ISH: It’s like a jungle sometimes…

Ripples MD Paul Crow explains why he was inspired by the product displays at ISH

If you’re looking at how to market your bathroom business this year, I hope you visited ISH in Frankfurt.

Ask me for my favourite new product and I’ll struggle to pick one. There were plenty of new ideas from most of Ripples’ suppliers and almost all of these should be making their way to our showrooms soon.

This is the Bond Street of bathrooms, where the stands are as much a battle of egos as they are a theatre for the cast of new products on show.

I like to believe that more people than not like retailing and by that I mean popping to the local shopping mall on a Sunday. This is because it’s now not so much about the buying, as the doing. Product presentation, branding and customer inspiration is an art form on the high street and you need look no further than the amount spent by stores such as House of Fraser, Harrods or Debenhams, to understand the importance of this store packaging.

Roca gets that. That’s why its champagne bar was good enough to be picked up and dropped into any of the high-end department stores mentioned above. That is why its Armani room, with its shagreen wallpaper, deep-pile luxury carpet and soft lighting was good enough for any apartment at One Hyde Park. With two floors of themed luxury ideas, it was quite a show of strength from the Spanish giant that helped fill the room, the exhibition and no doubt the industry with confidence.

What else stood out? The industry’s best interior designers had got together and agreed on plant-life as the theme. It was literally a jungle in places and, despite being far from the green-fingered type, I loved it. No better example could be found than in the Pop-Up exhibition, which I stumbled on when using the wrong entrance to Hall 4. I’m glad I did and at times it was as if Tracey Emin had gone into bathroom design with Damien Hirst. It was an artistic and wildly imaginative exhibition of lifestyle first, bathrooms second.

Burgbad had some very cool new products, and with new materials being introduced into their furniture all the time, it’s refreshing to have something that isn’t a brown or white box to offer the customer. In the right setting, for the right client, these should be a winner.

Laufen did what Laufen does and went that one step further with its SaphirKeramik technology that Ripples were lucky enough to have a sneak peak at in Switzerland last month. Inda showed that presenting accessories as well as Tiffany presents engagement rings never gets tiring and the Hansgrohe stand was, as ever, as busy as Bath Christmas market after the coaches arrive.

It all shows that if you make an effort with your showroom, people will visit. Sure there are lots of things going on in the world that will affect your business, but so what? Make it look good, make it feel good and make it fun and maybe, just maybe, we might even get quite good at this.

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