TRENDS – With the success of feature facilities in hotels, museums and other public spaces, consumers want star pieces in their homes, too. From Patricia Urquiola to Philippe Starck, designer collaborations mean that sanitaryware has never been so stylish.
The result is a growing number of collaborations between bathroom brands and big-name designers, promising to give even the smallest and often overlooked room in the house a signature expression. A recent UK survey found that ‘design’ or ‘a new look’ has surpassed ‘replacement’ as the chief reason for buying new bathroom furniture, especially among the younger generation. Taken together with a growing trend for hybrid spaces that blur the boundaries between living room and bathroom in our shrinking private residences, we may well be heading towards a new form of freedom in spaces for personal hygiene.
Created for a hotel in Vieques, Puerto Rico, Patricia Urquiola’s Vieques bathtub for Agape is now available for the home. In La Micheline, the holiday home of artist Anne and architectural photographer Jean-Luc Laloux in southern Belgium, the Vieques XS bathtub and washbasin represents a contemporary restyling of traditional bathroom elements.
Meanwhile, Konstantin Grcic’s geometric forms for Laufen’s SaphirKeramik collection Val include a freestanding circular bathtub and matching pieces such as washbasins, a wall-hung toilet and a bidet. Laufen is now producing the washbasin with an optional ground underside, intended to reduce joints when positioned on surfaces such as a countertop. In their collaboration, Laufen and Grcic approach the series more as bathroom furniture than sanitaryware – designs that must be eye-catchingly elegant and stylish, as well as serve an obvious function.
Finally, EX.T recognizes the impact that style statements of international designers can have in combination with the brand’s own focus on artisanal Italian manufacture. The equivalent of a luxurious sofa or reclaimed-wood dining table in a living space, the EX.T Stand bathtub by Norm Architects is designed to stand out as a visual centrepiece. A minimalist reinterpretation of the classic lion-claw tubs, Stand reflects the Nordic influences of the Copenhagen-based Norm Architects and embodies innovative form crafted by traditional expertise.