Modern Bathroom Design Classics

Following on from our last post on shower design; it got me thinking about some of the all time bathroom design classics. We always hear about classic design cars and with interiors we see classic sofas etc. But what about the leading edge of design for the bathroom? There are so many product innovations with the ever expanding range of materials available, that bathroom products today would look other-worldly to our fore-bearers of 100 years ago. I think it’s about time for some serious bathroom porn; and let’s forget about the budget, lie back, relax and dream…

(Apologies for lack of sound; original video fail meant switch to this. If you have a copy of Saint Germain’s album Tourist, pop on ‘Sure Thing’ and enjoy…)

A fairly recent addition to the bathroom world from Jean-Marie Massaud, but pretty much the whole range should be added to the list. Produced by Axor, the designer face of Hansgrohe, this range took a leap from previous markers set by Philipe Starck and added a dimension of natural form that set it apart from the competition. The original collection was designed in 2005 with the bath added to the range in 2009. The bath has echoes of another iconic piece: the Spoon bath by Agape which was designed by Giampoalo Benedini in 1998. An absolute classic:

I think this next bath is what we refer to as a ‘Marmite’ product; you either love it or hate it. But which ever side you fall on, it is difficult to deny that it has become a classic; Le Cob bath designed by Joseph Licciardi and produced by Omvivo:

In the freestanding bath arena, it is easy to forget the hard working steel tubs; as they are often built-in, low grade and pretty dull. This however, doesn’t conform to type and is a great addition to the list, bringing that alien design into sharp focus: the UFO bath, again by Giampoalo Benedini (well, Benedini Associati) in 2003 for those amazing people at Agape (yes, I’m a fan and I can’t wait for an increased presence from them in the near future):

As we’re almost in the vicinity of plain odd, why not have a look at the ‘umbrella bath’:

None other than the Leggera by Gilda Borgnini for Flaminia, which also lands firmly in ‘Marmite’ territory. It is a tad new to be called a design classic, but it has all the markings, and although Flaminia’s marketing can leave you feeling a bit cold, at least they are pushing the boundaries. Good for them. I love the way the shower stand pushes through the taut fabric of the bath, merging into the design rather than appearing as an after-thought. That being said, if you have a bath, you’ve got to fill it and that means we should look to brassware.

Clearly, if you have read previous articles, I am a fan of Dornbracht. Their bad fortunes are slowly coming to an end, after the plant next to their factories exploded destroying some of their sites, and leaving them with a production nightmare they are still recovering from. In the style of mixing materials, I think that their Elemental Spa range is truly superb, in Corian and chrome plated brass:

And I have to also point to their Symetrics range and gush (pun intended) over it’s elegant simplicity and ultimate ability to add combinations that still look sexy:

Along similar lines is the Cut by Mario Tessarollo & Tiberio Cerato for Boffi, a real departure in functionality:

I think it would be difficult to ignore another Axor range here, one I alluded to earlier. It introduced a single lever that simplified the process of using a mixer tap so much that its shape literally defined its use. It was as light as a feather and was designed by Philipe Starck in the shape of a quill:

This was something really different when it came along, and I have to say look at anything from Axor and you won’t be disappointed. The idea of a single lever was nothing new though. An icon of faucet design is the Vola range designed by Arne Jacobsen (he of Egg, Swan & Ant chair fame amongst other things). This range has stood the test of time, almost unbelievably being designed in 1968, and featured a nifty single lever mechanism:

I think that the next logical step should be an item that combines the genius of Jacobsen with the humble basin. Originally, this was the case, but since has been replaced by a Marathon mixer. But here is the original recipe: add some glass, some sleek shut-off valves and a simple trap, enter stage right the Pollux 1:

Now glass basins elicit some negative responses from people, as they have gone off the boil in quite a spectacular fashion. So I will leave them clearly alone, with a note for further reading: America’s Cup, Host and Coup De Foudre all by Rapsel are great examples of glass basins at their best. As is the Series 3 version of this simple slab top unit: Geo Washplane, again by Omvivo (note the wall mounted Vola mixer):

And it would be difficult to pass over the basins of Alape, another fantastic company who made dish basins of real distinction by producing them in steel:

When it comes to Design Classics in bathrooms, it is easy to gloss over the porcelain basins of note that defined the modern look, which took us from the exuberance of the ’80’s into the more architecturally based ’90’s bathrooms. They concentrated on simple forms that have endured the test of time. On the roll call should be:

The Happy D basin by Seiger Design for Duravit

White by David Chipperfield for Ideal Standard

The Aquagrande range for Flaminia by Giulio Cappellini, Ludovica + Roberto Palomba

But this list could go on ad infinitum, so I’ll cease there with a nod to a late entry to this list, but to a company that remains a family concern after some 250 years, and who never cease to produce high quality porcelain:

Villeroy & Boch with the Memento basin. I think that their Subway WC is a classic design also worthy of note. They way it attaches to the wall set it apart from the competition:

Although the original Daddy of WC design, when things got sexy for the humble toilet pan was Mr Starck’s first venture into porcelain, the Starck 1 from Duravit:

Another classic has to be the Link from Flaminia, the last I’ll show of the porcelains:

Now how about something to go with your beautiful UFO bath? The whimsically titled John & Mary from Rapsel were great innovations that never really got the credit they deserved, but would work beautifully with the UFO:

Well, after the previous items we might be in need of a cold shower. This design classic is a bit off the beaten path, but is nonetheless a great piece of work: the Cobra shower, again by Rapsel, a company that often slips off the radar…

Another in the more simple shower styles is the Pipe by Boffi, designed by the ever brilliant Marcel Wanders:

If this floats your boat, then further reading is required at the Boffi website. I have to say that any trip to the Milan Fair is always punctuated by a visit to Boffi and they never, ever fail to impress. Design at its very best. Speaking of which, if we are finishing off on showers, the mother of them all has to be the original monster of a shower. Yes, you guessed it, from Dornbracht: the Rainsky M by the immortal Seiger Design

“With RainSky we have enticed the clouds from the sky into our homes,” says René Pier. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Of course you may have some favourites that I haven’t covered that you’d like to discuss; some of you may wonder where to get them from or you just want to chew the fat over good bathroom design. In any case drop us a comment or follow us on Twitter @interiorporn or @Morphinterior; we’d love to hear from you. Until then, remember: “Design is not for philosophy it’s for life.” Issey Miyake

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4 thoughts on “Modern Bathroom Design Classics

  1. These are some absolutely glorious bathroom concepts. It’s amazing what can be done with this room if one only approaches it with a bit of imagination.

  2. Very unique ideas about having a bathroom. Those concept are all good, though it will cost a lot still they are all advisable. One great article from you.

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