Bathrooms of the future – saving us water and giving us so much more

oliver General, Healthy spaces, Materials, Technology/ Energy Saving, Water saving

Im always on the lookout for surveys and stats that tell us a little more about how we want to live, rather than the way we currently do- they can be a fascinating insight for any designer particularly those interested in the Future Home.

Well this week its bathrooms.

A recent survey of 1500 home owners by bathroom manufacturer  Ideal Standard gave us an interesting insight as to how the great unwashed, will be washed in the future. A few highlights:

  • 29% of us agree that our current bathroom does not have enough storage space
  • 47% would like the bathroom of the future to be more spacious
  • 19% want an adaptable bathroom
  • 32% would like their bathroom to be safer
  • 78% wish they could waste less water
  • 37% would like future bathrooms to be powered by renewable energy
  • 41% of people in the UK use the bathroom as a place to think
  • 25% use it as a place to relax

Quite viably they predict that the future bathroom will remember individual users using intuitive technology to help make the experience easier for the young, elderly and those less able.

They predict (much less viably!) that bathrooms of the future will be mould-able, flexible and adaptable. You will be able to define the shape of the fixtures you require simply by ‘shaping them in the air’ , perhaps…..

 

Bathrooms of the future

However what is clear is that  bathrooms are becoming more sociable spaces- more open, allowing for interaction and relaxation. As we try to fit as much family time as possible in to our hectic lifestyles, the bathroom scene is changing. Seating is a great idea in a bathroom, especially if you have a young family, children’s bath time can be a family event and having seating allows for you to join in comfort, without kneeling over the edge of the bath . . .

 

As we all know technology is rapidly taking over our lives and it’s starting to appear in the bathroom too, perhaps the one place where you thought you could escape it? But perhaps it has some smart benefits particularly  if  it is an an area for monitoring health and well being also. As we mentioned previously Toto have designed a toilet which will monitor your blood pressure, BMI, blood sugar levels and weight. All this data can then be transferred to your computer to be monitored via Wi-Fi.

 Today the average person brushes their teeth for only 46 seconds! This toothbrush from Beam and free App for your smartphone helps you to brush your teeth for the recommended two minutes with an easy to use timer and helps you to monitor your oral health. The App comes complete with brushing goals and incentives making it a good idea for children to help them learn. The App also allows for you to play your favourite song while you brush and alerts you when it’s time to change the brush head. The charts produced from the App can be easily sent to your dentist before your check up.

A questionable example of technology taking over is this bath from Brazilian design company Innovative House (Ihouse). The bath allows for you to start it remotely via an App on your Smartphone and then alerting it once it has reached the pre-programmed water level. A warming feature will also keep the water at your desired temperature throughout. But do we really need to turn on our baths on before we’re home, and what happens when it goes a little crazy as we all know technology can?

I’m sure most of us are guilty of singing in the shower and quite a few of us probably even have a radio in the bathroom to sing along to too. This rechargeable battery powered shower head from Kohler Moxie allows for you to combine your radio and shower head in one. It functions via Bluetooth from a device up to 32 feet away and has a 7 hour battery life, when you can simply unscrew the speaker and put in on charge until the next shower.

However, having music playing whilst we shower may lead to us staying under the running water for longer than anticipated. This shower timer from Pebble is a great little device which monitors water going down the plug hole. The product remembers the first shower and then uses this as a benchmark to monitor water flow, it then alerts you via a simple traffic light system flashing from green when you start, through to red when you should finish. Each time you shower the pebble takes a fraction of time off from the previous shower helping you to save water without thinking about it.

Looking further into heat recovery Dutch Solar Systems have created a shower drain heat recovery unit which is able to recycle the heat from drain water into a sustainable source of energy. The system can recover roughly 59% of the heat from your shower water.

Over 60% of the UK is considered to have hard water, which over time can block and scale up water pipes and heating systems, leaving behind a mineral build up and reducing the efficiency of not only your taps and shower heads but importantly your hot water tank. This will most likely lead to the product needing to be serviced or replaced in less time than if it were to be installed a soft water area. Having just had a Kinetico water softener installed at home, the befits are clear particularly on my shower screen which now doesnt need regular cleaning!. It uses the kinetic energy of flowing water to power itself instead of electricity and accurately meters the water to determine when it’s time to regenerate allowing for less waste and greater savings. Also thanks to its compact size it can be installed without taking up lots of space in your bathroom.

As we know plants are important to have around the home to help filter out the harmful off-gases produced from cheaper furniture manufactured from particleboard, often with a waterproof plastic veneer. These tiles from Maruja Fuentes are a great concept; the fish scale shape comes complete with a small pocket, suitable for growing small house plants. An interesting wall feature and air purifier in one.

And lastly we love this product- the interactive mirror from POSH (dodgy acronym though) comes complete with a self-contained multi-touch option. With connections via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet, the mirror has an app store which allows for you to download the latest news whilst you are getting ready in the morning, watch television and check in with your social media sites among many other options.

The future bathroom, so much more than just the smallest room in the house; its a place to relax, splash around, invigorate, check out your health, cut down on resources even spend some quality family time in. its too good an opportunity to waste!