Reading Time: 10 min | Sep 2019

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Design Special

Individual, colorful, smart: the iF Bath Design Special

Bathrooms everywhere! Studies show that the willingness to invest in bath renovations grows every year.

Marketers have witnessed a constant growth in the bath and sanitary industry turnover about two percent each year since 2012. No wonder, bathrooms are, apart from the kitchen, the most important area at home.

Current bathroom design trends go beyond minimalism, grey and white and even the smart technology bathroom is no more a distant future vision. But what else dominates the bathroom industry? What are the big bath trends? What are the best bathroom designs and the best bath manufacturers 2019? For our iF Bath Design Special we talked to experts, award winning designers and manufacturers and we also took a look inside our iF Ranking to find out: Which designers and manufacturers played a crucial role in bath design in the past five years.

Top 10 Bath Design Manufacturers

There is certainly a boom in bath design! Many statistics from all around the world show that people love their bathrooms and that they love to spend time in them. Today, people spend around 40 minutes in bathrooms, which is exactly four minutes longer than 2006. The bathroom is no longer a necessity but a place of retreat in a stressful world. Probably no other branch is flourishing as much as the bath and sanitary industry.

The iF Ranking offers profound information on the iF top bath design companies and countries. See below a chart with the top ten bath design manufacturers from the last five years, including numbers of this year's winners. The ranking is based on the number of iF awards: 20 points per iF award and 100 points per gold award.

Speaking of numbers: Current studies have shown, that people spend more time in their bathrooms and are willing to invest in bathroom renovations more than ten years ago. It seems that, while the world outside is getting more and more complex and stressful, a stylish bathroom can become a place of retreat and a wellness oasis your very own home - like for example a steam bath or sauna. But what does a modern bathroom interior have to offer? Smart bathroom devices? Is a stylish design bathroom still predominantly white or are colors allowed? We talked to bath and sanitary expert Andreas Dornbracht about his predictions for the bath industry and bathroom trends and what customers really ask for.

From Color to Sustainability:

Bath Design Trends 2019,
presented by Bath and Sanitary Expert Andreas Dornbracht

Andreas Dornbracht

Andreas Dornbracht is an experienced expert in the bath, sanitary and kitchen industry. He is chairman of the Coalition of German Sanitary Industry (VDS) and board member of the ISH fair in Frankfurt. He is also CEO of Dornbracht Group, together with his brother Matthias. Soon after his studies in Business Administration in Germany, he worked for a sanitary company in the USA as Vice President Marketing and later entered the management of the family's Aloys F. Dornbracht GmbH & Co. KG, also for sales and marketing in 1991. Today, the Dornbracht Group holds the brands Dornbracht and Alape as well as a licence on Villeroy & Boch.


Sustainability and the protection of especially water ressources is a big trending topic in the bath and sanitary industry. There is no manufacturer or designers in the industry that does not have a focus on ressources. Yet, the design ideas to approach this topic could not be more individual.

NEXUS is among this year’s awarded designs with their Koralle SL410 system and gives an unusual perspective on the topic of sustainability in the bathroom: Nexus views space and accordingly freedom and flexibility as a scarce resource, especially in modern cities: How can we use the resource space intelligently without destroying the aesthetics of a room? Their concepts are space-saving and adjustable to any room and situation. Koralle SL410 is a construction kit for showers that follows the credo: less form – more possibilities. The profiles and handles are sleek, the flush hinges have an invisible lift and drop mechanism to adjust the shower to any floor unevenness. Like a passepartout, the shower is adjustable to any room situation.

German manufacturer GROHE will present innovations at the ISH that focus on smart solutions for more sustainability and a "behavior changing design" in general. Saving ressources is a matter of heart at Grohe, with their innovative automated warnings for water damages - GROHE Sense and GROHE Sense Guard - that aim to maintain a trusting relationship to water in the household. Users get warned via app or the system automatically stopps the water supply.

Andreas Dornbracht
"Very important is also the effort of manufacturers to develop more intelligent, cross-linked and environmental regulations friendly products. The keywords are hygiene, water management and environmental compatibility."

The Smart Bathroom

Smart home appliances are moving more and more into the bathrooms. Manufacturers like Lanzet (top image) present their innovations at the ISH, like their mirror wall cupboard with a screen to many infotainment appliances, like TV, apps, music, weather forecast to start the day and social media - all via touch panel.

The aspect of hygiene - let us call it "intelligent hygiene" - plays a crucial role, too. Self-cleaning toilets are no news anymore and are very common, especially in public lavatories. However, bathrooms that, for example, react to the users potential mood are coming: The toilet "Q Light" by Shanghai Hegii Co. Ltd. (bottom image) is new to our Design Excellence and was awarded with this year's iF DESIGN AWARD. When users apporch the toilet, it slowly brightens up, breaths evenly, with warm lighting. It also features a sensory remote control and fresh water heating.

Andreas Dornbracht
"Smart appliances are no longer just a gimmick for tech-freaks, but reach a broader part of homes."

The stylish barrier-free bathroom

Aspects like an antiskid ground, on grade showers, stable shower seats or grips or touch less faucets with a temperature limit are just a few of the features important for barrier-free bathrooms for the elderly and disabled. As people are getting older and many wish to stay in their homes as long as possible, manufacturers report the growing demand of barrier-free bathrooms.

The German company Dallmer (top image) has innovative and yet stylish barrier-free solutions. Their new CeraFloor individual drain body system is a minimalist, elegant cover of the shower channel and can be tiled with virtually any tile – maximizing your ability to create a bespoke wellness area tailored to individual requirements.

