Design innovations that help in ‘Creating Sustained Value’

The second show in the weBBlast series, ‘Design – Innovation to Conservation’ was titled ‘Creating Sustained Value’. We bring you excerpts from the panel discussion which touched upon ‘innovation as the key for sustainability ’‘saving water, energy and money’, ‘bringing values to bathroom designs with environment-friendly products’ and evolving trends in bathroom designs.

BW HOTELIER has partnered with Hansgrohe to organise ‘Design – Innovation to Conservation’ weBBlast series from October 27, 2020 to November 10, 2020. In the second show of the series the keynote address was given by David Cooper, Head of Global Project, Hansgrohe. Ritu Bhatia Kler, MD, Total Integrated Design (India) Pvt Ltd.  Moderated the session to perfection. Other panellists include Mohammed Rizwan Ali, VP – Projects, IHCL (Taj); N V Hariharan, Associate Vice President - Central Materials Group, IHCL (Taj); Abhishek Mathur, Director, Studio HBA, India; Rahul Kadri, Partner & Principal Architect, IMK Architects; Gaurav Malhotra, MD India and Regional Key Accounts Asia, Hansgrohe and Bhuvanesh Khanna, CEO, BW Communities, BW Businessworld. 

Giving the ‘Bathroom’ a personality with design

The guest wants an element of surprise through design at the same time a comfortable homely feel in the hotel room. The importance of the bathroom has been growing with innovations and design details. 

Responding to the question from Ritu Kler on his creative freedom and the experimentation in designing the bathrooms, Mathur said, “I think whenever a guest goes to a hotel, they come with a certain set of expectations and one of the strongest touchpoints of any hotel is its bathroom.” Citing the example of designing a bathroom in a city hotel in Kerala, Abhishek Mathur noted, “We attempted to give the bathroom a personality. We went a little further and worked with graphic designers to also design accessories like shampoo bottles, shower robes, door handles. So, it just cuts across a little deeper and to help carry on the whole design narrative.”

Kler stated that bathrooms have become as important to travellers as bedrooms, and hotels are taking the plunge into more creative bathrooms in the room, this could mean new product concepts for different projects.  She asked Ali Rizwan, how in a greenfield project do you balance the creative process at design stage and project execution in your delivery? 

Design should be end- user friendly

Rizwan added, “A good bed and a well-appointed bathroom are the two key elements that you expect when you walk into a hotel room today. Products do differ from property- to- property and category of hotel to another category.”  He further articulated, “A design brief is very clearly spelt out to the designer when he/she is on board to take care of new trends, technologies and guest expectations. At the same time, it is also stressed upon that you are not overdoing it, as it becomes cumbersome for usage. Ultimately what you want is the guest finding it user friendly without any confusion or complication. In terms of creativity, we have worked with designers, some of them are here in this panel. So, the point is allowing the designers to express themselves without overdoing it.”

Right procurement for good renovations

As far as renovations of bathrooms go,  NV Hariharan, AVP Central Materials Group, IHCL/Taj said  that the bathroom space is renovated over a period of 10 to 15 years and in a hotel, the first-level is refurbishment then the second level is complete renovation. He explained, “The bathrooms are renovated at the second-level which is a long duration gap wherein the technology has gone to a leap change and a lot of things have to be factored in while renovating. The latest trends and best of best products must be used while renovating. Apart from this, water and energy saving factors are to be considered. Water saving is not limited by using less water but instead using the best way to use water.”

Talking about the operations angle strategy he expressed that it also plays an important role in procurement while procuring bathroom fixtures. “We look at warranty, after-sales service or spare-parts availability, those are critical to complete a bathroom, but it has to run for next 10 to 15 years,” he added.

By doing responsible sourcing you are benefiting the end user who is the customer, added Ritu Bhatia Kler.

Create designs with a free mind to be innovative

Rahul Kadri stated that human beings crave to be closer to the nature and the industry is moving towards ‘bio-feel’ touch and thus bringing glass to the bathroom space is a major thing that has happened. He explains, “Using devices like that where you don’t have to necessarily give more space but you can be lighter in touch where things can disappear in a sense, where you are not closing thing up, you are giving a much bigger sense of space is what needs to happen more and will happen more. We are going to come to a time where we will be able to have a multi-faceted space by the window even in a business hotel. These kinds of innovations will go to bathroom space and open it up completely.”

Kadari further talks about sustainable toilets, he said that fittings have evolved quite a lot to be able to provide balance between experience and conserving water. He lists maintenance and self-cleaning surfaces as other areas where the industry needs to focus on. He commented, “In a bathroom, one area that is neglected is when it comes to maintenance and design can play a great part in that and selection of materials, if it is easy to clean then the amount of water and chemicals used in cleaning will be less. I’d like to see self-cleaning surfaces.”

Ritu Kler now asked Gaurav Malhotra as to how do you bring values to bathroom designs with environment-friendly products. Gaurav Malhotra began by quoting designer Philp Stark, he said, “We are all prisoners of a throwaway society. The only way to escape is by creating sustainable designs.”

In the pursuit of excellence

Speaking on the innovations that Hansgrohe has applied for conservation in its products, Gaurav Malhotra said, “Luxury needs to be differentiated and be very exclusive. Hansgrohe’s core pillar is innovation and that resonates to this aspect. The second is that luxury is timeless. We work with designers all over the world who not only decide the design but also the material that goes into the final product so that you can be comfortable using the product and still feel luxurious using it. The third is the pursuit of excellence.”

The key take-aways of the session were summarised by Bhuvanesh Khanna, he said, “One of the strongest touch points of any hotel room is the bathroom. A design brief is clearly spelt out, but it is specified that the design should not be overdone. Maintenance is of absolute important and materials play a vital role in that. Water saving is about using the water carefully. Experimenting with Natural light and space we can lend a close to resort like experience. The versatility of Hansgrohe products and the ability to choose between different attractive design, provide the right solution for every bathroom, lifestyle and taste.”

Ritu Bhatia Kleir shared a beautifully African quote to sum up " Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”


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