Bathrooms of the future By Angela Dorizas | Saturday, 15 December 2007 01:40
Lay back and enjoy the healing effects of the blue light in your chromotherapy bath, as gentle massaging jets send bubbles all around you. A click on your waterproof remote transforms the mirror into a widescreen TV or you could use it to check your mobile’s latest text messages. Welcome to the bathroom of the 21st century, writes Angela Dorizas.
Technology has radically changed the possibilities for just how we can use our bathrooms these days. The popular trend towards all things ‘spa’ now means your bathroom is so much more than just a place to get clean, opening it up to endless possibilities — it can be your private retreat — the place you go to for relaxation, to re-energise yourself and get healthy.
We’ve spoken to the suppliers of many of the latest and greatest products to get you to your ‘zen-like’ bathroom as quickly as possible. Here is our roundup of these products, boasting stylish design and innovative technology, for the intelligent and luxurious bathroom of any smart home.
SOUND AND VISION
The bathroom is probably the only room within your home with a guarantee of total privacy, making it the ideal place to lather up, sit back and watch your favourite soapy interruption-free.
Aquavision TV is the current leader in the waterproof television market and the company’s high def LCD screens are specifically designed and manufactured for Australian bathrooms. The screens are flush-mounted into the shower or bathroom wall, while waterproof speakers are mounted in the ceiling to provide high-quality surround sound. A must for all bathrooms, these TVs feature heated screen technology — originally developed in Europe which prevents the screen from steaming up.
According to Aquavision, the hidden ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ Mirrorvision design has become an increasingly popular alternative to the noticeable big screen TV. The screens come with a splashproof remote and are also designed to allow integration into existing home automation system. “These televisions can be integrated into the home theatre network with video or data input to them, and audio output cabled through the existing or other audio system,” Aquavision director Damian Crock says. The screens are available in a range of sizes from the 10.4-inch through to the giant 57-inch wide-screen format. For more information go to www.aquavisiontv.com.au
MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL…
The German-designed Mirror Image by ad notam, is now available in Australia. This product is another wall-mounted bathroom mirror which doubles as a fully-integrated TV when switched on. The screens are specifically engineered to suit the bathroom environment and are enclosed in a protective casing. They are now available with wireless technology, making installation and operation less trouble. For more info go to www.mirrorimage.net.au
But if you’re after the mirror that sums up how connected we have to be in the 21st century, then check out the +336+ SMS Mirror by French designer Robert Stadler. It looks like an ordinary mirror, but when you receive an SMS, the message appears as luminous text running across the surface. Stadler has so far only designed 20 of these mirrors but he’s right in thinking there isn’t a huge market for them just yet — the mirror comes with a price tag of 6000 € (around $9,600 AUD), making it the ultimate high-end bathroom accessory. For more info go to www.radidesigners.com/3361.html
SOUNDWAVES TO WASH OVER YOU
More and more households are opting for a digital music sound system which can distribute sound throughout your whole home, including the bathroom. According to Niv Novak, co-director of Playback Systems, the Sonos Digital Music System is a popular choice when it comes to bathrooms.
“Sonos is widely installed in home bathrooms, partly due to the nature of our water resistant controller,” Novak says. “The Sonos colour controller is gasket sealed and can be used with wet hands.” Sonos is the first wireless multi-room digital music system with a full-colour controller. It allows you to listen to music from your personal digital music collection, Internet radio and selected online music services in up to 32 rooms, simultaneously. You can listen to the same song throughout the home, or play different music in each room.
The Controller is not only waterproof, it also features a 3.5-inch LCD screen which allows you to view album art and detailed track information.
According to Playback Systems, an existing wireless network is not required for set up, as Sonos has its own secure AES encrypted wireless mesh network called the SonosNet. You simply connect one ZonePlayer to your router and the other ZonePlayers throughout the home will operate wirelessly. The ZonePlayer 80 can be connected to a home theatre or stereo system, while the ZonePlayer 100 — with a built-in amplifier — can simply be hooked up to a pair of speakers. The two-room starter bundle costs $1899 and is available at selected retailers. For more info go to www.playback.com.au
A SPLASH OF COLOUR
The Europeans truly are ahead of the rest when it comes to innovative bathrooms. Italian company Kositalia (KOS for short) have designed outstanding products for the perfect in-home day-spa.
Check out their Kosmic multifunctional shower cabin. It may look like a scene from the fi lm 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it’s actually a shower — seriously! The main feature of this shower is the creative use of Idrocolour technology. The use of colour for therapeutic purposes –— known as chromatherapy — has become a popular trend in the latest bathroom designs. With a range of lighting options plus adjustable, massaging shower jets and Turkish bath settings, this shower will take you on the therapeutic ride of your life! The larger model is designed for two people, so you can share your deep-space, Kosmic light show with a friend — and no, we don’t mean Hal.
Other stylish KOS products include the Kaos and Grande Quadra baths. Both tubs can be equipped with a hot air massage system and Idrocolour technology with eight colour settings — including a rainbow option — and are available free-standing or built-in.
That’s the good news. The bad news is KOS products are no longer available in Australia. According to bathroom retailer, Rogerseller, this is due to our strict standards regarding electrical components.
“There is not a fault with the baths themselves or the electricals — it passes the EU CE certification — it is just our over-zealous standards making it difficult for imports,” Rogerseller’s Rebecca Park says.
