Five designers and architects have been commended for their concepts which bring forward functional utilities for dealing with the pandemic.

Roca’s biennial design competition jumpthegap® took on a much different form than usual this year. Started in 2004, the initiative calls on emerging designers and architects around the world to envision products with a vision for the bathroom of the future. Little could the Spanish sanitary product manufacturer and collaborating partner Barcelona Design Center have known at the close of the last, the next edition would be brought about by a global pandemic: acknowledging the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has greatly affected society’s barometer of hygiene, sanitation and wellbeing, the organizers decided no time was better to hold their most timely and pressing competition yet.

Five victors have been named in the special-edition challenge, which, for the first time, was focused not only on bathroom products but a wider range of sanitary wares. ‘We are facing a new scenario – a “new normal” – with new needs in all aspects related to personal hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, that will not be limited to the bathroom, but will spread further in other areas,’ explains Roca’s brand communication director and jumpthegap® jury member Xavier Torras. ‘The perception of users in regard to moving in a safe environment and using safe products, both at home and in the public sphere, will be vital in this new context and for this reason Roca launched this competition with a brief that is not only limited to the bathroom space.’

297 submissions by 1,597 participants hailing from 94 countries were sent into Roca over a period of 15 days, then pored over by a panel of nine jury members. The winning product concepts range from a gamified soap dispenser and temperature check for children to a faucet and UV light cabin for disinfecting objects while a user washes their hands. We share more about all five of the projects below – read carefully, the innovations may just revolutionize how we experience space forever.


Alina Pshenichnikova

Art director and co-founder of the Moscow architectural practice Raum.Studio, Alina Pshenichnikova has devised Bubble Bump, a dispenser which entices children aged one to six to disinfect, by pumping liquid soap out as bubbles. Pshenichnikova envisions Bubble Bump specifically for nurseries and spaces geared toward children in hospitals, malls and elsewhere. But cleanliness isn’t all that the tool achieves: it also has a built-in infrared sensor, making it seamless to record body temperature while a little one’s busy getting clean. The jury concurred that it answers to the urgent need to find a hygienic solution for primary schools, and celebrated the fact that it does not force the action upon children.


Hao Wang and Hanyuan Hu

Citing the fact that COVID-19 can exist on footwear for up to five days, Nanning, China-based designers Hao Wang and Hanyuan Hu came up with a smart sole cleaner for all types of spaces. Standing at a specified area, the user needs only to wait while nozzles emitting disinfectant and small brushes do their (automated) work. It’s E-Tapis’ user-friendliness, technical palpability and capability to be installed in all environments that make it a winning project.


Juan Restrepo

Juan Restrepo’s design Lux utilizes UV light to kill germs and pathogens with effectiveness up to 99 per cent in public restrooms. Jury member Odile Hainut – co-founder of WantedDesign – responded to the Eindhoven designer’s project with the feedback that it is ‘a good response to ensure adequate safety and hygiene in public-use facilities’. With incorporated sensors that track movement, Lux’s UV ceiling lights automatically activate after one has left the space, leaving it safe and ready for the next use.


Rafael Vinader

Ideal for fast-paced transportation environments, sanitary totem OM (cover image) is the work of Valencian creator Rafael Vinader. Vinader’s idea merges the need for disinfection and a quick temperature check: OM features an LED screen that displays a user’s status while they insert their wrist through the ring to receive hydroalcoholic disinfectant gel. Roca global innovation project manager Jordi Corral appreciates that it ‘combines the two elements that we always see separately, and with very poor design solutions.’


Lidia Grits and Ekaterina Epifanova

Joining forces from Milan and Moscow, Lidia Grits and Ekaterina Epifanova put their design-minds together for UVClean, a faucet equipped with a UV-light cabin. Referring to the ‘third hand we never wash’ – or, one’s mobile device – Grits and Epifanova drew up plans for the tool, which disinfects objects while someone washes their hands. Comprising the faucet, UV-light cabin, a soap dispenser and dryer, UVClean can be fully activated without touch. ‘The integration of personal hygiene with the disinfection of daily use objects, using technologies already available in the market and in a device with a very user-friendly interface,’ are all points that were of note to the jury.