idéobain 2010 just wrapped up, and if its traffic and interest is any indication, 2010 will be a much better year for the Kitchen and Bath industry in France, if not Northern Europe as a whole. This leading bathroom trade show occurs every other year in Paris, drawing attention from bath manufacturers and designers as well as the general public.
Even in Europe, conversion from tub to shower in the master bath (often the only full bath in the older home) is now a hot aging in place project. Plumbing manufacturers are introducing a host of solutions to allow for low profile drain fittings with anti siphon functions all in one. If introduced in the U.S., they would replace the “drain-P trap combo.” Others focus on the more stylish grill drains as they become more popular than conventional round drains.
Traditional plumbing suppliers showed model after model of either modern or highly functional faucets: hands free, waterfall, high capacity and water savings to name a few.
Ninety percent of the tubs at idéobain were of the “stand alone” type, manufactured out of solid materials, sporting oval, slipper and rectangular shapes. While the majority was white (some featured a metallic tint on the outside), we also saw composite stone tubs with a true granite appeal.
Vanity tops closely followed cabinet design. Most cabinets in European bathrooms are suspended, finished with a high-gloss lacquer and have matching vanity tops. The 2010 color range included orange, fuchsia, pink, purple and … concrete grey. Most tops and bowls are smaller than what we are used to in the states, but so are typical European bathrooms.
There was a host of manufacturers introducing the “slow releasing” commode seat (a spring mechanism inside the hinge slows down the closing of the seat), as well as the“Japanese-style commode” where a well-placed stream of warm water followed by warm drying air replaces toilet paper.
As for “Aging in Place,” we saw a remarkable product from three manufacturers that took a different approach to the challenges of bathing with limited mobility. Instead of the walk-in tub as we know it (seated bathing in a high tub with door), standard tubs in acrylic offered cutouts for easy step in. A shower height glass panel would close off the opening, lock in place and allow for either traditional bathing or showering. One model even had an acrylic seat built in across the top.
Shower glass manufacturers showed stylish slider and door designs, all in a frameless setup. To make up for the loss of stability that the frame would supply, glass was noticeably thicker than usual.
Last but not least, we saw many attempts to introduce “La Douche Italienne” or the California-style Walk-In Shower. Standard sized composite shower bases fitting into the tub opening would have a shower area with a drain and a step out area for drying off, sloped so water would drain into the shower area. A sturdy piece of glass extending just past the shower base would keep the water inside the “wet area.”
In short, exhibitors at idéobain in Paris showed off the latest in shapes for smaller bathrooms, trendy color schemes and attentionto easy showering.
Report by: Dirk De Vuyst