“We continue to see a lot of interest around transitional style, both in plumbing products and overall room design,” comments Lou Rohl, COO/managing partner of Rohl in Irvine, CA. “Transitionally styled spaces work well because they offer a classic, enduring look that can be updated effortlessly.”
“In these current economic times, many homeowners are fixing up and doing ‘repair and replace’ instead of total remodel,” Uhl adds. “The transitional style allows for a personal eclectic statement. The homeowner can update while they replace.”
Most transitional designs, however, are an interpretation of a style that has already been established on the market. “Real ‘clean sheet’ designs are few and far between, and many of these are not accepted in the marketplace due to their uniqueness,” says Weinstein. “People have a tendency and a preference to purchase things that have staying power and look familiar, so this tends to limit the amount of truly unique designs that get to market.”
Designers can add a singular detail or create an architecture not often seen to provide visual interest in the bath without going over the top. Because it’s somewhat unique to the viewer, just applying a simple twist along the length or profile of a common arching spout can provide the right touch, according to Judd Lord, director of industrial design for Delta Faucet Co. in Indianapolis, IN.
“There is often a hint of Art Deco or Art Nouveau influence found in this vein,” he explains, “and objects such as this become quite transitional and can be pushed toward one end of the style spectrum or the other depending on the finish in which it’s presented. Both of these directions rely on simplification and feed into the eclecticism now completely accepted in interior design, really allowing one to bring their own personalities into the space while keeping the ‘visual clutter’ down.”
It could be argued that, today, the definition of transitional is changing. According to Lord, “Five or so years ago, the definition of ‘transitional’ encompassed objects with a bit of a traditional flavor and detailing, but not completely formal traditional. Today’s objects tend to have cleaner lines, leaning more towards the contemporary end of the spectrum.”
Lord continues, “While designers continue to reinterpret familiar architecture in fresh ways through form, finish and texture, the desire for less visual clutter is now driving a cleaner, more minimalist approach to designing interior objects. Today’s life in general is busy and hectic, with a tremendous amount of sensory overload. This trend toward simpler and crisp, clean lines provides a bit of a calming effect within our sanctuaries.”
However, Lord stresses that crisp, clean lines do not translate to stark, geometric Euro-inspired designs. “Instead, a lot of what we’re seeing could be termed more as ‘soft contemporary,’ for example, designs that are nature inspired or more biomorphic in nature,” he comments.
“This brand of contemporary fits quite well into the ‘transitional’ style heading as well. These more contemporary-leaning designs, whether geometric or nature inspired, are often coupled with warmer finishes such as brushed bronzes and brushed nickels to bring an even friendlier, more inviting feel to the space,” he adds.
“Within modern, the direction is away from a stark, linear look toward a soft, simple and sleeker look,” concurs Ji Kim, industrial design manager for Moen in North Olmsted, OH. “Called ‘Soft Modern,’ it’s not hard and cold, but friendlier, warmer and easier to work with in the bathroom.”
“Natural” and “modern” are the hottest buzzwords when it comes to bath sinks, with sustainable materials and natural looks gaining in popularity.
While vitreous china is still the number one choice in sinks, according to Weinstein, the more natural stone and glass remain strong alternatives.
“Glass and bamboo are newer materials that are entering the bath,” says Uhl. “Both are being used in dramatic new ways, but have a historical reference that is appealing.”