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Q&A: Michael Seum speaks about the latest developments in bathroom designs

Bathroom products have always been designed around consumers. There is a strong emotional connection when it comes to creating something that people daily. When it comes to purchasing fittings for your bathroom, we are usually spoilt for choice — there is a lot to choose from with the latest innovative novelties to those driven by smart technology.

Smart technology has also led to the creation of many exciting products that have either been disruptive or convenient. Think bathtub with music, and a rain shower that responds to your emotions.

We speak to Michael Seum, Vice President Design for Grohe on how his role as a designer has helped shape the future of water and creating products that address today’s consumer needs. He also talks about the upcoming bathroom trends and what to look out for when it comes to buying bath ware and fittings.

Michael Seum

What have been the biggest takeaways on bathroom trends for 2019 and 2020?

Especially in Asia, I see simpler and lighter bathrooms due to smaller spaces, but with a modern and luxe feel. I also see a lot of individualisation, more preference for colours, and finally, more technology being incorporated in the bathroom.

Most bathroom technologies and innovations come from Europe. How do European standards fit into the Asian market?

Europe is the market leader in design, but from a technological point of view, we are getting a lot of innovation from Asia. For instance, the first made-in-Japan shower toilet with warm water shower spray and air dryer function was made by INAX, also under LIXIL’s portfolio. Today, shower toilets are more common in Asia than in Europe or North America. So actually we are taking a lot of technology and innovation from Asia, reframe it with European design DNA, and bring it back to Asia. This is a balance of the best of both worlds: Asian technology, and European design, the DNA that GROHE is known for.

Do you think there’ll ever be a place for ‘Asian Standards’?

I think there is already a place for ‘Asian Standards’. While our design philosophy is global, the execution of the products is local so that we can incorporate features that address the consumer’s needs in each market. We take the insights from our teams across the globe and incorporate them into the products that we sell in different markets.

Bathroom trends are ever-evolving, so what do you choose?

What can consumers expect in the bathroom industry in the next year or two?

We are going to focus on megatrends to shape the future. For example, the way that people interact with the home spaces is changing, so we will see bathrooms that are more flexible and dynamic, and kitchens that are more connected to living spaces. We will bring a sense of simplicity and become more minimalist, and we will see more individualisation, personalisation and smart technologies to manage water more intelligently. Finally, we are moving towards a more sustainable approach that will impact shower and water drinking behaviours.

Bathrooms are becoming more integrated with smart technology.

How has smart technology influenced bath-ware designs?

It has altered the game tremendously. The design of our products complements functionality and technology and brings out the product as an experience as a whole. If we look at the GROHE Smart Control, for example, consumers can control the water dynamics depending on what they are doing in the shower – rinsing, washing hair, applying conditioner, and more. Technology allows a very intuitive and precise water control that enhances the shower experience.

What are the biggest no-nos when it comes to choosing bathroom fittings?

I personally think there are no no-nos when it comes to this; we have a very extensive portfolio that can adapt to many different lifestyle needs, environment and design styles. It is up to the consumer to make use of the fittings around them to make the bathroom experience a pleasant one.

What are your best three pieces of advice when it comes to shopping for bathroom fittings?

First, they should find their own inspiration for something they like. Second, bring this mindset to the store and let our staff advise them. Finally, choose the product that better suits their lifestyle. If I had to pick three lines form GROHE, I would start with Lineare, Atrio or the New GROHE Plus.

All images by Grohe

Martin Teo
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.