She continues, “The vanity area is often a focal point within the bathroom, whether it’s a small powder room or an expansive master suite. The sink and faucet are an exclamation point to the room’s décor.”
Manufacturers are also using interesting design elements to make vessel sinks a focal point, she adds. This in turn creates a demand for wall-mount and vessel filler faucets. “Incorporating these types of faucets into a room provides a beautiful twist on a typical lavatory faucet,” she adds.
Many of the same factors that impact other products play a role in what’s happening with bath sinks and faucets. “Green design, economic conditions and Universal Design are all important factors,” says Taylor. “In the end, the bathroom is meant to be a pleasant looking space, but also a functional, environmentally sound space that doesn’t break the bank for the consumer,” he says.
Murray agrees that green design and legislation, Universal Design and other factors come into play, but says they’ve become a point of entry. “Manufacturers such as Danze constantly take these elements into consideration when developing new and enhancing existing products. We have focused a lot of our initiatives into providing faucets that are water-saving, yet don’t sacrifice performance,” she says.
Suvak adds that consumers want green products to be convenient and cost-effective, and they don’t want to sacrifice performance. “The bottom line is they want ‘greenvenience,’” he comments.
The rise in the number of people in the home also plays a part in design considerations, says Flowers. “As the typical family dynamic continues to change, bathrooms are changing with it. As college kids and even grandparents move back into the home, the bathroom space now has to accommodate all age groups. With more people in and out of the bathroom, it’s important for homeowners to consider wear and tear on the products they use,” he says.
Economic factors impact the market in many ways. The recent downturn, says Magarik, means that demand for high quality, exquisite design and long-lasting durability must be balanced with affordable pricing.
Murray agrees: “There’s no doubt that economic conditions affect sink/faucet purchase decisions and trends. However, homeowners are savvy. They want great design, but value these days is also critical. They’re making more thought-through decisions and want it all…beautiful design, exceptional value, quality that reassures them…all within an experience that makes them feel good every day,” she says.
Suvak adds that the definition of value has evolved, and is not simply limited to price and brand. “Consumers have become more selective shoppers. Ever more discerning and intelligent shoppers are becoming increasingly demanding in their decision making. In many cases, their decisions now often require a pause for extra consideration, research or consultation from trusted sources,” he says.
Other manufacturers say that their luxury offerings are not as affected by the dip in the economy. On the contrary, the sales that seem to wane are those on the lower end, according to Zimber. “We are positioned in the luxury end of the decorative plumbing market and our high-end pedestal sinks and consoles continue to do well. This also goes for our bronze sinks, which are gaining sales momentum, while sales of the less high-end copper sinks are flat.”
We are a tech-savvy society, and manufacturers say that this must carry over into the products they offer. “As technology increasingly becomes a seamless part of Americans’ daily lives, people are expecting to see it more integrated in their kitchens and baths,” says Flowers. “Europe has already adapted digital technology in the bathroom, and we should continue to see this trend grow in popularity in U.S. homes.”
McKinney agrees that technology is playing a key role in product design in the bathroom. Delta’s Touch2Oxt Technology features a 4" sensing field to which the faucet automatically responds when a user approaches. When hands are moved out of range, the faucet shuts off the water flow, she says.