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  • Good design goes public

    Daniel Fountain
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    Often the forgotten jewel in the crown of commercial buildings, public washrooms are a place where first impressions can be either won or lost, and as such designers are increasingly turning their attention to getting the look and feel of these spaces just right.Open to all, the public spaces within commercial premises offer a unique opportunity to convey a brand message among a new audience. This is why public spaces are no longer an afterthought, but rather an opportunity to create another brand experience and specifying the right sanitary solutions and allowing for creativity in these spaces is now all-important.

    There can be no argument that practical factors such as reliability of the products and ease of cleanliness take priority in public areas. After all, a washroom which is closed for maintenance or less than hygienic will create a negative impression regardless. That said, Laufen is a firm believer that these requirements shouldn’t come at the expense of good design; by taking care over the specification of products for washrooms form and function can go hand in hand, resulting in a space that is stylish, comfortable and clean.

    As a market-leader in providing design, quality and function for the domestic bathroom for over 100 years, and now rapidly growing its presence in the commercial sector too, Laufen’s advanced manufacturing processes and wide product portfolio mean that the Swiss brand pushes the boundaries of creativity in today’s public washrooms, whilst also taking care of practical matters.

    With the basin area often being the first part of the washroom seen by members of the public and where the majority of their time will be spent, specifying the right washbasins for the space is all-important, which is why Laufen offers a wide range of washbasins to give the designer freedom of choice. Many of these can be cut to size to fit seamlessly even into awkward recesses that are common in the washroom environment and the ceramic can be treated with a special surface finish that seals even the tiniest pores of the ceramic glaze for an extremely hygienic finish.

    While wall-hung basins help to make the room feel spacious and make cleaning the floor easy, undermount basins also carry advantages, being mounted directly under the countertop for a sleek, easy to clean finish. For the best of both worlds designers are increasingly now opting for a wall-hung basin with an extended countertop, which offers a seamless finish and an essential, wipe clean flat surface for guests to place their make-up and handbags.

    Due to Laufen’s advanced manufacturing techniques it is also able to offer custom-made, solid surface solutions, making it possible to craft washbasins in any size and any shape to suit and therefore enabling designers to fulfil their vision.

    Besides hygiene and ease of maintenance, the other major consideration for public washrooms is thematter of the environment and sustainability. While dual-flush WCs are fairly standard issue commercially nowadays, there are other technological advancements available that not only help commercial premises reduce their overall water consumption but also create a high-end finish. The latest urinals, for example, can be fitted with an electronic control system in order to automatically change the water volume of the flush and flushing intervals in order to reduce water wastage, which is particularly important in public spaces with high levels of daily footfall. Laufen offers a wide range of urinals to suit all public washroom environments, including one litre and waterless models.

    With urinals, often characterised by unpleasant smells, blocked traps and heavy maintenance requirements, Laufen urinals also offer a complete alternative to the conventional UK ‘spreader’ urinals, effectively eradicating these issues and making the public washroom a much more pleasant environment. Faucets are another hidden gem in terms of expressions of creativity in the public washroom and again, an element of the overall design that can cleverly combine form with function. Basin mixers and taps can be specified to give a luxurious, high-end finish to the washroom, with the latest infra-red sensor control taps being an ideal way of doing so while also being a water-saving and hygienic option.

    Overall then, it is important to ensure public washrooms work on a practical level whilst enabling the designer to enjoy flexibility over the room’s aesthetic qualities, in order to make the perfect first impression.

    Daniel Fountain / 12.04.2013

    Editor, Hotel Designs

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