Bathroom products

16 May 2016

This month Tanya Weaver takes a nosy around the bathroom for the latest innovations in baths, taps and showerheads

Making waves

If a soak in the bath is your sort of thing then Victoria + Albert offers the ultimate indulgence with its range of luxurious freestanding baths.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, this British brand, which produces both freestanding baths and basins, unveiled its newest bath design — the Pescadero — during April’s Salone del Mobile exhibition in Milan.

Inspired by the sea, the Pescadero features an undulating rim, designed to form a distinctive asymmetrical wave. Sculpted detailing on the inner and outer sides help to create shadow lines that emphasise its shape.

The name is even in keeping with the aquatic vibe of the bath, as Pescadero is a secluded coastal Californian town, popular with local surfers.

The Pescadero joins a long line of bathroom products developed by UK based design firm Quigley Design, who have worked with Victoria + Albert for over 15 years.

Over that time the way in which the Victoria + Albert products have been designed, developed and presented has changed dramatically.

As with most its products, the Pescadero started life as an internal idea within Victoria + Albert’s design and marketing team.

Working with Quigley Design a range of concepts were then developed using Rhino and Keyshot and 3D printed scale baths produced. The design and final surfaces were developed using SolidWorks.

The final data was then issued to Victoria + Albert’s dedicated production facilities in South Africa for tooling and manufacture.

As with all its baths, the Pescadero is made using the brand’s exclusive material, Quarrycast; a unique blend of volcanic limestone and high performance resins. Beneficial properties of this material include it being warm to the touch, luxuriously smooth, wipe clean, scratch-resistant, super-strong and lightweight.

Traditionally, Quarrycast has been available in a natural polish white finish. However, from April 2016, all Victoria + Albert baths will be available in seven finishes, including gloss white, gloss black, matte white, matte black, anthracite, stone grey and light grey.

The data that Quigley Design produces during the design and development process are then reused to create visuals used in Victoria + Albert’s brochures and marketing materials.

Being an early pioneer of CGI in brochures within the bathroom industry, the Pescadero images in its latest brochure are an example of the level of quality that can be achieved. But as Jonathan Carter, Victoria + Albert marketing director, says “Digital imagery plays a vital role in presenting new products but it does not replace ‘traditional’ photography using locations and sets, you need both.”


Go with the flow

Healthcare-associated infections is a real challenge in the healthcare sector.

So, bathroom and kitchen company Kohler and its commercial brand Rada, which provides showering and washroom controls, decided to do something about it. The result is the Intelligent Care range of taps and showers.

With innovative digital valve technology, the range helps to resist the transmission of waterborne bacteria by delivering precise temperature and flow control.

The design process started by gathering insights from over 90 global healthcare stakeholders plus patient interviews.

Using a combination of Rhino and NX, the development of the valve technology and touchless interface controls were key to the product range.

“Our digital valve is the result of one of our largest engineering programs, it’s small in size with simple internal geometry and uses only the best microbe resistant materials,” explains Ian Thompson, lead industrial designer for Rada.

The touchless interface can also recognise a number of different interaction behaviours. “The interface was the focus of extensive user testing in a hospitals where Wizard of Oz style prototyping helped us test ideas and respond quickly to feedback to refine the experience,” adds Thompson.


The power of three

For those after the ultimate in power showers, the Jetstorm Plus from water saving showerhead manufacturer Ecocamel may just be the product for you.

Design consultancy ts design were tasked with creating this high-end multi pattern showerhead.

One of the many considerations of the brief was for each of the three settings to offer a distinct shower experience but not compromise on Ecocamel’s trademark aeration (venturi effect) technology, which sees air injected directly into the water stream to increase pressure whilst reducing water usage.

“The design of a showerhead sounds like a straightforward task from the outset, but when you factor in water aeration, that requires near perfect flow and pressure balance to enable optimised venturi performance, it starts to get complex,” says Alex Pullman, director of ts design.

“Factor in three distinct spray patterns, turbulence, nozzle diameter variation via diametrical volume flow, surface finish effects and dynamic sealing it rapidly becomes a product that requires an extraordinary amount of developing, prototyping and analysis.”

Following a few months of soggy feet and driving friends and family up the wall with continuous shower prototypes to test, the final product was released for production manufacture.

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