A spa at home
reading time: 5 minutes
Bathroom design and furnishings are becoming increasingly high-performance. According to Giovanna Talocci, the desire for a domestic spa has accelerated the breakdown of rooms into functional and relaxation areas; according to Davide Vercelli, the internet and the way we use technologies can and must be a starting point for analysing the spaces of the future.
The bathroom is the room that has evolved the most, not only in the home, but also in public and HoReCa spaces. Its transformations have involved not only its finishes and furnishings, but above all the way the space itself is conceived. In this evolution, ceramic materials have acquired new forms and fresh developments can be envisaged. We ask designers who have been designing bathrooms for years to tell us about the imminent scenarios.
“In the ‘80s and ‘90s, the bathroom became a central element of home decor. After the kitchen, it was the room that reflected the owner’s status: a triumph of multifunctional showers, whirlpool baths and ceramic coverings styled by fashion designers. Considerable attention was paid to bathrooms, often at the expense of other rooms. Since the 2000s, we have witnessed a desire for minimalism, natural materials, soft colours and small spaces; functionality is distributed among various rooms. The desire for a small spa in the home inspires the design of saunas and hammams, and, consequently, the use of dedicated domestic spaces. The bathroom is therefore ‘broken up’: on one side, the more functional area with sanitary bathroom fixtures and washbasins, on the other, the relaxation area with bathtubs, showers and saunas. Hotel bathrooms have partly followed this trend: the bathroom fixtures area is more private, while the washbasin or shower/bath area is exposed and completes the room’s decor.
Ceramic materials, particularly stoneware, have been among the key features of the evolving bathroom area, both in public and private locations. I hope that research will be carried out to give ceramic coverings more technological properties linked to the environment: antibacterial, antismog, photovoltaic... These products already feature such properties, but they require further development. In terms of aesthetics, I would like to see greater exploration of the intrinsic peculiarities of ceramic materials.”
“The internet has stimulated the general acceleration of exchanges. Images and opinions have thus shaped and influenced consumer preferences. On average, people spend 20 minutes a day in the bathroom just to chat, reply to emails and browse social media. As unwelcome as this may seem, such data cannot be ignored in architectural design or when proposing a new product. At the very least, furnishings require integrated mains or USB sockets. Bathtubs have definitively been cast aside in favour of more high-performance showers featuring water management systems that are increasingly close to spa performance.
Double washbasins are favoured by users, along with natural materials or alternative surfaces such as wallpaper, resins and wood. We are witnessing a fantastic crossover between materials that lose their personal aesthetic by crossing borders: ceramic materials that simulate fabrics and wallpapers, wall coverings that reproduce the textures of wood, or parquets that use, through a curious circular process, digital printing techniques typical of ceramic. In this regard, the performance, hygiene, hardness and durability of stoneware cannot be attained with another material.”