Future bathrooms

Bathroom design over the years points to an extraordinary shift in the way we wash and behave in this most essential of all interior spaces.

NEWS, Design

Bathroom design over the years points to an extraordinary shift in the way we wash and behave in this most essential of all interior spaces.

The evolution of our bathing habits encompasses a multitude of developments over the centuries. Baths have evolved from ancient Roman times where bathing was regarded as a daily social pastime rather than a hygienic necessity, to Turkish Hammams, a major feature of Islamic cultures, which preserved the tradition of cleansing, soaking and socialising. The concept of bathing as a social activity continued into the Middle Ages when men and women regularly bathed together often dining on floating tables accompanied by songs and music. The spread of disease in later centuries led to a decline in public bathing and it soon became a sign of wealth and status to have a washbasin or tub in the house.

Today, as people seek space to recover from the pressures of everyday life, bathroom design has taken on an increased significance. The importance of the bathroom as an oasis of comfort, rest and meditation essential to contemporary living is growing and emphasis is increasingly being placed on the bathroom as a sanctuary, leaving the more clinical interiors of previous decades far behind.

 

As design becomes an increasingly global obsession, many of today�s most talented and sought after designers have turned their attention to the transformation of the bathroom. Recent years have witnessed a surge of collaborations between bathroom manufacturers and international design icons. Here, the design experts of today predict the bathroom trends of tomorrow and tell us how we will be washing in years to come.

Private Heaven

Christian and Michael Sieger, designers for Duravit, have defined the future of bathroom design as their concept of ‘Private Heaven�. This will be a space that brings living, sleeping and bathroom areas together to create an oasis of well being. Architectural borders such as doors and walls will completely dissolve and the space will open up to create an area that extends far beyond simple washing needs. The Siegers predict that over the next ten years we will witness developments of a similar significance to those that have occurred in the rest of the house. Just as the kitchen has made a seamless transition into living and dining areas, the traditional role of the bathroom as a private area is now giving way to a new open living space, breaking down the barriers between the bedroom, bathroom and dressing room and transforming these areas into a tangible new living space.

According to Michael Sieger: “Bathroom furnishing now no longer provides a sufficient answer to the deep-seated longing to bring individual design to the private sphere of the home. Any response to the demand for interior design today must take a much more holistic approach. Nowadays we tend to demand much more of the bathroom than the purely functional aspects of washing and body care. We want to be moved; we want to live out our desires, actively celebrating our valuable free time and no longer contenting ourselves with observing conventions.�

“All the great cultures of the past had something which is painfully lacking in ours nowadays: the bathroom as a space for living, somewhere to take time out, somewhere for relaxation and contemplation. The concept behind the design centres on the idea that as life becomes increasingly stressful, our private lives have an important role to play as they offer time for regeneration.�

The Siegers predict that ‘Private Heaven� will be the dominating influence on bathroom design of the future. Michael says: “Just as the kitchen has opened up to the dining and living rooms over the past decades, the fixed division of the bathroom from the sleeping area will also be broken down. In only a few years, our living culture will conceive these areas as one � a space for intimacy, which, unlike the living and dining rooms that are accessible for all your guests,will be reserved for uninterrupted time with your family or escaping the hustle and bustle.�

It is certainly an interesting idea and an appealing design concept. However, the question is how will social habits of the future adapt to an open bathroom? ‘Private Heaven� would mean families washing and relaxing in the same space with no walls or doors � surely a prospect likely to strike terror into the heart of the body-conscious teenager, or even an embarrassed parent. And are even the closest couples ready to relinquish their privacy entirely in what has previously been one of the only secluded retreats in the home?

Ellie Coulthard from Bagno Design points out that: “There has been a trend towards the bathroom and living area merging into one living space, although this is not for everybody and is not at all compatible with certain religions and cultures where there is a different perception of privacy and modesty.�

 

Waterdream

 

Internationally-renowned designers Jean-Marie Massaud, Patricia Urquiola, and Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec collaborated with Hansgrohe�s design brand Axor on the ‘Waterdream� project. ‘Waterdream� posed the question of which direction the development of the bathroom as a communicative and architectural space � beyond its simply functional significance � will take in the future. Each designer created his or her own visionary landscape, approaching the concept in a unique way.

