When the bathroom becomes hedonist

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Exchange of ideas between designers. Palomba Serafini Associati tell us how this room has left pure function behind to become a room of the emotions, while gumdesign concentrates on a return to personal care and the ever-increasing focus on beauty and eco-compatibility.

The bathroom is the room which has evolved the most, not only in the home but also in public and horeca locations. 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 future scenarios.


Palomba Serafini Associati

“The bathroom has undergone a cultural revolution, which began in the early ‘90s and has transformed it from a place of pure function to a room of the emotions. People realised that this part of the home could acquire a new aesthetic status. The door that once separated the territories of the plumber and the architect came down! And the bathroom became a designed space. We witnessed a shift from sanitary fittings that were only functional to products that told stories, because they gained a role in new daily rituals. Materials and colours have changed, and design has adopted a less technical approach, reflecting the transition from the hedonist machine age to a more reflective, spiritual age. Amongst the various types of bathrooms, those of hotels have undergone the greatest transformations: they have become more important than the bedroom itself, as they have become spectacular, and key attractive features.

Coverings have graduated from a mere functional element to acquire performances that influence the design project. When tiles began to emulate natural materials, with major benefits for environmental sustainability, they also brought a ‘natural mood’ into the bathroom. However, stoneware is now no longer just a covering, as it can be also used independently in shelves, or integrated into free-standing furniture items. Slimline thicknesses, which have led to considerable reductions in weight, have enabled us to use it in the shipbuilding sector or skyscrapers, where lightness is a fundamental factor.”


gumdesign – Laura Fiaschi + Gabriele Pardi
“People’s wishes and the way they view the bathroom have changed, opening out and expanding. Materials and furnishings have become finer and finer, showing an awareness of eco-sustainability and the importance of physical and mental pleasure. A real return to the bathroom’s origins: Roman baths, Turkish baths, places for personal care. The bathroom’s ‘inhabitants’, meaning its furnishings, must be designed with greater and greater care, aware of and focused on function, eco-compatibility and beauty as a source of well-being. These furnishings are ‘free’ from specific intended locations of use, such as the home rather than a hotel, because they are designed with a clearly defined intrinsic identity. Decorative motifs are being added to bathroom surfaces thanks to technological innovations in printing, or new materials such as wallpaper, with which a new design alphabet can be constructed.

Ceramics are another fast-evolving area. We love this material and have no wish to conceal it or ‘dress it up’; rather, we like to highlight its inner character. So natural colour and texture can be effectively applied on both floors and walls, to create lived-in spaces and time-worn architectural effects.”