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Spotlight: Bathrooms
An Elegant Bathtub Hidden in Plain Sight
Portable toilet system
This Portable Toilet System is Made from Upcycled Medical Plastic
Liquid Collection by Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon’s Liquid Collection Gives Fixtures a Starring Role
Leña restaurant interior
At Leña Restaurant, Bathrooms Extend the Experience
Fluido pedestal sink by Antoniolupi
4 Uplifting Pedestal Sinks
Euphoria shower system by Grohe
4 Powerful Shower Systems
Formalia bathroom cabinets by Scavolini
4 Simple and Stylish Bathroom Cabinets
Spotlight: Bathrooms

Few things are more luxurious than a bathtub with a view — even (or maybe especially) if that view gives onto the interior of an elegant home. That’s the case in Endalt Arquitectes’ part-reno, part-new-build Calvari House, where an eccentric floor plan includes an unconventional bathroom layout.

Spanish firm Endalt Arquitectes sectioned off the other functional parts of the bathroom while keeping the bathtub exposed. The graphic backsplash is repurposed floor tile removed during the renovation.

The nearly 100-year-old home in Valencia, Spain, already had its fair share of character, from its ornamental wooden doors to the exposed stone walls of its original courtyard. To achieve an obvious distinction between old and new, the firm followed a straightforward formula: contemporary materials that pop against a backdrop of preserved architecture. “The traces of the original building are respected, and everything that we incorporate must be clearly differentiated,” remarks Carles Rosaleny Gamón, co-lead architect on the project.

For instance, traditional Spanish ceramic tiles recovered from the house’s floor during the renovation are arranged on the wall in front of the sink — a graceful nod to the 269-square-metre home’s history that also provides welcome contrast to the stark marble counter by Fiora and minimal fixtures throughout, right down to the elegant outlets by Fontini.

The bathtub offers unique perspectives on the house — ones that marry the new with the old. White metal-mesh railings enhance the openness of the design.

In the shower area, gleaming white tiles stand out from the wooden frame’s ochre tones, while a sheet of translucent reeded glass allows natural light to infiltrate the space — without revealing too much. Practical considerations were taken into account, too. The interior wall, which deftly conceals the toilet and shower, also includes ample storage, making expert use of available space in an otherwise diminutive room.

A sheet of translucent reeded glass lends privacy to the shower while allowing light to permeate the rest of the space.

But the most intriguing element of the bathroom is its apparent lack of privacy — at least at first glance. Though the room is located on an upper mezzanine away from more high-traffic areas of the home, parts of it are barely concealed. From the unobstructed soaker tub, one could feasibly peer downstairs to the entrance hall through a mesh railing that provides transparency both ways.

According to the firm, the clients had made it clear that the tub wouldn’t be used for daily hygiene, but rather for occasional indulgence. “For this reason,” says Rosaleny Gamón, “the tub is located in a privileged place, contemplating the volume of the original house.” It’s this play between the quotidian and the exceptional — punctuated by moments of historic charm — that make Calvari House an embodiment of its time.

Portable toilet system

A new project from creative activists To.org is attempting to solve two of our planet’s most pressing issues at once: the unequal access to clean sanitation in underserved communities and the accumulation of waste plastic in our oceans and landfills. “In our work in refugee settlements and urban slums, we witnessed first-hand the pressing need for safe and hygienic public and private toilets,” explains To.org co-founder Nachson Mimran.

“From public health and disease prevention to the safety of vulnerable people, including women and children after sundown, they are critically needed.” The resulting project is The Throne, a 3D-printed portable composting toilet made from upcycled medical plastic.

To.org’s co-founders, brothers Nachson (left) and Arieh Mimran.

In developing The Throne, Mimran collaborated with Nagami, a Spanish company that specializes in 3D printing and computational design. The studio used its design know-how to create a 3.5-metre tall shell — in the shape of a curving ovoid pod that terminates in a circular skylight — that could be easily transported, assembled and cleaned. “Integrating every function of the toilet in a single print was very challenging, mostly due to mechanics,” says Nagami CEO and co-founder Manuel Jiménez García.

“For example, creating a sliding door or building up layers that grow inwards to create a shelf for hand sanitizer or a toilet paper holder.” The Throne’s off-the-shelf separation toilet is incorporated in a lower chamber, which also stores a wood pulp composting system that can produce chemical-free fertilizer for local crops in the underserved communities where To.org plans to launch the project.

Portable toilet system
First deployed in Gstaad, Switzerland, The Throne is a two-pronged solution: to provide safe sanitation and to divert plastic waste from the oceans. Inside, the 3D-printed pod has an integrated off-the-shelf separation toilet.

