Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Claire Delmar.Armadillo armadillo-co.com abc
Thomas Coward has worked with some of the coolest, funkiest, and most forward thinking bathroom brands out there, and as creative director of a fair few them – Artedomus, United Products and New Volumes – one could begin to wonder if he is the common thread.
Originally from Cornwall in the United Kingdom, Thomas studied furniture design at Ravensbourne College in London – now famous for Foreign Office Architects’ tile covered campus completed in 2010. It was during his time at Ravensbourne that he developed an interest in bathroom products – an interest that has marked his career to date.
In 2004 he came to Australia. “I moved to Melbourne and started working with Joseph Licciardi, who was hugely influential on my way of thinking,” says Thomas.
Many of the most notable designs from Omvivo (founded by Joseph as a joint venture with Schiavello) can be linked to Thomas. In 2009, he designed the Latis Basin carved from natural stone. That was soon followed by Motif in 2011, another solid surface basin featuring etched glass.
“Our relationships with products can be complex so I try and consider those feelings as well tackling the inert functional aspects.”
Thomas then began working with a number of well-known brands, leaders in the bathroom space. He has designed numerous basins for Artedomus and the interiors for their showrooms in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and most recently, Il Bosco in Brisbane. In 2017 New Volumes was launched as a joint venture between Thomas and Artedomus. Collection 01 is a series of 12 pieces from eight local designers made from Elba, a dolomite-based raw material at least 250 million years old. “New Volumes has been a lifelong idea come to fruition. [It] is a brand working with Australian designers to produce collections from singular materials,” he says. That same year his basin designs for United Products, Saturn and Ledge, were released followed by Lunar in 2018.
Although his interest in designing for the bathroom hasn’t waned over the years, his approach has certainly changed. If you sat Motif next to Lunar, it’s quite apparent. Thomas says his first designs were very much informed by wanting to make a statement. Now he is increasingly interested in using design to answer questions of a physical or emotional nature: “Our relationships with products can be complex so I try and consider those feelings as well tackling the inert functional aspects,” he says.
Function, while imperative, is also“pretty simple”. Conceptually, his work in the bathroom is more concerned with aiding the rituals of bathing and acknowledging the sanctity, privacy and vulnerability of the bathroom. “Materials and form should be sensitive to the naked body,” he adds.
Furthermore, Thomas is intent on understanding the impact of his designs on the environment and holds some pretty radical – albeit convincing – ideas about the future for makers and consumers. “Designers will become stewards for the products they create and manufacture,” he says. “We can’t absolve ourselves of the responsibility of a product once it has been sold.” As the reality of what happens to products and materials when they are discarded creeps increasingly into a mainstream consciousness, the responsibility is equally with designers, manufacturers and suppliers to educate their customers on the impact of their disposal decisions.
“Perhaps we will start leasing furniture, and never owning anything,” muses Thomas. “Or the opposite, and your ownership does not end once you’ve finished with it. We make it too easy to discard materials.”
His personal future involves more of the same, creating for a space he loves to be in himself. “I’m really into baths. And now phones are waterproof, I take even longer ones,” he jokes. Suffice it to say you can expect his world and world views to continue to be a large part of the local design scene.
Thomas Coward thomascoward.com
Photography by Marnie Hawson
“Super Design is just what we've been waiting for! An exciting, progressive and multidimensional design event that presents a unique opportunity for architects & designers to see, hear and learn about our interstate and international industry peers’ experiences and successes. Super Design is the perfect platform to bring our community together for everyone's betterment.” – Hana Hakim, Founder/Interior Designer, The Stella CollectiveSuper Design is the latest evolution on Indesign’s 20 years of industry event experience across the region. It telegraphs a new way forward for how we engage, launch products, network and get inspired and – importantly – strengthens the Indo-Pacific’s bridge to the global design community by removing all geographical boundaries and limitations. So get ready to connect locally, regionally and globally as you catch up with your favourite designers, uncover up and coming brands and get the low-down on the latest in the design world. Pick and choose what your Super Design experience looks like with an interactive calendar that lets you curate your own schedule. Tune in digitally or join intimate physical sessions in your local area, watch live or catch-up later with our on-demand library – Super Design is an event that’s for you, by you. From exclusive events and interactive workshops to manufacturing tours and engaging panel discussions, Super Design will change the way you experience industry events, offering bite-sized timed sessions that let you choose your own design adventure.
