Whether the style choice is funky eclectic or Zen-holistic, the vast array of upscale options now available is redefining the bath accessory and hardware market. Manufacturers recently interviewed by Kitchen & Bath Design News say the ever-growing array of choices isn’t just about consumers spending more time in the bath these days. Rather, they’re spending that time differently than they did 10 years ago, changing both the role of the bath in the home and the type of products in demand The emerging trends in bath accessories and hardware go hand-in-hand with larger bath trends, where manufacturers have seen a warmer palette and a call for much more attention to detail than in the past. Overall coordination of bath products and finishes is also a key element of today’s designs, though quality and personalization are also essential.
“People are paying more attention to good design overall,” observes Michael Isaacs, president of Mico Designs, Ltd. in Chicago, IL. “They don’t want the generic things anymore.”
Charles Fishman, president of Cool-Lines USA in Hewlett, NY, agrees. “It used to be a little willy-nilly. You could put brass hinges on a cabinet and still use a chrome faucet. [But now] there’s more attention to detail,” says Fishman.
As a result, there’s more choice in finishes and accessories than ever before, manufacturers concur. “We live in a very large, pluralistic market….
Demographics are changing. The market is very fragmented in terms of some of these products,” adds Ed Detgen, director of marketing for Danze, Inc., Woodridge, IL.
All the Trimmings
While many manufacturers are content to present their hardware and accessories as a complement to pre-existing sink and faucet lines, some manufacturers, like Sonia America, Inc. in Sunrise, FL, are hoping to set the bar with their products.
“We have certain accessories that are going to be coming out in the future that I know have no faucets in mind,” says Jody Rosenberg, the firm’s national sales manager.
However, in a world of bath accessory choices that, to the consumer, can seem infinite, many manufacturers are hoping to help define those choices and make it easier for the consumer to come up with a style strategy.
For example, most of Sonia’s debut products are minimalist, with very clean lines. But Rosenberg doesn’t believe his market is limited to the coasts or to densely populated urban areas.
“Some of the up-and-coming areas for us are the Carolinas and Georgia,” Rosenberg notes.
In contrast, Brian Grant, senior product and brand manager for Creative Specialties International, a div. of Moen, in North Olmsted, OH, sees a continued strong presence in traditional styles, with a secondary transitional influence.
Avi Abel, general manager at Watermark Designs, Ltd. in Brooklyn, NY, agrees, noting the fact that Watermark is selling a lot of contemporary styles, but in traditional finishes. “It’s a way for people to make that transition from traditional to contemporary,” he says, “but without the stylistic risk that contemporary entails.”
In response to consumers’ desire for both plenty of style choices and the freedom to mix and match at any time, Susan Zimmerman, founder/owner of Nifty Nob, Inc. in St. Louis, MO, is launching the Basic Shapes Collection, which includes themes ranging from Art Deco to Tuscan. She believes this collection speaks directly to consumers’ desire to personalize their environment without having to change every last thing.
“I’m finding people will mix and match virtually anything,” comments Rosenberg. “You can have the softer side on your cabinets and then a little bit more flash in your accessories, and it works well together, as long as it is within the same tones.”
And while Rosenberg sees a demand for eclectic products and mix-and-match freedom, other manufacturers are seeing a different trend. For instance, Grant points to Moen’s new line of bath accessories designed to match the company’s faucets, which allows consumers to create a fully coordinated look throughout the bath. “We have one collection with matching drawer pulls, cabinet knobs, everything,” says Grant.