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International bathroom trends 2018

This year, our smarterBATHROOMS+ design manager, Vanessa Cook, travelled to Milan for the Salone Internazionale del Bagno. The biannual bathroom exhibition forms part of Milan design week — the world’s leading furniture fair.

The Salone Internazionale del Mobile was founded in 1961 and is a platform for promoting the latest in Italian furniture design. In Australia, we have seen a transformation in bathroom design stemming from these overseas trends. Vanessa came back with some new ideas as well as hopes for the future of Australian bathroom interior design. In this, the first of two articles, Vanessa lets us in on her favourite findings, that we will soon see filter through to the Australian market.

“One of the stand-out design features was the freestanding basins crafted using a variety of sculptural and textual techniques, teamed with vanity cabinetry that looked like a piece of furniture,” Vanessa says of the displays this year. Meaning, where bathrooms once had distinctive finishes and fixtures that were unique to the area, now designers are utilising furniture from other rooms so that bathrooms, without tiling, would be “almost like a pared-back living room.”

“It’s intelligent design,” Vanessa says, “because, in most cases, plumbing doesn’t run through the bathroom furniture, meaning items can be easily swapped out for something else. It’s completely detachable, allowing endless future design possibilities within the space.”

“The bathroom furniture was smaller in depth than we are used to seeing in Australia and was fitted out with inner drawers, cosmetic inserts, and lighting. It had all the bells and whistles internally.”

A prominent new trend is using interchangeable fittings throughout your bathroom. A frame that forms the towel rail, with detachable mirrors, shelves — even soap dishes. In this way, the bathroom becomes adaptable to ensure a space that is uniquely yours.

This new trend indicates a shift away from solitary morning routines. Now, bathrooms are transforming into shared spaces to enjoy with your loved ones as you embark on your daily bathing rituals together.

Along with basins, freestanding baths were a favourite — a trend that Australia has been embodying with increasing popularity. “I didn’t see any built-in baths this year, whereas two years ago I did. The only bath that even came close to the built-in bath that we know in Australia was on black steel legs, and it still fit with the ‘freestanding/sculptural’ design trend.”

Freestanding baths and basins lend the area an air of openness and elegance. “From a design perspective, it’s quite exciting  — especially for builders because now they don’t have to worry about critical measures,” Vanessa adds. “Freestanding elements in the bathroom create a perceived abundance of space. With the experimentation of textures and colours, the freestanding baths and basins became the ‘hero piece’ in the bathrooms on display at Milan’s design week.”


Talk to our smarterBATHROOMS+ experts today to find out how you can use the latest trends from Milan in your bathroom renovations.

In the next article, Vanessa will continue to discuss other popular trends on display at the Salone Internazionale del Bagno.

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