Shower all your senses with innovative design

BW HOTELIER has partnered with Hansgrohe to organise ‘Design – Innovation to Conservation’ weBBlast series. We bring you excerpts from the first session of the first day show of the weBBlast series titled, ‘Shower with All Senses’, which took place on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.

The Keynote address on the first day was given by Thomas Stopper, Vice President Asia, Hansgrohe, Shanghai. Siddharth Barua, Country Director – India, WATG London was the moderator for the enlightening panel discussion which was viewed across different social media platforms by 5000 plus people. Other panellists included: Sonali Bhagwati, President, DesignPlus Associates; Sahil Khan, Senior Director -Design and Technical Services, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group; Arvind Mathur, Regional Director Strategic Sourcing, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group; Monica Malhotra Kandhari, MD, MBD Group Gaurav Malhotra, MD India and Regional Key Accounts Asia, Hansgrohe and Bhuvanesh Khanna, CEO, BW Communities, BW Businessworld. 

Design Conundrum 

Starting the discussion Barua stated that most designers including himself, are faced with a challenge often that when they arrive at designing the bathroom, they end up being given the challenge to fill up space in a grid that complements the bedroom or hotel room suite. 

He asked Sonali Bhagwati as to what she usually keeps in mind or tells herself on how to enhance the experience for the user. Elaborating on the nuances of design, she said, “A bathroom is an extension of living space and varies from hotel-to-hotel, be it a 4-star business hotel or a luxury hotel. “Today, a bathroom is like a car which has many models for different types of people. A 3-star or 4-star business hotel takes emphasis on functionality with standardised experiences. The game changes at a luxury hotel or a resort or a heritage hotel where spaces and experiences are non-standardised, creating a sense of mystery.” She further went on to enunciate that “Experiences are created not just with luxury components rather with how it is composed.”

Getting the guest to say, ‘wow’

Moving onto Sahil Khan, Barua asked him, “You are part of the design of the Radisson Group in India. What do you prioritise for your guests in the bathrooms that you get designed? Guest Experience? Sophistication? Aesthetics? Khan responded, “As a student of design and now into the role of design management, I always encourage designers to design well and design right.”

“As far as the question of experience, sophistication and aesthetics are concerned, I believe they all go hand- in-hand. They are all interlinked to one another. Guest experience is of paramount importance which is delivered through pleasant aesthetics and sophisticated choice of materials be it sanitaryware, fittings or selection of wall furnishings. I do think that the layout of the bathroom should be practical and inviting and then come elements like shower and lighting. With just the right amount of lighting at the right places. Technology can take you to the next level, but you need to get the basics right first.”

Bringing in the ‘element of surprise’

Next moderator Siddharth Barua queried Monica Malhotra on what she would ask her designers to design the next time while designing a bathroom since as a hotel owner, she has a ROI to meet and what her design ambition is regarding the bathrooms for her guests.

Kandhari said, “I will share views from both sides of being an owner as well as an operator. We are market driven but there should always be room for experimentation. There should always be an element of surprise so that your products last for at least five years. So even if the cost of the surprise element goes up by 10-15 percent that can be absorbed eventually as it is the surprise which will bring a guest to the hotel. We obviously want a standardised product, but we also give the flexibility and leverage to the designer also to bring in the surprise factor be it in using the washbasins or the showers.”

“It’s after putting the functionality that you put other factors around it, whether its sustainability, the colour scheme, the aesthetics. I think the layout is the first factor I will tell my designer to experiment with and explore another layout also because you do not need any technology to view that. So, there should be no holding back in experimenting with innovation be it luxury or budget hotels. Also, the technology being incorporated should be easy to use otherwise you might get negative feedback from the customers,” Kandhari adds

Flexibility, the order of the day

On the query from Barua, how as an operator, what do you often find when you are given a bathroom design to evaluate it for procurement and operations?, Arvind Mathur said, “Every hotel operator has a set of design and brand standards which are always provided to the developer (owner) and then passed to the designer to give options of design element and space planning. It is always given in the form of the brands of the product itself with certain model attached to it.” He added, “In today’s day and age, all operators are flexible to designer and owner’s customisations along with maintaining the brand’s minimum standard,” he added. He went on to say that even if he does not get a good sleep experience a good shower can truly relax a person and leave the ‘wow’ factor in the mind of the guest visiting the hotel. 

Resource Responsible

With the scarcity of resources growing across the world, sustainability must come at the core of all businesses. On the same Khan stated that the Radisson Group have responsible business as their core philosophy and the focus going forward is on responsible building.

He said, “Our corporate responsible business programme is called Think Planet that focuses on minimising energy and water consumption which at the end of the day amounts to lower carbon footprint. So, we have an internal target to become a zero-carbon footprint company by 2025”

Adopt Green luxury

Adding to the conversation, Thomas stopper stated that water conservation is at heart of what they do. He said that they believe in optimisation of the water experience, giving the consumer the chance to indulge in green luxury. He concluded by adding, “Product quality and quality of design helps to bring sustainability by saving resources, as renovation cycles gets extended to 30 years instead of 5 years by using some of our products." 

The key take-aways from the discussion were summarised by, Bhuvanesh Khanna. He said that Hasgrohe wants to create the next level of bathroom designs and serve clientele all over the world. The bathroom today is an extension of the living space. Balance between sophistication and simplicity in a bathroom design contribute more to a great experience. Technology is the platform for three key deliverables: 1) Customer experience, 2) Aesthetics without compromising functionality, and 3) Sustainability. 

Showering is an intimate experience and can be enhanced with different sprays from Hasgrohe. Use of enhanced technologies like air and water mix showers may increase the cost but its  the need of the hour, with the need to save water. And of course, the bathroom is the key element in hotel room rating by any guest today!



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