In the Green bathroom, economy, a clear conscience and wellness enter into a mutually beneficial alliance. Whilst natural, ecologically sound materials and timeless, enduring design dominate the look, the sanitary equipment showcases the industry's technical expertise.
Consumers are aware both of the necessity for a sustainable approach to natural resources and our dependency on scarce and ever more expensive energy reserves. That explains why the international trend towards sustainable Green Design is perhaps the most influential trend of all when it comes to the conception, design and technical equipment of the bathroom – a room where both energy and water are used. The Green bathroom concept offers a host of technical features that help save both resources without sacrificing comfort and convenience and proposes a wide range of ecologically sound materials and durable fixtures.
All the civilisations of this world share a secret dream: the dream of living in and with nature, of a life in harmony with the elements. In this dream, we walk on white beaches, climb picturesque mountain peaks and dive into blue lakes complete with shimmering white waterfalls. We are Tarzan or Jane, take each day as it comes, pick bananas from the trees and talk to the animals. Not a supermarket or suntan lotion in sight – but no spiders and snakes either, thank you very much.
Of course we know that this dream is naïve and unrealistic. But that doesn't stop us longing for a little bit of feel-good nature in our day-to-day lives. And who would want to be a foreign body in the midst of all this nature, an eco-sinner who exploits its resources and leaves a trail of indigestible waste in his wake? Nobody. Tarzan would certainly never have done anything like that. He didn't blow any exhaust emissions into the air, spray lead-containing paint or make things out of asbestos. Nor did he fish the seas empty or over-fertilise the soil. But then again, he didn't have a toilet either…
But surely we're allowed to dream? Perhaps of a water bed from which he – Tarzan – rises languorously in the mornings before slipping into his bamboo-fibre slippers and swinging energetically around the doorpost and into the adjoining bathroom where – dazzled by the morning sunlight – he catches sight of Jane between the leafy green twigs of the bathroom jungle as she takes a shower or cleans her teeth.
The Green Bathroom aims to realise the vision of a bathroom that professes its love of nature by opting for sustainable materials, design and water technology: a bathroom that is economical in its use of various natural resources and not only gives its owner a clear conscience but makes him feel good too. With climatic comfort, sophisticated design and the sensuousness of water. The wilderness and wellness in perfect harmony – just like Tarzan and Jane.
In terms of ecological design, the Green bathroom meets all the requirements a good bathroom should: by being gentle on the environment and natural resources, this bathroom not only demonstrates social commitment but, in view of rising disposal costs, serves economic interests as well. Complex products from the high-tech segment guarantee the materials and resources can be recycled. As for their appearance, there is no need to make do with old-fashioned tree-hugging aesthetics any more: we are free to choose from all the options of sophisticated modern design, characterised both by exceptional aesthetics and the harmonious integration of complex technologies.
The Green bathroom trend is based on the ideas of sustainability and economy. Consumers want a world where they don't need to feel guilty and can find their way back to the roots of nature without having to forsake civilisational progress. They have learned to marvel again and are discovering water as a wondrous natural element that they want to consciously enjoy, feel, look at, smell and hear. Even so, artistic scenographies take a back seat to the ecological imperative: ideally, the Green bathroom consists exclusively of objects and systems characterised by exceptional economy and material purity. As in the exceedingly economic yet meaningful sentence "Me Tarzan, you Jane!", the bathroom should be reduced to the essentials and radiate a natural beauty.
More than anything else, it is the careful handling of water that entitles the Green bathroom to its name. Thanks to state-of-the-art water recycling technologies, the washwater from the shower and basin can be used to water the garden, run the washing machine or flush the toilet. In countries where drinking water has become a scarce commodity and has to be rationalised, bathroom fixtures can thus serve as a gesture of solidarity. The hot Italian summers of recent years are evidence enough that it isn't only emerging nations that can benefit from such technology.
Tarzan was a hero because he grew up in the jungle. The Green bathroom has likewise learned to respect nature. With its eco-degradable materials and environmentally friendly recirculation systems, the Green bathroom strives to improve the jungle's chances of survival. That means tropical woods – a popular choice for bathrooms because of their resistance to dampness – are a definite no-no. Stone floors are just as attractive, and domestic hardwood – so-called "baked wood" – is even suitable for outdoor usage when subjected to innovative thermal processing.
But how does a bathroom have to be designed to make it the kind of place Tarzan would enjoy? First of all, functional features like air conditioning, the type of water flow that comes out of the fittings, sophisticated tub shapes or special features like a steam or rain shower are conducive to a natural experience. Standing under Dornbracht's Rain Sky, Tarzan is "reminded" of a monsoon. And there's no need for him to feel guilty about the enormous amount of water he's using, either: the AquaCycle (Pontos) recycles the shower water and uses it for the washing machine, garden and toilet.