“KOS is currently looking at adapting to the new standard, however the small Australian market does not make it lucrative for the company to invest in changes that affect only a small number of unit sales,” she adds. For more information go to www.kositalia.com
LUXURY RAIN SHOWERS
In the meantime, Rogerseller has announced the rerelease of the Aquatonica shower, by Italian tapware manufacturers, Fantini. This popular, stylish shower was temporarily taken off the market when the WELS rating system was fi rst introduced.
“Now we have been able to modify the product with Fantini to make sure that it is water efficient — it has a 3 star rating — and still performs effectively,” Park says. “We will have new stock in December and we can guarantee it will be even more popular with the water efficiency included.” Rogerseller has also designed its own luxury rain shower — the aptly-named Cloud Cover. The innovative shower rose is fl ush-mounted into the ceiling, providing full water coverage resembling natural rainfall. The shower produces high water flow, while maintaining low water consumption at only 9 litres per minute. For more info go to www.rogerseller.com.au
Italian company Boffi has taken the rain shower one step further by adding a splash of colour. The new Aqualuce ceiling-mounted luminous shower features LED lighting with an impulse or continuous cycle colour regulation. The Aqualuce shower has an RRP of $6,321 and is available at Aquaform. For more info go to www.aquaform.com.au
Chromatherapy technology can transform your bathroom into the ultimate in-home day-spa and health centre. German bathroom manufacturer, Duravit, has designed a stunning whirlpool spa bath with mood lighting. Called Blue Moon, it is 530 mm deep, so it looks and feels more like a small pool. You can fl oat weightlessly in the water — with only your back touching the side back-rest — and relax with the soothing mood lighting. Blue Moon is available at bathroom retailer Meco. For more info go to www.meco.com.au
The sökoverfl owing bath by Kohler is another luxurious bath enhanced with chromatherapy technology. At the touch of a button, four LED light ports positioned within the inner walls of the bath sequentially send out eight ambient shades of colour to wash over you while you bathe in ‘champagne-like’ bubbles. The deep, luxurious Purist Effervescence bath is also available with the same chromatherapy settings designed to influence your mood. For more info go to www.kohler.com.au
THE GREEN BATHROOM
When it comes to tapware, going green does not always mean compromising on style. Dorf has designed a range of functional but still aestheticallypleasing Water Effi cient Tapware (W.E.T.).
Some of these W.E.T. models include the new G-Type V3.0 range. The shower set and basin mixture feature a novel slide control in place of the conventional rotational control. According to Dorf, the company’s Ceradisc technology gives the user greater control over water fl ow and temperature.
Another is the WELS 5-star-rated Smart Neo and Smart Eclipse ranges. The Smart Neo basin and shower mixers feature a spring-loaded ‘eco-temp’ cartridge to provide more control over water flow and temperature. A built-in ‘click stop’ ensures the mixer only reaches a comfortable and energy efficient temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. If you need to increase the water temperature, you push the handle beyond the ‘click stop,’ holding it in position. The Smart Neo range also features a ‘soft close,’ shock absorbing system to minimise water hammer noise. For more info go to www.dorf.com.au
FLUSH AWAY YOUR TROUBLES
This summer Caroma is releasing a new range of Smartflush toilet suites with WELS ratings of 4-stars or above, cementing its place as the leaders in water efficient toilets.
The Cube Wall Hung Invisi suite features a sleek, minimalist design, pneumatic buttons, and a fully integrated soft close seat — saving on water usage and space as well.
The new Profile toilet features an integrated hand basin. Profile is Australia’s first toilet with a WELS 5-star rating. Caroma has achieved this via the innovative ‘dual-flush push-button and spout combination.’ You simply push one button for fresh hand washing water, which then flows into the cistern where it is used to flush the toilet. For more info go to www.caroma.com.au
NO MORE WASTING WATER
We all know how easy it is to lose track of time while enjoying a luxurious shower, but this summer it will be more important than ever to be conscious of how much water we’re actually using. Fortunately, New Zealand’s Waitek, has developed the intelligent Shower Monitor — a digitised upgrade to the good old egg timer which can save households up to 28 percent off the cost of showers
The monitor provides information on the current time, shower temperature, water flow and shower length. Users can observe the level of water and energy use while showering and make immediate adjustments when necessary. The default program is based on a standard eight minute shower — at moderate flow and temperature — and features a count-down system and alarm to alert the user when they are wasting water.
The best feature is the level of control users have over the length of their shower. It does not control the shower, but provides vital information on water and energy consumption to help users make the right choice. The Waitek Shower Monitor is distributed by Watersave. For more info go to www.watersave.com.au
SMART TOWEL RAILS
Keeping your towels warm and dry can now be achieved and you can be energy-efficient at the same time! Hydrotherm heated towel rails are thermostatically- controlled, safety standard approved and energy efficient. The towel rails are manufactured from copper tube, which prevents corrosion and rust. And unlike conventional heated towel rails, Hydrotherm bathroom rails are coated in a nickel-and-chromeplate finish to ensure durability.
Hydrotherm towel rails are filled with water for an efficient transfer of heat. They are pre-filled with water, while the Hydronic model needs to be connected to an existing hydronic heating system by a licensed plumber. They come in a range of styles and sizes, from the popular streamlined TR series — with a minimalist design — to the two-metre Platinum Tower model. For more info go to www.hydrotherm.com.au
IXL Appliances has also developed a range of energy efficient and economical heated towel rails. They are strong, lightweight and easy to install. They feature a durable power coat of chrome finish and come with a two-year replacement warranty. You can choose from a three or four-bar mounted rail, or a three or four-bar swinger model, with 180 degree rotation. For more info go to www.ixlappliances.com.au