The Rise of the Home Bath Oasis

MILAN — “The trend is all about this feeling of wellness and a place to really be a refuge so people can relax and be away from the digital world, with water being the rejuvenating element,” said American designer Mick De Giulio, who is known for his custom bath and kitchen projects in both residences and hotels and who had faucet designs on display for U.S. firm Kallista at Salone del Mobile.Milano, which closes here Sunday.

Ushering in this year’s International Bathroom Exhibition were designs catering to a penchant for home spas and hospitality oases, addressing an era in which people are spending more time indoors and are seeking refuge from the frenetic world outside. The other main trend, De Giulio pointed out, are easy-to-clean bathrooms where the cabinetry are afloat and off the floor, giving more meaning and breath to the space.

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Nobody captured this more than Patricia Urquiola, who sought to create a modern haven even for small homes with her first bathroom collection for Italian natural stone specialist Salvatori. “The Small Hours” collection combined natural stone with a range of materials in an attempt to make luxurious bath spaces more affordable, she explained at a private event at the Salvatori showroom in Milan. The company said the name refers to “that special atmosphere that accompanies daybreak, that intimate moment of solitary reflection before the world awakes to a new day.” Responding to the need for easy-to-clean spaces, she created a series of floating shelves made of steel, wood and natural stone, and a stool in walnut wood, which serves to underline the evolution of the bathroom as a more holistic living space rather than a purely functional room.

“The collection captures this to perfection as Salvatori continues its exploration of the concept of the bathroom as a sophisticated yet calming haven, a place that restores the mind, body and soul. It also pushes the idea that this most intimate of rooms should be distinctive, even sharing a design ethos that in some ways crosses over with that of a home’s living zone,” the company added.

Salvatori luxury bathroom oasis with wood stool and floating green countertop
Patricia Urquiola’s The Small Hours collection for Salvatori.

In the courtyard of Milan’s Palazzo Reale, Grohe Spa unfurled its Aquatecture — the fusion of water and architecture — installation complete with daily sage burning rituals to encourage visitors to be present in the moment and connect with body and mind. Four spaces focused on the connection between water and health, showcasing 3D metal printing technology to craft exclusive bathrooms and artistic rain shower fixtures sprinkling water and transforming faucets into mesmerizing works of art for the home or hotel.

At an installation in Milan away from the bustling traffic and the crowds of the trade show, the sound of trickling water and the botanical scents met the senses. Five fountain shaped pools on five islands illuminated and surrounded by floating curtains took visitors on a journey that spanned from Lake Rotorua in New Zealand to the Blue Hole in Belize.

Another island boasting the creativity and signature of Missoni was colored in terracotta red, enveloping spectators in an unprecedented space taking visitors on an exotic journey to Tanzania, where the colors of the earth recall the nature of Lake Natron.

Founded in 1882, faucet and bathroom accessories specialist Rubinetterie Stella has been creating bath experiences for years, in hotels, private residences and even transatlantic ships like the Conte di Savoia that departed for New York from Genoa in 1932. Today, the company is focused on luxury residential and hotel projects, working directly with architects and interior designers. In addition, luxury yacht companies like Sanlorenzo and Azimut-Benetti are also clients.

“There’s a return to what the 1920s represented, where more importance was given to the environment and plumbing fixtures, moving away from the modern and minimal style that has dominated the bathroom world for years,” Federica Nobili, the company’s commercial and marketing director, told WWD.

Rubinetterie Stella
An island boasting the creativity and signature of Missoni at Rubinetterie Stella.

Swiss company Laufen, which has specialized in innovative sanitary products for 130 years, tapped designer Roberto Sironi to take visitors on a journey through 12 color tones in a series of large-format photographs that explore the possibilities of a new color palette with Dusty Pink based on the earthenware of West Africa and Mesopotamian civilization, and the burnt orange of the pre-Colombian civilization. For the project, named “Color Archaeology,” Sironi analyzed and catalogued thousands of ceramic objects dating from 40,000 BC to 1,500 AD.

At the Kohler booth, guests were taken on an exploration of form, texture and light through its various brands Kohler, Kallista, Kast and Klafs. The setup designed by George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, founding partners of Yabu Pushelberg, showcased the latest in innovation, design and wellness — from sleek faucets and fixtures to luxurious bathtubs, futuristic showers and saunas. Each vignette was carefully choreographed to highlight the seamless integration of form and function. In an attempt to make life even easier, Kohler turned the focus to technology and how it can enhance well-being in a modern bathroom, showing off its Kohler Anthem + digital showering system, which allows users to control their showering experiences from water delivery and temperature to steam.

In crafting the lighting design for the Kohler Co. Salone booth, Yabu Pushelberg embraced the concept of the circadian rhythm, allowing the natural hues of the sun to guide the flow of visitors through the space. Leveraging projection mapping techniques, the studio created a dynamic series of visualizations that mirror the tempo of this innate biological cycle.

Looking ahead, Nobili said that in both homes and hotels, the bathroom environment will continue to play a significant role. “Studies show that people remember two things from their travel experiences: how the bathroom was and how they slept, emphasizing the importance of mattresses and plumbing fixtures,” she said.


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