Technology with a human touch has very much been the trend for luxury homes, with leading brands such as TOTO and Kohler offering stylish products.
An ultra-modern design trend called 'superhuman' is now becoming popular. 'By continuing to learn from science and nature, and by working ever harder to solve the problems we face, we as a human race and part of nature will overcome them,' says Mark Bickerstaffe, director of new product development and Asia-Pacific at Kohler.
'I see the next crop of talent challenging themselves to learn from natural systems - biomimicry - to build better, more efficient solutions. All around the world this thinking is starting to become real and, as a result, a new aesthetic emerges. It is essentially natural and thoroughly modern. Some of the most advanced thinking is in Asia where they face infrastructure, resource and population migration challenges far beyond those elsewhere.'
Other creative disciplines are embracing the superhuman design trend as well. 'From architecture, we see the thinking emerging across all areas of life. From interiors, it reflects the bio-morph form, to nano-material concepts which can reform based on functional need,' Bickerstaffe says.
Bathroom design is one area where the 'superhuman' concept is used. 'In the bathroom, we see technology becoming ever more present.
'This is the only room in the house that is private and personal, where we can look after ourselves, prepare, and remedy our ills,' Bickerstaffe says.
Kohler's Numi toilet, the brand's most advanced to date, is an interesting example, he says. In addition to high-technology components, such as an automatic open-and-close lid and foot-warming functions, it also features an interactive LCD touch-screen interface which controls it, and built-in speakers playing music from its preprogrammed audio, FM radio or MP3 players.
Other leading brands are offering similarly advanced products, such as the wall-hung toilet from the Neorest Series LE from TOTO.
Winner of the Design Plus Awards and Red Dot Design Award, both in 2009, it features functions such as an automatic deodoriser, heated seat with temperature control, and rear wash and front wash with memory function. The wall-hung toilet's water pipe is moved from the side to the back of the unit, and concealed with a wall-mounted water tank.