A big attraction at Sleep this year was the headline exhibit from GROHE. Foam & Bubbles was given the VIP treatment and the opportunity to speak with Chris Barger, Senior VP of Global Projects, to find out how GROHE works with some of the leading architects and designers to create stunning hotel experiences around the world.
Can you tell us a little about GROHE and your role at the company?
I’m Chris Barger, Senior Vice President of Global Projects for GROHE. I’ve been with the firm for about five years, based out of the Dusseldorf headquarters. The projects business specifically makes sure all of our endorsers, such as architects and designers, have a connection with GROHE. We like to support their specifications and make sure they get all of the help they need but we also want their feedback on what’s coming up in the market so that we can react and develop new products for them. We are a global business and we have offices on six of the seven continents and for us we’re crazy about projects and the Sleep event is a great opportunity to come and engage with those endorsers.
What hot design trends are you seeing in the market at the moment?
Specifically, as this is a hotel event, it’s more about user friendly home experience. If you think about the hospitality industry years ago people wanted to go to hotels to have a different and special experience. Now bathroom trends have come full circle where the home experience they have is like a spa and they expect to see this in hotels. When you’re travelling you aren’t looking for that special experience but something that is as good or better compared to your own home. For us the continued innovation and development in our products has to continue otherwise we’ll get left behind.
What’s hot on the GROHE stand this year, what are visitors really raving about?
I think our colours is really the big story this year. Sensia Arena, our shower toilet, is a game changer. The whole idea of shower toilets is big in major parts of Asia and it’s simply a matter of hygiene which is a conversation not a lot of people are comfortable having. It’s how you clean yourself either with a dry method or a wet method and in the interest of hygiene the wet method is doing a better job of that. Back to the colours, we have 10 fantastic new colours which are five colours with two different finishes which are transformative. It gives the designers many more ways to customise a project and make it their own.
If I visited a GROHE hotel room how would I know it was GROHE?
With the old hotel experience customers used to go in and touch the doorknob, the key, the remote control, television, curtains and everything else but now everything is done by tablets and iPads. One of the remaining few things that people are touching inside a hotel room are the taps and fittings. You will immediately identify GROHE through the quality of our work and the colours. The quality of the PVD finish and the individuality a designer can put in a bathroom through the use of GROHE products makes us stand out in hotels across the world.
Hotel bathrooms are slightly different in that they need to be robust and last.
Sure, they do and our lifecycle has been tested independently and in-house. Being a German company, to put it politely, we are fanatical about quality and testing and hotels are only the beginning of the story. GROHE’s products are easy to stand behind but again German engineering and technical competence is usually a story we don’t need to talk to customers about because we are known for that.
What advice would you give to consumers looking to get the hotel look at home?
I think publications like Foam & Bubbles, and others on the newsstand, provide a lot of choice and people need to design something that gives them some comfort and some peace. The bathroom is a place for transformative rest and relaxation and I think it’s important to do what you’re comfortable with and don’t copy something just because it’s a trend. I think space is a real commodity in the bathroom, we’ve all seen small hotel bathrooms and large hotel bathroom and there is a preference. So, it’s about aligning with personal views, your comforts and wishes and putting that in place.
If you could pick one thing that would change your life in the bathroom what would it be?
That’s an easy one for me, it’s a tall mirror. A well-lit mirror is something that has been missing and if you change that you’ve got me as a guest for life.
Any predictions for 2018?
Lots of new products, we’re bringing in intelligent water solutions. We have a new range out called Sense and Sense Guard which is a water management and security system for the home and we will be developing this for commercial applications. For us it’s a game changer, using your phone or device you’ll be able to control the water in your house or be alerted if there’s a problem. It’s another one of the ways GROHE is bringing innovation to bear in business these days.
Kevin, Foam & Bubbles Head of Digital, is currently renovating his home in London. For his first project he has dived straight into the deep-end. Kevin has taken his house back to just 4 walls, adding a floor, a new roof, as well as 2 more bathrooms.