Luxury and display

Whether commercial or residential, bathrooms and kitchens have undergone great change in the last decade or so.

COMMENT, Design

Whether commercial or residential, bathrooms and kitchens have undergone great change in the last decade or so.

Evolution in the hotel industry and shifts in consumer demand have driven these once utilitarian spaces into a limelight of luxury and theatrical display.

Spas have become one of the hotel industry's big profit centres, a factor that has led to greater emphasis being placed on hotel bathrooms, where even those intended for the business traveler have grown in size relative to the room itself and luxury touches are not confined to the suites.

The expectation of luxury has made it into the home too, where bathrooms have become centres of pampering and relaxation. Whirlpool baths and rain showers are just one manifestation of the impact of this consumer demand on manufacturers.

Kitchens too have changed in response to consumer demand. In the home, kitchens are frequently a multi-use space, a shift from the traditional bench and sink arrangement. Influenced by the rise of the strange cult of the celebrity chef, people have become more aware of food preparation and expect to enjoy it as a spectacle in restaurants, as well as on television. Since people want to see chefs in action, restaurant kitchens are more frequently on view. From a little peak of some light preparation work, or a full on cooking experience seen from a chef's table placed at the heart of the action, cooking has become part of the dining experience.

Designers have responded accordingly to these new challenges, but the task is not an easy one. No one wants to accept compromises in design or functionality, but there are still issues to be overcome - space for bathrooms, practicality for kitchens on display. Clever design is the answer and the Middle East is where much of the experimentation and development work is being done.

CID's supplement on kitchen and bathroom design, published in May, will highlight some of the best examples; we can all expect to see more in the future.

Stuart Matthews is the senior group editor of ITP Business' design group.

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