In the past 10 years the bathroom space has evolved in three directions: space, objects and surfaces. The changes are the result of a radical rethinking of design based on the room's dual identity: ideal and technical. If we look at the resulting projects we will note that the two aspects of the bathroom - the ideal aspect with its cultural and iconographic references and the technical aspect of the structural and hydraulic limitations on construction - have now come together in a single spatial concept, a place of physical, psychological and technical wellness.
But let's go back a step and look at the three directions of evolution.
The size of the bathroom has not changed much, except in the case of wellness centres or luxury hotels, but it has been spatially broken up. The bathtub has sacrificed some space in favour of extra-large shower stalls, visually freeing up the room. What's more, in a number of cases it has moved out of the bathroom and into the bedroom or into a dressing room or closet space. While its size may not have changed much, it has moved out and left more room in the bathroom for other body care functions.
Surfaces have adapted to the move, as use of water in locations other than the traditional one, the bathroom, requires a technical quality that is inherent in porcelain stoneware: complete waterproofness. Leafing through the catalogue of Iris Ceramica, for example, we find ceramic tiles with metallic surfaces such as the Metal Line, solid colours such as Color Design or textures in harmony with nature such as the E-Wood or Crystal Rock series. The range of surface finishes breaks away with the traditional “pale pink”, “light blue” and “pale green” bathroom tiles to offer full-fledged items of décor capable of fitting into any kind of space and dialoguing with the bedroom, the walk-in closet or the dressing room.
The very objects making up the bathroom have changed, not only in terms of size in cm, but in their overall appearance. Bathroom fixtures which once had a purely technical look have now become true items of design carefully considered by authoritative designers. The new choice of tastes has also resulted in separation of the classic coordinated sink and toilet, leaving designers free to combine round shapes with square sinks or colourful vitreous china toilets with sinks made of different materials.
Wall and floor coverings respond to this new aesthetic of the bathroom with a multitude of different surface finishes which can be combined with a great variety of colours, shapes and laying schemes. Designers combining different surface solutions may find plenty of inspiration in Ariostea's Pietre High Tech, Silk Limestone and Legni High Tech lines, which give designers the freedom to create combinations of Ardesia Bordeaux, Black Ardesia, Montjuc and Rovere Antico finishes, to mention only a few examples. These are solid colours running right through the tiles, enhancing every bit of every wall in the bathroom and creating evocative effects in combination with the shapes of individual items of décor, maintaining a perfectly natural overall harmony.
Ceramic tiles have thus become true items of bathroom décor, adding the compositional properties of different sizes to their chromatic and technical qualities. The result is total freedom in the choice of laying schemes as in other aspects, with a range of sizes varying from mosaic tiles to ultra-light maxi tiles. Now it is easy to see how porcelain stoneware meets the needs of the third direction of evolution of the new bathroom.