Unlimited baths

von Thomas Edelmann

May 6, 2016
Shower, live, sleep: Cecconi Simone created a compact residential box for Cosentino. Photo © Cosentino

What refinements were still lacking? Which materials and shapes does one need to do justice to the utopia of a bath that is unlimited? At Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Bagno manufacturers and designers presented the latest visions and products.

From dot to line

In Agape’s new “Dot Line” range of accessories the line stands for continuity and the dot for setting rhythm. The rail system forms a graphic pattern with which infinite structures can be created. The elements are made of aluminum with a wooden coating. The support elements, which viewed from the front form the dots on which the range is based, are likewise made of aluminum. There are also parts in black or white Corian available.

This is the first project that GarcíaCumini in Udine has designed for Agape. Previously Vincente García Jiménez, who comes from Valencia, primarily made a name for himself as a designer of luminaires and artistic brand installations (for example for Foscarini). He has been working with the Italian sociologist and design expert Cinza Cumini since 2012. Since then their joint studio in Udine has operated under the name GarcíaCumini.

“Dot Line”: the new railing system by GarcíaCumini for Agape. Photo © Agape

The bath in a cloth dress

What was previously not feasible is becoming the driving force in bath design. For example the steel bath, which, surrounded by upholstery is now clad in fabrics. Bette is still calling the project a design concept, but there does not now seem far to go from the prototype, designed by Potsdam’s Dominik Tesseraux, to the mass product. As is demonstrated by the, likewise new, bath concept “BetteLux Shape” which suspends the free-standing, totally visible bath in a minimalist steel frame.

Cutting and mounting the corresponding strips of fabric for the steel bath in a fabric dress represented a challenge for the company, which previously worked mainly with steel and enamel. The project seems conceivable and feasible because the garden furniture sector has already shifted the goalposts. The latest generation of performance fabrics is suitable not only for outdoors, but for the bathroom as well, as they are robust, easy to care for, as well as water-, mold-, and climate-resistant. Why is that important, and why are we already bathing in fabric-covered baths? Because the bathroom – like the kitchen before it – is giving up an existence as a separate space and, if designers and manufacturers get their way will soon be transformed into a sort of living room with a water connection.

Pop up your life: colored bathtub made of steel with a fabric cladding by Tesseraux + Partner for Bette. Photo © Thomas Edelmann, Stylepark

Shadow with and without joint

It used to be the case in bathrooms that whenever a piece of furniture met a washstand there was to a greater or lesser extent a visible joint. Connecting materials such as wood and ceramic requires all manner of ingenuity. Duravit is using a new technique called “c-bonded”, which enables washstands and bathroom furniture to blend as one.

For example Sieger Design’s “Darling New” ceramic range with its characteristic circular forms and the “L-Cube” system furniture by Christian Werner. Both have a precise, joint edge, which gives hardly any indication of the thickness of the material used for the washstand. With regard to his furniture, which is ultimately finely detailed chests, Werner wanted “to get rid of the bulky look”, as he puts it. To this end he uses a shadow joint, which creates the impression that the individual surfaces of the bathroom furniture are hovering.

“Darling New”: from the “c-bonded” line by Sieger Design for Duravit. Photo © Duravit

Asymmetry in steel

Reading the slogan “The world is about people, not objects” at the Kaldewei stand is a little confusing given the bath and washstand pedestal placed in front of the quotation such that they take up a lot of space. “Emerso” is the name by which the latest examples of the “Meisterstück” collection. Actually the quotation stems from the designer Arik Levy, who given his latest products reminds us that there is something such as “emotional ergonomics”, a particularly complex function that cannot be planned and produced just like that, but if a project is successful is suddenly an issue. Producing the asymmetrical, flowing form of “Emerso” in steel was an extraordinary challenge for the designer and manufacturer, one of those paradigm shifts, which, apart from the technical ingenuity involved, are the result purely of people who want things to be made possible, and really push them through. In this respect Arik Levy has got it right once again.

“Masterpieces” by Kaldewei: “Emerso” bathtub and washstand pillar by Arik Levy. Photos © Thomas Edelmann, Stylepark, Kaldewei

Doubly simple

In 2016, the year of the Olympics, it would appear that everything has to get higher, faster, and go further. Even with regard to bathrooms, manufacturers and designers occasionally run the danger of losing their sense of proportion. But they are not all following this burgeoning trend. At 120 centimeters wide, the Alape double washstand “Twice”, by Sieger Design, for example, is anything but gigantic and appears to have been designed with the new reality of urban living in mind, where less space should in no way mean having to forego things. Provided, that is, that the space is well thought through.

As such “Twice” has room for two water points, has a few storage areas for everyday bathroom articles and, in the version with the base cabinet, offers the possibility of occasionally clearing these up and putting them out of sight. As a systems manufacturer Alape offers numerous versions, which enable “Twice” to have a look of homely bathroom furniture in walnut about it, or of a minimalist basin in pure, enameled steel.

