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Luxury plumbing sees wellness, sustainable technology and natural materials trend upward


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May 27, 2019 by Jillian Morgan

NativeStone Avalon freestanding tub.

The luxury plumbing market leaves no stone unturned.

From the sink to the shower, manufacturers have taken a fresh approach to functionality and style in upscale environments.

The trend towards wellness and sustainability has driven a demand for natural materials, water-saving features and connected technology – to name a few – in high-end kitchens and bathrooms.

“Recycled and repurposed materials are in high demand,” says Naomi Neilson, founder and CEO of Native Trails. “Products made in a socially responsible manner are making an impact on people as the world is more connected than ever.”

With an onslaught of advancements in the luxury plumbing space, manufacturers have unveiled innovative products that not only address that demand, but also foster opportunities to experiment with style.

THE NATURAL LOOK

Combining different materials to “add warmth and texture” to contemporary product lines will be big this year, Neilson says. Native Trails’ Solace Collection, for instance, pairs concrete and sustainable oak. The company’s Americana Collection repurposes wood from structures such as barns and fencing, giving the material “new life as an heirloom quality bath vanity or mirror,” Neilson adds.

“The textured, durable wood and visible signs of its rich history appeals to people on a visceral level,” she says. The company also offers recycled copper and nickel sinks and tubs.

Jacques L’Hénaff, vice president of design at Lixil Americas for American Standard and DXV, echoes Neilson, adding that natural material has grown in popularity. Though, he says matte black, mixed metal and metal finishes in brass, gold and white gold remain popular among consumers.

“We are seeing more warm greys,” Neilson says. “Native Trails’ new Earth finish is being introduced to the NativeStone Collection of sustainable concrete sinks and bathtubs, and it’s a warm grey color, somewhere between grey and sand.”

Garry Scott, vice president of marketing and eCommerce at Moen Canada, says “consumers are becoming more open to experimenting with colours and non-traditional finishes.”

Moen is expanding its freestanding tub filler offerings to include new styles and finishes, along with expanding its offerings in matte black and brushed gold.

“Historically, gold fixtures were often associated with traditional design, but now, homeowners are also using this finish as part of a modern aesthetic,” he says.

EXPERIENCE

User experience is a central tenant in luxury plumbing product development. Moen, for example, has unveiled a number of products in recent years focused on ease-of-use.

“We live in a fast-paced world, and consumers want each and every experience throughout their day to be easy, fast and smooth, this includes at the sink,” Scott says. “It’s up to us as a water experience company to utilize innovation and technology in our products to deliver the best interactions with water each and every time.”

The company’s MotionSense technology, available on select kitchen faucets, provides water “with just the wave of a hand,” he says.

“[It is] perfect for when your hands are too full, or too messy, to touch the faucet,” Scott adds. “This technology also helps minimize the spread of dirt and germs, as there’s no need to touch the handle to start the flow of water.”

U by Moen, a cloud-based, app-driven digital shower, offers Wi-Fi mobile connectivity and allows consumers to control the shower with their voice, the smartphone app or the in-shower controller.

“The product now features enhanced functionality with Amazon Alexa – including compatibility with groups and routines – as well as compatibility with Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant,” Scott says.

The industry is zeroing in on efficient and innovative technologies, but that evolution has gone hand in hand with products offering customization and functionality.

“There is a demand for products that combine function with style,” Neilsen says. “People want more than institutional fixtures – they want good, upscale design.”

For Barbara Kratus, sales and marketing director at Infinity Drain, luxury bathroom design is “all about customization.”

“Our custom fabrication program allows designers and architects to focus on the form, or the beauty and uniqueness of their design, while we concentrate on the functionality aspect on how the shower or wet area will work,” Kratus says. “It is truly where art and science come together in shower construction to create a one of a kind space for the client.”

3D printed faucets from DXV aim are one product line that aims to combine functionality with design. The faucets “offer the consumer something never before imagined,” the company stated in a 2017 release.

“The new DXV 3D faucets are revolutionizing additive manufacturing in the plumbing industry,” L’Hénaff says. “This 3D printing process opens up exciting possibilities for the design and function of luxury faucets, enabling avant-garde ways to present water and completely redefine the user experience.” <>

More on this topic in HPAC Magazine’s May 2019 digital edition.


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