Modern bathrooms serve myriad purposes in our residences. From addressing our physical needs to supporting our mental health hygiene and contributing to our emotional wellbeing, they offer an invaluable place of respite from the rest of our busy dwellings and the outside world. And as the role of the bathroom evolves, so do the spatial solutions within it, bringing to life the results of significant research, ever-changing insights and technological advancements. Luke di Michiel and Andy Grigor are Industrial Designers for Caroma and with a combined wealth of experience spanning product design, innovation, and research and development, they sit at the forefront of pioneering design where the multifaceted bathroom space is concerned.

“I think it highlights that for us as a society the role and value of the house and that space does extend beyond what previously was a few essential rooms,” says Luke. “People have higher expectations now, and that includes places like the bathrooms, laundries and butler’s kitchens. They want their vision to be realised right throughout the house. No room gets left out when we talk about the expectations across the interior design, bathroom, and product selection throughout the house.”

So what are some of the key trends that are defining the present and informing the future of bathroom design? “Ageing in place and being able to get older with dignity are certainly key aspects that shape bathroom design, as we move forward with an ageing population,” says Luke. “As they age, people are reluctant to settle for the products that have been available in the past and it’s a really exciting opportunity for us, at Caroma, in terms of presenting products that have all those functional characteristics, but also deliver on contemporary trends and styles of bathroom design and products. We’ve been able to pioneer modern grab rails and assistive supports that look very contemporary, but offer those valuable qualities that people will need as they age. So I think we're really shifting that approach from being considered purely as a product to looking at it as universal design.”

Another big one - and one Caroma have firmly in their sights - is toilet technology. In Australia smart and tech-enabled toilets are yet to take off in the way they have in other places, like Japan. “But the tech is there,” says Andy. “And there are two ends of the development spectrum. On one side is the full biometric, wellness toilet, and on the other is the one that solves a genuine problem, like cleaning and smell, for example - and cleaning is obviously one of those ones that's high on our agenda,” he says. “But in terms of high-tech, there are now toilets containing multiple sensors that claim to track mental and physical status and then provide recommendations about your health. And we can't ignore that. But if we look at that spectrum of development, for now we're taking a very pragmatic approach to solve genuine problems. But watch this space!”

And as Caroma continues towards this bright, tech-and-design-focused future, they’re well placed to keep pushing the envelope in bringing trail-blazing and useful solutions to market. “Caroma has always had a really hands-on approach from a design perspective, and we have incredible design and prototyping capabilities in-house,” says Luke. “That allows us to open up that conversation; we can take the product and engage with key industry partners for feedback and iterate based on their responses. We've always had the approach of ‘how could this be improved?’ and I think it's that method, combined with our technical abilities, that allow us to really uncover the points where that true innovation can be found.”

Listen to this episode here.

This podcast was brought to you in association with Caroma, proud sponsors of the Residential Series of podcasts. Find out more from Caroma.