Some rooms in the house need more attention than others, not only in their design but also, and in particular, in the choice of furnishing elements. While the composition of a living room or bedroom can easily be changed – maybe by rearranging the furniture or buying a new sofa or bed – you’re often stuck with your first choice when it comes to the layout of your bathroom. As a result, designing your – or your client’s – bathroom needs the utmost attention to ensure a quality experience for the people who’ll be using it every day.
Well aware of this, Ideal Standard, a leading bathroom and sanitary ware company, has created Singular™, an approach to bathroom design that’s grown from a deep understanding of customer needs. Helping customers create personalized combinations of ceramics, furniture, and tapware is in Ideal Standard’s DNA. It’s also the principle behind Atelier Collections, which Palomba Sefarini Associati designed, drawing its inspiration from earlier designs by Gio Ponti and Achille Castiglioni. This year, Ideal Standard participated for the first time in Milan’s Salone del Mobile, premiering its innovative Solos concept, a part of the Atelier Collections premium range that perfectly embodies the Singular™ approach.
Headquartered in Brussels, Ideal Standard is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of quality bathroom products for the residential, commercial, and healthcare sectors. The company has nine manufacturing facilities and sells its wares in over a hundred countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. With Singular™, Ideal Standard has introduced a new approach to scalable, flexible bathroom design. Distinguished by its simplicity, it helps designers, retailers, and customers create properly balanced bathroom designs. The mission of Singular™ is, in fact, to simplify bathroom design and composition by bringing together thousands of products – each different from the next in terms of style, performance, and size – so that products from the various Ideal Standard collections can be combined harmoniously in designs perfectly tailored to customer needs. Singular™ is intended for every situation, from homes to the hospitality, public, commercial, healthcare, and educational sectors, with a cross-category offering that combines tapware, bathroom fixtures, bathtub and shower furnishings, ceramics, and accessories. All without ever losing sight of the goal of creating a comfortable room that places equal emphasis on aesthetics, functionality, and hygiene.
With Atelier Collections, Ideal Standard has set out to create something completely new that’s also respectful of the brand’s roots and heritage, and that supports the creative process. Designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba, this line of bathroom products therefore connects the company to its history, merging the past, present, and future of design. Conca, for example, recalls Ideal Standard collections from the 1970s, while Ipalyss takes the beauty concept one step further with its rich color palette and ultra-thin ceramic. Each product family from this “ideas workshop” combines innovation and aesthetics, following the principle that “a well-conceived project completely transcends its function and becomes timeless,” as the designers put it. Solos, in particular, embodies an absolute purity of design, the result of combining cutting-edge technologies and materials. The flagship product from this collection, previewed at Salone, is an innovative bathroom sink with integrated mixer. Marked by a minimalist design, the product is made of Diamatec®, an exclusive alumina and chamotte composite that makes it possible to create complex shapes with strength and durability.
There’s a first time for everything, and Ideal Standard’s debut at Salone del Mobile saw the company in a booth worthy of its name, with several display bathrooms, suitable for homes or hotels, created using the Singular™ system. With the displays reflecting the typical dimensions and layouts of the genuine article, the booth was an experiential space for imagining a bathroom for your new or existing home, or the home you’re designing and selling. The booth wasn’t just an exhibition space, however. It was also, and in particular, a place for dialogue. The large central room, which featured various bathroom arrangements, became a meeting place where the firm interacted with visitors and hosted events. One of these, titled (RE)GENERATION STORIES – Road to Milano Cortina 2026, was put together by THE PLAN.
It was during this event that THE PLAN interviewed Jan Peter Tewes, joint CEO of Ideal Standard, and Roberto Palomba, Ideal Standard’s chief design officer, about Singular™ and Atelier Collections, respectively.
