Showers a plenty

Today's showers are created for more than just cleansing. CID takes a look at some of the latest luxury offerings from the top manufacturers.
Showers a plenty
By Adam Dawson
Sat 29 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

Today's showers are created for more than just cleansing. CID takes a look at some of the latest luxury offerings from the top manufacturers.

Customised showering experiences featuring rain showerheads, chromotherapy, sound and scent for a complete sensory overload is now the trend that is influencing shower design.

And as the bathroom moves away from a purely functional role we are seeing the shower gain more prominence at the expense of the traditional bathtub.

"The bathroom as a whole is developing more and more away from a functional room towards a place of retreat, far from the stress of everyday life and to a space in which people can simply relax and enjoy themselves," explains Lina Varytimidou of Hansgrohe.

Showering thus becomes an experience that you can really enjoy with all the senses. An important development, since today's shower bath is no longer concerned exclusively with becoming clean. Instead people see the shower as their own spa where they seek relaxation.

And it is this desire to spend more time in the bathroom that is ultimately guiding the way shower design is progressing. It's all a long way from 1968, the year in which Hansgrohe gave the world the Selecta hand spray - the first showerhead with adjustable jet types.

Today people can choose from a myriad of different showering options. "Homeowners are replacing standard shower heads with oversized rainfall shower heads, body sprays, steam showers and solid surface shower walls," explains Ohannes Tomassian, marketing manager, Ideal Standard.

Today's trend is simplicity combined with the latest technology in showering, like mood systems, which include options such as lights, music and ozone therapy.

Multi-function

One company at the forefront of customised shower design is Kohler and its DTV II system. "With the DTV II, showering is not just about water anymore.

This product takes the shower to an unexpected and uncharted level of performance with an all-encompassing sensory and completely integrated experience," says Michael Wandschneider, senior product manager for Performance Showering at Kohler.

The DTV's pre-set hydrotherapy experiences include: up massage, down massage, wave massage, as well as temperature therapy that can either run from hot to cold or vice versa. It features a flow rate of up to 80 litres of water per minute and feeds up to eight showerheads, handshowers or bodysprays.

Versatile in installation, the digital interface panel can be installed inside or outside the showering space, with the latter enabling the user to activate the programme before actually entering the space. The DTV II also delivers and controls sound, chromotherapy and a fully personalised steam component for a holistic sensory experience.

And with the DTV II there is no need to wait for the water to warm up as Wandschneider explains: "Whatever temperature you choose, all outlets are quickly purged of cold water during start up, so changes from outlet to another are part of the shower experience, not shock therapy.

Sound is incorporated into the shower through Kohler's SoundTile speakers, which are also available individually. Completely waterproof, the tiles are set in a four-by-four inch escutcheon and come in a variety of finishes.
They can be controlled by the DTV II digital interface or a stand-alone audio system. The WaterTile Ambient Rain incorporates light patterns, being a 21-by-21-inch lighted square ceiling panel that includes four Kohler WaterTile bodysprays. The user can select either solid colours or one of the preprogrammed chromotherapy sequences.

Choosing to present its latest creation at this year's Dubai International Boat Show and featuring in Etihad's new premium lounges in Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dornbracht's RainSky E combines water, mist, light and fragrance in three possible scenarios responding to the mood of the user.

An electronic control panel automatically selects rain curtain, head and body sprays, mist spray, light and fragrance to match the preset choreographies.

In addition to these three pre-set scenarios, RainSky E can also be used for individual pampering; rain curtain, overhead and body shower can be selected to run together or separately. If the bather prefers a cool mist, then this separate mist function can be selected. "The RainSky E actually recreates the experience of natural rainfall in the bathroom being integrated into the ceiling.

The rectangular plate of stainless steel is flush-mounted and is a homogeneous part of the ceiling from which it rains as if from a cloud," explains Andreas Dornbracht, CEO and managing director, Dornbracht.

