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Interview with: Gauri Singh Shandilaya, Bath Tend Watch

The Crystal group has been in the business of providing solutions for water deliverance needs for nearly 45 years now. The products offered by the company range from sanitary fittings, bath accessories and sanitary essentials to multifunction showers, rain showers, sensor faucets, dream showers with LED & Chromotherapy, whirlpool tubs and body jets. Crystal under the brand name Ark, offers brass and premium chrome plated faucets for bathrooms and kitchens while, Ark Rubinetterie – a product range produced by European manufacturers brings forth the latest in shower systems and faucets to its Indian consumers. Ark also uses Hydroplast cartridges for high quality single lever taps, Neoperl aerators and original Swarovski crystal sleeves as operating knobs. Crystal has an alliance with Bossini and Palazzani, Italian shower and faucet brands and is also the distributor for designer showers from Fornara & Maulini of Italy. Gauri Singh Shandilaya, Managing Director, Crystal Sanitary Fittings Pvt. Ltd., talks to Buildotech about changing trends in bath designs and the latest technologies on offer.

Homeowners are focusing more on bath designs, once a neglected area. What do you attribute this trend to?

Today life is full of stress and the bathroom is the only room where one can truly unwind, a space of pure relaxation. Nowadays, priority of the evolving consumer is to give bathroom, luxury and technology packed features. Latest themes include jacuzzis, saunas & vanity dressing rooms with walk in shower, thermostatic water control, lighted and antilog mirrors. Light coloured walls or horizontal mosaic wall tiles with stone or wood textures floors, ambient lighting and natural accessories complete the rich yet calming interiors. Besides, global design trends are influencing Indian consumer behavior such as an open plan bath layout, antibacterial finishes, green savvy designs, wellness aspects, music & lighting solutions & programmable water flow & temperature products.

Latest innovations in bath technology

Latest technology gives flexibility of water flow, water temperature, and lesser exposed components. Bath fixtures with inbuilt LED lights, LED screens & speakers for music which operate with a computer controlled panel are making their presence felt in upscale bathrooms. Moreover, water closet & flushing systems are now being designed to be operated with programmable remote as per user needs. In fact, contemporary bathrooms are incomplete without smart technology. Most new concepts require a combination of electricity & sensors and computer software to function. Usage of thermostats, iPods & solenoid valves is increasingly common.

Designs in vogue for bath fittings and fixtures

Latest trend in fixtures as also exhibited in ISH Frankfurt exhibition this year include temperature controlled faucets, faucets providing carbonated water and faucets with controlled flow rates to numerous types of flows. The latest design features comprise white colour for faucets and sleek & trendy shapes for fixtures. New materials include various combinations of aluminum, copper & zinc, high grade brass, high grade plastic, stainless steel with many variants of finishes like chrome, gold, white, bronze & matt shades. PVD coatings are also getting popular.

Diverter with modern technology, computer controlled bathrooms, behind the wall cisterns, LED showers, Chromotherapy showers & water closets with features like automatic seat movement, temperature controlled set & programmable water jet are other major international bath trends.

What are some of the latest products from your company for Indian market?

At ARK we provide drizzling rains, controlled waterfalls, precise body jets, turbulent tubs, steamed cabins, boosted water pressures, sensible water saving & hygienic faucets and automatic water controlled faucets. The latest products include Dream showers, designer showers, Jacuzzis & shower cabins with computer controlled panels, Saunas and SS Shower panels. Other products are bath vanities, steam generators, water level controllers & many new designs of Faucets in Single Levers & conventional movements on the lines of Qube & Cylinder. We at ARK have also introduced a lot of intelligent taps where in water flow may be controlled in terms of water flow rates & automatic water flow transfers. New ranges like Xenios and Hygieia offer water efficient products.

What are some of the challenges in terms of plumbing for hi-tech bath fixtures?

For manufactures, after producing a hi-tech product, a greater challenge comes in the form of its perfect installation without damaging the function or finish. To address the issue, all hi-tech products should come with proper installation manuals and company’s well trained technicians should be readily available to the customer. Also, managing concealed plumbing, water flow rate, water heating and drainage systems needs a lot of planning & expertise. A lot of new products require electrical connections. Moisture levels need to be controlled for which an experience contractor must be hired. Thus, regular plumber meets are essential to educate them about the latest technology & installation systems and trouble shooting of all products.

How is Indian bath products market growing in comparison to international markets?

Indian bath products market is growing at the rate of 15% as compared to 8% on global level Also, the share of branded products is increasing. Most leading brands have engaged famous designers to launch new concepts. Hansgrohe engages Philippe Starck, Antonio Citterio and many others. Paul Flowres heads the Design team of Grohe. Travis Rotelli designs for Kohler. These designers add charm, aesthetics & modern trends to the new products. At ARK, we have been supported by Antonio Bullo for our new designs. Evidently, all international & domestic brands are getting good growth rates in India and the globe has its eyes set on the potential Indian market carries.

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