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May 07, 2021

Commercial Restroom Reflections: Designing Through Inspiration

The world we live in is becoming increasingly digital. With this shift comes the need for commercial restroom manufacturers to reinvent the design process to assist architects and designers with inspiration for upcoming projects. Sloan Strategic Account Manager Kim Darke-Miller has seen this transformation take place firsthand and is at the forefront of Sloan’s innovations to help provide architects and designers with the resources they need for a creative head start.

Design inspiration now begins with commercial restroom manufacturers, even before architects and designers. When did this shift first begin to take place? 

I think the shift began with commercial restroom manufacturers actively listening to designers and their request for tools to assist them in finding products that work together all in one place. By saving time for architects and designers with products and finishes that meet their design intent—all with a specific family of products—really solidifies Sloan’s commitment to the architectural and design community.   

How has the rise of our “digital society” enhanced the ways commercial restroom manufacturers provide the A&D community with a creative head start?

The digital evolution has changed the design industry so much. Designers can now visualize our product in a real setting as opposed to viewing a picture of a single product on a screen. For example, with our virtual reality (VR) system architects and designers can put on a headset and see a life-like restroom before their very eyes. They can then customize everything in this restroom from Sloan fixture products, such as faucets and flushometers to even sinks and water closets. Furthermore, non-Sloan products such as wall color, floor material, and more can be customized too.

It’s a great tool to get a feel for if the products work for the desired design. As we continue to meet and present virtually, any time manufacturers can present a product as close to 3D as possible, the easier it is for designers to visualize their space with our product.

What feedback have you received on Sloan’s Room Ideas and Collections Series? Are they helping architects and designers create a more cohesive design across the restroom?

Sloan’s room ideas are a great resource to help get the creative juices flowing when architects and designers are stuck for an idea. Our Collections have been incredibly helpful in realizing how many products and special finishes can work to unify an entire restroom space. Using both tools has only helped the designers I’ve met create a cohesive design that connects with elements beyond the restroom. Specifically, some designers hadn’t realized how many great touch-free products came in our graphite finish until looking through the Room Ideas and Collection Series tools.

Sloan’s Mobile Showroom is set to hit the road once again after over a year-long hiatus. Will that continue to highlight Sloan’s offering to specifiers as the total restroom solution?

Absolutely! Bringing the Showroom to our specifiers gives them a chance to see Sloan products in a safe and socially distanced way. Most people are ready to get out and see each other again, and this is a great way to see the product firsthand. With the Mobile Showroom’s strict cleaning protocols and staggering of people with respect to social distancing, we are slowly able to show our family of products all across the country.

How are new innovations like Sloan’s virtual reality system helping specifiers visualize a future specification even further?

The ability to use VR to “look” at different sink styles and play with the colors, materials, faucets, and soap dispensers in different finishes is a really cool new way to help specifiers see what their end design will look like. Changing the design of a sink or the enclosure on the fly without waiting for renderings is a game changer. VR is especially helpful for the many designers that are new to designing restrooms and are unsure of where to start. You are able to swap out water closets and flush valves (along with your sinks and faucets/soap dispensers) to see all of your options and again meet your design intent. 

This is the 26th edition in a series of Q&A segments with Sloan subject matter experts for their take on where the commercial restroom has been, what it’s evolved to now, and where it’s headed. A previous podcast edition on retrofitting facilities to sensor-operation can be found here.

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