I spent some time lately at Italy’s largest international expo for ceramics and bathroom furnishings, the yearly CERSAIE, in Bologna. Multinational businesses use it as an chance to show off their latest products. Often working in collaboration with artists that are well-known, they produce exhibition stands that serve as miniature tributes to creativity in bathroom technology, water efficiency and imagination.
Lots of the goods that caught my eye I suspect will influence future trends in bathroom design, as numerous CERSAIE products have completed previously. I should note that I have a personal fascination with anything that makes a bathroom much easier to wash. You will probably notice that I often enjoy products that liberate floor space and prevent seams or joints where water may settle.
To begin with I can confirm that the matte-finish look is alive and well. This countertop provides the appearance of a melancholy in a sheet of strong surface that looks like frosted glass. It’s part of a pair of modular pieces that fit together to make an whole bathroom furniture collection; exactly the same substance can be extended to the cabinets and drawers.
Elsewhere at the expo, I found solid surfaces with a matte finish on countertops, standalone sinks, bathtubs and taps. Many were white, but there were matte black finishes as well. Together with the versatility of solid-surface materials, the color options are limitless.
My Fly Evo bathroom set, IdeaGroup
More businesses utilizing solid-surface materials such as Corian is excellent news for all those folks who hate to clean baths, and even better news for designers. Solid surface is generally composed of a mixture of marble dust, bauxite (a aluminum ore), resin and color pigment. It may be cast in all sorts of creative shapes, preventing seams and gaps that could harbor bacteria.
This spout, for example, seems to emerge in the wall, like a person had made a flat cut and pulled it out to form the basin. The basin form hides the plumbing, and after the Corian is brushed, it may be finished to match the material of the wall socket. In the end it seems seamless.
Silenzio and Soffio series, Antonio Lupi
As simple, slick matte-finish furniture pieces become more popular, so is juxtaposing them with tactile and patterned ceramic tiles. This demonstration bathroom by a Spanish company shows how well a contrast in textures functions.
The tub is made of a solid-surface substance with a white matte finish, to get a feeling of cleanliness and simplicity. Wood-recalling ceramic tiles in a mosaic then pop from the wall, only asking to be touched. They keep the rest of the bathroom from feeling overly sterile.
The wood look for ceramics has been gaining traction over the past couple of years. The tactile, warm aesthetic of wood grain, combined with the practical advantages of ceramics, makes for ample chance to make additional natural-looking bathrooms.
Additionally, the subject of environmental advantages has develop, resulting in the question of that substance is truly more sustainable: wood or wood-look ceramics? Sant’Agostino, for example, includes a dedicated ecological mission that points out a few of the advantages that ceramics have over wood (durability, longevity etc). It would be interesting to observe a life-cycle comparison between the two; I have not been able to locate one.
I Legni ceramic tiles, Sant’Agostino
In line with the trend in matte finishes on solid-surface materials, brushed steel and brushed chrome faucet layouts surfaced in CERSAIE. This model faucet specifically caught my eye for its beautifully simple layout, both in the wall-mounted and counter versions.
The 5-millimeter-thick faucet echoes several different products that are going for the thinner look. The fact that this one uses small panels to adjust the water flow, rather than a handle, captured people’s attention, too. Generally speaking, many people I spoke with didn’t seem to enjoy the thin profile on the models with handles, stating that there wasn’t enough to catch to. However, with those squares, the task is to push the lever rather than to hold something.
Unnamed model for 5MM series, Treemme Rubinetterie
Once you wrap your eyes and palms around this faucet, you’ll understand why its ergonomic and ecological design has received so much attention this year. Designed by Philippe Starck, in partnership with Axor, the Organic series has received many accolades, including the Best of the Best in the Red Dot design awards (no easy feat).
There are two regulators: one for the flow of water, and you for the temperature. That means once you have set your perfect temperature, you can waste less water waiting for it to warm up or cool down. Its design allows for conservation of raw materials, both in its manufacturing and in its lower water intake (with a flow rate of 3.5 liters per minute). At precisely the same time, it feels and looks natural.
Notice: According to my quick but thorough testing, it would appear that the brushed chrome finish leaves more dirty fingerprint marks than the shiny one.
Axor Starck Organic taps, Hansgrohe
Another award-winning layout that caught my attention is that this toilet-bidet combo, designed to hide as a bench. I know some Americans might not fully appreciate this, but after living in Italy now for five years, I have come to enjoy the bidet as a necessary part of any hygienic bathroom.
I can imagine it like a fashionable feature in a guest bathroom, especially one that you could be able to peer to from a different space. It’s never nice to observe that a bathroom through an open doorway whilst amassing with guests in a neighboring living area. This could eliminate that issue and leave your guests talking about your small sitting area, and wondering why it has a sink.
G-Full models, Hatria
Urinals in residential toilets are not a totally crazy idea. Particularly when the design doesn’t cause you to consider a high school bathroom. In a home full of boys, they might even make cleaning somewhat simpler.
All these were only one example of several urinal layouts I saw that actually seemed to be promoting themselves for residential uses.
In the domain of high-tech developments, this idea caught my eye, if for no other reason than to justify throwing those out shower caddies that accumulate hard water stains and ruin the ease of a shower stall with their bulky presence.
All these, instead, are a thermostat to the shower that doubles as a shelf for shampoo. There’s also a flow control so you can limit how much water you’re using.
Ecostat Select, Hansgrohe
Not everything has to be sleek, clean and modern. Every once in a while, you have got to have some fun. This small Pinocchio faucet garnered its fair share of attention in the expo, with the term “La fantasia é di casa” written above it. This serves as a nice reminder for us all: Imagination starts at home.
Pinocchio by Nagn Design, in Emmevi
More: Tile Functions High Tech in Italy’s Largest Expo