“Super Design is a great way to bring the region together through physical, digital and hybrid activations. I can't wait to get involved and know that myself and team are always hungry to develop, learn and connect with our industry colleagues and suppliers. I'm really looking forward to engaging through all forms of activations and love the idea of being able to connect with talks, tours, and showrooms throughout our region whether in person or from the comfort and convenience of my home or office.” – Tim Carr, Head of Lighting, Australasia Leader, Arup.With a schedule that’s sure to re-ignite your love for design, we can’t wait to drop our first line-up announcement. Be the first to know and get updates sent straight to your inbox by registering your interest here. If you’d like more information or a media kit for the event, visit the Super Design website or get in touch with our media team. Stay tuned – more information will be dropping weekly. It’s time to level up!abc
The brief was for a low maintenance rear extension (fortuitously north facing) that did not encroach on the garden but did expand the indoor living areas. Additionally, the clients wanted to retain the three bedrooms in the original house. “We were faced with a challenge to fit as much as we could into a very restricted floor space,” says Weian Lim of WALA. Through the entry corridor that traverses the original house and culminates at the rear addition, one finds the contemporary, open plan kitchen/living/dining area. “A large stand-alone brass-coloured kitchen rangehood is a statement piece that anchors the kitchen in an otherwise open plan space,” says Weian. The brass is echoed sparingly through the rest of the house. Beneath the kitchen benches, mirrored kickbacks suggest floating furniture.
Large pivoting glass doors define the rear façade and connect the indoors to the garden.
The house transitions respectfully from old to new by acknowledging the different architectural styles of each period. Decorative heritage features of the original architecture have been retained and restored, providing a contrast to the restrained minimalist design of the extension. Natural materials such as timber, concrete and steel help frame these simple geometric shapes. Large pivoting glass doors define the rear façade and connect the indoors to the garden whether they are open or not. Teamed with a large skylight above the kitchen these elements draw natural light into the internal spaces. A floating daybed behind a glass wall has the same effect and – visible from the entry hallway – connects the garden view to the house from the first step inside. On the other side a cantilevered concrete bench extends from the living room well into the backyard further suggesting a connection between interior and exterior spaces.
The shape of the concrete eaves on the rear façade was custom designed to maximise the sunlight during winter.
The clients were interested in adopting passive design principles where possible. As the rear extension was north facing, WALA proposed a tiled floor over a concrete slab in order for it to function as thermal mass. The shape of the concrete eaves on the rear façade was custom designed to maximise the sunlight during winter. “The concrete eave is intentionally designed to align with the same sun angle during the winter solstice so as to maximise the amount of direct sun hitting the tiled floor on slab, thereby storing as much heat as possible in thermal mass during the colder periods in the year,” says Weian. The residents have enjoyed the house in its full glory since practical completion in September 2019. However, having lived in the house during construction (this was staged in order for them to do), the finished product is twice as nice. As intended, “This space has become their sanctuary in the city,” concludes Weian. WALA wa-la.net Photography by Derek Swalwell Dissection Information Interior Stylist, Bea + Co Landscape Designer, Nadia Gill Landscape Architect Landscaping, Good Soil and Water Fiandre Plain Core floor tiles from Artedomus Oro kitchen counter from YDL Stone Parachilna Aball pendant from Ke-Zu Furniture Dita Double Console by Lignet Roset from DOMO Yanzi suspension lamp by Neri&Hu from Artemide Wall Step pendant from Volker Haug Seymour Low Swivel Armchair from King Living L’Imprevu Sofa by Lignet Roset from DOMO Kitchen appliances by Miele Qasair kitchen rangehood We think you might also like Concert Hall House by Pandolfini Architects abc
Natural materials such as timber, concrete and steel frame simple geometric shapes.
Robert A.M. Stern once said: “the dialogue between client and architect is about as intimate as any conversation you can have.” To that, John Pawson responded by saying, “Likewise the dialogue between a client and a finished piece of architecture is about as intimate as any conversation you can have.”
These observations cannot be truer of the relationships that shape the Windsor Park House in Singapore. “Every part of the house has been thought through many, many times,”says Millet Architects’ Chiew Hong Tan of the process she has had with her clients, Marc W. and Ee Lyn L., together with interior designer Vanessa Ong of April Atelier. These have been long conversations about everything from hopes, memories, and aspirations to cost and family dynamics, that slowly, rigorously, over thes pan of a good year, came to produce this deeply personalised house that not only has a clarity of intention, but also great ingenuity.
The house was to be properly future-proofed for the clients’ young family, but also re-oriented to face the nature reserve.
The site is on a sloped hill next to Windsor Nature Park, a forested nature reserve in central Singapore. There was originally on site a single storey house that Marc’s family had moved into in the 1980s, and had then expanded over subsequent years. “It ended up being quite dark, especially in the middle,” Marc recalls of the house, which turned away from the forest.“Back then people didn’t like to face the jungle because it’s very ulu,” he adds, referring to older perceptions of the jungle as being rural. Marc and Ee Lyn had at first considered renovating, but addition and alteration work proved to be challenging given the way the old house had occupied the site. The decision was therefore to tear down the old house and build anew. The house was to be properly future-proofed for their young family, but also re-oriented to face the nature reserve that they love.