“This is not about developing new products or simple simulations of future bathroom environments,� said Philippe Grohe. “Instead, what we want is to enable a dialogue to take place that is free from any constraints, so that the kind of experimental design potential that allows visions to take on real form can be released.�

Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola has taken an abstract, emotional approach to reflect the various moods and desires of modern man. Urquiola has used many different materials and combined waterworks, natural sounds and a variety of animals including butterflies and frogs, to bring attention to the experiences and the resulting feelings that mankind is in danger of losing in the 21st Century. The vibrantly colourful polyform mirrored wall not only alludes to the desire for a friendlier more pleasurable reality, it is also symbolic of our often idealised view of ourselves. The designer has created an eclectic dream world, a poetic fairytale landscape in which the bathroom is transformed into a forest of fittings.

Urquiola has demolished conventional bathroom walls and transfered the bathroom into new surroundings in which nothing is as it appears. Traditional products have been given a new shape without losing their original function, while other strange and occasionally even bizarre materials and technologies have been integrated into her fantastical design.

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec�s minimalist design redefines the relationship between individual objects. The Bouroullecs have moved the focus away from individual fittings to a bathroom system in which the individual element is endowed with its significance by virtue of its relationship to other objects. By offering a number of combinations and possibilities, the designers have given the architect and the user free reign in putting together his or her own individual bathroom system. The individual modular bathroom fittings are all fastened to a wood panelled wall and appear virtually weightless due to their reduced use of form. They can all be combined with each other as desired and easily exchanged without the need to make structural alterations to the room. The concept provides a contemporary solution for the changing needs in the bathroom � a functional system whose individual components are assembled individually, according to desires and needs.

A strong advocate of organic design, Jean-Marie Massaud has created a spatial concept in which water forms a natural bond with other elements. An enormous, moss-covered bubble floats above everything like a cloud, reminding us that life is possible only because of the most precious of elements � water. The impression of lightness and weightlessness is supported by repeated organic curves. Massaud spoke to CID about his bathroom of the future:

CID: What was the inspiration and concept behind your design?

I wanted to rethink and re-conceive the bathroom and transform it into a living air bubble, to make it a place where you can feel the natural elements in a very sensual and emotional way. I wanted to use less material in order to experience the water more.

CID: What are the key design features?

In design there is the fusion of imagination, available resources, created materials and a passion to give life experiences that are not only unique but help complete the individual. As with their elegance and emotionality, the fixtures and accessories from Axor Massaud truly fit into this concept of the bathroom as a living space. Organic lines inspired by nature are brought into harmonic rapport with geometric forms. There are softly curving lines here, the natural fall of the water there. And between these is clear geometry and cleverly concealed technology. An asymmetrically arranged and generously sized storage surface crowns the nearly 400mm wide single-lever faucet mixer. A broad torrent of water pours out from this into the basin. The slim base unit of the mixer is reminiscent of a stem growing upwards into a slight curve, similar to the bend of a blade of grass.

CID: Why are you so inspired by nature?

It�s my belief that design can arouse genuine feelings in people. To me design is really the exercise of a vision in progress in the service of life. An object should be merely being a part of a propitious climate for self-fulfillment and the creation of life environments. This is my design philosophy and has been the foundation for the latest collection. Nature is the life environment itself, where better to draw inspiration!

CID: How do you think technology will impact on the bathroom of the future?

Technology will continue to evolve; what is important is its ability to fuse with the design and the vision of what one hopes to achieve. Let�s forget hygienic prostheses, to find the natural symbiosis with water. It�s not that we need heaters � we need warmth. We don�t need lamps � we need light. We don�t need plumbing fixtures � we need water!

With Axor Massaud, the fixtures become unique sculptures dispossessed of technology, connecting us to one of the most important and fundamental of all elements: water, the source of all life.

CID: What materials have you used in your design?

Ceramic, wood, chrome and glass continue to fascinate and inspire designers to create the bathroom as a living space. Trying to fuse clean lines, ornate curves and conceal technology requires a deeper understanding of the material used and what it is physically and aesthetically capable of achieving for the design and ultimately the product.

