Towards high-tech minimalism

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A new concept of purity and reduction. In Carlo Martino’s interpretation, bathroom design focuses on a few items of furniture which dominate the room, and on the camouflaging of digital technologies or technical components, with everything superfluous hidden from view. For Luca Papini, the bathroom is a realm of contiguous spaces, and natural and customised materials, with technology integrated to fit the user target.

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.


Carlo Martino – Studiomartino.5

The most significant transformation of the last 30 years has been the search for enhanced dialogue between space and technical components, and vice-versa. In the past, the sanitary ware, tap fixtures and accessories were chosen without reference to the characteristics of the bathroom itself.

Today, a new set of needs, derived from the need for several bathrooms within the home, and a renewed interest in comfort and bodily care, both of which originated in the Nineties, means that demand is more varied, and is successfully fulfilled by smaller, more flexible companies. In terms of future prospects, the increase in the world’s population, the exponential growth in the size of metropolitan areas and the increase in urban density that we have already witnessed in the Far East point to a rising focus on small bathrooms.

This will require careful choices to make full use of all potentials: minimal thicknesses, very tough materials and finishes, and multifunctional, transformable components. There will be strong focus on the integration of technological components and the concealment of everything superfluous. Technological innovations will disappear from view: smart or Internet of Things solutions such as remote-controlled lights or electronic taps, and devices with proximity sensors and personalised user profiles. Other concealment strategies will include shower heads camouflaged in suspended ceilings, shower areas integrated in floors, inset tap fittings, or even washbasins that consist just of protuberances in walls.

At the same time, some components, the key players on the bathroom stage, will be given a more individual character: freestanding bathtubs and washbasins, ceiling-mounted tap fittings and radiators with auxiliary functions. With this approach, the wall covering becomes the backdrop for the scene, and in the future may include “thermochromic” surfaces and both real and virtual three-dimensional effects.”


Luca Papini

“In my opinion, the evolution has centred on natural and customised materials, with colour playing a key role in interior design, in both sanitary ware and washbasins, with the introduction of lighting and sound technology and the creation of wallpaper and wall coverings to match the furnishings.

Designers have concentrated on elegance and minimalism; the most exciting discovery in bathroom furnishing has been solid surfaces. Although the needs of city living have led to bathrooms becoming small, when choosing furnishings the preference is for integrated, multifunction furniture, wall-mounted washbasins and sanitary ware, the use of delicate colours and mirrors for greater depth.

Technology will become part of the bathroom of the future, with an ever-increasing awareness of sustainability in terms of energy and water consumption. However, the user target will decide the bathroom’s character: the more high-tech younger generation may prefer a large shower with speakers that play music from their smartphone, or mirrors capable of updating us on the latest news. In the future, we will increasingly see contiguous, more fluid interiors. Therefore, wall coverings will also seek to achieve continuous aesthetic looks, with high technical performances and mixtures of materials. And with porcelain stoneware, colours can be both very glossy and matte, to create customised shade effects and a unique personality.”