Laufen sits at the intersection of form and function, creating dream-like bathrooms that feel simultaneously futuristic and familiar enough to create a sense of ease. When the Swiss brand, known for its collaborations with esteemed designers, started looking for a partner for the third generation of their SaphirKeramik, the world’s thinnest ceramic, they knew exactly who to turn to.
Patricia Urquiola, famed Spanish-born and Milan-based architect and designer, came onboard to create a wholly unique vision and application that employs minimalist design to optimize a sense of tranquility and comfort. Patricia is known for her product, hotel, showroom, and restaurant design, along with her museum exhibitions. Her work for Laufen, which includes designing their Madrid showroom, fulfills her reputation for innovation.
The Sonar collection is all about reducing the footprint and occupied space in the bathroom, a new concept of proportion in a room where design tends to be oversize. One of the Sonar collection’s signature pieces is a double sink, one meter wide, with a separation wall and hidden drain—completely new in terms of dimension and proportion in the bathroom. Another piece—a floor-standing, one-piece washbasin—has an extremely small footprint despite covering all of the plumbing in the wall.
“Together with a subtle balance of edges and curves, dialogue between elementary forms that harmoniously interact with one another make the design solutions unique.”
The key for Patricia has been to embrace Laufen’s revolutionary new material, SaphirKeramik, with its slimmer structure that’s perfect for optimizing small spaces. “My aim was to explore the formal and functional properties as well as the material’s decorative aspects, and turn them into an elegant, innovative collection,” she says. The result is expressive yet minimalist, using the slender lines permitted by SaphirKeramik to create arcs and angles and to create lightness uncharacteristic of bathroom furniture. “This is how we bring some lavish and unexpected details into Laufen’s minimalism,” she says. “This is where our creative languages meet.”
That creative complement—evident in every element of the Sonar collection—also inspired Patricia to play with texture and color. Familiar washbasins, washbasin bowls, and bathtubs have been paired with vanity units in metallic finishes, including gold, copper, titanium, and a Nero Marquina finish (a black limestone with white-vein accents). The textural component was influenced by the connection between the word “sonar” and water, with the washbasin bowl’s tactile surfaces modeled on the waves created by underwater acoustic pulses. “Together with a subtle balance of edges and curves, dialogue between elementary forms that harmoniously interact with one another make the design solutions unique,” Patricia says. “The sloping surfaces on the base of the basin guide the water smoothly to a traversal recess that obscures the drain both ingeniously and elegantly.”
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Laufen’s Sonar collection is an opportunity to demonstrate the remarkable capabilities of SaphirKeramik with a designer like Patricia at the helm, but also to provide a sense of tranquility to one of our more underappreciated spaces. “Design products for the bathroom are the successful combination of aesthetics and function,” Patricia says. “The combination of purity and formal simplicity with the energy and dynamism of the water gives the ceramic material a three-dimensional texture, which is a distinct formal language full of finesse able to add tranquility to every bathroom.”
Elevated and innovative bathroom design is an increasing priority for both residential and commercial designers. Ultimately, Laufen sees the bathroom as a space for both fantasy and inspiration. It’s a uniquely intimate space in the home, a room where you can relax and remove yourself from the interruptions of daily life.
For Patricia, it’s the perfect place to apply a minimalist sensibility—paring everything down to the essentials, while getting rid of unnecessary components and features. “Over the years this design trend has deeply influenced how people decorate interior spaces for maximum comfort, function, and aesthetics,” she says. “Specifically, the bathroom is a place where clutter is kept to a minimum—a celebration of modernity and clean lines. Minimal bathrooms are about the bare essentials, and this style lends itself perfectly to the cleanliness required for any bathroom.”
This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Sixtysix with the headline “Patricia Urquiola on Laufen’s Sonar” Subscribe today.
Photos Courtesy of Laufen.
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