“The bathroom is an important space because it is intimate – we start our day in the bathroom. I think it is a place where we need a lot of architectural inspiration. Today, the bathroom is not just a place of commodities but is also a place of inspiration, a place of emotion, a place of relaxing and wellness. It is a place where we spend time for self-care. I am almost sixty years old, and that’s where I apply creams to my face to look younger”, says Roberto Palomba, Chief Design Officer of Ideal Standard, jokingly.
Come to think of it, the bathroom has always been a kind of sanatorium for the mind. It’s a strictly non-intrusive space, and with the increasing demand for luxury spaces – bathrooms have emerged as one of the most high-budgeted spends in interior projects. However, even luxury has themes – from minimalist to colour-blocked to period aesthetics – there is no one language to luxury.
For designers, this creates endless possibilities for design innovation, but specifying a single product from a list of brands and collections becomes tedious.
The Goal to be a One-Stop Location for Sanitary Product Specifications
Being a designer, and an adept and thorough one at that, Roberto understands designers’ woes. Calla and Joy Neo, his latest ranges for Ideal Standard, have been designed keeping in mind a range of applications.
“Calla and Joy Neo are an iconic homage to neoclassicism, and one can use these products differently. You can place the Calla or Joy Neo in a super minimalistic interior or even in baroque interiors, and they’d fit perfectly. This is a good sample of what we call a singular approach. We want the designers to use our design, our product, our portfolio in a way that they can mix and match the products in their own environment,” he explains.
Using a gastronomical analogy, he goes on to simplify, “Just like a recipe – use the same ingredients, but create a different flavour. Add marble elements, adjust mosaic sizes or introduce curves and arches.”
With this, designers do not have to look through product after product. The entire Atelier Collection, including Calla and Joy Neo, provide a good number of choices that can be used in varied permutations and combinations.
“From the Atelier Collection – Conca, inspired by the desert topography, is very sensual. At the same time, the cool and calm Linda can be placed in small bathrooms, not only in huge spaces. If one grabs our catalogue, there will surely be a good solution to create the perfect connection with any designer.”
What is Good Design, and how Ideal Standard can be a partner in achieving it
Good and thoughtful collections mitigate one part of the problem, but what happens while specifying them? Visiting showrooms to view products and then deliberate is time-consuming and creates hurdles.
On this, Roberto explains, “For me, design is like an answer. If you listen to the question, you can give the perfect answer. That is why we think of the centre of Ideal Standard here in Dubai as a sort of open space for sharing emotions. We hope designers will come here and see and interact with our products, speak about their requirements, and share their visions, and we will listen to them and suggest how we can help them better. It’s a space where they will find the perfect connection with the brand.”
Frederick Trzcinski, Vice President, Marketing and Innovation at MEA, adds, “The visitors’ experience is critical to understand what Ideal Standard can provide them. We do not aim to push our ideas onto them, but we hope the people will find themselves what they need at Ideal Standard. We worked very closely with Roberto, who brought all his expertise in design – not only in products but also building the layout of this place. Our vision was to curate a space which brings inspiration to designers through advice from an experienced team and to the location of the centre on Happiness Street itself. Ideal Standard today is not only a product supplier. We design, manufacture and bring innovation to the market. It’s not only one product we bring to the bathroom but a competent global yet simple solution.”
Roberto describes what good design means to him and how Ideal Standard applies it, “Design has to have good function and performance, but also an aesthetic and an emotion that gives it the complete sense. There is no good design without good performance, but there is no good design without good emotion as well. These elements are also main drivers for what we want to do in the next steps at Ideal Standard, both in fittings and ceramics, but especially in the general concept of a complete bathroom.”
Vision for Ideal Standard
“Ever since assuming the position of Chief Design Officer at Ideal Standard, my experience has been fantastic because every day, I have the liberty to design and experiment with new shapes and solutions for architects and designers worldwide, who in turn can use them for their creations. Moreover, it’s an honour to work with a worldwide design icon, and for whose history I hold utmost respect,” expresses Roberto.
When asked what his priorities as Chief Design Officer of Ideal Standard are, he says, “There must be innovation every day. We are working for the future with our feet planted on the ground of our past. Our past is not a limit but a reminder of our consistency. On the other side, I also aspire for Ideal Standard to become a trendsetter. The next steps of Ideal Standard will strategically balance design, working for the future and becoming trendsetters worldwide. We have many targets now. We are thinking about our high-end collections, our production team, and even environmental issues are very important for us. There is a 360-degree approach to it.”
For Frederick, the vision has a more global context, “Being connected with the approach of bringing innovation to the market, we need to meet requirements for all the sectors we are evolving in – for residential, for hospitality, for healthcare. Whether we speak of the public or private sector, we have an answer to fulfil all the segments and all the channels with our ranges. We want to expand our footprint. For that, it is critical for us to keep a strong relationship with our current partners and bring in new partners. With Roberto Palomba leading this Design and Specification centre, we want our visitors to be inspired.”