julie Lockwood, product manager of furniture, vitreous china and accessories for PJH, says she has seen this in her company’s sales: “By co-ordinating taps with accessories is helping to increase sales of accessories and we have also see healthy sales in this sector.
“We added an Italian-designed accessory range to our Bathrooms to Love Collection last year, and sales here have risen considerably in the past 12 months.”
Certainly the bathroom taps and accessories market continues to evolve as consumers now have a greater choice in colours, finishes and brands with the likes of Australian Meir and Canadian Riobel brassware entering the UK market.
It all goes to show, these are no longer just functional fittings but the essential finishing touches to the design of the bathroom.