When Australia’s SJB Architects were invited to design the Bathroom of the Future for Kohler’s flagship store in Shanghai, China they envisaged a luxurious cocoon of new age materials equipped with the very latest innovations.
SJB was one of only four leading architectural firms from around the world invited by Kohler to design a bathroom showcasing one of five themes: Chinese, Contemporary, Classic, Transitional and Futuristic. The project was developed as a means of commemorating 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’s vision is of 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 imparts a feeling of invigoration and vitality to anyone entering the space.
Walls and ceiling fold and merge to conceal lighting, speakers and exhaust fan, transporting what is essentially a highly practical multi-disciplinary bathing space to an exciting and dynamic level. The yacht-style timber flooring provides warmth underfoot which complements the long, carbon fibre vanity that morphs into a daybed.
“We made an intentional shift away from the more traditional bathroom materials of tile and stone that often have a cold, utilitarian feel, to the highly versatile Kerlite which is a kind of ceramic porcelain. We chose a combination of white Kerlite for a clean, bright feeling and a bronze-champagne Kerlite to create warmth and contrast. Carbon fibre was the other material used extensively in the design. Chosen for its malleability, strength and waterproof qualities, it was the perfect choice for the vanity and daybed. It also has a great aesthetic, with the woven strands of filament visible through the resin,” said Tristan.
Kohler’s SOK overflowing bath was 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 futuristic Numi toilet, a Bluetooth enabled ‘hub’ offering music, night light, warm air for the feet and automatically opening and closing lid and seat, is placed in the space as much for its sculptural effect as its versatility. It is perfectly complemented by a pair of low slung, rectangular Forefront basins.
“We chose the Karbon taps as they are an incredible piece of engineering and design, constructed in part from carbon fibre, one of the lightest and strongest materials available, and with a joystick control. This really IS a product of the future,” Tristan said.
To complete the look, is the multifunctional, electronically controlled shower area equipped with watertile overhead shower panels and wall mounted body sprays to create an all-enveloping, totally luxurious showering experience.
“Kohler’s ability to create new, varied and continually innovative products meant that when it came to designing a bathroom of the future Kohler already had a number of cutting edge products that were suitable. There was a seamless integration between our design and the existing Kohler products, almost as though they had been custom designed! From an architect’s perspective this is key to Kohler’s success – they invest heavily in design that challenges the norm and is cutting edge in both its aesthetic and engineering.
“Mirrored walls in the bathroom have integrated PC screens to enable the global nomad 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.”
Kohler bathroom products have been available in Australia since 1991 and are available nationally from E&S Trading (VIC), Galvin Design (WA) and Routleys Kitchens Bathrooms (SA). Kohler Co. is one of America’s oldest and largest privately held companies. Founded in 1873, the Kohler brand is a global leader in the design and manufacture of kitchen and bath products, engines and power generation systems, cabinetry, tile and home interiors.