>>> You have until June 30 to register for THE PLAN Award 2022, an annual international award for excellence in architecture, interior design, and urban planning with 20 categories, including INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, dedicated to design products and interior architecture systems
Singular™ is a process for combining Ideal Standard products to create the ideal bathroom. How important is it to be able to personalize the bathroom?There’s no such thing as a bathroom that’s ideal for everyone. It all depends on personal preferences, the situation, and the tastes of the designer and client. What we can do, however, is create inspiration by offering a wide range of choices and a preview of what the final design will look like. We don’t aim to be trendsetters. Instead, we make our products and expertise available to designers, architects, and private clients so they can easily create a bathroom that people will be happy to experience.
This big picture approach is precisely what sets Ideal Standard apart.
Companies specializing in ceramic sanitaryware or faucets tend to focus exclusively on their particular product. We do the opposite, dealing with every category of bathroom products. The objective of then bringing together all these different elements is in our DNA, along with a commitment to supporting customers when they’re choosing and combining our products.
With your products, how do you go about combining comfort, safety, hygiene, durability, and efficiency with the aesthetic and emotional aspects?
Aesthetics always play a very important role, but for us it’s also essential to operate with an eye to mass production without too much customization, because that helps us make our products accessible. We call ourselves Ideal Standard because we offer standardized, democratic designs that combine quality with sustainable prices.
This is your first time at Salone del Mobile. What’s your initial impression?
It’s great to be here! Salone del Mobile is a very important event, an opportunity to meet people and let them know about our products, and discover the latest industry news. It’s also a chance to network and interact with designers and investors so we can better understand how to respond to their needs. I think we all need to be curious – architects are by nature – and look around, talk to people, learn something new, and contribute to creating increasingly efficient, sustainable buildings.
What’s in the pipeline for Ideal Standard?
We’re working on a lot of new projects. This is a period of growth for our company, and we plan to seize the opportunities the market is offering right now, in some areas in particular, by continuing the work we’ve been doing over recent years – the work that brought us here to Salone.
Atelier Collections aims to “create something completely new, but respectful of [Ideal Standard’s] roots and heritage.” Can you tell us more about the spirit behind this collection that you’re featuring at Salone del Mobile 2022?
Atelier Collections combines styles from the past with innovative technologies and a minimalist aesthetic. With the collection, the company hasn’t changed course but has rediscovered its own history. I joined Ideal Standard four years ago with the aim of reasserting our name in the worlds of design and architecture. This project came into being because we’re not only reclaiming our identity based on technical aspects but also on aesthetics, on the union of functionality and emotions, design and performance. We’re also exhibiting Solos, a new concept that makes it possible to combine tapware with ceramics and create unique objects with a radical aesthetic. The sink is also available with an electronic mixer, which lets you adjust the flow of water to avoid waste while also allowing you to wash your hands without touching the faucet.
How did you arrive at the design of your booth?
We all felt very involved in this project and had a lot of fun doing it. The booth was designed to have an architectural dimension and is the result of four years of work – with the pandemic in the middle – during which we worked as a team on a very large number of products and branding. In everything we do, it’s essential for us to keep the focus on the end user who’ll experience our products by supporting designers with a wide range of choices.
By its nature, the bathroom is the place where architecture meets industrial design. How does the design of this room differ from the others in a home?
There’s a fundamental difference, which is what makes it all so interesting. Bathroom products are hybrids that require a balance between empathetic design and architectural rigor because they’re both furniture elements and fixed components in the room.
What do you see as the most interesting trends in the bathroom sector right now?
I’d say that the trend is the absence of trends, since there are just so many of them. Nevertheless, there’s certainly a focus on the lightness of designs, experimentation with the colors of taps and ceramics, and environmental awareness. I also see a move towards large sinks set in large countertops, even for small bathrooms, for greater comfort. More attention is being given to the bathroom as a place where we live rather than just use. Emotions have finally become a part of the sector.
Collection: Atelier Collections
Brand: Ideal Standard
Designer: Ludovica + Roberto Palomba | Palomba Serafini Associati
Photography by Carlo William Rossi + Fabio Mureddu or Ideal Standard, courtesy of Ideal Standard