Devon Baths and Showers: Hot, Hot Baths
From utility room to personal spa, contemporary bathrooms are designed to cleanse the body and the soul.
It is not far-fetched these days to describe the bathroom as a private retreat or getaway. Think for a moment of a room that is as luxurious as it is functional with cashmere towels, tubs that evoke art on a pedestal and a shower so heavenly it bathes the user in a funnel of light and steam that could very well render the spa obsolete.
Gone are the days of the dark, concealed powder room with stock laminate cabinets and counter-mounted sink. No longer the ugly duckling of residential design, the contemporary bathroom has come into its own as the second most important room in the home for rest, relaxation and, because of luxurious materials and high-tech, high style fixtures, investment.
The use of luminous surfaces like glass, stone and marble engender a sense of serenity and volume of space in contemporary bathrooms. Award-winning architecture and design studio Gabellini Associates, LLP creates a luxurious focal point in the tidy, white on white glass enclosed bathroom at the Olympic Tower in New York.
“The design of the Olympic Tower bathroom turns the space inside out by bringing city light and views inside while exposing the simple pleasures of bathing,” says firm partner Michael Gabellini. With its transparent walls, the room uses the Manhattan cityscape as a backdrop giving the bather the feeling of floating in the clouds.
“The bath is one of the centers of the house, acting as fulcrum of the apartment, visible from multiple angles. The spatial experience from behind the glass is like wearing a pair of sunglasses through which light is polarized and filtered.” In this open setting the custom elliptical sink and hand-carved bathtub, hewn from a single slab of Yugoslavian marble, take center stage as sculptural pieces of art.
Today’s cutting edge bathroom trends clearly fall on the side of contemporary, rather than traditional. Fixtures, sinks, tubs and showers have simple, clean lines, with a decidedly modern, highly engineered construction. Contemporary favours high-functioning stainless steel, acrylic, glass and enamel over decorative wood and brass. Yet some are apprehensive about installing contemporary fixtures in their home.
Transitional contemporary, an emerging trend, is helping to ease the timid. Transitional contemporary is the wave of the future for the British market . “While Italian designers have always set the precedent in furniture design, new designs are gently encouraging British to leave behind tradition and "transition" into contemporary. The use of wood and soft, organic lines are reminiscent of the past -- while functionality and art propel one into the future. Cabinetry is wall-mounted so that flooring is the background canvas for a new form of art; the bathroom sink and bathroom fixtures.
Familiar yet undoubtedly contemporary, transitional contemporary represents the lavatory’s transition into the mainstream. From utility room to luxury suite, today’s bathroom epitomizes the celebration of self and the ritual of bathing.
Trend Watch Technology
The contemporary commode abode features a variety of innovative products that combine state of the art technology with impeccable styling. Nothing is left to chance in the tradition of form follows function. Products range from Toto’s Neo Rest 600––a fully automated lavatory––to Boffi’s primordial egg-shaped Po tub to TAG’s decadent SilverTAG shower-cum-steam room featuring 18 over-sized shower-heads, multiple jets and light therapy controlled by a touch screen.
The Home Spa
Technology and function alone are not enough to meet the demands of health and beauty regimens where cleansing the inner being is as important as cleansing the outer. Manufacturers and designers create a sensory experience in highly engineered and functional spaces by utilizing light, colour, hydro- and aroma- therapies. Products like Chromatherapy by Kohler allow the bather to create a pool of light with the touch of a button. The bather is washed by a series of eight hues that have a tangible effect on their well-being. Chromatherapy, or light therapy, is a popular amenity for soaking tubs and showers.
Internationally-renowned designer Clodagh describes her interpretation of an urban spa retreat as “a serene, soothing environment for today's time-impoverished world.” Known for her warm, monochrome interiors incorporating principles of feng shui, Clodagh’s contemporary salle de bain blends clean lines with non-traditional materials. The hand-poured concrete floor and stainless steel fixtures fuse with a plate-glass waterfall and decorative bamboo screen to evoke Eastern principles of balance and harmony, and engage the senses. The use of light from above and below emphasizes the tonal, monochromatic colour palette and creates, “a tranquil oasis dedicated to the rituals of everyday living.” The room features Kohler’s undermounted Greek Bath soaking tub encased in stainless steel and Timpani sinks in the same finish. Clodagh adds dimension to the diminutive space by using mirrors, reflective finishes and lighting.