Trendspotting 2021: Finding Luxury Within Smaller Bathrooms

Do not underestimate the power of a small bathroom space. This is one of the few areas in a home that can be kitted with the most lush products to make you feel truly pampered, and you don’t necessarily need extra square footage! We also spoke with heads of leading brands on their version of compact luxury, and here is what they had to say…

For those of us who can’t afford the space or the luxury of dedicated quiet rooms in our homes, bathrooms hold a special place. Besides their obvious purpose, bathrooms also provide an escape from the excessive hustle and bustle of the real world. Whether you’re in for a long, warm bath or just some time staring at yourself in the vanity mirror, this space offers the much needed comfort zone to relax, even if for a brief period of time.

Up until now, bathrooms have most often been designed with an MEP focus in mind. Think of it as a designer taking a plumber’s opinion first. It’s usually one of the smallest spaces in the house or hotel, and nearly always functional in design. But if COVID and the lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we should be paying more attention to our homes. Especially our bathrooms. There is so much more we can do with bathroom design to elevate this space into the luxury area status it deserves.

AXOR: The Shower Heaven features 3 spray modes – Rain (powerful, pattering rain jet, ideal for washing hair), Mono (exceptional, soothing relaxation jet), and extrafine, enveloping rain (PowderRain); The MyEdition faucets, AXOR have created a blank canvas, setting the stage for personal creativity

Over the years, our view of what constitutes luxury and comfort has changed. While some aspects have stayed the same, new products and styles have entered the fray. Here, we have put together the top trends in modern luxury bathroom interiors, and to get a broader scope, we spoke to experts from the top brands operating in this sphere.

“Earlier, while designing a home, the bathroom was often the most neglected space, but today, the definition of luxury bathrooms has changed,” says Sandeep Shukla, Head Marketing & Communication, Global Operations, Jaquar Group. “When spending time in the bathroom, one can gather his/her thoughts and plan the day, or destress and unwind after a hectic day. The bathroom gives you your personal space that nobody can invade. People do not mind spending a little more money while designing this shrine to make it a place they enjoy. To them, the modern luxury bathroom designs are a combination of style and practicality.

Ideal Standard: The Ultra Flat New Shower Trays offer one of the slimmest, smoothest designs on the market with a depth of just 25mm; The Intellimix is a unique, smart-mixer, sensor tap that provides soap and water together in a hand washing cycle simply by waving the user’s hand over the tap, helping improving efficiency and hygiene

Bath Jewellery

Two words you won’t often see clubbed together, but yes, it’s a thing. Just like how we love accessorising our clothing with watches, chains, rings, or bracelets made of precious (or shiny) materials to level up our style, bathrooms can do that same too. Handles, faucets, knobs, bathtub linings – all of these can be replaced with luxurious materials to make the space look glamorous. Interestingly, it doesn’t always have to be brass or gold. Polished black and matte gold are also hot right now, as well luxury industrial hybrid designs. And if you really wanted to step it up a notch, there are crystal fixtures you can add to make your bathroom look like it was designed for royalty.

One trend within this category is to add colour and design to seemingly mundane or purely functional items. Experts claim that this adds a dimension of personality and aesthetic, so there’s a sense of aesthetic pleasure when using them.

AXOR’s Global Brand Ambassador, Michael Kiolbassa, recently held a webinar on the concept of compact luxury in the bathroom, where he talked about AXOR products designed by Anotonio Citterio and Barber Osgerby. We asked him if luxury had to translate to expensive, and this is what he said:One trend within this category is to add colour and design to seemingly mundane or purely functional items. Experts claim that this adds a dimension of personality and aesthetic, so there’s a sense of aesthetic pleasure when using them.

AXOR Citterio’s distinctive flat surfaces brilliantly reflect  light. With balanced proportions and elegant geometries, the collection suits any bathroom ambience. It comprises an extensive range of products, including faucets in a variety of handle styles.

