A future-looking comfort zone | by Luisa Pianzola
Until recently nature was the dominant source of inspiration for bathroom furnishings, but it has now been supplanted by concepts of emotion, experience, visual lightness and attention to design – even in the most technical details. And while attention to the environment is reflected in reduced levels of consumption and sustainable use of materials and finishings, traditional natural materials such as wood, stone and marble are increasingly being replaced by reconstituted stone with a soft-touch matt surface. Ceramic, a supremely natural material due to its high clay content, likewise maintains its vital role both for surface coverings and for sanitaryware while exploring increasingly hi-tech and high-performance solutions.
Decorative minimalism and a strong use of colour
But let’s take a closer look at furnishings. In general, stylistic references to a reassuring past alternate with bold future-looking solutions, but in all cases mediated by a warm, decorative and never cold minimalism. One key element in determining the aesthetic potential of this new wellness space is colour, which is increasingly being used in striking ways for WCs, washbasins and baths. Earthtones and pastel colours are especially popular, but in all cases intense and saturated. And unlike the previous dominant fashion of ton-sur-ton solutions focused on beige and total white palettes, the current trend is now mix-and-match, often with daring combinations.
Taps take on a black colour or dark metal finishes
This colour trend also applies to taps. Coloured mixer taps are hardly a new look in the bathroom, as evidenced by the brightly-coloured Balocchi taps from the seventies, historic items that are still in production today. But while bright colours were once used sparingly as slightly transgressive, playful solutions, they are now being proposed as a genuine alternative to the standard chrome finishes. However, there is one important difference: coupled with slender, minimalist design, the dominant colour is now matt black, often reprised in the structure of the shower enclosure. As an alternative to black or the traditional chrome finish, we are also seeing plenty of copper and brass-like metallic finishes. Another popular trend amongst new collections is that of brushed stainless steel with a strong industrial flavour.
Lifestyle for all
Attentive observers will have noted that bathroom furnishings embracing principles of inclusive design (also known as “design for all”) are increasingly adopting aesthetic effects that make no distinction between users with different physical abilities. A wide range of solutions are now available and can be used in any kind of living space with the utmost elegance and practicality.
The following are a few of the latest bathroom trends, some of which are entirely new while others are already established: sanitaryware with compact volumes and slender edges; a preference amongst users, companies and designers for showers rather than baths, assigning them a large space that integrates seamlessly into the bathroom thanks to their slender structures, concealed drainage channels, transparent walls and ultrathin or walk-in shower trays; the return of free-standing WCs after many years of domination of wall-hung units, but with compact shapes and in some cases decorative textures; the material appeal of surfaces, whether matt or glazed and often displaying 3D effects. As for washbasins, one of the most important bathroom furnishing elements, countertop models continue to be popular for their visual appeal and furnishing potential.
01. Standing out for its ergonomic and sinuous lines, the Sofì mixer tap range from Nobili comes in royal gold, champagne and soft rosé finishes.
02. Designed by Paolo D’Arrigo for Cielo, the Shui Comfort collection includes a generously-sized bath with slender walls.
03. App, from Flaminia, is a versatile series ideal for use in the home and contract furnishing sectors. The collection includes a WC and bidet with a rounded design and carefully chosen dimensions inspired by the great classics of bathroom furnishing.
04. Available in both single and double versions, the Twenty washbasin designed by Massimiliano Cicconi for Ceramica Tecla stands out for its ultraslim styling.
05. In the Hug Life Caring Design furnishing system designed by Daniele Trebbi for Ponte Giulio, the main element is the functional stainless steel grab bar, available in horizontal and vertical versions and complete with shelves.
06. Duka is presenting a new finish for its Libero 3000 shower enclosure with a screen-printed geometric design on the glass walls that reproduces industrial-style wrought iron window frames.
07. Baden Baden, inspired by the famous spa resort, is a line of washbasins, WCs and accessories from Simas that combines rigorous lines with soft round styling. Based on the geometric figure of the trapezium, it stands out for its sophisticated details such as the straight upper edge and the ceramic waste in the same colour as the sanitary fixtures.
08. The versatile Hito collection from Arblu is a modular furnishing system with geometric lines and a minimalist design. The glossy and matt lacquered effects stand out in particular for their colour gradients. The glass shelves come in the same colours to achieve pure monolithic compositions.