Foresight Analysis: Colour Comeback

Colour in Bathrooms

After hitting a nadir in the early 80’s, coloured bathrooms haven’t really been taken seriously since. First seen in MIX Magazine, issue 42, Tamsin Kingswell charts the return of coloured bathrooms and asks, is it time for a rethink?

There have been whispers of it; the odd note of taupe, a hint of yellow, but as it turns out, these early adopters were ahead of the curve. Colour has landed with a vengeance. Now it has to be said that colour hasn’t had an easy ride of it in this market sector. For this you can blame the 70’s when a rash of ill-advised shades of arctic blue, aubergine and avocado filled bathrooms everywhere. People didn’t ask if they should, just if they could and the result was an industry that embraced the safety and elegance of white for the next thirty years. Colour in a bathroom became associated with cheap rental housing and was ripped out as soon as possible. Which is why the current sheer volume of colour is so surprising.

A sprinkling we expected, especially for regional markets not permanently traumatised by the worst of 70’s taste crimes. But basins, units and even baths covering the entire colour spectrum? That’s new. However, there’s a seismic difference here that keeps these colours from sliding into 70’s pastiche. These bathroom products are all about quality and finish. If the 70’s avocado renaissance was all about an almost eye aching shine, the new take on colour is resolutely matt, and all the better for it. Matt finishes give these colours a low key luxe feeling very much in keeping with current trends, while the colour choices themselves are a very real statement of luxury. Who but the very rich can update their bathroom colour on a whim for a coveted shade of buttery yellow?

Many big name manufacturers, Flaminia, Globo (an early proponent of colour, showing a striking collection of basins back in Cersaie 2014) and Art Ceram are all investing in colour. Chalky finishes are key for current colour choices that include pale yellow, deep blue, terracotta, deep green, brown and khaki.  For companies that want to play safe but still dip a toe in this trend the obvious choice was grey, another consolidating theme. Colour is of course cyclical and it may be that the bathroom’s long-term rejection of anything but white is coming to an end. So, if recent directions are indicative of a long-term sea change in attitudes, expect to be investing in a khaki coloured basin soon.