Above: Maletti Group
Professional Spa & Wellness looks at the latest in spa furniture, examining what’s new, and what’s coming up in the field
WORDS NORA ELIAS
Furniture is a key component of any spa, regardless of business size, location, concept and budget. While not an element of the business that most spas are likely to update particularly frequently, given that furniture is built to last and can also be fairly costly, there will be times when your existing pieces need to be replaced or added to.
The basic spa furniture demands do not drastically alter: most businesses will always be looking for furniture that is stylish, practical and ideally also affordable, with considerable funds and attention dedicated to treatment beds – a key piece of furniture for both staff and clients.
However, as with every area of the spa and wellness industry, the furniture sector also experiences different trends and sees new developments; in reflection of changing customer demand, technological advancements and on-going redefinitions of what spas represent and what they are expected to deliver. “Multifunctionality is an important aspect now,” says Sammy Gharieni, founder and chief executive of Gharieni, which supplies furniture for the spa, wellness, beauty and medical sectors.
“The option of using a spa couch for both body and facial treatments allows [spas] maximum flexibility and treatment room utilisation,” he says. Kevin Newman-Knott – manager of Maletti-Nilo UK, the British branch of Italy-based Maletti Group, whose brand portfolio includes spa industry furniture supplier Nilo – adds that the increased availability of multifunctional treatment beds has led to a drop in the popularity of the traditional spa couch.
“While they are not disappearing as such, the rise in popularity of multifunctional couches has inevitably led to a decline in the [demand for] standard beauty beds,” he explains. “With costs coming down, more and more spas are opting for motorised, multifunctional couches.”
Paul Matthes, company director of UK-based Beauty Deals Direct, which provides furniture and supplies for spas and salons, says the company feels the non-adjustable treatment beds are in fact gradually vanishing from the market.
“The basic static treatment couches are disappearing. This is due to electric couches with height adjustment being affordable and within many spas’ budgets,” he says. “A static couch does not allow you to adjust the height [easily], which hampers the therapist and [affects] the comfort of the client.”
Focus on functionality
That treatment beds and other furniture should be comfortable for therapists to operate, as well as for clients to use, is something spas are now placing greater emphasis on, says Sarah Howells, sales and marketing director at Beatuelle, a UK company that supplies furniture for the spa and beauty sectors. “Spas are focusing on the user requirements more and more; [on furniture being] ergonomic, well-thought out, efficient and tailored to ease of operation for the therapist,” she explains.
Matthes does, however, believe that the industry still has some way to go in this area, not just when it comes to the purchasing decisions spas make, but also with regards to the furniture available for them to choose from. “As suppliers, we need to offer the most suitable seating for the therapists and, although this is slowly changing, many suppliers still don’t offer the correct stools for therapists,” he says.
Jeff Riach, owner and chief executive of US furniture and equipment supplier Oakworks, which caters for the health and spa and wellbeing industries, agrees that ergonomics need to be more at the forefront for spas when selecting furniture. At the moment, Riach explains, form is often prioritised over function. “The present trend is for hard surfaces, high tech looks and metal, and comfort and safety for the client and ergonomics for the therapists are taking a backseat to this,” he says.
Other trends currently seen in the furniture sector include, Newman-Knott says, “the three e’s: eco-friendly, environmentally conscious and ethically produced”. He adds: “Today, many spa and beauty salon owners are making a connection with the products and equipment they use. Not just the results that they produce for the client, but also their connection with the environment and the overall spirit of wellbeing in nature.”
Matthes also reports noticing a greater spa interest in pedicure chairs, a development that corresponds with many spas now giving more weight to their beauty treatments, and with the attention professional nails brands have been giving to adapting manicures and pedicures for the spa environment, giving them more of a luxurious and pampering twist for this market. “Sales of spa pedicure chairs will increase throughout 2015 and beyond,” Matthes says. “Mainly due to affordability and the product quality that can be achieved now.”
In keeping with one of the key trends in the industry at large, Howells says Beautelle has also seen a growing appetite for bespoke pieces for spas. “We have noticed a sharp increase in the demand for our custom-made couches, plinths and other furniture,” she says. There has also, she continues, been a change in the colours and materials favoured by spas. “A few years ago, natural wood couches and equipment, was a big theme, with spas wanting a natural look,” she says. “This has now been somewhat overtaken by black wood finishes that are in keeping with a contemporary look.”
Treatment beds that offer added extras, becoming an experience in themselves, has also been a prominent development over the past few years. Not everyone in the industry is convinced that they are furniture essentials, however. “There have been some pretty interesting ideas that have gained traction; tables that rock and spin, water bed tables and vibrating tables with iPads installed are some examples,” Riach says. “These have some appeal for a percentage of clients, but in the end they are just fads that go away,” he adds.
Angela Barbagelata-Fabes, chairman of UK spa and beauty equipment supplier the Carlton Group, agrees that these more specialised treatment couches are unlikely to become spa staples. “There is a proliferation of couches that include light, sand and water nowadays. These are innovative, but need lots of room because they can’t double up as ‘general’ furniture and don’t suite daily, regular treatment needs,” she says.