“Twice”: double washbasin by Sieger Design for Alape. Photo © Alape

Hot screen

With radiators in all manner of shapes, the Italian manufacturer Tubes provides heat not only in the bathroom, but also there. “Origami”, a folding heating element, which to a certain extent also serves as a partitioning in a room, is the brainchild of Alberto Meda. One consequence of the removal of boundaries in traditional footprints, the melding living and bathroom areas, is that we are rediscovering long-forgotten objects such as screens. “Origami” can be folded flat and is available in a wide range of shapes and 260 RAL colors, wall-mounted or distributed throughout a room. Using electricity as its heat source it can be used just as well for warming towels as for heating small rooms. If one believes Tubes, “Origami” distributes its convection heart throughout a building. On top of which it is a typical Meda product: an aluminum module system with visible feet, a well thought-though folding mechanism, and an optimistic technical formal idiom.

“Origami”: folding radiators by Alberto Meda for Tubes. Photo © Thomas Edelmann, Stylepark

Sourced from marshes

What has lain dormant in marshes or under water for centuries is now being transformed into kitchen and bathroom furniture: For Boffi, Piero Lissoni designed the “Code” series, which also comes in optional marsh oak veneer. It is also available in natural oak or walnut. The drawers boast a dovetail finish.

As 150 or 270-centimeter-long bathroom furniture, the range can be combined with “Garden” washbasins (likewise by Lissoni) and the eponymous faucet. The stainless steel basin with a PVD coating stands on a stone slab, cut such as to mask the outflow. In particular in the case of continuous veins in the stone a charming appearance arises, as the grain of the stone is visible in the basin. The faucet (sand gray) and basin (graphite gray) are variations on tones of the gray scale.

Modular system: “Code” washstand and the “Garden” washbasin by Piero Lissoni for Boffi. Photo © Thomas Edelmann, Stylepark

Showering in your own private spa is different

Showering standing up, bathing lying down – these are bathroom conventions that have been handed down through generations and which we have learnt and which, as such, we regard as completely normal. Dornbracht toys with these conventions, while Sieger Design and Mike Meiré show us just how to bathe nowadays. The “Privat Spa”, for example, features innovative water applications in a combination of Dornbracht products. The “Comfort Shower” makes it possible to shower both standing and sitting, with nothing left to chance: The “Big Rain” rain panel surrounds the bather’s body in large effervescing droops of water, the “Pearl Stream” feature of “Water Fall” allows water to fall on the shoulders and neck, while a powerful jet from two “Water Bars” massages the bac and a hose enables Kneipp cure-style gushes. Electronic “Smart Tools” can be used to call up various scenarios: for relaxation, activation, or a balance between both. On top of which “Leg Shower” extends the “Private Spa” to include automated leg gushes, to freshen oneself or strengthen one’s immune system.

“Private Spa”: Sieger Design and Mike Meiré staged an intense shower experience for Dornbracht in the form of the “Comfort Shower”. Photo © Dornbracht

Nothing seems impossible

What would it be like if bathroom and bedroom were to become one? What would happen if we had to live in less space? And if a surface’s appearance differs from its material? At the fair Cosentino, a family-run Spanish company of world repute, presented not only wall cladding and flooring made of quartz, of ultra-compact and recycled surfaces, but entire living environments.

Cecconi Simone, a Toronto-based interior design studio, built the booth on the topic of travel making use, for the most part, of large Dekton and Silestone panels. With references from the United States, China, India, the United Arab Emirates and individual European countries, the studio knows its stuff. Be it boudoir or en-suite bedroom: What becomes evident is that the panel material can serve any place and any style. For all fans of what is supposedly authentic there is no comfort in this impressively staged statement.

The Cosentino lifeworlds: Cecconi Simone presented an array of very different interiors at the fair. Photos © Cosentino

From the Tugendhat Villa

When yesterday was today, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created an extraordinary villa for Fritz and Grete Tugendhat in Brno in the Czech Republic. Both the design and details of the building, which was completed in 1930, make it a rare testimony to the emergence of Modernism. The family the villa was built for was only able to live in it for a few years. The Tugendhat family, of which Ernst Tugendhat, who would later become a philosopher, was a member, had to leave the place fleeing from the murderous populists that at the time were subjecting Europe to tyranny. Following the villa’s eventful history under the Nazis and in communist post-War Czechoslovakia, by the end of 2012 it had been restored in line with conservation guidelines. The refurbishment work included reproducing those parts that had been destroyed or damaged as true to the original as possible.

Laufen was involved in the project and reproduced eight sanitary ceramic items for the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms. In line with Mies van der Rohe’s specifications the original articles had been made in Znojmo by Dittmar Urbach, at the time a Laufen brand. Alongside current products such as “VAL” by Konstantin Grcic, the Swiss company presented at the fair its custom-made products for historical as well as present-day buildings – for example for a luxury residence by Herzog & de Meuron in New York.

True to the original: Laufen has reconstructed the sanitary chinaware for the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms for the restoration of the Villa Tugendhat. Photo © Laufen