Ideal Standard made the bold decision this year not to exhibit at ISH. Instead, the bathroom brand invited 30-plus international media representatives, including Editor Hamish Kilburn, to Venice for an exclusive viewing of its Aesth|ethics pop-up display. While there, Kilburn managed to speak to Chief Design Officer Roberto Palomba about what to expect in the future…
Every so often, among the sea of its competitors, a brand charges ahead in a completely different direction. At first, it may seem reckless. But ripples build into larger waves. Ideal Standard, this year, has given its classmates a lesson in how to do pop-ups with meaning and passion by taking the international design media’s focus away from Milan Design Week for a minute to focus on Venice of all places to discover what the brand has been working on. And it did so in effortless style, complete with a water taxi transfer from airport to pop-up – now that’s just showing off.
After finding my land legs, once we arrived at the venue – a disused warehouse in the former shipyards of Artsenale di Veniezia – we were told that this was a carbon-neutral event, and that all of our travel was to be offset. All of a sudden, the Aesth|Ethics theme of the experience started to make refreshing sense.
Inside, the pop-up included a showcase of Ideal Standard’s latest products, with a few teasers on what was to come, led by the brand’s creative protagonist Roberto Palomba, who made headlines in recent years when he became Ideal Standard’s Chief Design Officer. The installation followed Ideal Standard’s unique singular approach by displaying bathroom solutions across all product categories from different ranges – displaying how cohesively the collections work together.
“The philosophy gives us a unique vantage point to approach product design,” said Palomba. “With that singular thread in mind, it helps guide and evolve the way we think creatively, giving us a toolkit to develop new collections and strategies that can interpret the world of bathrooms with a holistic vision. That toolkit lets us address functional issues, while creating products that inspire designers.
“The Arsenale di Venezia is the perfect location and provides us with a dramatic setting to showcase our new Italian inspired collections.”
The new products on display included the Alu+ range of eco-sustainable shower systems, the contemporary i.life ceramics range in a new modern glossy grey finish, the minimalist Solos showering collection with intuitive smart controls for an all-in-one spa like experience, and the La Dolce Vita collection – a design-led and comprehensive bathroom range that celebrates Italian lifestyle.
“Design and performance are central to Ideal Standard’s products and its deep, historic roots tell that story too,” added Palomba. “The company has a rich heritage, evolving the bathroom into what it is today, with leading innovations like the ceramic disc cartridge and iconic designs like the original Linda range.
“This historic design pedigree gives us something few other manufacturers have; it inspires our ambition to continue exploring and innovating design and technology.”
Following Palomba talking to our team in January about this year’s emerging bathroom trends, I took the opportunity to ask him about how the new products and collections answer to these themes around colour, accessible luxury and futuristic aesthetics. “In all our collections, we seek to respond to trends while keeping in mind the individuality of the end consumer,” he explained. “Each person has their own priorities and given the freedom with design, would express themselves differently. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution, but with our collections we want to provide versatility, meet the needs of our consumers in terms of design trends for the contemporary bathroom, all while retaining our identity and rich design heritage.”
The undertone of the Aesth|ethics installation was, anequiveqallbly, Ideal Standard’s honest commitment to creating a more sustainable future and explain the company’s commitment to deliver innovative, high-quality products that encourage sustainable living practices. In this vein, Ideal Standard has completed a full carbon footprint analysis of the Aesth|ethics event and partnered with Up2You to neutralise the generated CO2 emissions.
Ideal Standard chose two projects that focus on preserving and restoring forests to support the fight against climate change. The first is helping to protect almost 785,000 hectares of forests and wildlife on the southern shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe. The Kariba Forest Protection project aims to create a biodiversity corridor by connecting four national parks and eight safari reserves while implementing numerous community-focused initiatives.
The company has also committed to helping turn almost 22,000 hectares of cattle grazing land into sustainably managed forests for high-value, long-life timber products as well as sequestering large amounts of carbon dioxide. Both projects are verified by the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards.
Speaking on the event, CEO Jan-Peter Tewes said: “Aesth|ethics is a great occasion to highlight what we, as a company, have in store for the future. We’ve developed some ambitious goals, both from a sustainability and people perspective, that we have outlined in our new sustainability report, so the opportunity to delve deeper into those goals and talk about how we want to achieve them is fantastic.
“Whether it’s increasing diversity through an active recruitment drive or installing photovoltaic panels at our Wittlich fittings plant in Germany as we transition the business to use 100 per cent renewable electricity, we are now well on the way to a more sustainable future.”
The pop-up was a fine example how a brand can lead ethically without sacrificing its creative approach or performance of the product. If anything, thanks to the extensive research and development undertaken in the last few years, since his arrival as Chief Design Officer, I wonder whether these narrow parameters around manufacturing and designing consciously have allowed Palomba to be even more creative in this direction with the new collection.
“Our new collections look further than the immediacy of current trends,” the designed added. “We create timeless, sustainable products that last and designs that influence new trends. Our neo-classical ranges like Calla and Joy Neo are a great example of where we are fusing elements of classic interior design with the requirements of the modern-day bathroom.
Of course, colour is a key vehicle for expression and personalisation. With our design-led i.life B range we’ve helped meet that wish for expression by launching the collection in glossy grey – which can be smartly paired with Ideal Standard’s Silk Black taps for an on-trend, yet timeless design.”
Just like the brand’s commitment, my whirlwind Venetian adventure ended full-circle, skimming over waves as we hurtled towards the airport, wondering where Ideal Standard will take the industry next in order to make its necessary statements on ethical and conscious manufacturing.
Ideal Standard is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our Recommended Suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.
Main image credit: Ideal Standard