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Gentle persuasion After years of sharp-edged minimalism, it’s time to embrace the newest bathroom trend – the soft bathroom
Over the past decade, the trend for cutting-edge design has meant our bathrooms are ultra-functional but often lack the gentle touch. But the mantra to embrace in the coming months is that of the ‘soft’ bathroom. Think fewer sharp edges and more rounded shapes and tactile materials. “This is not the first time in history we have seen curvaceous lines used with natural materials,” confirms Morgan Phillips, senior designer for Ripples. “Previously, they have been connected to more traditional and ornate trends. However, rooms no longer need to be so structured and detailed, they can instead have a more simplified expression and almost a resemblance of nature itself.”
MATERIAL WORTH The emphasis is on luxurious, soft, yielding surfaces that cocoon you, to create a space offering comfort, safety and a sense of wellbeing. “The cold, stark bathrooms of a few years ago have been replaced with soft, organic shapes and an array of colours too,” explains Hayley Tarrington, senior designer for C.P. Hart. “Many new composites are now on the market – designers are looking for materials that offer the properties needed to produce their fluid creations.”
Designed by Marc Sadler, Ideal Standard’s Soft Bath is the perfect example of using materials to give the bathroom a softer feel. The innovative compound surfacing results in a bathtub that is just as durable as acrylic but is softer to the touch and is more comfortable to use. Belgian company Aquamass also experiments with sensuous forms, as seen in Michael Boucquillon’s Strip collection and Paolo Chipiron’s Stone collections. The baths and basins are formed from a resin-based material called CristalPlant, which is malleable in three dimensions enabling beautiful shapes to be created. Plus it is warm to the touch and retains the heat of bath water.
CURVE APPEAL The soft bathroom is not just about the materials used, but also about the character of the room and opening up the space. Curvaceous lines are key: they’re more pleasing to the eye and create a more harmonious bathroom to enjoy. “Bringing more rounded edges into designs means all those sharp corners and sides on vanity units, basins and baths can be removed, allowing more room to move around those objects and eliminating any wasted space between them,” confirms Phillips. “This is not only a lot more functional but should also make the space feel a lot bigger too.”
Completing your soft bathroom will require some attention to detail. A cold tiled floor, for example, will soon negate your hard work. Look for materials that echo the overall design of your bathroom and which are warm to the touch and less rigid than conventional flooring options.
LIGHTS FANTASTIC Harsh spotlights should be consigned to the history books in favour of softer options. A dimmable and layered scheme would be ideal, allowing you to set the intensity of the lamps according to the mood you want to achieve. And don’t just stick to overhead lights. Experiment with floor-level and ambient lighting effects which can give your room a calming feel.
The soft bathroom, with its gentle flowing lines and clever use of materials, is all about creating a tactile experience in a relaxing environment, and it’s a trend that is only going to get bigger as we all seek to get the most out of every inch of our homes. ••• Soothing sanctuaries
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