The new modular washbasin system by German manufacturer HEWI (bottom image) is tailored for the needs of elderly people and will be presented at the ISH. The designs of the company focus on a comfortable and secure bath experience: The innovative concept offers possibilities to integrate further grips and handles as well as a useful shelf for bath and sanitary utensiles or medicine.

"As there are more elderly people, the barrier-free bathroom plays a crucial role, when care at home is wished for! It is also the workplace for nurses and has to fulfill the requirements accordingly!"

New Colors and Materials

"Color is not just a trending topic, it is a means to differentiate and add value to your bathroom", says Andreas Dornbracht. It is easy to say that the chrome look for faucets and showers or white for washbasins is still popular - but there is a shift in color and material.

In their new basin collection SALE, Dade Design (bottom image) has banned the classic white porcelain basins and implements concrete basins instead – giving the bathroom a sophisticated industrial chic! The straight-lined and handcrafted high quality bathroom furniture was designed by the dade architects and created in collaboration with Timberline woodworks. The design is characterized by the 10 millimeter wide surrounding borders, which were worked as mitre joints for the wood and as butt joints for the concrete.

German manufacturer Duravit presents the line Happy D.2 PLus in expressive black. Their typical washbasins with flattend edges have a completely new, striking individuality. Striking originality is provided by new color variations in anthracite matt or two-tone contrasting, white glossy inside. The consistent color concept of Happy D.2 Plus also consistently includes toilets and bidets, whereby the toilets are designed for optimal hygiene in the interior in anthracite gloss.

US-American company and this year's iF DESIGN AWARD winner MOEN emphasizes a natural look through industrial style black faucets, showerheads and accessories. The easy-care surfaces in black are getting more and more popular, be that in the luxury segment or lower price.

"Our forecast is that the bold use of color will replace the minimalist understatement as a signal for elegance and design conscience."

Patricia Urquiola and the Evolution of Color in the Bathroom

Patricia Urquiola

Learn more about Patricia Urquiola in the magazine of our media partner Salabaño


About Patricia Urquiola

In 2001 Patricia decided to open her own studio for industrial product design, architecture and contracts with interior design spaces. Amongst her latest project designs are The Italian Museum of the Jewel in Vicenza, the Barcelona luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the prestigious Das Stue Hotel in Berlin, the spa and wellness area of the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan, the Room Mate Giulia Hotel also in Milan and the Il Sereno Hotel at lake Como district; furthermore, Patricia also created the new showroom and office facilities for Gianvito Rossi, carmaker BMW, Cassina, Missoni, Moroso, Molteni, Officine Panerai, retailer H&M, Santoni and Pitti Immagine in Florence. Some of the renowned brands she has designed for are bathroom brands Laufen, Agape, Axor – Hansgrohe.

All designs are characterized by clear, formal and simple design patterns merged with an irrevocable sensuality. The surfaces of the Sonar Series by Patricia Urquiola for LAUFEN Bathrooms AG were inspired by the natural phenomenon of sound waves and their relationship with water. They take on a three-dimensional aspect, while conserving the slender lines, which lend the products an attractive lightness.

White is less important in trendy bathrooms – but what about the other “non-color”? Is black the new white? 

Apart from color, which is predominantly used in southern regions of the world or Patricia Urquiola's home country Spain, the bathroom is also a culturally loaded topic. There are countries where the traditional bathroom is more than the pure convenient room. Specifically designed and structured bathrooms are a part of the country's culture.It is no secret that the bathroom has a significant meaning in Japan. But how exactly? How does best bathroom design in Japan look like? What is typical Japanese Bath design? We talked to bath manufacturer TOTO, 19 times winner of the iF DESIGN AWARD and also part of the ISH in Frankfurt!

About TOTO

TOTO is Japan’s leading producer of sanitary ware and is a name that has been synonymous with the advancement of bathroom culture since its creation in 1917. Its technological innovations and high standard of quality have made it an iconic and much-loved brand in Japan. And with European consumers demanding an ever-more luxurious and fulfilling bathroom experience, the time is right for the world’s most sophisticated bathroom products to enter the market, elevating the bathroom from the merely functional to the restorative and meditative. TOTO's life-enhancing Clean Technology is set to revolutionize Europe.

TOTO is a bath manufacturer with a long tradition, which is no rarity in the bath and sanitary industry as you can also see at INAX belonging to LIXIL. There is probably no other industry with so much change and tradition at the same time. Young bath design studios pop up every year, while the "older hands" are still going strong - and stronger! On the occassion of the 25th anniversary of AXOR brand (Hansgrohe SE), we met Jan Heisterhagen, Vice President Product Management at Hansgrohe SE, and Andreas Diefenbach, Design Business Manager and member of the Management Board at Phoenix Design, and talked about their recipe for success, sustainability, virtual reality and the perfect droplet in space.


The WASHLET™ is TOTO’s signature product. First launched in 1980, this innovation has revolutionised bathrooms across Japan for nearly three decades. The WASHLET™ has improved hygiene standards with its warm water cleansing system and through recent developments in air purification, automatic functions and more.

More than 25 years AXOR brand for luxurious bathrooms

A quarter of a century ahead of the future


When the AXOR design brand was first launched in 1993, the philosophy of producing well-designed products with the greatest possible customer benefits was already firmly anchored in the DNA of the manufacturer Hansgrohe. Founded by Hans Grohe in Schiltach in the Black Forest in 1901, the company set a new sanitary standard in the bathroom in 1953 with the world's first shower rod.

With more than 2,000 awarded designs every year and the biggest design online exhibition on the internet, the iF Design Website is a great source for trends and tendencies. Explore the profiles of many renowned and innovative bath manufacturers and design studios right here and find out their latest products and reference projects.