Contemporary lifestyle | by Luisa Pianzola
The bathroom is a space that has undergone major aesthetic and functional changes over the years and is now one of the most exciting rooms in the home. This reflects the general evolution of interior design in step with the emergence of new lifestyles, but with that something extra that comes from being a place devoted to both the body and the spirit, to physical and mental well-being. In other words, the bathroom is an intimate, reassuring space that at the same time is social and visible. It is a porous environment, influenced by the moods and atmospheres of the home.
Originally a purely functional area whose morphology was constrained by technical solutions, the bathroom has now evolved into a mature space unencumbered by spatial limits and incorporated into the general dynamism of the home. This wellness space has grown in the imagination and desires of a demanding public, who are increasingly investing (both emotionally and financially) in its interior design.
Current trends in sanitary fittings include a powerful presence of colour; the idea of the washbasin and bath being independent from the other sanitary units; the special qualities of the surfaces, whether smooth or micro-textured like stone; and a high level of technology to guarantee outstanding performance and user-friendly functions.
Focus on colour
Whether it stems from a thirst for nature caused by an excessive focus on home automation or a weariness with the universal white that has long dominated the sanitaryware sector, the fact is that colour has regained a key role in the bathroom. The trend is being driven in particular by washbasins, which stand out for their warm, nature-inspired colours and soft, velvety tones. Rather than saturated or primary hues, we are seeing a preference for intense earth tones, cement grey, anthracite, green and desaturated blue. These colours are almost always coordinated with matt, soft-touch surfaces produced using special finishing operations, reflecting the fact that ceramic is one of the most advance materials in terms of research into production processes and technology. However, the use of colour is not limited to the washbasin, as shower trays, baths and WCs are increasingly displaying more innovative colour design.
A customised washbasin
In another major trend, washbasins are becoming increasingly autonomous in terms of design from the other sanitary fixtures. While the bathtub was the first sanitary item to establish itself as a freestanding element with specific aesthetic and functional criteria, it is now the turn of the washbasin to carve itself out a space of its own. This has led to the emergence of countertop basins, ultra-thin bowls and units that are integrated into the vanity top but no longer need to be perfectly in line with the WC and bidet. This marks the beginning of a new creative approach in which the washbasins are chosen in accordance with personal tastes and make up furnishing lines in their own right, or at least systems of sanitary units in which the basin stands apart from the WC and bidet while maintaining the same stylistic mood.
New material effects
Smooth, soft touch, strictly matt and resistant to external agents: the surfaces of washbasins and baths stand out for their soft natural look and feel. Whereas on basins the effect is achieved using special ceramic machining operations, baths and shower trays see a prevalent use of solid surfaces consisting of highly malleable but hard-wearing materials created synthetically from components of natural origin. On shower trays the homogeneous surface can be replaced by microstructures that create stone-like textures, a characteristic that combines an appealing aesthetic effect with excellent anti-slip properties.
Alongside the harmonious forms and expressive colours, the world of sanitary fixtures is defined by an extensive presence of technology, such as baths and shower systems with increasingly sophisticated levels of comfort and performance through to hi-tech taps and WCs. In WCs in particular, research has focused on developing systems to facilitate cleaning, save water and allow for customised functions. Another important development is the rimless WC, which not only has a pleasant aesthetic quality but also ensures more effective water flows and the maximum hygiene.
Four new satin colours have been introduced for a selection of washbasins and WCs from Ceramica Catalano. Alongside glossy black we find naturally inspired pastel tones: from the soft hues of river stones to warmer earth tones, from the indigo of wild flowers to the green of medicinal herbs. The new colours are combined with the Green Lux family washbasins (pictured), available in versions with and without tap ledge and in various sizes.
Lino, avena, cemento, fango, lavagna, canapa, cipria and polvere are the sophisticated new colours developed by Ceramica Cielo for the freestanding and wall-hung washbasins, WCs and bidets in the Terre di Cielo collection - Second Edition 2013/2016. Inspired by earth tones and the shades of plant and mineral elements, the versatile colour palette is combined with a soft tactile surface produced using a special glaze process to give designers the maximum creative freedom.
The T-Edge washbasin line designed by CreativeLab+ for Ceramica Globo stands out not only for the various colour versions but also for the edge with a thickness of just 6 mm. A new mix developed in the company’s chemical laboratory using exclusive raw materials is capable of achieving ultra-low thicknesses and flat surfaces while complying with standards.
Based on an extremely contemporary stone effect with surface microstructure for enhanced aesthetics and outstanding anti-slip properties, the new Ultra Flat S shower tray from Ideal Standard is made of “ideal solid”, an extremely tough material composed from a mixture of natural minerals and resins. Available in numerous standard sizes, the shower trays can also be cut to size. Available colours: bianco, sabbia, grigio cemento, moka, nero.
Designed by Prospero Rasulo for Valdama, Pod is an organically-shaped countertop washbasin, a kind of shell that becomes a channel for collecting water. The project is sophisticated in its simplicity and comes in four archetypal shapes: circle, square, rectangle and oval. Produced in fine fireclay with matt and gloss finishes and in various sizes and colours.
The Aquatech bath, designed by Massimiliano Cicconi for Kerasan, has one end wider and higher than the other, an ergonomic solution that ensures comfortable support for the body. A natural teak shelf on the narrower side serves as a convenient vanity top. In the freestanding version, the bath (170x70 cm) is made of Pietraluce, a special compound based on aluminium hydroxide, titanium dioxide and polyester resin. The resin finish guarantees a high-gloss surface and anti-scale characteristics (Photos by R. Costantini).
The element Bloom console washbasin presented by Ceramica Flaminia in two different sizes was designed by the duo Angeletti-Ruzza. Available in various matt colours, the ultra-flat washbasin is ideal for countertop use and displays a perfect balance between reduced thickness and soft volumes. The large geometric and very thin surface of the vanity top and a round basin create a pleasant, elegant contrast. www.ceramicaflaminia.it
The new Moods washbasin, WC and bidet collection from Pozzi-Ginori goes beyond the traditional perfect coordination between the basin and the WC and bidet, differentiating them in terms of design while being inspired by the same dynamic and contemporary lifestyle. The essential volumes are divided into the Nordic, Urban (pictured) and Green lines. The WCs feature exclusive Rimfree technology making them easier to clean and resulting in considerable water savings.
The Frame vanity unit series from Simas, designed for use with the Sharp countertop washbasins, references the “urban industrial” style without sacrificing practicality. It comes in two versions, single-unit and double-unit, with concealed siphon, lateral towel rails, convenient drawers and a lower open element which serves as an additional supporting surface. The sandblasted iron of the structure contrasts pleasantly with the neutral effect of the components.
The new Thesan washbasin designed by Massimiliano Cicconi for Ceramica Tecla stands out for its essential design and deep bowl. Produced in semi-recessed countertop (pictured), countertop and wall-hung versions, it integrates harmoniously into the vanity top and is available in lengths of 60 cm, 80 cm, 100 cm and 120 cm, with single or double bowl. The square ceramic waste outlet in the same colour as the basin is a detail that further enhances its elegance.