Design Odyssey

Bathroom products design from concept to manufacture

Nothing is stopping Paul Hernon as he continues to follow his dream of improving people’s lives and wellbeing with his World’s First Vertical Bathroom, Vertebrae®

This year’s Homebuilding and Renovation Show will take place in just a few weeks’ time, and this year the home extenders are set to meet quite the space-saving invention...

Manchester-born inventor, Paul Hernon has forever had an inquisitive nature and appreciated all facets of design and architecture, and it was this which led to his first job out of school, as a Trainee Architectural Technician.

Paul had to readjust to the construction recession of 1992, by continuing his studies and achieving a National Certificate in Building Studies, a Certificate in Construction, and a Diploma in AutoCAD in 1995.  In his mid-twenties, Paul’s curiosity for gadgets, everyday objects and how they were designed and made, led him to complete a National Certificate (BTEC) in 3D Design. This was followed by a four- year BA Hons in Industrial Design. A work placement year, at Bradford-based, Jacuzzi® further confirmed his love was product design.

In the final year of the degree, he researched and explored space-saving objects and architecture and how they would feature in our ever-growing world, and it was one night in the design studio, that the initial sketch ideas for the Vertebrae ® were visualized.


Whilst working at Jacuzzi full time now, Paul’s interest in the architecture of the bathroom continued and as with his curious nature, he continued to question the numerous functions and applications commonly known in this multi-functional space. In 2008 Paul got a Personal Loan, and created an aluminium prototype which he took along to the KBB Exhibition at the NEC, and attracted interest. The prototype was also featured that year in The Sony ‘House of the Future’ display at the Grand Designs Show in London. Upon viewing the product at the NEC, a Business Consultant related to Paul’s vision for the Vertebrae® and they worked together to further the this. Sadly, the Business Consultant did not recover from a short illness and passed away. Paul was devastated and had lost a friend as well as a business partner.


Paul was now working in the Ventilation industry, taking products from his conception through to manufacturing and into the marketplace. However, his true desire to pursue the Vertebrae ®

would not relent. He was back on the road using his holidays to meet suppliers, manufacturers, funding and grant bodies, and building more prototypes. However, his plans were derailed yet again due to an illness which allowed him to evaluate what was important in life. He concluded that he must continue with his endeavours in bringing this innovative, space-saving product to market to fulfil his desire of improving people’s lives through ingenious product design.

In 2020 he installed a pre-manufacture version of his all-in-one bathroom in a dedicated extension in his Harrogate home. It has been fully working for the last 3 years and is now ready for market. After numerous funding application failures, it would be the Royal Academy of Engineering who would recognise his determination, tenacity and skills for engineering, manufacturing and design, by awarding him a grant, to reach his goal of manufacturing the Vertebrae®.


The RAE has a difficult and challenging application process, but nonetheless, Paul was able to explain his product, its application and his aspirations for this innovative, vertical, space-saving bathroom solution. The application process was well worth it as it is supported by full day workshops by specialists in a particular field to help the cohorts succeed with their business idea.


‘Paul Hernon has been awarded a competitive place on the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Regional Talent Engines programme, which helps early-stage founders in Yorkshire and Humber, and beyond, to transform great ideas into new engineering and tech startups.’

There have been many adjustments along the way and the business may well have had to readdress its board of directors, finances and product materials based on a number of extrinsic factors, but it remains, Paul believes in his product, his vision and will be unveiling the latest design which will be available to order at the Homebuilding and Renovation Show at Harrogate Convention Centre this November 3rd–5th 2023.


Visit his website at