The sensual connection between home and nature

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The bathroom is a space that has been enhanced with sensory elements and that is increasingly connected to vegetation. Monica Graffeo stresses the importance of reconnecting with our true selves; while the Sandri Debiasi duo highlights the role of materials and surfaces in the creation of a place of introspection and meditation.

The bathroom is the room that has evolved the most, not only in the home but also in public and HoReCa spaces. Its transformations have involved not only its finishes and furnishings, but above all the way the space itself is conceived. In this evolution, ceramic materials have acquired new forms and fresh developments can be envisaged. We ask designers who have been designing bathrooms for years to tell us about the imminent scenarios.

Monica Graffeo
“The bathroom has been transformed with a focus on well-being, almost into a living room. Functional, but not functionalist. It is a space that has been enhanced with sensory elements: from materials to the use of light and water. High-end hotels have made the most of this opportunity to provide customers with a different experience. When it comes to houses, however, research has focused on a different kind of opening towards the outside world, in which vegetation plays an increasingly dominant role. For me, there is a sensual connection between home and nature, as explored in Junichiro Tanizachi’s In Praise of Shadows.  We should be able to enjoy a more intense and emotional relationship with water and nature, in order to reconnect to our true selves. Consequently, the theme of vegetation and opening towards the outside world – a window, a slit, a passage – are fundamental in bathroom design. Lately, I have been trying to insert vegetation in showers or bathtubs, evoking a waterfall surrounded by nature. Alternatively, I like to use plants to reinforce the idea of an opening: a window, however small, can produce a more ‘healthy’ effect of well-being, creating a connection between inside and outside and a feeling of fluidity and expansiveness.
In terms of ceramic materials, I hope that porcelain stoneware will further investigate the natural properties of material, developing beyond the concept of imitating nature, while remaining in the realm of memory and archetypes.”

Sandri Debiasi
“The bathroom has become a space with a greater surface area in which people are investing more money, though not excessively, probably because they spend and look for ‘quality time’ in the bathroom, rather than just routine. When designing for the private sector, priority is given to the idea of personal space, introspection and meditation. Intangible aspects take centre stage: the use of light, the perception of space and even the view. Forget about tilting sandblasted glass windows – today we dream of bathing while looking at the mountains or the roofs of a metropolis! Products and materials should not only be beautiful, but also evoke sensations: consider the tactility and scent of oiled solid wood, the way shadows are cast on a textured surface, the sensation of having a bath in a natural stone tub or the quality of a water jet that strikes us: soft, enveloping, ethereal and intense.
Porcelain stoneware combines high performance with aesthetic and sensory qualities resulting from constant research and technological innovation. We are already observing how this material is starting to be used for living area coverings or kitchen tops and doors, tables and other furniture components.  As both product and interior designers, we find this direction extremely interesting and promising.”