An insight into bathroom design with Roca’s Carlos Velazquez

Posted in People, Products on 7 February, 2017

SPACE’s Tonje Odegard had a chat with Carlos Velazquez, Corporate Marketing Director of the Roca Group, to find out about the rapid and exciting development of bathroom designs in the last few years. Roca is a company that has steadily branched out since it was founded 100 years ago and therefore offers a lot of experience on the matter…

How easy is it to spot, follow and adapt to major trends in bathroom design?

This is how I see the evolution of the bathroom industry in the last 70 years:

Bathroom 1.0. In the beginning, the only thing bathrooms had to deliver was functionality. The manufacturers only had to apply this expertise and deliver the product to the market, but then came a time when this wasn’t enough anymore.

Bathroom 2.0. In came the aesthetics – bathrooms had to look good too. This is when people like Giorgetto Giugiaro starting designing toilets and other bathroom appliances for Roca 30 years ago and brought aesthetics into the business. Still, this wasn’t enough.

Bathroom 3.0. With IKEA and the democratisation of design, aesthetics didn’t cut it anymore. Therefore, we had to evolve to the bathroom of performance. We’re now talking comfort and options – shower toilets, nightlights, dryers, automatic flushing, sensors – the list goes on. These products have been created to provide different solutions for different people. And this is where we find ourselves today.

But what is the future?

Bathroom 4.0. This version is all about integration. Integration of product into product – the smartphone is a great example of this, where you have a phone, a camera, a music player and a computer all in one product. A toilet now needs to be so much more than a toilet – it needs to be a bidet, a seat, a comfortable chair. Still, this will not be enough.

Bathroom 5.0. This stage will concern product integration into architecture. Everything will be happening behind the walls – all the tubes, pipes, tanks, cisterns, cables and sensors will be hidden behind the wall. Bathroom 5.0 will be the full service bathroom. It won’t be about providing products anymore, it will be about providing intuitive, service-oriented solutions.

Trends constantly evolve and Roca has a marketing intelligence department to track these trends – both the mega-trends and the short-term trends. The important thing is to pick up the right ones out of these. Trends are also changing much more rapidly now than ever before. All the major developments in bathroom trends and functionalities have happened in the last 20 years. Today, for instance, all the main bathroom suppliers offer a shower toilet. Three years ago, maybe two of them did. And shower toilets have, and will continue to, change the way we use toilets forever.

How has the advancement of technology affected the way bathrooms are designed?

The world is going through a phase of digitalisation, and the way that affects bathroom design is by urbanisation. Mass immigration into cities means that our architecture has to change – houses are getting smaller and thus bathrooms are getting smaller too. Houses can’t hold too many walls anymore, so we’re left with two main spaces in houses – a social space and an intimate space.

This greatly affects how we integrate our products. Understanding the impact this has on our industry is very important and it forces us to provide a solution. All the market anticipation filters through to our current bathroom ranges. The solutions Roca provides are based on a global strategy with local adaptation.

The advancement of technology has allowed for companies like Roca to meet the demands of modern society and enabled us to create products like Bathroom 3.0. It also permits us to plan for the future.

Technology will also allow us the ability to install sensor that monitor water usage, which I believe will become a tremendous part of running a hotel in the future. Water is getting increasingly expensive, and controlling and monitoring the water usage of guests will become an incredibly important element for hoteliers.

How much of bathroom design is driven by trend and how much is driven by the need for top-quality products?

Roca is now 100 years old, and how have we achieved becoming one of the top-quality bathroom providers in the world? Hard work, passion and an unwavering commitment to the highest quality. Quality is in our DNA.

But quality isn’t everything – quality has to be converted into design. And today, design is not just the installation or the architecture, it’s about the people. We do what we do for people, and that has been the big change in the last years. We are people- and service-oriented.

Finally, it is about individualisation. We are all different, so we want different things. How can we provide a personalised product especially made for one type of person? This is the next level in bathroom design.

What is needed to be able to design some of the very best bathroom products in the world?

To spend a lot of time listening to people – consumers, end-users, manufacturers. Roca is confident enough in our industrial muscle and our level of quality, so now it’s about understanding and anticipating what the future generations want from our products.

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