Australian architect firm SJB Architects was only one of four leading architectural companies from around the world invited by Kohler Co to design the ‘Bathroom of the Future’ for their flagship store in Shanghai, China.
The architects were given a choice of five themes – Chinese, Contemporary, Classic, Transitional and Futuristic – to design the bathroom. The unique project was developed to commemorate Kohler’s 140th anniversary as a global leader in the field of bathroom design and technology.
SJB architect Tristan Wong, who spearheaded the design, felt the bathroom of the future could be a global traveller’s retreat and as such located in the hull of a ship or fuselage of a jet. Wong envisioned a seamless, folding cocoon of new-age materials inspired by the highly sculpted, dynamic forms emerging in car and boat design, melding highly evolved technology with a tactile experience that imparted a feeling of invigoration and vitality to anyone entering the space.
The design concept also included walls and ceiling merging to conceal lighting, speakers and exhaust fan, transporting a highly practical multidisciplinary bathing space to an exciting and dynamic level. The yacht style timber flooring would provide warmth underfoot to complement the long, carbon fibre vanity that morphed into a day bed.
Wong explained that they made an intentional shift away from the more traditional, yet cold and utilitarian bathroom materials of tile and stone to the highly versatile Kerlite material. A type of ceramic porcelain, Kerlite has been used in a combination of white for a clean, bright feeling and bronze champagne for warmth and contrast. Carbon fibre was the other material used extensively in the design for its malleability, strength and waterproof qualities, making it the perfect choice for the vanity and day bed.
Fixtures in the Bathroom of the Future included Kohler’s Sok overflowing bath chosen for both its luxury and its ability for contained overflow, even in rough seas and occasional turbulence. Designed for two people, the Sok offers deep immersion and the option of chromatherapy and bubble massage.
The bathroom also features the futuristic Numi toilet, a Bluetooth enabled ‘hub’ offering music, night light, warm air for the feet and automatically opening and closing lid and seat, perfectly complemented by a pair of low slung, rectangular Forefront basins. The architects chose Karbon taps for their excellent engineering and design. The taps, constructed in part from carbon fibre, one of the lightest and strongest materials available, come with a joystick control.
The multifunctional electronically controlled shower area was equipped with watertile overhead shower panels and wall mounted bodysprays to create an all-enveloping, totally luxurious showering experience.
Mirrored walls in the bathroom with integrated PC screens enable the global traveller to reconnect with the world after having enjoyed a precious interlude of relaxation and rejuvenation courtesy of a space delivered in an altogether unique and futuristic way.
Tristan Wong commented that Kohler’s ability to create new, varied and continually innovative products meant that when it came to designing a bathroom of the future, the brand already had a number of products cutting edge in both aesthetic and engineering to suit the concept. The seamless integration between the architects’ design and the existing KOHLER range seemed as though they had been custom designed for the application.