Digital hotel bathroom.

Guest article by Thomas Edelmann.

AXOR Talk at the ISH

Bathroom discussions. With AXOR.

Sometimes we need to sit down together to discuss issues. Preferably some place where experts and the interested public get together already. At the ISH, three intensive "AXOR Talks" offered up more than just a chat. They presented an impressive combination of present and future, practice and research-based projection. A guest article by journalist and design critic Thomas Edelmann.

Three in-depth topics on the primary theme of "Individualisation" were discussed. The first session, which was well-attended, dealt with smart hotel bathrooms.

AXOR Bathroom Discussion at the ISH.

Digital possibilities

The discussion focused on businesspeople’s expectations of hotel bathrooms. Do they need to be functional in the morning and relax in the evening? What opportunities are offered by digitalisation? To Ian Biglands, Development Manager of the “Premium Economy” hotel chain Premier Inn, this is still a difficult topic because it seems unachievable.

Only something that has been established as standard in 4- and 5-star hotels has any chance of being economically viable in other classes of hotel too. However, innovations such as shower toilets are rapidly becoming more commonplace and within the reach of almost all price/furnishing classes.

© Architect Sotyrys Pantopulos

Digitalisation as an opportunity?

In contrast, at Phoenix Design Bernd Eigenstetter deals with user experience and sees digitalisation as an opportunity: those who generate more, and better, data from the customers can offer added value and make a major impact at comparatively low cost. It’s already possible to find out information about the current weather conditions or order a taxi in the bathroom.

As a coach, designer Uta Kurz translates the non-verbal language of the design for those involved in making design-related decisions without being prepared for it. For her, digitalisation already plays a vital role in hotels when it comes to lighting design and control. The days when the costs of materials and furnishings in luxury hotels were considered insignificant are over.

Find out more about Uta Kurz , Bernd Eigenstetter and Phoenix Design, as well as Ian Biglands and Premiere Inn hotels

Digitalisation limitations and opportunities

How digital do hotel bathrooms need to be in the future? What’s going to be possible, and where do you see the limitations of what is desirable? asked the moderator.

Eigenstetter stressed that lots of people see the bathroom as the last analogue place of retreat, while others want to push the limits of technology. It’s already possible to change the hotel bedroom virtually, for example to move to other parts of the world with the aid of projections. Eigenstetter has an equal appreciation of both groups. He wondered what digital luxury would consist of in the future, in light of the conceivable enhancements.

Bernd Eigenstetter from Phoenix Design.
Designer and coach Uta Kurz.

Easy-to-use technological achievements.

Uta Kurz drew attention to a crucial aspect: Digital achievements in hotels would have to be easy to use and would have to actually work.

While this might sound trivial, it is actually a core problem, because if this is not the case then the much-cited emotional experience that users have when interacting with technology could trigger a sense of their own inadequacy. In this regard, we make a distinction between technologies that are permanently installed in hotels and centrally controlled, for example sensors, and those operated individually by the guest, using a smartphone that he has brought with him.

Technology that supports sustainability.

Biglands would like to make the utilisation of water more effective with the aid of digitalisation. Increasingly, high-consumption showers would be used. The discussion covered consumption monitoring, sustainability, data collection, data protection, sensor technology, and the opportunities and limitations of standardisation.

© Thomas Tratnik | All Rights Reserved

Ian Biglands, Development Manager of the Premiere Inn hotels.