We are on a roll with cool awards that are given to talented people. After the South Africa team displayed Wilh van der Merwe’s dream bathroom at the 100% Design South Africa trade fair, the New Zealand team had the honor to reveal the winner and the runner-up of the inaugural KOHLER Future Designer Award. Mark Bickerstaffe, our director of new product development K&B, acted as the judge of the competition and was very impressed with the dozens of entries that were submitted by students of Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Unitec. All the NZ Future Designer Award submissions of bathrooms of the future showed the immense talent that is budding in Down Under. To pick just two was certainly no easy task. The first prize that is an NZ-dollars 5,000 cash prize went to Erin Bell of Warkworth. Erin, a 29-year old student at Unitec, presented a concept of a ‘Bathroom Island’ that is a futuristic, sculptural piece that nurtures body, health, and diversity. Mark said about the winning project: ‘Erin’s design is a vision of the highest quality and very well done. Beautifully presented, it is seductive, sensitive and in tune with the bold and gracious life, we all hope to live in the future. The ‘Bathroom Island’ subtly incorporates the connectivity and enhances the experience that technology can deliver.’ The ‘Bathroom Island’ is a sensuous and luxurious zone for washing, pampering, health checking, and grooming. It is a homage to the human body and planet. Erin used neutral materials in a nude color scheme. The ergonomic forms, the color, and the lighting are pleasing to the individual body and skin tones. Aside from the sophisticated design, the concept incorporates the latest technology, innovative products, and an elevated level of excellence in taking care of personal health.
On a bigger scale, it addresses environmental issues as Erin applied sustainable materials for the design, did not use any plastic, and suggested solar panels for the electricity generation. The latter would power the three-fold dryers for hands, face, and body replacing the use of towels. Huge windows allow the space to be flooded with light which reduces the need for excessive artificial lights and adds natural warmth to the space. The runner-up for this competition is Connor Smith, a 22-year-old student at AUT, who presented a plethora of innovative ideas for the bathroom. He skillfully addressed the challenges of urban densification – say, how to use a small space optimally. Connor received a 2,000-NZ-dollars cash prize for his design of adaptive facial recognition technology, a vanity unit with a concealed bathtub, auto-adjustable showerhead, and a water infusion unit for body care products. Apart from loads of fun, the students had when participating in the NZ Future Designer Award competition, it was a great opportunity for our team and Mark to learn more about the huge creative potential that is emerging and to see innovative ideas and concepts that look to the future but are already almost a reality today.