What’s new in bath sinks and faucets? There’s no one, simple answer to that question. Today, design trends in bathroom sinks and faucets vary dramatically depending on geographic location, with regional trends having a decided impact on market choices.
What’s hot in the Northeast is often passé in the West. What the urbanites consider chic may not be en vogue in the cosmopolitan areas. Add to this mix a very tough economy, which has led to more people renovating older homes rather than building new, and you have an eclectic mix of styles turning up in bathroom sinks and faucets.
“From the global economic downturn and the collapse of the U.S. housing market to political uncertainty about a new president, consumer confidence is down,” says Judy Riley, v.p. of design for Moen in North Olmsted, OH.
“And because American consumers are anxious, there is a psychological need for escape.”
Of course, there’s no better escape than the bath, and that means consumers are focusing on creating bath havens that are soothing, comfortable and comforting, with bath faucets and sinks that feature warmer finishes and softer styling.
As is the case so often in tough economic times, consumers are turning toward the familiar comfort of traditional styles, although the “soft” contemporary look is also gaining momentum.
California Faucets has seen an increase in contemporary and minimalist design over the last couple of years, but also a resurgence in traditional in the past six months. “We’re seeing the blending of traditional and contemporary design, including unexpected combinations such as a rustic finish on a contemporary faucet,” says Noah Taft, California Faucets’ senior v.p. of marketing and sales, in Huntington Beach, CA. “Our interpretation is that consumers want a modern look, but don’t want to give up their traditional roots.”
Michael Wurth, director of design for Danze in Woodbridge, IL, says that as many people renovate older homes, traditional design is in demand. “We see people asking for very ornate styling or simpler traditional design,” he says.
“More design options are popping up that have a very eclectic mix of elaborate, rich traditional detailing and simple lines like those seen in contemporary styles.”
ROHL’s Traditional Collections – Perrin & Rowe and Country Bath and Kitchen – have had continued success for just this reason, the company notes, and the company recently launched the Vincent Series, a trans-modern/transitional collection, due to the increased interest in that style. Offers Lou Rohl, COO/managing partner of ROHL, in Irvine, CA, “Transitional design allows designers and consumers to have greater flexibility when designing a bath.”
While the traditional end of the spectrum continues to be hot, the soft contemporary movement has been the fastest growing trend, according to Judd Lord, director of Industrial Design, Delta Faucet Co, in Indianapolis, IN. “The forms have clean lines, but with softened edges,” he says. “There is an understated elegance achieved through nature-inspired forms that are often biomorphic in nature.” More people are identifying these types of contemporary softer geometries and environments as casual, which is a slight shift from a few years ago when casual had a bit more of a traditional flair.
Naomi Neilson Howard, president/CEO of Native Trails, in San Luis Obiscpo, CA, is also seeing a marked trend toward the soft contemporary look, with an emphasis on products that are aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly. “Our newest copper sink designs exemplify this, such as Palisades, an apron front lavatory sink made out of recycled copper that pushes a bit to the contemporary side, but also fits in with other design styles,” she says. “It is a fairly modern design that combines both soft and hard edges with a warm hammered texture.”