CID: The term ‘wellness� has become a fixed factor in our everyday culture, how do you interpret this?

Our modern world is missing the relationship to what is natural. This explains the growing human need for harmony and a life consistent with nature. In my concept, the simplicity and beauty of what is natural is transported into a household environment � the bathroom. In this room, a person can find himself, can turn his back on daily routine, and can relax in complete harmony with the elements. The bathroom becomes a living space, and its purpose is not just hygiene and mere bodily cleansing but the sensual, emotional experience.

 

Public

 

Designers Jérôme Gessaga and Christ of Hindermann collaborated with Geberit to create their vision of public washroom design of the future. The design comes in the form of an installation � ‘Public� � in the Geberit Information and Training Centre, Switzerland. The designers� experimental style demonstrates a visionary approach to public washroom design, which is presented to visitors in the form of a communication platform intended to excite and promote new ideas about how the public washroom of the future could look.

The entrance is clad in white tiles on the walls and floors. The bright white of the tiles is enhanced by a white neon light, intending to highlight a common problem in public toilets, which although well kept too often have a sterile and repelling atmosphere. Gessaga and Hindermann aim to highlight ways in which washroom design can be clean and hygienic as well as appealing.

Created mainly in coloured glass, with glass mosaics and glass washbowls, the room has a bright, inviting atmosphere, a sophisticated ventilation and odouring system and well-planned room layout with spacious booths providing sufficient room for washing facilities. Light and acoustic effects also contribute to the concept. In terms of hygiene, dark corners have been avoided and the urinal area has rounded edges and chamfered angles.

Technology plays a large part in the design with futuristic displays above the urinals aiming to promote a sense of well-being. The flush technology, with integrated air purifier is completely touch free. Also touch free are the roller shutters which replace conventional doors and water and soap dispensers.

Personal design touches include colourful mosaics and lampshades made of ladies nylon stockings. The main aim of the installation is to demonstrate that the public washroom design of the future could be injected with an element of daring, inspiration and personality and should be more adapted to individual situations.
According to the designers Hindermann and Gessaga: “The emotions given rise to by this installation are more important for us than the purely rational thought.�

The designer talks to CID about his vision for bathroom design of the future:

CID: How do you foresee bathroom design evolving in years to come?

The bathroom will become more and more an environment for wellness and relaxation. To cut the time currently dedicated to transportation to fitness and wellness centres, these activities will gradually move to the house. Several activities will be performed in the bathroom of the future beyond washing: I�m thinking of fitness, relaxation, massages, listening to music and so on…

CID: How do you think social factors will impact on the bathroom of the future?

The need to conciliate growing engagements in work, transportation, family and hobbies will generate increasing stress. That is why more time will be needed to dedicate to ourselves and our wellness. A healthier body and mind will help us to battle the challenges of everyday life.

CID: How will innovations in technology impact on the bathroom of the future?

In the bathroom of the future, technology will be present but somehow hidden. A room dominated by technology causes more stress to the user.

CID: Why do you think today�s designers are now so focused on transforming bathroom design?

I think for two reasons: Firstly, professionally speaking, because bathroom design has been late to evolve in comparison to the design of the other main functional interiors in the home environment, such as the kitchen, and therefore designers are now taking an interest in it. Secondly, personally speaking, because most of today�s trend setting designers are becoming stressed out globetrotters and they would like to design a space for the improvement of their own wellness.
 

Conserving water

With water wastage set to become an issue of major global importance, Victor Schoone explains how Roca intends to combat this in the bathrooms of the future:

“Water saving is important but our Design Centre considers it more important to educate people and inform them about water usage. What we will be seeing in the future are water massage columns and cabins, which indicate water usage � as in modern cars, which indicate while driving how much gas has been consumed. Technology will not be applied to make us use less water, but it will inform us about our usage and will enable us to change our behaviour in favour of less water consumption.�

As president of Pininfarina Extra, Italian designer Paolo Pininfarina has had a lasting and outstanding influence on the international world of automobile design. In recent years the designer has turned his attention to bathroom design and collaborated with Jacuzzi to create Morphosis, a redesign of the whirlpool bath merging high-end aesthetics with hydrotherapy innovation.

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