García and his team worked with Dutch firm Reflow to source the plastic, choosing medical-grade waste for its durability and availability in the sector. “The plastic that we use is PETG, which loses only one per cent of its properties when recycled. The project needed to be freestanding and structurally stable, so we needed a high-quality plastic that guarantees its robustness,” García explains.

Late in the summer of 2021, the first prototype of The Throne was placed at a construction site in the affluent alpine resort town of Gstaad, Switzerland. “There is something appropriately provocative about testing a prototype in Gstaad,” Mimran says of the decision. “Historically, we have seen the opposite, with the African continent being used as the test centre for things intended to benefit the Global North.” Once the prototyping phase is complete, Mimran hopes to expand the project into alternative types of shelter, including sustainable solutions for safe and secure housing and community centres.

Liquid Collection by Tom Dixon

In his first full bathroom collection, Tom Dixon marries two quintessentially British vibes: Victorian opulence and punk attitude. The first informs the remarkable elegance that comes through in every sink, tap and tile of the Liquid line; the latter is just part and parcel of what Dixon does, which is to imbue all his designs with a look-at-me rock ’n’ roll irreverence.

The Liquid collection was launched by Turkish bathroom manufacturer VitrA last September during London Design Festival. A chunky aesthetic defines it, from the generous curves of the porcelain fixtures right down to the robustly rounded brassware. Suitable for home, hospitality and commercial spaces, the line includes everything from countertop washbasins and cylindrical pedestals (including single, freestanding versions and the wall-mounted double basin shown) to the shimmery wall tiles that formed that basis (and inaugural product) of the collection. The tiles come in linear and tesselated designs — including a motif that mimics the circular ripples a skipped stone makes in water — in neutral tones of grey, ecru and sage green.

And, like them, each subsequently envisioned item in the line feels thoughtfully considered; some — like the sculptural toilet paper holders, towel hooks and soap dispensers — even seem to redefine what’s possible in bathroom accessory design. These new approaches to aesthetic are complemented by novel functionality: Affixed to the shower system with a magnetic connection, the hand shower, with its slender nozzle, feels like a resolutely fresh take.

The finish options are minimal (the metals come in gloss black and classic chrome, while an indoor–outdoor shower also comes in stainless steel), but customizability is maximal. The taps can be specified in one of 10 installation variations, from wall-mounted mixers to built-in options; the company even offers a tap and washbasin compatibility chart to properly mix and match. Touchless technology can be embedded in a selection of the faucets and urinals, while bidets and toilets come with the company’s proprietary Rim-ex rimless technology, which boosts hygiene.

Completing the ensemble cast are straight-lined storage pieces. These furnishings feature perforated black metal or fluted glass doors, with the option of lozenge-shaped open glass shelves in ocean-blue hues. That subtle reference to the collection’s muse, water, goes hand in hand with the line’s soft, rounded shapes — which feel at once expressive and restrained.

Leña restaurant interior

To create a restaurant lauded as one of the world’s best — as Barcelona studio Astet has done with Leña, in Marbella, Spain — you have to make it spectacular in every way, from the showpiece ceilings and the cozy banquettes to the bathroom. At Leña, the trip to the loo follows a luxurious arched hallway wrapped in corrugated brass sheets and micro-cement panels, a rarified experience that’s of a piece with the outstanding dining ambience. We asked Ala Zreigat, who runs Astet with Oscar Engroba, how they design these spaces with special attention.

Astet studio founders Ala Zreigat (left) and Oscar Engroba.
The bathroom design should fit into yet stand out from the overall scheme.

We always think of bathrooms as a natural extension of the restaurant concept. Why should the journey to the bathroom be any different? However, it’s also a chance to explore that concept with a different interpretation: The idea is to always have an element of surprise where you least expect it. For the washroom “cabins” of Leña, for example, we wanted them to have a completely opposite look to the brass “bathroom lobby” and go much darker, so we used weathered black metal sheets and very soft indirect lighting.

In one of Leña’s washrooms, the sink basin appears to be inserted into a rock ledge, with a soap dispenser recessed into the seemingly natural formation.
The details matter…

Again at Leña, it was really important to us to get the right finishes to align for a cohesive look, which included integrating all the bathroom accessories so they appear hidden but are still visible enough for people to use. Also, the cabin doors don’t have frames, so the look is completely seamless when they’re closed.

In the individual stalls, or “cabins,” weathered black metal, matching tile and statement artwork make for a sharp contrast to the gold-hued “bathroom lobby.”
…But accessibility is key.

It’s always a balance between aesthetics and functionality. Bathrooms primarily need to function and be very practical and easy to clean.

