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Exhibition report: ISH 2023

We check out the five key design directions, set to impact UK bathroom design, from biennal European trade show ISH

28 Apr, 23

We check out the five key design directions, set to impact UK bathroom design, from biennal European trade show ISH

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Image copyright: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition/Pietro Sutera


In its first return as a physical exhibition since the COVID pandemic, biennial Bathroom and HVAC trade show ISH organiser Messe Frankfurt exclaimed its comeback to be impressive.

The five-day show saw 2,025 exhibitors from 54 countries and attracted 153,734 visitors, with 44% from abroad and Great Britain among the top visiting counties.

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Despite there being a 22% dip visitor attendance from the levels in 2019, reported as 188,234, exhibitors stated it had still exceeded expectations.

Sales director of Fortune Brands Okke Roosjen stated: “We can definitely say it has exceeded our expectations.

“The show has bounced back, having been postponed due to COVID in 2021, and we saw a great amount of footfall.

“This demonstrates the importance of ISH – it is not just about the ‘big players’.”

His views were echoed by sales and marketing director of RAK Ceramics UK Ben Bryden who added: “We had a fantastic week at ISH Frankfurt. Many thanks to all the visitors, partners and customers who visited our stand.”

And according to a Messe Frankfurt survey, visitors were also satisfied with the show, with 94% of visitors who saw their trade fair visit goals achieved and 96% satisfied with the range of exhibits.

Chairman of the board of management of Messe Frankfurt Wolfgang Marzin commented: “ISH more than fulfilled the expectations of our customers and came at just the right time to meet the challenges of our time such as climate protection and security of supply.”

Certainly, visitors were treated to an array of launches demonstrating the latest trends from a riot of colour, through to organic forms and material mixes.

Ben Bryden of RAK Ceramics UK adds: “This is a European show of such a high calibre that it sets the benchmark for all that is to come in terms of bathroom design in the months ahead.”

Here we offer a curated edit of design stories from the show, with more to feature in future issues of Kitchens & Bathrooms News.

  1. Riot of colour

One of the most obvious stories of ISH 2023 was the riot of colour splashed across ceramics, shower trays, furniture and brassware.

Manufacturers had embraced palettes of pastels and muted shades through to bold, characterful colours, allowing designers to create truly personalised schemes.

Duravit introduced Millio by Antonio Bullo (above) with perfectly colour matched furniture and basins, the first to be made from DuroCast UltraResist which boasts a velvety surface.

While Bette, which has featured colours on its titanium baths and shower trays for many years, introduced BetteBalance washbasins developed by Tesseraux & Partner (above).

The built-in and surface-mounted basins are available in numerous colours, including matt colours and sparkling effects.

Introducing playful colour to brassware was the Nu brassware, created for Roca by Studio Inma Bermudez (above).

Named after the French word for nude, all superfluous details have been eliminated creating a 35mm body, and a choice of three handles, in Mint Green, Cobalt Blue, Honey Yellow, Titanium Black, Glossy White and Chrome.


  1. Material mixes

Softening the bathroom space, a mixture of materials were introduced into the bathroom at ISH to create living areas.

Glass fronted vanities, felt and cork accessories, as well as the mixture of timber, ceramic with metal or natural stone, saw the bathroom become less sterile.

Burgbad introduced Accura line (above) based on vanities with bevelled carcasses and fronts in lacquer, veneer and fluted glass, in a handleless design

Accura boasts a 12mm thick ceramic vanity tops in white, black or taupe.

While the Roca stand unveiled Tura (above), created by Catalan designer Andreu Carulla, with the name stemming from the ending of two Spanish words arquitectura and cultura.

Inspired by Meditterrean light and its interplay with the shutters on home, Carulla incorporated slatted shelves into the furniture and introduced a bath headrest made from recycled outdoor fabric, plus waterproof felt storage boxes with cork lids.

Duravit teamed with Studio F.A. Porsche to create Qatego (above) which combined PEFC-certified wood in eight finishes with ceramic and, for the first time, natural stone.

Ceramic above-counter basins were installed upon stone panels made from a choice of Carrara marble, Travertine and Pietra Lavica.

  1. Soft shapes

In a move away from minimalistic linear lines, sanitaryware adopted organic forms which complemented the introduction of softer materials and matt ceramic finishes into the bathroom space.

It saw the development of new suites based on natural elements, as well as refinements of existing curavaceous suites.

Marking its 275th anniversary, Villeroy & Boch presented Antao (above), a collection developed by the design duo kaschkasch and inspired by a dewdrop on a leaf to transform a bathroom into a space with a natural look.

Among its launches, RAK Ceramics updated its Designer Collections, including its RAK-Variant washbasins (above).

Designed by Daniel De Biasi and Federico Sandri, the 5mm thick basins, available in countertop, drop in and undermount versions, were previewed in matt black and matt white finishes.

Revisiting its 20 year-old design icon IlBagnoAlessi, Laufen asked the designer of the original range architect Stefano Giovannoni to refine the collection using Saphikeramick (above).

Allowing for the creation of thin lines, it saw the introduction of a thin, organic-shaped Tuna washbasin and this was joined by a freestanding bathtub made from Senstec, a mineral composite material with tactile, velvety surface.

4. Technology

Of course, ISH 2023 doesn’t only focus solely on aesthetics but is also a hotbed of the latest technology for bathrooms.

From water-saving and super quiet WC flushes, through to shower water recycling, technology formed a key story of ISH 2023.

Sustainability was a key theme on the Kaldewei stand, as it  introduced a channel waste designed by Studio Aisslinger, Flowline Zero, which boasts optional heat recovery.

It means heat from the shower water is used to preheat cold, fresh water on its way to the shower fitting, using a heat exchanger.

Available in a choice of finishes, including the FlowlineZero Crystal glass variant (above), so sustainability can still be luxurious.

The WC was also a focus of development, following the theme of sustainable luxury TOTO presented its smart toilet Neorest WX (above).

It features all Washlet cleaning and hygiene functions, including electrolysed water  Ewater+ post-flush, automatic lid opening and closure and ability to store four programmes and LED under the ceramic.

The Neorest WX has been designed to suit a variety of luxury bathrooms.

While Roca and Laufen both showcased a super quiet flush. However, a highlight of the Roca stand was its In-Wash Insignia shower toilet (below), which the company claims to be its smartest yet.

The cistern is integrated into the bowl with a Vortex Hygiene Flush and self-cleaning nozzle, all operated by the In-Wash Insignia mobile app.

  1. Future developments

ISH is equally renowned for considering the future developments in bathroom design from architecture through to how new materials, processees and technology will shape specifications.

And this year was no exception.

RAK demonstrated prototype 3D printed ceramic pedestal basins and Finnish interior brand Woodio introduced what it claimed as world’s first 100% waterproof solid wood composite toilet seat, Woodio Block, designed by Pentagon Design.

While Hansgrohe premiered its concept Green Vision Beyond Water: Rethinking Bathroom Culture (below) to consider how will we use the bathroom in the future?

Will there be an increased need for people to have a place of retreat at home that protects them from sensory overload? And how can these needs be combined to meet the challenge of increasing urbanisation and the resulting smaller living spaces?


Created together with Stuttgart-based design and innovation studio Phoenix, Hansgrohe developed a concept bathroom that uses 90% less water and energy.

Based on consumer insight, the manufacturer created a bathroom space which serves an emotional cocoon, providing warmth, and offering simple and water-saving routines.

The next edition of the biennial ISH show will take place in Frankfurt from March 17 – 21, 2025.