ISH 2013 – The Bathroom Experience Show in Frankfurt (part one)

Just back from ISH in Frankfurt, Germany.  I also used the short time in Germany to visit SieMatic to discuss our ongoing showroom projects around the world.  A snowstorm in Frankfurt cut my trip short by one day so I had to shotgun the tour of the 5-hall bathroom show in one jet-lagged day.  I was mainly concerned with faucets, vanity cabinet ensembles and baths; here are some quick highlights.

First up are some vanities by Sanijura, a French company located near Geneva in the eastern part of the country, owned by Kohler.  I visited this factory and worked with the company years ago when working with Kohler in the Cabinet Division.  It looks like they have come a long way and I was impressed with the design and workmanship.

Saninjura Vanity CompositionI like the integrated towel bar and the colorway is very fresh.

Sanijura VanityThis ensemble shows the ongoing trend of mismatched, randomized cabinet configurations.  Next up was a company called Burgbad, from Germany.

Pressed LavatoryThis lavatory basin is molded from some sort of acrylic, like it came from one sheet of material and was folded or pressed into shape.  Very minimal and elegant, although I wish the wall color was more interesting or in more contrast.  This all-in-one bathroom pavilion was clever, with the adjacent tall cabinets part of the composition.  I like the integrated TV above the bath.

Burgbad Bathing PavilionVisible Wall StudsSupporting the tall cabinets and the other displays was a metal stud system that the company made visible on the backs.  I should have asked about it – it looked very clever.  I don’t know if it is something proprietary to the company or if it is some sophisticated European wall system.  There was a name on it – Viega.  I will have to search around for this system.

This next cabinet system was one of my favorite designs from the show.  I forgot to note the company who made this!  Anyway, the cabinets are made from laminate, but are lacquered on the fronts.  The seam (see below) is quite good.  This is an adventurous detail and it comes off quite good.  A very, very nice idea which eliminates the need for a separate radius edge side panel.

Lacquer vanity cabinet with radius edgeDetail of inside edge:

Half Laminate/Lacquer DoorNext up, a nice vanity composition with a clever, angled towel bar integrated into the countertop.  I didn’t get the name of this company either.  It is a very well-known maker but I just didn’t note it down – darned jet-lag!

Vanity System ISH 2013Detail of the towel bar.

Integrated Angled Towel BarTo me, these types of details make/break your concept.  I do not like walking around the room with dripping hands or face hunting for my towel.  I would love something similar in the kitchen…

Some designs from Kohler.  I don’t know if this is available in Kohler Germany only, but there were some nicely-detailed vanity systems.  I worked on some concepts for Kohler years ago which were very much like this.  I’m glad to see they are continuing the modular cabinet ideas.  This was called Terrace, and it was similar to the Robern Box Logic series I did 10 years ago…

Kohler TerraceThe white oak drawer accent is very nice.  Here is a detail on the “Box Logic” area on the mirrored cabinet:

Kohler Terrace Shelf SystemThe Kohler stand was a little cold and without much style.  I think they could use some brand differentiation.  This wall was a little better – just a little color, anything really.

Kohler Terrace Vanity System

Next up is a variation on the curved/integrated wall basin idea from Antonio Lupi.  Last year they showed a basin that “peeled” away from the wall, from the top down.  The face of the basin is then skimmed over with joint compound and painted to look as if the design was actually peeled away.  It is lit with LED from above.

Curved Lavatory by Antonio LupiI don’t like this much.  It is too much of a one-line joke.  If you are walking around with those wet hands looking for your towelbar… well, I guess it is not functional enough for me.  Domestic bathroom furniture should look as it works, not be a parlor trick.

Next up: some mirrored cabinets from Keuco, the master of medicine cabinets.  Nothing too innovative this year.  In fact, there was not much innovation in general at this show.  In years past there have been fabulous concepts of lifting doors, articulating features… my bet is that these cool ideas are very expensive to produce and this world economy is not supporting lavish designs at the moment.  Here was one articulating design, with the mirror section and integrated light moving in concert.

Keuco Articulating light and mirrorA mirrored cabinet.  The big news from anybody doing mirrors was the way the lighting is integrated, something we worked very hard on at Robern.  LED has made this much more elegant.

Keuco Mirrored bath cabinetA mirrored cabinet from Burgbad.  Very flashy and maybe a little too much so.

Burgbad Mirrored CabinetAll those highlighted acrylic edges were making my head hurt.  Or was it the aforementioned jet-lag?

This trip came with delays from every mode of transportation I used.  The snow delay, normally awesome German trains were late on each occasion (which means missed connections, which could be disaster if you get on the wrong train), and the flights back were not without hiccup.  Still worth the trip, however!

Next installment of ISH2013 I will cover faucets, lav fixtures and baths.

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Lighting Project – “The Ice Cube” Sconce

I’ve been quiet on the product design side of business lately, at least when it comes to posting news.  But I have some very rewarding projects going, and one that just came to full fruition: the “Ice Cube” sconce, for Norwell Lighting.

I’ve done industrial design work for Norwell over the years – a great company based in New England that serves the architectural lighting community.  See their website here: http://www.norwellinc.com/  The Kathryn series of bath hardware and lighting is one of my highlights.  Last summer we worked on some concepts for new sconces and some outdoor too, and it looks like the “Ice Cube” bath sconce made the cut.  The object was to use a “standard”, popular shade; a square glass ice cube look.  Here are some concept renderings of the idea, working out the projection arm options and the overall feel.

Concept Sketch 1

This was the final concept sketch that I settled on; “flat bar no cups”:

Ice Cube - Icereto - Bath Lighting Concept for Norwell Lighting

There is a note on the single sconce about the projection arm.  I thought later to simplify the design, but the final worked out as sketched in the end.  So – how did the final product work out?  Here are pages from the new Norwell catalog.

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The name was a surprise – look at that – they dropped the first letter of my last name, the R, to get the word “Ice” – it’s awesome!  So, what is the proper pronunciation?  If we are feeling very Italian, it should be said “EEch-a-retto”.  It’s obviously close to my name, which would be said “Reech-a-retto”.  I have a feeling most will say “Ice-a-retto”, which is totally fine.  I love this!  Looking forward to more Norwell projects, and hopefully posting some of my other industrial design projects soon.