Digital Design: Shower Door Trends Enter a New Era with New Technologies

By Kyra Thompson

It’s 2020— and a whole new decade means a whole new basket of design trends; shower doors are no exception. While many trends have maintained their popularity, new developments in technology are opening up a door for artistic expression in shower design.

The Digital Era

There is no doubt that the world is becoming more saturated with innovation through technology, but what does that innovation look like for the shower door industry? According to Leigh Berberian, a marketing and design specialist for WoonTech, a subsidiary of glass shower enclosure manufacturer HMI Cardinal, that future is digital in-glass printing.

With digital in-glass printing, ultra-large, flat-bed printers apply ceramic ink onto glass to create unique images, patterns and designs. When that glass is tempered, the particles fuse with the glass, creating a design that is essentially part of the glass.

“This new technology allows for an ‘anything is possible’ approach to the design of a glass shower door or decoration,” says Berberian.

Digital in-glass printing allows for colorful designs, pictures and diffused glass. It can also create frosted privacy glass from head-to-toe or simply around the mid-line. The frost can cut off sharply or fade away, and the opacity can be as high or low as the customer wants.

“The options are virtually limitless,” Berberian says. “We’ve become a society that really wants something special in our home, something that is unique and defines us. Clear glass will always be in demand, but customized glass is really starting to take the industry by storm.”

Another benefit of digital in-glass printing is it allows design without creating inhibitors, says Berberian. Because the design is infused with the lite of glass, it is all one surface and, therefore, makes for easy cleaning.

There are challenges, however Berberian adds that when the proverbial sky is the limit, people tend to get fear of heights and stall in decision making.

“One of the things we’ve run into is people feeling overwhelmed by the amount of choices they have,” Berberian says. “So we have been addressing that by creating templates so that we can give people options.”

Splash-Guards Make a Splash

According to the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) 2018 Home Design Trends Survey, showers continue to be a leading consideration in bathroom design features. Another design that is gaining popularity according to the survey are doorless showers, or as C.R. Laurence (CRL), a shower door hardware provider, brand manager Danny Donahue calls them, “splash-guards.”

And while this trend grew by nearly 10% from 2017 to 2018 according to the AIA’s survey, Donahue says he doesn’t think it will stick around for long.

“I’ve always had a funny feeling about those,” Donahue says. “I have put in fixed panels for customers and they call me back three months later saying, ‘can you go ahead and put a door in there?’”

Berberian has had similar experiences.

“The reason it’s a trend is because everyone thinks they want them … and then they don’t,” Berberian says.

Black is Still the New Black

While innovation could begin to shift the landscape of design trends, many timeless designs are maintaining the same amount of interest and some are continuing to grow in popularity.

The AIA survey revealed that larger walk-in showers continued to be a leading feature in many bathroom designs. Even though interest dropped slightly from 2017, large showers have been the leading feature for almost five years, according to the survey. And according to Grant McAllister, general manager for shower enclosure manufacturer Coral Industries, larger shower enclosure glass is definitely in demand.

“It goes without saying, everything is getting bigger,” McAllister says. “People want more instead of less when it comes to glass.”

McAllister added that with demand for larger products comes the need to adapt processes to accommodate larger manufacturing. He says that Coral has already put in new machinery to help fabricate larger and heavier lites of glass. And while the cost of larger glass is greater than conventional glass sizes, McAllister doesn’t see that stopping the popularity from increasing.

“People want more glass and they’re willing to pay for it when it comes to their bathrooms,” McAllister says.

This also goes along with another trend: more and more all-glass enclosures.

“It seems like a lot of people are trying to get away from the metal as much as possible, to have more vision and have more of an all-glass look,” McAllister says. “A lot of times they’re putting 1/2-inch glass on the sidelites and panels, a 3/8-inch door and using a little heavier quality hardware to get away from a header.”

Donahue says that frameless showers, specifically barn door styles, have picked up both in homes and in hospitality applications.

“People are really focusing more on the economy of space,” Donahue says. “And that’s really what sliding doors can provide.”

McAllister agreed, saying that many renovation projects are likely to use sliding doors as a way to make the best use of the space they have.

Another design in hardware that all three shower enclosure professionals agree has maintained its popularity is the matte black finish.

“Everyone and their mother wants matte black right now,” adds CRL senior vice president of marketing Barbara Haaksma. “And I don’t see that one going anywhere for a while.”

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