Get into your thermals

04 Jul, 13

With the so far disappointing summer, isn’t it about time you got into your designer thermals? asks Philippa Turrell

When times are tough it may seem frivolous to discuss ‘designer’ products, but what ‘designer’ refers to for radiator and towel warmers, is that there is more to a heating source than just its function. Susan Jordan, co-director at The Radiator and Bathroom Gallery, says: “I’d define a designer radiator as a model which is manufactured by a world-renowned established brand. It should also be more than just a functional piece; it should be an object of beauty.” And beauty comes in many guises, from hoops to coils, plants to paperclips, through to arguably the most sellable and accessible – ladder designs.

Winning UFH fight

Seemingly, consumers still can’t get enough of these fashionable heating forms. And this is even despite increasing interest in concealed heating sources such as underfloor heating (UFH). Simon Doyle, marketing manager for Pitacs, explains: “When you consider that 70% of the UK is renovation, you need to consider that underfloor heating is unrealistic for many of these projects in terms of application, cost of application and the fact that it’s a lot less forgiving of poor insulation levels. Furthermore, to fit a designer radiator, both disruption and costs are significantly reduced compared to underfloor heating.”

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Bathroom starting point

And there is no sign of sales dipping for designer radiators, as these stylish heating symbols are yet to reach their potential. The bathroom is still probably the most obvious place to include a designer radiator or towel warmer, as Susan Jordan of The Radiator and Bathroom Gallery, says: “There are clearly more sales for designer radiators for the bathroom, as this is the area where people most commonly associate this type of product and consequently make purchases.”


Making multiple sales

But, accomplished designers will recognise there is also potential for designer radiator sales growth in kitchens too. In fact, where designer radiator sales can really come into their own, is the opportunity to sell models throughout the home. It’s a trend kitchen designers are already starting to embrace, by creating open-plan kitchens and extending furniture into living, dining and media areas. Simon Doyle of Pitacs says multiple designer radiators sales are now starting to take off: “We are seeing an increase in the use of designer radiators throughout the whole home and not just the kitchen and bathroom.”

Show wide selection

But which models should designers and retailers consider to tempt the wallets of consumers, ripe to remodel or even to encourage refreshment purchases? While some industry experts point to stainless steel and aluminium models leading the way, Barbara Borghesan, brand manager of Glass Idromassagio, says: “Nowadays, the notion of a decorative element being alien to its context is being left behind in favour of objects that blend into their surroundings, that reflect the design choices of other objects in the room.” And Susan Jordan agrees, adding: “Picking the latest trend won’t cut it; you’ve got to use a model that works within its setting.”

She also issues a word of warning: “Time and time again, I’m shocked at how designer radiators and towel warmers have been used inappropriately. Designers need to have advice not just on the design, but the practical aspects too. It’s important to consider the heat output, whether it’s needed to warm just the towels or the room too, and what type of system it’s put on.”

Certainly the trend for designer appeal radiators looks unlikely to waver in the future. There will always be a market for über fashion conscious heating sources for premium, designled projects. However, as Susan Jordan concludes: “It’s really exciting as a specialist in this industry to see these designs and to be able to offer them. But you have to pull it back to reality and realise that the majority of sales will continue to be for modestly-priced, chrome-style towel rail designs.”