After a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic, this year saw the return of ISH, Europe’s largest bathroom fair, to Messe Frankfurt. Here’s our roundup of news, views and trends from the show…
For many operating across the global bathroom industry the traditionally biennial ISH fair in Frankfurt – which also covers the heating, ventilation and air conditioning sectors – is undisputedly a must-attend event and, if the packed halls of the fairground, the impressive, multimillion-pound stand designs and final data from organiser’s is anything to go by, this year’s ‘comeback’ show didn’t disappoint.
Over the five days of the show 2,025 exhibitors welcomed 153,734 visitors. The show’s international pull was also highlighted with exhibitors attending from 54 countries and visitors from 154 international destinations.
After Germany, the major visitor countries included the UK, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, China, Poland, Austria and Turkey.
According to a Messe Frankfurt survey, 94% of visitors said the show allowed them to achieve their goals and 96% said they were satisfied with the range of exhibits.
We often refer to the KBB sector as a fashion industry and the stands – each with its own unique story to tell – and product innovation this year really emphasised this focus.
Kbbreview spotted a plethora of design trends running throughout the show. Colour, ranging from bold primary colours and to the more subtle pastel shades, for instance, was everywhere.
We don’t just mean everywhere in terms of the halls either, the use of colour was prevalent across various product categories including sanitaryware, brassware and furniture. Particular highlights were Roca’s Nu brassware series and new shades for Villeroy & Boch’s Artis basins to mark its 275th anniversary.
Reiterating the importance of statement products to the sector, another significant theme was designer collaborations. While not a completely new trend, it was interesting to see the extension of some existing partnerships as well as new collaborations with some very high-profile names from the world of design, including the launch of Duravit’s Qatego collection by Studio F.A. Porsche.
Whether it’s because our understanding of the need for multigenerational design is increasing or simply because awareness for the technology among European consumers has grown, there were a significant number of launches across the show in the shower toilet category.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of this trend was the fact that there were new models and new technology being launched across all segments of the market and not just the premium, luxury end.
In terms of style, once again soft, rounded edges and organic shapes were the order of the day. On the furniture side there were lots of examples of open shelving and cabinets with glass doors – where the contents almost become the focal point – as a nod to the trend we’re seeing for blending living spaces.
As well as being a showcase for innovation and a source of inspiration, ISH provides insight into some of the key issues affecting the industry. This year, the overarching theme was sustainability, namely what the sector is already doing to reduce its impact on the environment but also how this commitment needs to evolve and, ultimately, how that all translates through retailers to the end consumer.
Wolfgang Marzin, chairman of the board of management of Messe Frankfurt, said of the show: “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.”
As mentioned, colour was one of the strongest design themes running throughout the show. There were many notable examples but Roca’s Nu collection, comprising taps in an array of bright colour finishes was a particular highlight. The tap has a slender 35mm diameter body that comes in Mint Green, Cobalt Blue, Honey Yellow, Titanium Black, Glossy White and chrome options.
Villeroy & Boch, Artis
Villeroy & Boch used ISH to launch three new colour options – Frozen, Forest and Deep Ocean – for its Artis surface-mounted washbasin range. The new finishes, which are said to be inspired by nature, mean Artis is now available in a choice of 10 hues. The original design concept of the BiColour series remains the same, where the coloured outer surface contrasts with the basin’s white gloss interior.
Hansgrohe, Pulsify Planet Edition
In keeping with the show itself, sustainability was the main theme of the Hansgrohe stand. Aside from its ‘Green Vision’ sustainable bathroom concept, one of the standout eco innovations was its Pulsify Planet Edition. The hand-held shower is made from recycled material and is said to use up to 60% less water than other hand-held showers from Hansgrohe, while maintaining the same experience. All raw materials used are also recyclable.
This new collection by Noa Design Studio for VitrA is M-Line which the brand says is “designed for the modern bathroom with classic references”. This series features a range of basins and coordinating furniture options – under-basin units, tall units and mirrored cabinets – in a range of shapes, sizes and finishes. Units with glass fronts that wouldn’t look out of place in a living room, are a key addition.
Laufen, Il Bagno Alessi
It may be 20 years old but the Il Bagno Alessi collection, designed by architect Stefano Giovannoni, remains one of Laufen’s most successful and long-running collections. It was revamped for ISH, using the brand’s Saphirkeramik material, perhaps best demonstrated by the new version of the Tuna basin which highlights the flexibility of the material in design. A new bath made from Sentec was also showcased on the stand.
Studio F. A. Porsche has designed a new range for Duravit, Qatego, that combines straight-lined furniture with gently rounded sanitaryware, enhanced with wood and natural stone. The collection is said to offer extensive opportunities for individualisation thanks to a range of sizes, colours, shapes, and materials. The designers say they “see the washbasins and furniture as a single unit of design and functionality”.
TOTO, Neorest WX
TOTO used its stand to launch the Neorest WX, the latest addition to its luxury range. Inspired by Japanese hygiene practices, the design and technology have been enhanced to create a streamlined model, with a lid that raises and closes automatically and an LED light under the bowl to make it easy to see in the dark. This model uses just 4.5 litres per flush and features the brand’s EWATER+ hygiene technology.