October 28, 2014

5 Emerging Kitchen & Bath Trends

What’s shaping the bathrooms of the future? A movement torwards high-performance surfaces that mimic natural materials, advanced faucets and bidets with an eye for sustainable luxury, and other innovative technologies are already beginning to make their mark. 

1. Toto refers to it as a “washlet,” Duravit as a “shower toilet.” But whatever you call it, those high-end toilets that spray a pulsating stream of warm water at the sitter’s rear are poised to take bathrooms around the world by storm. Kohler has a new entrant to this field. The CR-230 toilet seat “with bidet functionality” allows you to retrofit an existing toilet with the latest bells and whistles, like a touchscreen remote control, air-drying function, seat warmer, sanitizing UV light, deodorizer. But it has a slim profile that doesn’t scream “high-tech toilet” quite as loudly.

2. Ever since the Energy Policy Act of 1992 capped the flow rate of showerheads at 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), the holy grail in this field has remained fairly consistent: How to recreate the satisfying sensation of being drenched by hot water, while meeting federal conservation standards? Toto’s Aerojet+ technology takes a two-prong approach: First, water is circulated in a hollow chamber inside the showerhead to force air into each droplet, thereby increasing volume. Second, the flow of water pulsates, creating a series of subtle bursts. This luxurious but eco-friendly feature can found on 2.5 gpm rainshower products.

3. Shou sugi ban, an ancient Japanese wood-charring technique, has been used for millenia to extend the life of wood. More recently, it has become prized for its one-of-a-kind look. Now the Italian company 41zero42 has replicated the aesthetic with uncanny realism in porcelain tile, using a high-definition digital coloring process. The Yaki Collection is available in four colors with two finishes, and comes in 15 x 120 cm and 15 x 30 cm dimensions.

4. An innovation from Italy’s ABK Group promises to make the process of installing large-format porcelain tile less challenging. Select tiles in the company’s range are just-flexible-enough to ensure that the tiles bond to the underlying substrate, even with the surface isn’t perfectly flat. The materials used to create these “auto-leveling” tiles are eco-friendly and meet LEED design criteria. The technology is available in all 20 x 170 cm and 40 x 170 cm tiles produced by the group and can be found under the ABK, Ariana and Flaviker brands.

5. Hansgrohe’s new Focus kitchen faucet incorporates technology from the manufacturer’s well-regarded line of water-saving showerheads: It infuses the water stream with air to create a bubblier spray, while a precision elastomer dynamically changes diameter based on how strong the water pressure is; the stronger the pressure, the less water is allowed through. The Focus also has a high 16-inch arc to ensure that tall pots fit underneath easily, a 150-degree swivel range, a magnetic catch that holds the sprayer in place.

>>See more from the October 2014 issue of Interior Design

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