It’s not just that every single guest at a party will eventually pay a visit to this room. Every morning and evening, it also plays a role in family life that is similar to that of the kitchen – as a room, which, from a furnisher’s perspective, has been exhibiting such huge potential for development in recent years. Both are places everybody wants to use: to clean their teeth, drink coffee, wash, fortify themselves, discuss the day and see one another. The bathroom and kitchen are the places in the home where people meet at least briefly before or after each of them goes their own way.
In times gone by, the Romans certainly weren’t ones to be shy: for them, the loo and the bathroom were just as much public places for doing business, chatting and relaxing as the forum. Thanks to our modern wellness and fitness culture, the last few years have seen the contemporary bathroom acquire a new and beautiful face and become a more tempting place to linger as well. As the bathroom is upgraded into living space and the range of products available for jointly used bathrooms grows, the space with the water connection is taking on a highly social dimension again as a place of encounter.
Even so, a meeting in the bathroom still evokes a sense of embarrassment for many people. But what if we consider the bathroom in isolation from the toilet? Especially if we separate the toilet off completely? That opens up a wealth of possibilities for furnishing the space with multifunctional built-in cabinets (which, incidentally, are increasingly being designed with handleless doors, just like in the kitchen), little occasional tables, lighting systems and luminaires, cosy corners and snug carpets, shelving and benches. Modern types of plaster for the wall and large-format tiles, wood and textiles add a cosy touch to the interior decor. However, when it comes to furnishing a jointly used bathroom that doubles as living space, one thing is of paramount importance is storage space. Only then do accessories and relaxation furniture play a part. It remains to be seen what role will be played by digitisation – in the form of programmable shower scenarios, air conditioning and sound systems.
Similarly to the kitchen, the bathroom is a place of daily routines where, besides satisfying existential needs, we also satisfy our need for communication and socialising. For in the bathroom, we don't just take care of ourselves but of others too: we clean our children's teeth, scrub our partner's back while he's in the bath or comment on the digital display on the scales. It is a place where we are close to one another, where we show our affection and seek the approval of our family, partner and friends.
The bathroom itself, the place per se, creates a special atmosphere, a sense of opening up to one another. Whether it serves as an island of calm in the turbulent sea of everyday life or a sheltered space for open encounters – the bathroom can become a magical place where special experiences occur, from an inspiring shower all the way to an initiation talk between father and son, mother and daughter or two close friends.
A far greater number of the communicative functions the bathroom performs are of course rather banal: it is where we discuss our plans for the day in the mornings, where we express criticism and voice motivation, whilst a double washbasin ensures that things keep running smoothly. This is where we laugh under the shower and strengthen our relationships by sharing the bathtime fun. This is where we pass on what we know about the right way to behave, personal grooming, first aid and beauty care.
Part of the reason why demand for large showers, double-ended baths and double washbasins is growing is that the bathroom's popularity as a jointly used room is growing too – and not only amongst families. Today the bathroom serves not just as a place for personal maintenance but for health and relationship maintenance as well. Accordingly, people aren't only cuddling on the sofa, they're snuggling up in the bathroom too. Or on the sofa in the bathroom. And if the bathroom is equipped not just with a sauna but with a fireplace as well, the dream of a luxury bathroom is complete. What better response could there be than to cater to the desire for more cosiness by creating space for seating, fitness equipment and more room to move in general? Room for playing children, yoga exercises, press-ups, bookworms and glorious relaxation. It doesn’t matter whether the space is used by one person on their own or by several people at the same time, because luckily there’s still a key in the lock if you want to be completely alone for a change. It is a room of almost unlimited possibilities that are still waiting to be discovered.