Luxury bathrooms are characterized by spaciousness often achieved by minimalistic designs. Photo: VitrA
Once upon a time, it used to be a place for personal hygiene. But today, it has evolved into a wellness zone for mind, body and soul. Once brushed aside as the least important part of a home, today it is inarguably the most important room that allows you “me time”! Yes, we are talking about the bathroom. People are willing to flush down lavish moolah on this, not just across top-tier metros but also in Tier-II and -III cities.
The rules of bathroom are no longer wash, brush, floss and flush. In fact, toilets have ceased to be known by their old name and have now been rechristened “spalet” — the marriage of spa and toilet. Your home spa (let) is all about pleasurable experiences only, and it is willing to cater to all sensual pleasures — be it visual, tactile, olfactory or auditory. Today’s luxury bathroom is not about utility but an experiential zone that is all about sheer indulgence and pampering. So, you have every option at your disposal — from rainwater shower to colourful showering experience, a connected bathroom with intelligent toilets, a jacuzzi bathtub – everything comes with your kind of (ideal) water temperature and pressure. Even the toilet seat is not your average porcelain throne. The best-in-class toilets are the last word in cleanliness — they wash your bottom and then dry it, and they are temperature-controlled with warm to hot toilet seat, at your disposal.
Ultra high-networth individuals (UHNIs) are estimated to spend about 5 per cent of their income on home improvement. Bathrooms likely command a large part of that spend, as the demands of such consumers are the best available, according to the Kotak Wealth report. While Mumbai and Delhi lead in the numbers of UHNIs, other Tier-I and -II cities also account for 45 per cent of the total luxury market in India. The total Indian sanitary market is pegged at over Rs 2,500 crore, and growing at a 10-15 per cent rate annually; the premium segment accounts for 10 per cent of the market.
India is seeing the emergence of specific super-rich segments of traders and merchants who are not in traditional metro markets but are key growth drivers of this segment. Market leaders in bathware reveal that while the top driver of demand for luxury bathrooms remain Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, it is the Tier-II cities that come a close second. Customers from Hyderabad, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kochi, Jaipur and Surat are showing a keen interest in upgrading their bath spaces with fancy amenities, elaborate finishes and integrated technology, says Serhan Ates Yagiz, country manager for India at VitrA, a Turkish manufacturer of sanitaryware, bathroom furniture retailing in India. Yagiz adds that purely functional bathrooms are increasingly a thing of the past and the demand is slowly moving towards "designer" sanitaryware, “The bathroom has become a concept room that offers relaxation and rejuvenation rather than only a hygiene space. Be it design, aesthetics, ambience, designer faucets and fittings, or the bathtub, each component is playing its role quite wonderfully to make the bathroom experience a refreshing and distressing one.”
The finishes and textures play an equally important role in the overall design of the bathroom, says architect Rina Sharma. From Moroccan sinks to faucets in rose gold and brushed nickel, natural materials such as onyx and marble on walls and floors, there are takers for exclusive materials, finishes, textures and design ideas. Sharma adds that granite and quartz tile are trending hot on the bath radar. As for the price, granite, which is very popular in high-end bathrooms, especially on the countertop, slab, walls and floor can cost anything from Rs 250-700 per sq ft, while quartz crystal floor tiles range from Rs 300-500 per sq ft. The designs are also focused on functionality and becoming more space-efficient, such as having a freestanding tub act as a focal point is a luxury detail. A ballpark figure for a premium to luxury bathroom is approximately Rs 10 lakh.
Natural finishes rule the luxury bathrooms. Photo: VitrA
Besides the core elements of a bathroom, there is also keen interest in the value-added features. An elaborate dressing unit, big-sized fancy mirrors as well as walk-in wardrobes are some of the must haves for super-premium bath spaces, says Chiranjiv Singh, director at CJ Living. But the showstopper product of the year is the just-launched (in Indian market) LG styler, which essentially drycleans your clothes in flat twenty minutes. Priced at Rs 2.5 lakh with a 10-year warranty, Singh adds that the product is a bestseller in Korea (where it was launched in 2012 and is still selling 20,000 pieces a month). This will soon be lapped up in luxury-home bathrooms in India, he adds.
Cutting-edge technology is another attribute of contemporary bathspaces. According to Salil Sadanandan, MD, Kohler India, “as bathrooms continue to evolve, the products installed are also evolving in terms of the sophistication of the design, technology and craftsmanship involved. Kohler has been on the forefront of the technology trend with connected range of products like Kohler Konnect, which features voice-enabled technology and your shower, bathtub, toilet, mirror and faucet are finally all connected — to you and one another. With voice commands, you can transform everyday moments from routine to remarkable.”
A melange of eclectic fittings and fixtures. Photo: VitrA
What are the key bathroom trends in India? “I think Indian consumers do prefer gold,” shares Salil Sadanandan, and “we capitalised on this insight when we were the first to market finishes six years ago. Also, we believe consumers express themselves in the bath space through colours. Kohler offers many options in terms of colours and finishes to help consumers transform their bath spaces, through products like Marrakesh, Derring and Faucet finishes, our matte ceramic colours that are inspired by India colours. Some of our fastest-moving finishes are French gold, rose gold and brushed nickel.” But the fastest-moving product category has been the faucets division, and this is across brands.
Luxury bathroom brands are roping in technology to become environmentally responsible – their products are eco-conscious as they save paper and water. Take the case of latest advancement by Kohler, which is called Katalyst for mixing air with water in showering, 2/4 litre flushing for toilets. The use of air induction in design of showers helps save 20 per cent of water. Who knows, the next revolution in bathroom may be a toilet giving personal feedback on your health, checking blood pressure, diabetes, heart and all parameters.