When it comes to designing bathrooms for the ageing population, industry figures said it’s still possible to have great design for the needs of this age group.
An ‘ageing bathroom’ should be fundamentally a very chic, inviting, relaxing place that also takes practical concerns into consideration, according to Tristan Butterfield, creative director, Kohler.
“A good bathroom should transcend any generation. You should be able to wash your children in a bath, you should be able to help your aged grandmother in there. It’s very much about being sensitive to the fact that when you physically get infirm, things are well thought out and well planned,” added Butterfield.
However, designing for the bathroom in such situations can be challenging from a product point of view. Mary Reid, vice president – industrial design, Kohler,said that while designers can make a handle and faucet easy to turn for people with different abilities, products like the toilet present difficulties as it isn’t that easy to get on or off, or even use it.
“I think there are lots of challenges around being totally universal in designing products that are very intimate. We’re doing our best but we will continue to be challenged,” she added.
Mark Bickerstaffe, director – new product development kitchen & bath, Europe and Asia Pacific, Kohler, suggested items like level entry showers, where people can enter without a step, a handrail that can be tiled into the bathroom so it doesn’t look out of place, and the single control faucet.
Reid also pointed to a bath called the Elevance where consumers can sit on it as they would on the sofa, swing their legs up to the seat level, then raise the door with one finger. The rising bath has an extra wide opening, the seat is of chair height and has an integrated grab bar, along with the easy-to-lift rising wall panel.
“Universality is about putting that forethought in and not being lazy in the design process and inconveniencing the future consumer. Products are available for this, and it’s about intelligent application of them for you, as you lose the ability that you have,” Bickerstaffe added.