Hansgrohe has been at the forefront of turning the bathroom into more than just an area for cleansing over the past few years, heralded by the creation, in collaboration with Phoenix Design in 2003, of the Raindance hand spray. Its patented AirPower technology also combines air and water to create a spray that is softer than normal.

Instead of the continuous needle-like jets, a voluminous, velvety-soft rain of droplets is created to completely envelop the person bathing," says Varytimidou. An added bonus is the reduction in water consumption that results from combining the two.

The Raindance hand showers are a contrast to traditional proportions with the handle being shortened for a more ergonomic shape. The showerheads have been designed with an ultra-flat silhouette and an extra-compact shape.

The German-based company also provides large plate overhead showers in its Raindance range, available in diameters of 180, 240 and 350mm. And if that's not wide enough, why not try the incredible Raindance Rainmaker, coming in a diameter of 600mm.

For absolute luxury, Ideal Standard has introduced Tris, a shower that also doubles up as a sauna and steam room. This dual function overhead shower has 11 nozzles for normal rain and eight mist nozzles for tropical rain.

A further hydromassage function has six body jets. The shower also includes a hand spray, thermostatic mixer to maintain ideal water temperature and a foldable seat.

A steam dispenser provides a hammam-like effect, while a stove with 2 kg of volcanic stones turns the shower into an instant sauna. Both functions can be automatically regulated through a temperature touch control panel.
Grohe's new collection of hand-held and wall showers includes the Rainshower or Relexa, both now updated with Dreamspray technology. The Dreamspray distributes the same amount of water to each and every nozzle, resulting in an even spray.

Furthermore, a choice of shower settings is available including, Wide Rain, Champagne, Jet or Massage.

The SpeedClean nozzle, made from multi-component silicone, decreases lime scale build-up while Cooltouch technology puts a thermal barrier between the hot water and the surface of all hand-held showers, preventing the chrome from cracking and ensuring the shower is never too hot to handle.

Sustainability

According to the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, the UAE consumes more than 500 litres of water per capita, per day.

This compares with France with a consumption of 215 litres. With water consumption in the Emirates growing at 13% annually, what are shower manufacturers doing in the face of such environmental concerns? "The value of water as a resource is increasing significantly.

Designing showerheads, therefore, is not exclusively centred on aesthetics but also on what these aesthetics can do," says Varytimidou. Hansgrohe's EcoSmart technology reduces water consumption by up to 50% compared with conventional showerheads.

The Raindance EcoSmart overhead unit uses only 9.5 litres of water per minute, while the company's latest offering, the Crometta 85 Green, uses a mere six litres per minute.

Hansgrohe isn't the only company to be looking towards sustainability as an option for its showers. Kohler has released the new 7.5 litre per minute MasterShower Eco showerheads and handshowers, which reduce water consumption by 20% without sacrificing water coverage or temperature control.

Future

So what does the future hold in store for shower design? With shower trays increasingly built to a size that mirror the floorsize of a bathtub, Christine Vavra from Bagno Design believes there will be a move towards entire shower rooms. She says: "The size of the bathroom is getting bigger and the shower space is as well. We are increasingly seeing the shower occupying the whole room in the form of a wet room."

According to Dornbracht, nature will continually play its part in moulding the way manufacturers look at their creations. "The element of nature will play a decisive role in shower design in the future. It will be all about the different forms of water according to nature. Rain, waterfalls and springs will increasingly inspire product design and technology," he says.

While Varytimidou believes we are seeing a harking back to past designs: "If we look at design in the bathroom, it may generally be said that forms are becoming more diverse. Minimalist design has become mainstream and in addition to more opulent, organic forms, we are seeing a trend towards retro design," she concludes.

Whatever route shower design takes, it is clear that manufacturers are looking to push the boundaries in terms of luxury and extravagance. But with water in increasingly short supply, sustainability will also have to play its part.

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