Cool shapes take a bath

June 24, 2012 | By More

When it comes to the latest bathroom design, less is more more or less./ppNo, were not messing with Ludwig Mies van der Rohes famous aphorism. Its just that both adjectives aptly describe the latest trends. /ppOne has to do with aesthetics: Clean-lined modern has expanded its appeal to consumers craving less clutter in their lives, reflected across the board in home furnishings. /ppThe other has to do with the way things work: Were demanding more performance from our showers, faucets and toilets and technology delivers, whether its with eco-friendly features, such as low-flow toilets or rain showers or hands-free faucets. Then there are the LEDs and streaming music that enhance shower and tub experiences./ppSo whats modern? Spa-like or a Zen vibe have defined it to date. It may be a pristine, all-white bath, but with a bit of warmth, not sterile or institutional. Form may be linear with squared-off or contoured edges or ultra sculptural with unique curves./ppVessel sinks, once an emblem of modern style, have gone mainstream, with a ubiquitous array of bowls in glass, stone, porcelain or metal and traditional, artistic or edgy sitting above the surface. Floating vanities are gaining traction. /ppPopular in European baths, wall-mounted vanities and fixtures appeal because of their clean lines, potential for saving space and easy maintenance. And cabinetry, echoing trends in the kitchen and in furniture, is showing up in a lot of grayed and taupe finishes, stained to look like driftwood or painted, sometimes in high-gloss finishes. /ppAlmost in tandem to floating pieces are fully integrated sinks, which seamlessly flow into counters. Its a sleek look, once again, a breeze to clean. /ppAlso related are all-in-one shower basins. Prefab, of course, is not new. But what is new are stylish basins crafted from materials that offer color and pattern in materials that are so much sexier than the box-store molds./pp Graphic designer Karim Rashid created playfully patterned porcelain shower bases in his signature style for Ceramica Cielo. And Cosentino offers a range of shower plates in eight patterns. Its nonporous natural quartz Silestone is available in 70 colors, including magenta./ppIn addition to architectural solutions, there are sculptural fixtures that are more like art. Simple, pristine tubs sport shapely bodies, such as Antoniolupis OiO, a stand-alone tub made from translucent polyethylene that can be ethereally LED-lit. The Italian company recently introduced the Kala, a sink with a pedestal that rises gracefully and unfolds like a calla lily bloom. /ppAt the high end of bath design, it has always been about the materials: luxurious faucets of gleaming, polished nickel or exquisite bronze, sometimes fitted with precious stones such as onyx or jade; lavish stone surfaces; whirlpool tubs (although air baths have taken a bit of air out of the whirlpools theyre less noisy and more gentle, and you can use oils); and huge showers./ppLuxuriating in spa-like ambience is attainable even if you dont go for baroque, with fancy wall coverings, dripping chandeliers and jewelry-like faucets, although fancy still finds a market./ppFashion designer Sue Wong, for example, introduced a skirted freestanding tub with a black shell embellished in a creamy, organic, stylized design like patterns on her dresses (for Maidstone Wholesale Supply)./ppCuriously, the idea of downsizing has not been lost on manufacturers. Wall-mounted cabinets come in a range of sizes, some oh-so-perfect for those space-robbed condo baths that often leave ridiculous inches, impossible to mop, between a boxy vanity and a tub. Theyre super options when expanding the rooms dimensions isnt possible./ppEven with smaller footprints, storage isnt neglected by savvy manufacturers. A new wall-mounted cabinet by Robern is only 24 inches wide but features two fully compartmentalized drawers with options such as charging stations for hair dryers and night-lights./ppAs the sparer European looks curry favor, theres perhaps more of a desire for personalization./ppSome manufacturers are hip to that, with clever customizations that allow you to have it your way. With a modular system from Axor, introduced in May at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec provide tools for consumers to configure vanity counters to their needs./ppThis game-changing collection has no boundaries, as faucets can be combined with shelves in a playful and very personal manner, says Philippe Grohe, Axors brand manager. No longer do faucets have to be placed in the center of the rear rim of the wash basin. Instead, fittings can be freely arranged within the washing area on the integrated shelves, in front of or next to the sink or wall./ppSwiss manufacturer Laufen even has a porcelain collection designed by Andreas Dimitriadis that can be customized from about 251/2 to 70 inches, with integrated sinks and countertops plus shelves that can be cut to size. /ppThe optimum in personalization comes with techno gadgetry that turns out impressive light and sound shows. /ppKohlers newest calming bath features its VibrAcoustic technology, a sound therapy that allows you to feel sound through the body./ppIts like a going to a rock concert you can hear and feel music and vibrations throughout your body, says Ann Roever, business director for Kohler bathing products. Music and podcasts are streamed via hardwire or a wireless Bluetooth receiver; the feature is available on Kohlers deep-soaking Underscore baths./ppSome bath upgrades can be retrofitted, which means a lot when remodeling dollars are limited. Updating a showerhead can be huge, and easily DIY./ppMoens Twist showerhead, for example, has four spray settings. And Levaqua sells a high-tech programmable digital showerhead for less than $40, as well as one with 10 digital settings including three timers and eco, which uses 20 percent less water. The latter is about $50 at Home Depot. /ppHowever you create your sanctuary, a little pampering goes a long way. These days, its with whatever floats your boat or rubber ducky complete with light-changing chroma therapy, a range of hydro massages and your favorite sounds from Puccini, Reba, Adele or Flo Rida./pph3Bath-time media/h3/ppWho doesnt want music in the bath? But ditch the portable radio in favor of piped-in stereo, dazzling LEDs in the shower and conveniences such as built-in plug-ins for MP3s, hair dryers, night-lights and even a TV embedded in medicine cabinets (from Robern, which offers defoggers and refrigeration as options)./pph3Faucets in focus/h3/ppFaucet designs continue to push the design envelope in baths, with technology like hands-free operations and an eye on shape and finishes./ppSingle-hole, single-handle faucets often are options in addition to the conventional spigot with two handles. And manufacturers continue to offer a range of finishes, with cool polished chrome returning to favor along with polished nickel. Matte black also is making a strong showing, especially striking against white or cream tile and fixtures./pph3Resources/h3/ppbull; span class=”bold”Antoniolupi:/span 877-516-5874, a href =”” target=”_blank”; span class=”bold”Axor:/span 800-334-0455, a href =”” target=”_blank”; span class=”bold”Brizo:/span 877-345-2749, a href =”” target=”_blank”; span class=”bold”Cosentino:/span 866-268-6837, a href =”” target=”_blank”; span class=”bold”Graff:/span 800-954-4723, a href =”” target=”_blank”; span class=”bold”Kohler:/span 800-456-4537, a href =”” target=”_blank”; span class=”bold”Laufen:/span 866-696-2493, a href =”” target=”_blank”; span class=”bold”Levaqua:/span 877-330-5080, a href =”” target=”_blank”; span class=”bold”Moen:/span 800-289-6636, a href =”” target=”_blank”

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