Multifaceted Bathroom Worlds

With their collection “Kartell by Laufen”, Laufen and Kartell are exploring just what is possible in bathroom design. The photographs by Hugo Comte and Oliver Helbig illustrate the creative scope in this respect.
by Alexander Russ | 3/22/2021

Nowadays, a bathroom is far more than just a wet room. We spend a great deal of time in such places and the well-being that we associate with them characterizes modern bathroom design. Just how much potential there is in this approach is brilliantly demonstrated by “Kartell by Laufen”, a collection which sees the bathroom not only as a functional necessity but also as an integral part of modern-day living. With this in mind, Laufen and Kartell embarked on a dialogue that has culminated in a combination of ingenious Swiss engineering and the rich seam of Italian design. The resulting product line includes “bathroom furniture” in the truest sense of the words.

With this in mind, “Kartell by Laufen” plays with the kind of contrasts that, taken together, complement each other. While both the bathroom ceramics, consisting of washstands, bathtubs, bidets and toilets, and the cabinets have a vivid presence, the transparent shelves, stools, trays, luminaires and mirrors come together to form light, flexible units which really add something to a room. The design of the two different types is linked by their clear lines, a result of their refined appearance and their delicate edges. The material at the heart of all this is a ceramic which not only allows for slender radii but is also sparing with materials, thus making a contribution to the sustainability of the production process. Moreover, a precisely-coordinated color scheme means that the bathroom ceramics form a background, allowing the other furniture to fill the room with splotches of transparently radiant hues.

In order to display the full potential of “Kartell by Laufen”, Laufen and Kartell have collaborated with photographers Hugo Comte and Oliver Helbig, both of whom came up with their own, very personal ways of looking at the collection. The result is two stories that could not be more different. For his concept, Belgian fashion photographer Hugo Comte worked with models who took playful possession of the collection, making it part of an imaginary film which, by illustrating its young protagonists’ dynamic, impromptu movements, developed a pictorial language which had a subversive feel to it. German photographer Oliver Helbig’s story contrasts with Comte’s provocative expressivity with the meditative introspection it exhibits, presenting “Kartell by Laufen” in the context of thoughtfully staged still lifes. In Helbig’s minimalistic images the washstands, cabinets, mirrors, stools and shelves merge with the sweeping lines of the surrounding room. In this context, his abstract compositions show a poetic diversity that is the result of the interplay of geometry, colorfulness and light.

Both these stories make it clear just how much freedom “Kartell by Laufen” gives you, by presenting two different scenarios featuring the line. To make even more of the flexibility associated with the products, Laufen and Kartell have added new colors, surfaces and furniture to the collection – and these are reflected in the photographers’ narratives. Accordingly, black and slate gray now complement the existing white and pebble gray. For the cabinets, the new colors are: mustard yellow, gray blue and ocher brown. What’s more, with their minimalist stylistic vocabulary, the faucets allow for many different combinations with the bathroom ceramics. With the line’s eclectic play of colors and the way it represents a mixture of furniture typically associated with both bathrooms and living rooms, it opens up completely new possibilities for designers. The shelves, stools, mirrors and accessories are an invitation to rethink the bathroom, to transform it into a sensual place. With this in mind, “Kartell by Laufen” once again proves itself to be one of those collections with an intrinsic sense of freedom which demonstrates just how multilayered bathroom worlds can be today.