Image: The Carlton Group
“Trend-based couches tend to be expensive. The key things that spas need are quality couches that are durable, comfortable and with good ergonomics for therapists. This combination of function and aesthetics forms the basis of any [couch] purchase, as it needs to be fit for purpose,” Barbagelata-Fabes continues. “Trends come and go, but these are essentials.”
Overall, she says, the industry offers spas a good selection of furniture to suit all needs and price brackets. “The spa industry is really well served in terms of a range of furniture from basic to high end; there is something to suit all budgets,” she says. “It’s crucial, however, that spas take advice about furniture before making a purchase, as they need to make sure the furniture is functional and fit for purpose. It’s also wise to, whenever possible, try the furniture before you buy, as customer comfort is crucial.”
While the key furniture pieces needed are largely the same for a spa as for a clinic or salon, and regardless of geographic location, there are, the experts say, some subtle differences. “The location does affect some furniture decisions as a busy day spa in a city will, for example, have less space than a destination spa,” Matthes says. “This affects the size of the treatment couches, and other furniture.” There are of course also differing style preferences.
“Tastes in furniture vary tremendously, from rustic to contemporary, from clinical to holistic,” Barbagelata-Fabes says. “Some spas may have more of a focus on aesthetics, while some may be more focused on function,” she explains, adding that regardless of the design you opt for, “it’s crucial to consider both aesthetics and function when buying furniture, [ensuring it] suits the spa and the treatments.”
Howells comments that at Beatuelle, they also notice regional variations when it comes to design. “Styles, colours and finishes vary a great deal between countries,” she says. “For example, the design specifications we get asked to produce for the UAE can be very different to in Europe. We also find that some countries react more quickly to fashion and colour trends than others.”
Ultimately, of course, it’s up to the individual business to make an informed decision as to the furniture that is right for their spa, based on concept, space, clientele and budget.
To help you make your purchasing decisions, Professional Spa & Wellness rounds up some of the furniture highlights currently on the market
Launched at the end of March, K10 is a new spa furniture collection from Germany-based Gharieni. Designed to be both stylish and practical, the range includes a furniture frame on which a sink or stand can be mounted, depending on the client’s needs. To fit all spas, regardless of space, the frame comes in three sizes, ranging from 107cm to 207cm in width. Additional features, such as drawers and cabinets, can be selected based on the client’s preferences, with different finishes and colour options to choose from. The collection also includes the Spa Trolley and the Equipment Trolley, providing extra storage space. Both trolleys are placed on wheels, allowing them to easily be moved around.
Green Prestige from the Maletti Group is an eco-friendly furniture range for spas and salons. The collection, which has been developed to have as negligible an impact on the environment as possible, uses recycled and recyclable materials, including glass, wood and aluminium, and incorporates energy saving features. Items in the range include treatment beds and furniture for reception and waiting areas, from chairs and a service unit with a washbasin to chests of drawers and a reception desk. Also part of Green Prestige, which aims to present a complete spa furnishing solution and has been designed with high-end spas, salons and wellness centres in mind, is onyx cladding for walls and floors and LED lighting.
Image: Maletti Group
BEAUTY DEALS DIRECT
The PJS-CALM is a new luxury pedicure chair for the spa market. The chair’s built-in massage features, which can be adjusted by remote control, include thigh massage and knocking, kneading, tapping and shiatsu massage. The chair also has built-in heating, a washbasin with bath jets and lights and a shower faucet with a wastewater pump for improved hygiene. With outlets for USBs and memory cards, the CALM allows spa guests to play their own music or connect their tablets, e-readers and other portable electronic devices.
Image: Beauty Deals Direct
Launching in July, the Avebury couch range is a new collection from UK-based Beautelle. Created for the high-end spa and salon market, the line is also suited to aesthetic clinics and includes a two-section couch, a wider two-section model for larger clients and a three-section couch design. An electric cough range, all Avebury couches have adjustable backrests and a matte silver finish. Colour options include lime green, rose, stone, aqua, grey, barley, burnt red, mulberry and lilac.
Developed by Oakworks in collaboration with New York-based designer Clodagh, the new treatment table of the same name will launch in early 2016. Sporting a sleek and minimalistic design, the treatment bed combines the use of wood with stainless steel elements. The bed also features chromotherapy lighting in different colours and adjustable levels of brightness, for therapeutic effect. The bed has been designed with Oakworks' patent-pending breast comfort system, which allows the therapist to adapt the support level to the needs of the individual client.
THE CARLTON GROUP
A best seller for The Carlton Group, the electric CC400/MB4 can be used either as a treatment couch or a chair. Ergonomically designed and featuring thick, comfortable padding, it’s suitable for both face and body treatments. Product features include an electrically adjustable backrest and an extendable footrest.
Image: The Carlton Group