Architects are increasingly looking to tie washroom design into the overall look of a building’s interior – and high-spec products are becoming more commonplace. Trevor Bowers of Washroom Washroom explores the diverse range of solutions on offer.
By continually pushing the boundaries of design, creating new products and utilising the latest materials, manufacturers have developed an extensive range of options for the washroom – giving architects the tools to create unique design-led washroom spaces to complement the rest of the building. But it’s clever new high tech materials that have really been the game-changers – delivering finishes that are as practical as they are aesthetically pleasing.
Glass, marble and stainless steel have long been used in washroom designs but new materials, offering exceptional versatility and aesthetic properties, including solid surface Corian, toughened glass, and ‘smart’ surface material Fenix NTM look set to dominate the washrooms of the future.
The latter is one of the stand-out developments in recent years in the sector, a highly durable acrylic resin surface material manufactured by Italian manufacturer Arpa Industriale using the latest nanotechnology and ideal for use in a number of applications including washrooms.
Not only is it anti-fingerprint, hydro repellent and resistant to scratches and abrasion, it is also thermally self-healing and light fast, so it won’t fade over time. The fact that it is also easy to clean, mould resistant and boasts enhanced anti-bacterial properties is an additional benefit for both clients and facilities managers.
With its matt appearance, soft touch and with low light reflectivity, it is becoming increasingly popular with architects and interior designers when a luxury high performance finish is required.
Spoiled for choice
The advances made in the manufacture of glass have also impacted on washroom design, as it can now be effectively used throughout a washroom, including cubicles, duct panels and even lockers. Specially toughened glass provides a high specification, smooth finish without the need to compromise on performance. As a result, glass cubicles are now frequently specified for use in offices and commercial buildings.
It’s not just the increased durability of glass that has secured its place as a key feature in modern washroom design, but also its design versatility. With the option to back paint glass, it can fit in with virtually any washroom design or colour scheme. There are also ways to incorporate digitally screen-printed designs behind the glass, adding a further bespoke element to the overall design, while textured glass and acid etching opens up more possibilities for a greater array of finishes.
Veneers, which can be applied to cubicle doors as well as to duct panelling and splashbacks, are another excellent way for architects to link the washroom with other aspects of a building’s design. Both real wood veneers and engineered veneers, which can be specifically designed to ensure a consistency of colour, can be carefully chosen to exactly match woodgrains and types used in the lobbies and common areas of the building to create a subtle link and cohesive design.
Page Lacquer coating is another option, which can be used to create a highly polished, ultra-glossy finish but also allows wear and tear to be easily repaired and re-polished in situ for a high specification finish that is guaranteed to stand the test of time.
When it comes to vanities, solid surface materials such as Corian, which lends itself to being cut, bent and joined to produce a desirable seamless smooth finish, offer the perfect balance between style and practicality. Available in a wide range of attractive colours and textures, Corian can be used to create a bespoke washroom space that is as hardwearing as it is aesthetically pleasing.
Eye for detail
Innovation is also reshaping the washroom accessories market meaning that bespoke touches, like crafted oak door handles and architectural ironmongery, can be carried throughout the design.
Never before have washroom designers had such a wealth of practical solutions at their disposal. There’s huge scope to utilise new materials, products and finishes to stunning effect – creating washrooms that not only look exceptional, but which also save building managers considerable time, energy and money.
Trevor Bowers is a director at washroom designer and manufacturer Washroom Washroom