By Judith Nasatir
(ARA) - Is less more? Or is less a bore? That is the question designers have
debated for centuries. Bathrooms -- and the fittings, fixtures and furnishings
that designers develop for the most functional space in any home -- are subject
to these same whims and questions that drive all types and tides of style. Sometimes
ornament takes center stage; sometimes simplicity does.
Today, the trend is modern design -- open-space planning and stripped-down,
seemingly simple forms. This curlicue-free, ornament-banning minimalist aesthetic
once espoused by the 20th century modern masters remains a truly international
style that travels well and incorporates contemporary technology in timeless
form. Modern design has always made sense in the bath, for all the obvious (and
some not so obvious) reasons. By understanding the essence of modern design,
you can transform your bathroom into a simple yet luxurious, minimalist retreat.
It involves assessing your space, determining how you want to use it, finding
the right pieces to define the space, and adding any final touches to make it
Measure Up and Maximize the Minimal Space
Minimalism requires a specific kind of perfection because everything in a
minimalist space is totally exposed -- whether you have a small powder room
or large master bath. The most important rule: Maximize any available space.
While the minimalist style gets its beauty from simple lines, it can easily
accommodate a seductive curve or two. Walls, floors, ceilings and any other
surfaces, whether vertical (such as the shower enclosure or cabinet doors) or
horizontal (such as shelving, and sinks and their surrounds or supporting counters),
must be clean, crisp and as uninterrupted as possible.
Following this philosophy, some bathroom manufacturers offer space-saving
and style-enhancing designs such as sleek wall-mounted fittings and fixtures.
For example, Porcher's collection of European- inspired, minimalist designs
makes the most of any space. Porcher's Nemea, by Italian artist and designer
Enzo Mari, features a sharply angled ceramic sink and elegant ceramic shelves,
with or without a towel bar, that hang like a cantilever off the wall. By focusing
on your bathroom's space and geometry, you're ready to create an interior that's
simple and serene.
Form Follows Your Functional Needs
Like most styles that emphasize the architectural over the decorative, minimalism
evolves from the inside out. Think about how you'll be using the space. Although
this style favors the uninterrupted plane, it also welcomes surface interest,
as long as the form has a necessary function. For example, consider incorporating
surface-mounted fittings and fixtures, from a sink bowl atop the counter to
a high-arching faucet off the wall.
Other fixtures also don't have to be found in traditional places. Marc Newson
-- the London-based designer known for pushing the product design envelope --
has devised a bathtub for Porcher that features slightly canted sides. It sits
within the room, rather than nestling into a wall or corner. The sleek, slim
faucet mounts on the tub's wider-than-usual top edge.
When it comes to function and space planning, also assess your bathroom storage
needs. If you have a small space, building in storage options, rather than using
pieces of furniture, helps open up a tight space. In minimalist style, storage
is usually systematic: find the most beneficial dimensions for the basic storage
unit and group it in multiples. From constructing an entire wall of shelving
or cabinetry to adding cabinet units under or over the bathroom counter, it's
possible to create a clutter-free space. With closed cabinetry, consider using
touch latches instead of visible hardware or, if necessary, bar pulls or simple
knobs rather than elaborate handles. If furniture is the option, make sure all
pieces sport clean details and strong lines, while being made of materials pleasing
both to the eye and to the touch.
Minimalist Design Math = Subtracting Not Adding
When it comes to creating your space, it's not necessary to strip away either
luxury or comfort to make or remake your bath in the minimalist style. However,
it's imperative to think differently during the design process: concentrate
on editing, rather than on adding. As John Pawson, the celebrated English architect
and a key player in the current minimalist revival, has stated: "Minimalism
is best defined as the perfection an artifact achieves when it is no longer
possible to improve it by subtraction. Thus, minimalism is the quality an object
has when every component, every detail, every junction has been reduced or condensed
to the essentials." Within Porcher's European Fashion Collection, the Orsay
Pedestal Lavatory and Iperbole Monoblock Faucet, designed by celebrated Italian
architect Gae Aulenti, provide the sophisticated simplicity and clarity of form
that Pawson advocates.
Selectively Mix Color and Materials
While minimalism generally demands a monochromatic color palette, strong
or even muted colors can be used on one or several of the room's key planes.
Visual interest can also be added with textures and materials, both man-made
(glass, steel, ceramic tile, and composite materials) and natural (wood and
all types of stone). Just remember, in minimalism, addition is achieved through
subtraction. Pare away all the extras to reveal the very essence of the bath.
Courtesy of ARA Content