I recently took part in a design seminar hosted by Naomi Cleaver at the KBB exhibition in London. Julia Goodwin, editor of House Beautiful, Roger Kyme, owner of Ripples Bathrooms, and I spoke about some of the trends that we are starting to see come through in bathroom design.
It was a lively and engaging presentation, ranging from Julia identifying the strong art deco resurgence to Roger’s talk on the increasing importance of environmental and sustainability issues.
My focus was how the ‘hotel’ look that has dominated contemporary bathrooms for the last ten years finally seems to be on the wane. You know the style – minimal, streamlined, shiny, clinical and all a bit bland. It’s not exactly the kind of space you want to spend time in. Shiny brassware, dark wenge and cold slabs of travertine don’t scream well-being.
What’s replacing it is something quite different. We can call it a return to nature.
It’s a look influenced by nations such as Japan, where bathing is seen as more of a ritual. It’s not just about cleansing the body; it’s an opportunity to cleanse the mind and spirit too. We’re looking to Scandinavia as well, for its use of natural materials and elemental textures. We may not have a sauna tradition in this country, but that’s not to say that we’re not happy to embrace its aesthetic.
And so we turn to wood – the ‘hero’ material of this story. It adds a natural texture to the space, it’s warm and softens up the feel of the room. Neutral shades of walnut and oak have come to the fore, while cedar, teak and iroko are known for their moisture resistant properties.
There’s a strong eco element here. Sustainable materials such as bamboo (I know, a grass, rather than a wood) is being used in bathroom accessories and also transformed into towelling.
If you’ve got the cash, wood bathtubs and basin are also increasingly available, although they do cost a fortune and require a fair bit of maintenance.
There’s also the option to fake it of course. Companies such as Glamwood make wood-effect porcelain tiles that can be used on floors and walls and be laid over under floor and in-wall heating.
Wood bath by Matteo Thun (top)
David Nicholls is design editor of Telegraph Magazine. Here is his latest Design Notebook column
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David Nicholls Design Editor Telegraph Magazine
View all posts by David Nicholls Design Editor Telegraph Magazine