wedi has celebrated its 40th anniversary this year – an occasion for the Emsdetten based company to look to the future and think ahead. Managing Director Fabian Rechlin tells us what he thinks the bathroom of the future would look like and what role wedi can play in developing it.
What does the bathroom of the future look like for you?
The bathroom of the future will be impressive. It is already getting more and more significant in many aspects and will become a personal oasis of wellbeing – a homely space of relaxation. It is going to be tailored more to the individual needs, the pure functionality of the bathroom will become secondary. The bathroom of the future is an aesthetic, comfortable and emotional space – a reflection of its owners' personality. The trend toward digitalisation supports the individualisation of the bathroom: eventually a smart bathroom will recognise its user by heir fingerprint and when showering, automatically set the water jet, the lighting and the music to the individual preferences.
Smart technologies in turn support the trend toward accessible bathrooms. This is because with the emergence of smart technologies integrated into homes, older people will stay in their homes for longer. Such smart technologies will include height-adjustable showers or intelligent emergency call systems for example. Floor-level showers are therefore an important building block of the bathroom of the future.
I also see a greater potential for modular construction and industrial prefabrication (prefab products), because the cost pressure on the industry will continue to increase but the number of employees in many companies will remain tight. This will give further incentive to modular construction – thanks to short construction times and low coordination effort without any loss in terms of quality and design. Modular bathrooms are convertible and therefore can be quickly adapted to the individual wishes of the customer. In addition, the modular design also impresses with high production standards, energy efficiency and planning reliability.
When redesigning the bathroom, users will place more and more emphasis on the topics of energy saving and efficiency in the future. This is due to energy prices rising further and to an increase in environmental awareness - the motto here is 'energy efficient bathroom renovation’. The issue of sustainability will remain an important criteria for the selection of bathroom materials.
What contributions can wedi make to this development?
In the last four decades, the wedi brand was shaped by its core principles such as sustainable production with a high percentage of recycling or time-saving installation.
Our focus will continue to be on combining technology with design and sustainability.
- Prefab products. We are offering more and more interlocking elements that are installed in a modular manner. For example, the new wedi Sanwell shower wall module. It contains all pipes and connections when delivered. A Hansgrohe iBox, suitable for 200+ thermostatic mixer designs, is also integrated. What's more, all integrated technology is sealed during manufacturing and so, no further waterproofing of the wall element is needed. The wall simply needs to be fixed in place and connected to existing water pipes on site. This saves not only time and costs but also guarantees a high level of security.
- Accessible bathrooms. Floor-level showers are the essence of modern bathrooms. For this purpose, we offer various system solutions, even for old buildings. For example, wedi Fundo shower elements with integrated drain technology.
- Wellness bathroom. Our motivation is to help shape feel-good bathrooms, be it through the design or the integration of technology. It is often precisely the details that make a bathroom stand out. This is why we have introduced three new colours for our drain covers this year – metallic black, metallic rose-gold and metallic gold. When showering or in the steam room, our illuminated Sanwell Top LED niche brings warm light into the dark. The wedi Top Line received a special mention at the renowned German Design Award for excellent product design in the field of materials and surfaces.
- 'Energy efficient bathroom renovation’. With wedi building boards, bathrooms can be effectively and easily insulated from the inside. Depending on the exterior wall, energy consumption can be reduced by up to 70%. This does not only protects the environment ut also saves money. We calculated the possible savings for an example bathroom with a floor area of 9.3 square meters and 2 exterior walls. The result is impressive: insulation with wedi building boards can reduce energy costs by up to 500 euros per year. If government funding is added, the installation pays off particularly quickly.
- Sustainability. Joint-free shower and bathroom walls are on trend as well as the desire for sustainable solutions. We have therefore developed three new designs with mineral material decor for the wedi Top Wall. The special feature of these new designs are the integrated "flakes" – they are made entirely of recycled materials, materials that are generated as waste and would normally be disposed of.
Sustainability. What specific measures does wedi take?
The entire company, from general business processes through the development of system solutions to production and logistics, is affected by such measures. We place great importance on a responsible, resource-friendly approach every step of the way.
A great example of wedi's long-term approach is that since 2016, the blue core of wedi XPS elements contains at least 25 percent recycled foam. wedi building boards and shower elements also have EPD certifications declaring their environmental footprint throughout their entire service life. wedi has also been consistently modernising its entire machinery and plant fleet as well as its heating and compressor systems, resulting not only in energy saving, but also in the improvement of CO2 balance. Part of the required electricity for manufacturing is produced via the company's own photovoltaic system and then combined with green electricity from 100 percent renewable sources.
Our vision is to combine design and sustainability in a perfect way. That's why the wedi Top Line in natural stone look consists of 100 percent recycled materials – without any compromise on function or design. We also plan to use renewable raw materials in the future. We are looking at this very intensively.
What does 40 years of wedi mean for you?
Our company anniversary is wrapped in the motto 'Experience. System. Vision.’ That is the world of wedi in a nutshell. We combine our 40 years of experience with the approach of always thinking in systems, whilst also keeping our focus on a sustainable future.