The design of bathroom fittings is something that is largely a matter of personal preference. The Design Centres and Design Index provide information on ranges of well-designed fittings and accessories, and if you study manufacturers lists and advertisements you will probably find yourself well able to pick out good examples of product design as opposed to bad ones. lt is important, though, to distinguish between styling, which is imposed on a product late in its development, and true design, which takes all the different factors of performance, safety, construction, ergonomics, aesthetics and cost into account.
A really well-designed piece of bathroom equipment will do its job properly, safely and easily, and be made of appropriate materials in a form that is visually pleasing and practical. A well-designed product should also provide good value for money and this is where some problems may arise. There has been a tendency over the past decade for manufacturers to concentrate on the concept of luxury in bathroom fittings and the advertisers have had a great time in selling this idea to consumers like ourselves. Unfortunately, this approach does not, in itself, lead to well-designed products or well-planned bathrooms.
Picking a richly coloured oval bath with matching basins, baths, WC and bidet, together with gold-plated taps and fittings, could easily cost well over £600, and more out-of-the-way choices could push the price much higher still. Mosaic wall coverings, thick pile carpets and plenty of accessories can add hundreds of pounds to the bill, but the bathroom can still be inconvenient and awkward to use – even the expensive fittings themselves may not really work well. The real solution lies in careful design that takes every aspect of the use of the room and fittings into account. lt is worth remembering that a couple of hundred pounds saved on fittings could buy a solid weeks worth of a qualified architect’s or designer’s time – which would surely be money better spent.