“In the past, luxury focused on representation and showing-off. Luxury mainly translated into materialistic objects. In recent times, life has become more stressful and high speed. And so today, luxury means having time for oneself. The room to enjoy time and more in the bathroom, which is a very intimate room, a space for your body and soul. Luxury means doing something good for oneself, caring for your body and being able to relax in a hectic world.

Daryl Barker, Managing Director at Sanipex Group shares a similar sentiment. “Luxury can now be represented individually by the owner or designer. It is in the eye of the beholder and therefore personal. A simple coloured or decorative wash basin can easily convert a plain bathroom into a design-led, luxurious one, if that is what the owner loves. Today, luxury is much more than an aesthetic; it is a space that creates a feeling of sanctuary to the owner through their individual preferences. We see this in the increased use of natural and tactile surfaces over gold-plated or branded products.”

hansgrohe: With RainTunes, water, video, light, sound, and fragrance combine to create an all-embracing sensory rush. Your shower becomes a place where you can live out your moods, and a wonderful space to slow down and relax. Just choose the shower scenario that emotionally appeals to you most in the moment

Wellness and the Natural Connection

We’re not focusing on just biophilic design here, but it does include that as well. Most bathroom materials are ceramic, marble, and metal, with the exception of towels. But it doesn’t have to be. Natural materials in the bathroom can really make it go the distance in terms of ambience and quality, and you don’t have to trade off the luxury component. Also, wellness and biophilic design go hand in hand, and are strongly connected with luxury. After all, luxury doesn’t mean opulence alone; comfort is a big part of it too. It has long been established that incorporating natural elements into a built environment significantly reduces stress and blood pressure levels. Why should the bathroom not include these as well? After all, bathrooms are now being associated with relaxation and self care, and a calm escape.

“In this pandemic-struck life, daily burnout and enforced hygiene is a reality,” says Sandeep. “You work so hard, and you deserve some rejuvenation time. Having a wellness zone in your home is re-affirming to yourself that self care is a necessity. This can be achieved with a combination of wellness products that accentuates a bathing space and declutters your mind.

“High value materials still play an important role, but today we are using mainly natural materials for sustainability,” says Michael. “Natural stone, such as marble and slate, and wood that bring the cosiness of the living room into the bathroom. Even leather can be used (see AXOR MyEdition).

A great starting point is natural light. We guarantee you that 95 percent of bathrooms that you’ll see have sparingly little natural light, if at all any. Including larger windows, possibly with a view, and strategically placed mirrors to maximise the ambience can make your bathroom a wondrous, relaxation space. Other equally important additions are greenery, natural materials, such as wood, and organic shapes wherever possible. The more you make it seem less clinical, the greater the luxurious effect.

GROHE: The Icon 3D is a revolutionary, metal 3D printed tap, born of the latest technology. The aesthetics form a silhouette of dazzling precision, lightness and modern elegance


You knew this one was coming. If the kitchen can start moving towards a digital, smart, touchless, and customised space, then why not the bathroom too. From automation to enhanced sensory experience, technology within bathroom fixtures is getting quite exciting. Common trends include smart toilets, heated floors, and smart showers. There’s no shortage of options, but the key is quality over quantity. It is important to think of what you want to achieve. With luxury design, it comes down to a balance of convenience, comfort, and aesthetics. Take Kohler’s Moxie showerhead and wireless speaker – an ideal example of technology integrated into bathroom design. Oh, and have you taken a look at the Grohe 3D printed collection? It will forever change the way you think about faucets.

“Luxury has always meant space, but more and more people are moving to modern cities and metropolises where space is limited,” says Michael. “Nevertheless, we want to have bathrooms in which we can relax and calm down, and therefore intelligent solutions are needed, such as water and energy saving technologies, especially for the shower, but also for the wash basin. Plus easy and intuitive use, and digital technologies, such as handgrohe’s Select and Raintunes.”