Design equals care, selfie zone or not.

With the rise of social media, we are seeing more and more focus on design in this space: When people started taking and sharing their selfies in fancy washrooms, it influenced a shift towards interesting bathroom design. More importantly, owners who pay attention to that part of their restaurant also signal that they are concerned about their patrons’ comfort and well-being. The bathroom is the most intimate and private space in a restaurant — and that’s why the user experience in this area has become ever more relevant.

Leña restaurant interior
Fluido pedestal sink by Antoniolupi
Aura Pedestal by Kast Conrete Basins

Inspired by vintage forms, the Aura pedestal sink is made from a rugged material but given elegant detailing — fluting that plays with shadow and light — and a palette of sumptuous hues to make a quiet yet effective statement. The capsule-shaped series also includes wall-and surface-mount single and double-basin versions; all are offered in 28 colourways that range from subdued to saturated.

Kelston by Kohler

Leaning slightly more traditional, the Kelston pedestal sink highlights classic architectural characteristics with its smooth and subtly flared column and tiered rectangular basin. The wide deck surround provides a surface for toiletries and other items. Made from vitreous china, the statuesque piece is available in white, biscuit or deep black.

O_O by Rexa Design

A low-profile basin dramatically cantilevered on a cylindrical plinth, O_O by Bartoli Design is a study in balance and proportion. The pedestal sink is available in four Corian colourways (warm whites and deep grey-blacks), as well as Black Marquinia and Carrara marble (which are treated with a satin-touch “shield” to protect against acids, dyes and fats).

Fluido by Antonio Lupi
Fludio sink by Antonio Lupi

Seeming to materialize from the wall, Carlo Colombo’s Fluido pedestal sink feels as if it belongs to its surroundings. Made from a proprietary stain-resistant and antibacterial (among other benefits) composite, it can be painted to match the wall, while an LED under the basin casts a soft light, enhancing its gallery-worthy presence.

Euphoria shower system by Grohe
Sailing by Fantini

Designed by star duo Yabu Pushelberg, this shower system — including handles shaped like boat cleats — is part of the Sailing series by Fantini, whose headquarters near Lake Orta provided the main inspiration. It comes in three PVD finishes: matte gunmetal, matte British gold and deep black.

Euphoria by Grohe
Euphoria shower system by Grohe

Say goodbye to scalding sprays and icy blasts. Euphoria keeps temperatures under control, even as water pressure fluctuates, with its CoolTouch thermostat. The system consists of a 12-inch shower head (programmed with soothing PureRain) and a hand shower that offers a massage setting and luxurious yet water-conserving stream.

Rainstick Shower

The Canadian start-up RainStick is riding a wave of water efficiency. Its Wi-Fi-enabled system saves 80 per cent of the energy and most of the water of an average set- up — it uses five to eight litres, compared to the typical 100 for a 10-minute shower. The company promises that it does all that while providing almost double the flow.

Hi-Fi Eclectic by Gessi
Hi-Fi Eclectic shower system by Gessi

Available in myriad metallic and black finishes, the pleasingly graphic Hi-Fi Eclectic multifunctional shower control collection recalls — and is named after — the keys and knobs of classic stereo systems. Its thermostatic mixers have push-button functionality and can modulate everything from spray type to temperature.

Formalia bathroom cabinets by Scavolini
Minimum by Falper

Inspired by artist Donald Judd, the Minimum series by Milan-based Victor Vasilev emphasizes clean lines, proportion and composition. Complementing the pure forms is a curated palette of materials, from thickly veined marble and natural wood to durable composites like Cementobasic (a tinted and washable concrete) and Cristalplant Bio Active (a plant-based resin).

Formalia by Scavolini

A companion to the kitchen and living room systems that share its name, the Formalia bathroom cabinet features the same streamlined silhouette defined by a recessed and angled metal handle. Along with closed storage, the modular program by Italy’s Vittore Niolu incorporates the ladder-like Status wall system, which keeps everyday items on display and near at hand.

Evo 21 by Agape

With balanced structures and fuss-free fronts, the Evo 21 bathroom cabinets by Benedini Associati have a sleek yet flexible aesthetic. The units can be arranged vertically or horizontally, and deep drawers boast ample out-of-sight storage space. A variety of materials are offered, including wood or marble.

D-Neo by Duravit

Belgian designer Bertrand Lejoly aimed for timelessness when devising the D-Neo suite, a collection of furniture, washbasins, a bathtub and a wall-mounted toilet that share a common and approachable language — linear, geometric and versatile. Catering to customization, the series includes a wide range of dimensions and material and finish options for most pieces, making it an ideal solution for bathrooms big and small.