After showering, Tarzan could reach for his perfectly innocuous towel. Organic towels like those from Coyuchi are made by small family farms in Asia and are thus pesticide-free. The best place to dry them is on a bamboo ladder that not only provides plenty of space for the whole family's towels but is within easy reach for users big and small. On top of that, spread out on the rungs of the ladder, the towels can dry to perfection. The cabinets, trims, room dividers and floors in the Green Bathroom are also made of bamboo – an extremely robust wood that grows back quickly, making it easy to cultivate and allowing Tarzan to protect the trees in his native country.
Even an elegant lady like Jane would be taken with the Green bathroom. Besides the delicate bamboo, the walls look particularly classy too – especially when, as shown here, they are covered with mosaic-like stones of recycled glass. And if Jane wants to get ready for a special evening out, she can preen in front of the Miralite Evolution mirror (Saint-Gobain Glass). It is manufactured entirely without copper or lead by applying a layer of reflective silver to the glass – a process intended to improve the mirror's durability and environmental impact. An energy-saving spotlight has been mounted above the mirror so that Jane can scrutinise her face in its merciless light.
There are wide skylights in the bathroom ceiling, allowing natural light to penetrate. In the evening, energy-saving luminaires emit a pleasant, warm-white glow. And if Jane wants to wind down with a nice bubble bath, the coloured glass lanterns conjure up a particularly cosy setting. Even in winter, their candlelight evokes the atmosphere of a balmy summer's evening.
The Green bathroom evokes a general sense of wellness and relaxation. After a long bath, Tarzan and Jane could chill in a Colombian hammock (La Siesta), surrounded by plants that flourish in the damp bathroom climate – dwarf banana trees, Kentia palms or rubber trees. These plants can survive low light levels and flourish in the warm, humid air of the bathroom. To make sure the plants don't suffer cold shock in winter, the Green bathroom is equipped with efficient ventilation and heating systems, so there's no danger of Tarzan and Jane catching cold either. Nor do they have to worry about mould. But even with less high-tech, nature enters the bathroom as soon as Tarzan gazes out into the garden. With a bit of luck, he can even feel the morning dew on the lawn. In the city, of course, he would have to make do with breathing in the morning air amidst the potted plants on the patio.
Because Tarzan and Jane's mornings can sometimes be a little hectic, their bathroom has two mirrors and two basins. No need for territorial disputes, even when they're cleaning their teeth: Here Tarzan, there Jane! The ceramic basins are made of a thoroughly conventional and reliable substance: fired aluminium oxide. The material is timeless, non-aging and extremely hygienic. The dirt-resistant surface is inspired by lotus flowers and the various different coatings available help save on cleaning products. Tarzan can splash about in the basin as much as he likes – for as everybody knows, even when he lived in the jungle, Tarzan never left his hut looking unshaven – without Jane having to battle with stubborn stains and soiling. The best thing for cleaning the Green bathroom is an ecological cleaning agent from the organic store – such products are biodegradable and ensure no traces of toxic substances are left behind, a particularly important consideration for allergy sufferers. Admittedly, cleaning the toilet is not exactly fun, even in the Green bathroom, but the Merdolino toilet brush (Alessi) is a great gag: it looks like a plant in a flowerpot.
Tarzan and Jane can leave with a sense of satisfaction: their Green Bathroom has gone easy on the forests and fresh water reserves, the washwater has been recycled, the skylights and lamps have saved energy. But even for these two particular nature lovers, economy isn't everything. Saving resources would only be half as much fun if the bathroom wasn't practical and attractive as well. Even those elements of the bathroom that are not eco-degradable can still be sustainable. For besides liking things that degrade rapidly, Tarzan and Jane also like things that they have no intention of throwing away. The idea behind Green Design – the notion of creating a sustainable environment by producing recyclable products and safeguarding resources whilst ensuring fair and healthy working conditions – is after all that we should leave less waste and more nature for the next generation. Long-lasting products are the best form of Green Design. It isn't just the plants in the "green" bathroom that have something resembling a soul – the beautiful woods and timeless white ceramic fittings also have the kind of character which, over the years, will turn them into genuine friends.
And what if Tarzan and Jane don't want any plants in their bathroom? Well, instead of shimmering through fern fronds and palm leaves, the morning sun might shine through a filigree folding screen or glass room divider with floral motifs instead. In this case, green is only a colour in a secondary sense. First and foremost, it is an attitude, an idea and a (bathroom) concept.
Whatever their style preferences might be: the Green bathroom makes it easier for Tarzan and Jane to indulge their love of nature even in not particularly natural surroundings. Jane enjoys the feeling of being able to let go whilst still having everything under control. And for all his clumsiness in such a "civilised" environment, Tarzan feels reassured and guilt-free. And surely that's the main thing.
Text: Claudia Wanninger