Kohler: The Moxie shower head and wireless speaker, combines a luxurious spray with high-quality audio from Harman Kardon, turning any shower into an immersive sensory experience

“Touchless technology has now been completely integrated into luxury bathrooms, especially in the hospitality sector, says Daryl. “The hygiene benefits are the key driver in the current climate. Yet, the trends in the last 18 months have brought colours and alternative finishes to market, allowing touchless products to be more easily adapted in any luxury design. The Aquaeco Matt Black touchless mixer and dispenser ranges, for example, have been highly specified in this period.”

A truly interesting piece of technology that we are currently drooling over, is chromotherapy showers, a system where your bathing environment is immersed in brilliant hues of red, blue, green, orange, and other shades to enhance your bathing experience. Each mood lighting system leverages the power of colour light therapy to invoke and stimulate the senses, body, and mind.

BAGNODESIGN: The Aquaeco Matt Black Touchless Mixer allows for better hygiene, especially in places with high footfall; The Revolution Wall Mounted Mixer; The Koy range in washbasins; The Toko mixer in gold

Redefining the bathtub and shower space

A freestanding tub is generally associated with opulent bathrooms, most likely a subtle way to show off the amount of space that is available for it. While this is still the case, bathtubs and shower designs in general have come a long way. A quick google search will reveal some truly magnificent options.

A popular, trending design is the walk-in shower. It sheds the idea that shower areas have to be confined spaces, and instead takes advantage of as much room as is possible in the bathroom. Combined with technology, such as a ​​thermostatic mixer valve, gives you a supreme, luxury shower setup.

The rain shower and tub design is another excellent one. You experience the joy of rain without the discomfort of the cold. Take, for example, the horizontal shower ATT, that claims to be a water massage experience that delivers the ultimate feeling of wellbeing. Unlike traditional showers that require standing in space, this one asks you to lie on your back or stomach, while the water pressure is carefully adjusted to create a revitalising experience. While the practicality of the concept is up for the debate, it is still unique in design.

Jaquar: The Queen’s Prime range has been designed to evoke the regal elegance of the Victorian era. The original form of the range has now been updated for the modern age with graceful lines and a sleek, slender, updated silhouette; Designed by Matteo Thun Milan, the Laguna range offers simplicity of form in a cohesive collection of materials, colours, and combinations

We ask the experts, what they think people get wrong when creating or conceptualising a luxurious bathroom?

Sandeep Shukla, Head Marketing & Communication, Global Operations, Jaquar Group

“The pandemic has forced hygiene into the spotlight, and people need to pay attention to creating hygienically-optimised products – solutions and designs that reinforce the perception of clean, germ-free spaces to increase safety and confidence,” says Sandeep. “The next ‘new normal’ for bath spaces will blend existing product design with innovation to shape the future for housebuilders. The bath and sanitaryware design needs of the current times require touchless technologies, optimised hygiene, and, of course, aesthetic elements.”

Michael Kiolbassa, Global Brand Ambassador, AXOR and hansgrohe

“Many people mainly look at high value materials when designing their luxurious bathroom, but before starting, the user should be asked of their needs and wishes,” says Michael. “The wash basin is mainly for washing face and hands, and brushing teeth, and so, the shower becomes more and more important, especially in smaller bathrooms where there isn’t any space for a bathtub. In this case, one needs to think about what the shower should do for you, whether it is to start fresh into the day, calm you down after work, or a relaxing experience in the evening before you go to bed. Today, there are a great variety of products for a modern shower. For example the AXOR ShowerHeaven with four spray modes, among  them, and the new PowderRain Spray that can help you achieve all that.”

Daryl Barker, Managing Director of Sanipex Group

“Luxury is a subjective design style,” says Daryl Barker, Managing Director of Sanipex Group for BAGNODESIGN. “There can be one stand-out statement piece in a bathroom to create a luxurious air, or there can be many in an effort to further elevate the level of luxury. However, there is a fine line between luxury and ostentation. In a time when maximalism is as popular as minimalism, there needs to be an understanding of the consideration needed to deliver a ‘more is more’ approach. The specification process entails curating a collective with balance, in order to create a cohesive design narrative – this can be difficult for some people.

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