Troy Creighton is the charismatic face of one of Australia’s leading drainage brands, Stormtech. Troy became the Managing Director of this family business in 2003, and has been one of the most prominent voices in bathroom design and innovation ever since. For the latest instalment of the Architecture & Design Hospitality & Retail podcast series, we asked Troy about some of the most exciting ideas, global trends and technologies that are transforming hospitality bathrooms.

“For the new-build spaces, I'm seeing two really distinct design styles driven by two regions. One is the North American hotel chains, and the other one is – interestingly – Southeast Asia, North Asia and Europe, who are following a very similar trend together,” he starts.

“If we look at the North American design style, it's really back to the 70s,” Troy – who grew up in that era, explains. “We’re seeing a lot of beige and brown shades, which I think is quite indicative of the conservative character of North American society.” He adds that even hotel chains like Marriott, which back in the 60s were quite edgy, are reverting to the more traditional colour palettes and bathroom interiors.

When it comes to the European style, Troy points to the cool Nordic aesthetic which brings a bit of darkness into the bleached timbers, as well as favours neutral tones over the harsh, bright whites. The European trend also embraces cleaner, open spaces, which – Troy adds – ties in with the touchless technology, increasingly seen in bathrooms around the world after the pandemic. “This touchless trend will definitely keep expanding in the hospitality spaces,” he says. “And it’s suitable not just for new builds, but also for renovations because the touchless sensor systems can be retrofitted.”

The trend to create more open bathrooms that embrace the touchless sensor systems, results in an increase of bathrooms that are more inclusive. “I think that the touchless sensor system is really hand in glove with that access and mobility. Whether someone's got advanced arthritis or some sort of physical disability, touchless technology definitely makes it easier to manipulate bathroom fittings.”

As an extreme example of touchless sensor systems, Troy mentions “robotic” toilets he’s encountered on his multiple trips to Japan. “These spaces often have Bluetooth integration, and if the user pairs up with the bathroom when entering, the space will play music from their mobile device,” he describes excitedly. “They will blow warm air on your feet, offer light therapy and even sense what your gender is so the toilet can automatically lift either just the lid, or both the lid and the seat.” Troy says that this is probably a very good glimpse of where we’re headed in the hospitality bathroom space.

However, while touchless technology is most certainly on the rise, Troy points out that it’s essential not to lose sight of the fact that bathrooms are, in fact, the most intimate spaces in our homes and in hospitality environments. As such, they shouldn’t be too clinical or impersonal. Enter shabby chic.

“We’re definitely seeing a resurgence of the shabby chic that was popular about 10 years ago. And this is particularly relevant in the boutique-style hotels,” Troy explains that the trend involves repurposing and redesigning bathrooms using eclectic features. Combined with the shift to revisit this notion of minimalist, open space, these trends can help create welcoming, comfortable and accessible bathroom space – which is something Troy thinks hotels and hospitality venues get more than just about anyone else.

“The bathroom is the most intimate room in the house, as well as your hotel room, and that hardcore, arctic white design doesn’t reflect this personal character. You need to be able to be a little bit messy, which is why – I think – this idea of an eclectic, yet open, clean and easy to access space is really emerging.”

If you’d like to find out more about automation in hospitality bathrooms, or hear about what features Troy has taken particular liking to, listen to the full episode here. This podcast is brought to you in association with Stormtech proud sponsors of our 2023 Hospitality & Retail series of podcasts.