Ideal Standard recently conducted a 'spy in the bathroom' study across Germany, France, Italy and the UK to find out whether bathrooms make the best use of their space.

By adapting depth sensors to provide accurate 3D tracking of the human body, bathroom specialist Ideal Standard was able to build a detailed picture of how people actually use their bathroom space. The findings, supplemented with quantitative data gathered from 4000 people, were revealed at ISH 2013, Frankfurt.

Kerris Bright, chief marketing officer of Ideal Standard International, said: “We started with a hypothesis that in many homes the bathroom is not used as well as it could be. The findings seem to confirm what we suspected. Renovating a bathroom often starts with excitement and ends in disappointment. It’s hard to know where to start and harder to see past the limitations of the room.

“We conducted the study because our product range spans every aspect of bathroom design. We’ve always tried to understand how a bathroom works in totality and to think about the ergonomics of the bathroom to help our customers get the most out of their bathroom experience.”

Results showed that in the UK, 70% of women use the toilet more than three times per day as opposed to 48% of men; 24% of men use their separate bath once a day or more compared to 31% of women, and women spend more time using the shower, basin and bath whereas men spend longer using the toilet.

The UK is least likely to have a separate shower area (31%) compared to 61% of Italians, and is also least likely to have a separate bath – therefore it is perhaps unsurprising that we have the highest percentage of bath/shower combinations (59%). This might be because the UK has smaller bathrooms than on the continent.

Bidets are most popular in Italy with 95% owning one compared to 4% of the UK; the French are the most regular bath users with 50% using theirs at least once a day and the British are the quickest on the toilet (an average 4m33s compared to France’s 4m56s, Germany’s 6m41s and Italy’s 7m31s) and in the shower. In the UK we are also most likely to have trouble keeping bathroom space clutter-free, again perhaps due to having generally more compact bathrooms than our European counterparts.

Another interesting finding shows that 18–30s want a bathroom space they can share – this gets less appealing when respondents hit their 30s and by the time they hit their 50s, the bathroom is a purely private space.

For each of the bathrooms in the motion-mapping study, Ideal Standard has started creating a ‘profile bathroom’, which can be considered a useful starting point when designing bathrooms for different needs.

They have been developed by award-winning designer Robin Levien, who said: “It was important to have a multifunctional approach to the products we recommended in each of the bathrooms. Based on the household make-up, coupled with their individual preferences, we selected a range of Ideal Standard products to offer a complete solution. To borrow from Le Corbusier’s famous quote: ‘a bathroom is a machine for living in’, so we made them more liveable.”