Bologna’s spectacular exhibition on water

Mirror Mirror by Mario Bellini
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Agape tubs that are part of and installation by Kengo Kuma
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Sandstone flooring by Il Casone
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Brix tiles, on display at Bologna Design Week 2012
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Cloud, by Domus Academy student Alo Motoyama
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Brix 4-millimetre glass tiles
Mirror Mirror by Mario Bellini
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A glass floor panel at reception filters light to grooming space below and permits views to and from the waiting area.
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A glass floor panel at reception filters light to grooming space below and permits views to and from the waiting area.
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A glass floor panel at reception filters light to grooming space below and permits views to and from the waiting area.
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A glass floor panel at reception filters light to grooming space below and permits views to and from the waiting area.
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A glass floor panel at reception filters light to grooming space below and permits views to and from the waiting area.

The historic Italian city, known for its medieval underground canals, celebrated water with a stunning series of installations created by such high-profile architects as Kengo Kuma and Mario Bellini.

Anyone in Bologna last week attending Cersaie, the massive tile and bath fair, will likely have found themselves coming upon any number of installations and kiosks in the city’s downtown core that had some tie-in with the theme of water. Sponsored by a consortium of city and local cultural organizations, the five-day exhibition (which ran from September 25 to 29) called Bologna Water Design 2012 is now an annual event attracting top international talents.

This year’s highpoint was an exhibit on view at the Bastardini Hospital, a sprawing complex originally built in the 14th-century as an orphanage. There, Italian architect Mario Bellini created Mirror Mirror, filling one vast room with 10 long lights by Platek, each suspended at a dramatic off-kilter angle. The floor was covered with a nearly invisible black mirror that reflected the light rods into an infinite pattern.

In a similar-sized room, renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma designed a sand dune–like typography across the floor using Il Casone sandstone. Circular white tubs by Agape – looking more like full moons than bathroom furniture – sat in pools of still water. The room was delicately spot-lit by Davide Groppi’s minimalist Miss pendant lights.

In another area, Brix took over several of the cavernous spaces to show its latest tiles, beautifully laid out on white work tables and spotlighted with clip-on task lights. Two notable launches from the Italian company include a four-millimetre glass cube tile, which is the smallest of its kind ever produced; and Cloud, a square tile pattern consisting of five different shapes that fit together but don’t fully line up. The slightly askew pattern is the work of masters student Aki Motoyama, who was selected to collaborate with Brix as part of her final year thesis at Domus Academy in Italy.

The “post-expo” expo, as the organizers call the event, also hosted a number of talks covering such themes as water conservation.

Bologna Water Design 2012 was held September 25-29 in Bologna, Italy.

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