Each new year brings a new round of design and usability trends for kitchen and bathware. While most of these trends surround the layout and look of the room, there are still some trends that focus on the functionality and performance of the product tied into it. They all, however, are a response to the ever-transitioning priorities and concerns that impact the consumer.

 

Functionality

Lifestyle demands dictate much of what you see on the market, and while there may be variances from time to time, one constant remains: Performance. People want a product to work, no matter the strides that are made in its features and benefits. Performance cannot suffer for convenience or financial and environmental impact.

While performance may be key, manufacturing businesses are constantly challenged to be innovative in their product development and processes. This is especially true regarding the nationwide response currently surrounding the consumption of our natural resources. Concerns are evident as several states, including California, hold government mandates for water consumption.

It’s certain that over time these concerns will continue to rise and the threshold for what qualifies as a “high-efficiency” product will fall. As the population considers what they can do to sustain and replenish our environment, manufacturers are tasked to develop “high-efficiency” and “ultra high-efficiency” products that maintain or exceed current performance standards. This is not a simple task, but for any manufacturer to make an impact in today’s market, it’s necessary.

 

Simplicity

There are noticeable themes surrounding products that were launched in 2018, especially those that received the Good Design Award.

Announced in December, that accolade identifies the latest, most advanced consumer products and designs for their innovation and invention. In looking through the products that were chosen, they are all described, to some degree, as simple. And not in the negative sense, either. The ideals of “less is more” and “easy-to-use” have morphed to uncomplicated, effortless, intuitive and minimalistic designs.

Diving into 2019, simplicity continues to grow in popularity.

While we strive to simplify all areas of our homes and lifestyles, we also aim to create a comfortable living space — even in the kitchen and bathroom. Think about it. When you are home, where else do you spend the majority of your time and energy? It’s obvious that whether you are considering a sink, toilet or bathtub, both the design and performance should be simplistic.

This stretches across every category of products. Bathtubs, for example, have transitioned drastically. Several years ago, contractors would install — by popular demand — a large, whirlpool tub in the master bath. That popularity has shifted, with homeowners replacing that whirlpool tub with a freestanding one.

In order to provide what consumers are after, manufacturers are challenged to create clean and uncomplicated options that optimize the consumer’s space and time in both the kitchen and bathroom.

 

Technology

In most instances, technology makes our lives more efficient, impacting almost every minute of the day. With each invention, we have more resources at our disposal, and we are allowed more convenience and amenity. Inside the home, and for the bathroom and kitchen especially, smart products will continue to develop with particular focus on their practicality and adoptability.

As it stands, smart products for the kitchen and bathroom have proven to be extremely popular as people strive for efficiency and convenience in their homes. Touchless faucets, for example, which were once only seen in commercial bathrooms, are now popping up in residential spaces. Not only do they provide that hands-free capability that has proven to be popular in other markets, but they also provide a level of sanitation and functionality that is very appealing to homeowners.

However, technology does not always receive the response its developers want. Some products are resisted rather than embraced. In many cases, self-cleaning toilets, for example, do not yet achieve the simplicity they aim for. Specifically, the bowls are rinsed with a high-power stream of water — some including special cleaning solutions — to flush debris and keep bacteria at bay. When the solution runs out, that becomes an added line item on a consumer’s to-do list and can be a sticking point if it means going out of the way to buy it.

Additionally, self-cleaning toilets don’t address the outside of the unit, which means a consumer still needs to take some time to wipe it down for it to truly be clean. The bottom line is that while technological advancements have been made on the self-cleaning front, there is still a level of care and operation for the end user, inhibiting it from being fully adopted as an asset in the home. 

As a result, the goal for any business should be to alleviate the consumer’s specific pain points with innovative design and functionality, all the while being mindful not to disrupt the behavior behind it.

On the surface it may seem trends are all about design. Inspiration, after all, is the starting point of purchase behavior. However, the elements that are less often discussed, and make the greatest impact, tend to be what is built behind the finish and style. Functionality, simplicity and technology are all tied together. They condition the performance of the product, not just the look of it. These are trends that will only continue to see improvement over time. RJ 2.0