It’s time for more colour in the bathroom!
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It’s the colours! Their arrival in what has traditionally been “white space” has turned the desire for a bathroom that feels like home into reality once and for all. The exhibitors’ showcases and the customisation options available for their sanitaryware show that the industry has recognised and is responding to bathroom users’ wants and needs. Fittings in black or white or with brass or copper-coloured finishes don’t just make for upmarket accents when used in combination with wood and tiles, they can also be contrasted with walls, cabinets or coloured washbasins in bold primary colours or delicate pastel shades. As it evolves into a lifestyle space, the bathroom is embracing colour (again) too.

Colour Selection – the latest colour trends in the bathroom
This year, so as to present the multitude of options and the most stylish combinations, the trend experts of the Pop up my Bathroom communication campaign decided to turn their special exhibition into a gallery: bathroom products like washbasins and bathtubs, cabinets and fittings merged with their artistically defamiliarised background – designed by illustrator Björn Steinmetzler – to create unusual 3D collages. In a total of 12 such scenarios, the makers of Pop up my Bathroom staged colour spaces that adapted the latest trending colours and stylistic devices from the field of colour design specifically for the bathroom. So as to provide an overview, the 12 colour trends for the bathroom were also presented as a row of compact moodboard displays mounted on plinths – like precious gems under glass.

The close links with contemporary interior design set the developments in today’s bathroom apart from the colour experiments of the 60s and 70s

At the same time, those who haven’t experienced such vivid examples of the enormous scope for stylish bathroom colour schemes for themselves may well still be sceptical – probably because of the deep-seated fear of living with a monotonous expanse of yellow, pink or baby blue day in, day out for 30 years. But such fears are unfounded: in contrast to the way colour was used in the 60s and 70s, today’s bathroom design is closely linked to contemporary interior design. When it comes to aesthetics, bathroom planners and interior decorators, designers and sanitaryware producers apply the same standards you would expect for the living room or kitchen.

The Pop up my Bathroom trend experts keep a careful eye on the furniture sector and the interior design sector as a whole, where the wide variety of current trends is providing scope for more and more colour. So why not extend these developments to bathroom design?

“We’re delighted that the topic is meeting with such a huge response from the industry and the media,” says Jens J. Wischmann, managing director of the VDS, of the hotly debated No. 1 theme at this year’s fair. He also has some reassuring words for sceptics: “The industry is taking a cautious approach to colour and proceeding with a steady hand and a delicate touch. Nobody’s about to empty a bucket of paint over the bathtub and basin. It’s not about using the same unimaginative colour for everything, it’s about things like colour concepts, colour harmonies and colour chords, or discovering colours inspired by materials like natural stone or different metals. With this year’s Pop up my Bathroom campaign, we weren’t so much interested in certain on-trend colours but in the systematic extrapolation of a specific design dimension for the bathroom – i.e. colour itself.”

Neutral colours continue to dominate – grey is the new white
That being said, the makers of Pop up my Bathroom are confident that, at least as far as Germany is concerned, white ceramic sanitaryware will remain the standard. Colour is coming to the bathroom in the form of fittings, furniture, shelving, freestanding bathtubs, other furniture, textiles, flooring, wall coverings and accessories. Paradoxically, Frank A. Reinhardt, the Pop up my Bathroom initiative’s trend expert, sees white as one of the trending colours in bathroom design: “In the interiors sector right now, white is an on-trend colour that stands for minimalism, the Bauhaus, a stylish ambience and a modern look. But because white has been used in the bathroom as a ‘non-colour’ with no character of its own for decades now, many people see this trend as the exact opposite of modern bathroom design. White isn’t automatically seen as on-trend because it’s not associated with radical change. That makes it more difficult to use white in the bathroom in a way that visualises its modernity.”

Even so, Reinhardt is more inclined to see grey as the new trend colour for the bathroom: “In the foreseeable future, grey will be the new white – it’s an excellent starting point for any colour combination or bathroom colour scheme.” Just like white, grey provides a large palette of very different neutral hues – ranging from a warm greige or cool slate all the way to light mouse grey or a modern concrete grey.

Colourful isn’t the same as bright and bold: – colour as a background and colour for accentuation
The brown palette is another strong contender for the bathroom. Painting one wall nougat – a highly popular shade right now – and combining it with light-coloured wood such as light oak will immediately conjure up a cosy feel and is timeless too. Up-to-the-minute brown hues can transform any bathroom into a lifestyle space – especially when paired with complementary accent colours like petrol, turquoise, orange or coral, a beige-tinted dusky pink, ultraviolet or the odd dash of mustard, which looks great with olive and brown shades.

Trendsetters might be adventurous enough to give vibrant colour chords a try – maybe something like petrol or green with coral, a combination with overtones of India or exotic settings. A dark ambience looks particularly upmarket and smart, especially in the kind of classic arrangements featuring warm wood hues and metal effects that are popular right now. Those after a more timeless feel might want to opt for upscale black or a minimalist white-on-white look, which can also look extremely elegant. On top of everything else, there’s also the option of using patterns, which can be integrated via the tiles, wallpaper, textiles or even upmarket wood finishes with a 3D effect. There’s a huge selection of products to choose from. 

Pop up my Bathroom was just the beginning – positive feedback from the industry
If you want to be sure your bathroom colour scheme is spot on, it’s best to consult an expert. Based on the customer’s needs, the layout and the space available, professional bathroom planners can come up with the perfect bathroom for anyone. The German sanitary industry deliberately provides support in the form of colour palettes and various colour moods.

It almost seems as if the sector had been waiting for a signal like this year’s Pop up my Bathroom campaign: the industry is giving centre stage to ISH launches that play with colour and self-confidently focusing attention on new colour arrangements. “I think it’s a case of sparking interest in the right thing at the right time,” says Wischmann. “The industry is hungry for lifestyle and colour. And the market definitely has an appetite for both.”

Pop Up My Bathroom
Pop up my Bathroom, an initiative of the German Sanitary Industry Association (Vereinigung Deutsche Sanitärwirtschaft e.V. [VDS]) and Messe Frankfurt established in conjunction with the ISH, is an experimental platform for architects, bathroom planners, interior designers and journalists. It aims to explore and illustrate what possibilities the bathroom can offer people as both an aesthetic and a functional space. On the one hand, it gives experts a chance to find out about new developments, on the other hand, it aims to convert the designs it develops into pictures that will be understood all over the world. The blog attracts approx. 1 million international users and enables professionals and interested consumers to inform themselves not just about the Pop up my Bathroom trends but about the latest developments in various segments of the sanitary industry as well. The VDS published the Colour Selection trend book to coincide with the ISH 2019; the principle of the 12 on-trend colour spaces demonstrates the vast range of possibilities for turning the bathroom into a lifestyle space.