The Lifestyling.co.za bathroom design report
The products and brands nudging this functional space further into the design domain.
For such a functional and essential space, the bathroom (together with the kitchen) is the one room in the home where a little extra attention makes the biggest impact. It’s one of the first spaces new homeowners renovate, and prospective buyers scrutinise. The bathroom – it’s safe to say – offers value like no other area in the home. Over the years, we’ve begun to look to our bathrooms more for their role as a sanctuary, offering the us the opportunity to escape, unwind and push the pause button.
Whether you like yours monastic in its simplicity or richly layered and sumptuously decorated, a la Gregory Mellor, open to the bedroom or tucked away in privacy, there’s no denying that the bathroom has become a place loaded with design clout and well worth considering more carefully.
In case you missed it, our last big focus on bathrooms took its cue from the colour spectrum, with sanware bringing a bold statement to what has typically been a white zone (we won’t even mention the avocado phase that preceded it). While our roundup this time draws from a more classic colour palette, it’s packed to the brim with bathroom items that are innovative, thoughtful and exciting, pushing the bathroom well into the realm of design.
THE NAMES TO KNOW:
Ground zero for premium sanitaryware in classic and vintage styles, it’s unsurprising that Victorian Bathrooms began in restoration and reclamation before moving on to design and source their own timeless Victorian products. This is a brand that was so ahead of the demand for retro classic styles that more than a decade ago they sold metro tiles to South Africans, well before the rest of the market caught on.
A go-to supplier of high spec bathroom supplies to the architectural and design sector, Flush Bathrooms is hailed for its team of experts on hand to guide industry professionals. Stocking a wide range of coveted brands like Meir, Dornbracht, Villeroy & Boch and many more on the hard-to-get list, the brand’s specialty is in contemporary luxury fittings that bring the wow factor.
An established supplier of premium porcelain and ceramic tiles and bathroom ware, Italtile has answered the call for both quality and variety. Their collections are always on-trend, appeal to just about every style and also include an array of items for every facet of the bathroom, from tile to tap. To top it off, the brand also adheres to an ethos of sustainable manufacture on all of their products.
When Wolkberg entered the market, they broke the mould. Concrete-like but not; their own engineered material called Limesite is a cementitious product with high performance markers and a smooth-as-silk appearance. What they’ve done with Limesite since introducing it is no less impressive. Wolkberg’s range now includes surfaces, tiles, lighting, architectural pre-casts and art castings, but it’s their tiles that have made them so sought after by design aficionados. Available in any shape and colour that your heart desires, we’re talking tiles with one-off appeal and layers of natural patina.
Pedersen + Lennard
As this beloved local design studio says: bathroom fixtures are “the moment for details to complete the picture.” And the details are a thing they sweat over. Providing high quality, locally made furniture and accessories for the modern lifestyle, these Cape Town designers are all about functionality and simplicity. Powder coated in a rainbow of luscious colours and complete with careful details and playful geometry, we’re big fans of their growing bathroom range.
THE AREAS WHERE IT MATTERS MOST:
The name alone belies just how sexy this category has become. Traditional form has taken a leap from the drawing board, rendering sanware more intuitive, playful and beautiful to look at than ever before. In addition, smart technology has upped the ante, making for a user experience that’s seamless, not to mention low on maintenance.
Victorian Bathrooms’ recent focus on the Manhattan Loft aesthetic draws on the growing popularity of this timeless industrial style. You can expect all of the markers of this retro look such as arches, sensuous curves and aged brass finishes, as well as inclusion of the brand’s gorgeous new Arte Collection of tapware.
Flush Bathrooms’ selection of sanware is always ahead of the trends and channels a sense of contemporary sophistication bolstered by a strong design identity. Villeroy & Boch’s Collaro collection, for example, is both elegant and modern with all the bragging rights of a state-of-the-art piece of sanware.
Speaking to the evergreen nature trend, one of our favourites is Italtile’s Palomba collection of sanware from Swiss brand Laufen. Designed by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, the tell-tale organic lines on their basins, bathtub and bidet were cued by the forms of pebbles and depressions left in the surf on a stormy day.
Taps and spouts
Be they small, taps and spouts have the ability to accentuate the style of a bathroom, nodding to one aesthetic or the other by way of curvature, fluidity, clean lines, geometry, subtle sheen, luscious colour or aged patina.
Thankfully, the evolution of choices has made it that much easier to carry off an aesthetic or design philosophy in the bathroom. Lately we’ve noticed it’s the finishes that have come under the spotlight, with major brands reworking the perennial classics for a subtle but impactful difference.
Flush Bathrooms, for example, can offer tiger bronze, (a soft and creamy gold), dark brass matt (a rich coppery tone in a matt finish) and dark platinum matt (a luscious, endlessly deep grey) to their tapware colour offering under various international brands. Just take a look at designer Tristan du Plessis of Tristan Plessis Studio’s recent residential project in Joburg for proof of how well these finishes combine with a dark and dramatic backdrop.
Describing their latest creation as “a medium brown hue with golden burnt undertones”, Victorian Bathrooms has nailed the aged brass look with their new Arte Collection. Achieved by stripping, oxidising and blackening their taps and spouts, the 1920’s inspired products continue to age with the passing of time.
White porcelain and tile, you say? Sure, but there’s way more to this field than just that. When making your choice for bathroom walls and tops, sintered stone, quartz, marble, granite, acrylic, composites and concrete are all in the mix among other surfaces and each will add its own look and feel to your bathroom.
Wolkberg’s Adorn collection of semi-precious metal inserts and tiles has brought unprecedented glamour to the surfaces scene, bringing a dose of sheen where you least expect it. Meanwhile, their Evolve range of tiles is particularly impressive as it’s 100% locally sourced and made from 81% recycled materials. That they donate 10% of the sale of Evolve tiles to hospitality businesses currently in financial need is nothing to sniff at either.
This is the really fun part, but sadly also the part where the common consumer outlet lets you down with its dull ceramic toothbrush holder and toilet brush set. Honestly, Granny’s woolly toilet seat cover and mat just won’t do, so remember to think laterally about accessorising your bathroom. Our advice is: what you choose to put in this part of the home doesn’t always need to fall under the bathroom umbrella.
The recent introduction of black hardware into the bathroom is a winner in our book and long overdue too. We particularly love the Dornbracht Meta Collection available at Flush Bathrooms for its clean-lined simplicity and low-key matt appearance. While, their Meir offering brings a touch of subtle sophistication to the scene in all of the luxe new finishes we mentioned earlier – because why can’t your bottle trap match your tiger bronze taps for goodness’ sake!?
When it comes to materials, Pedersen + Lennard’s calling card is typically powder-coated steel and solid timber; chosen for their honesty and longevity their materials palette and designs have a Scandi simplicity to them that we love. Their unique selection of wall hooks, for example, proves that a little innovation when it comes to form and finish goes a long way with everyday basics. Whether it’s bathroom planters, laundry bins, loo roll holders or cabinets, they’ve gone to great lengths to view the quotidian with fresh eyes.