The architecture makes the most of the site. The main living areas and upper floor bedrooms are placed in a linear stretch paralleling the expanse of the forest to maximise views. An infinity pool, cleverly created out of the sloped terrain, stretch some 23 metres across the foreground. A compact attic peeks out of the main building, raising above it a lovely lookout point perfect for views of the sun that sets daily into the treeline, and for stargazing when the forest darkens later at night.
Unlike most residences in Singapore, the house is not built to the maximum site coverage allowed; green spaces take up more than 60 percent of the total land area.
Having plenty of outdoor spaces means one-year-old James can learn to cycle on the compound, and poolside gatherings can be hosted on Singapore’s many balmy evenings. Even then, planting is minimal. “We don’t need to create another forest on the property. All the trees we have — the three frangipanis and five bucidas in front – strategically add more texture with their shadows,” Marc says, explaining how they prefer to keep landscaping, and all the rest of the design, as low-maintenance as possible.
“We explored ideas based on the notion of light and shadows, in place of expensive materials or fancy detailing,” Chiew Hong says. The house sports a simple palette of white walls, black window frames, off-form concrete, white oak floors and a modest use of teak cladding. “The idea was to keep the colours neutral so as to draw focus to the natural landscape. At the same time keeping costs low without sacrificing elegance in the architectural design.
The main living areas and upper floor bedrooms are placed in a linear stretch paralleling the expanse of the forest to maximise views.
“One of the biggest challenges was that the forest view is almost entirely west facing and therefore vulnerable to the afternoon sun that can be quite unbearable in this region,” she continues. She found a smart solution in exterior venetian blinds that shield the house from the western sun. “The good thing with external blinds is that we don’t need to have curtains, so it’s low maintenance,” Ee Lyn says of the blinds, which can be controlled from inside to open or close to varying degrees. One evening, she and her husband raised these blinds to a spectacle of lightning and thunder over the darkened forest canopy.
The interior shares a similar rationality with the architecture, with a focus on economy of design and the use of natural materials to bring warmth. “The intention was for the interior to blend in with the architecture,” Vanessa says. “We didn’t choose anything that was too loud; everything was in neutral, warm tones.”
The choice of fittings is deft. At the stairs a set of Flos String Lights are hung so its geometry of cables engages the spatial volume, and accentuates the puncture of the picture window.
The multi-generational home also caters to family dynamics and future needs. A separate single storey block holds the living room so that the couple can entertain without disturbing grandma who can watch TV in the family room at the other end. Dry and wet kitchens are separated by user-ship – grandma can cook up a storm in the ventilated kitchen while Marcand Ee Lyn host a party.
The ground floor is completely level and without steps passageways and thresholds are wide so every space, including grandma’s bedroom on this floor, is wheelchair-friendly. Four more bedrooms are laid out side by side on the second floor: they could be used separately by future children, or combined into a junior master suite for James when he grows up.
For all its rationality of thought, there is also great poetry in the quiet gestures of the house – in how the torque of the stairs releases into a shaft of the blue sky above, for example or, in the way, as Chiew Hong points out, shadows cast by the supports of a skylight break the silence of white walls.Millet Architects milletarchitects.com Photography by Khoo Guo Jie abc
A new decade has dawned and with it has come a fresh perspective and not-so-serious attitude to bathroom furniture design. Designers are taking a lighter, more playful and sometimes nostalgic approach, creating bathtubs and basins with architectural and sculptural forms inspired by traditional baths, troughs and vessels, and made all the more surprising in ethereal and energising hues. These stand-out pieces can stand alone in a bathroom, or they can be mixed and matched and customised to create an original and positively personal space.
The bathroom is a place we hit refresh in the morning and wash away the day at night. As colour can have a powerful effect on our mood and emotions, a bathroom awash with colour can energise and inspire. Designers are embracing more eclectic colour and combinations, pairing bright and surprising hues with muted colours and neutrals.
The soft, fluid form of the Acquerello collection is enhanced with two-tone colours and a contrast of finishes.
The Acquerello basin collection, designed by Prospero Rasulo for Valdama, has a two-tone colour-blocking effect to enhance the basin’s fluid form.
Acquerello (meaning ‘watercolour’ in Italian) has a soft and sensual shape with gentle, shallow curves that never cast a clear-cutshadow. The interchangeable colours allow for personalisation: the basin and tablet are available in a sulphur yellow, soft pink, ocean blue and lagoon green, along with black, white grey and clay. “The colours have been chosen and interpreted like small inventions,” says Italian artist and designer Prospero. “Each is its own distinctive colour, and a colour capable of representing the shape in the best possible way.” Prospero took inspiration from his homeland, looking to nature, light, art and sculpture, and selecting colours that work in combination and in a variety of settings and styles.
The round, blush-pink Nouveau bathtub is inspired by the geometries of art deco and colour palette of art nouveau.
The vanity is the hero of the Frieze collection.
The Freize and Nouveau collections from Ex. T are also a fresh take on colour and form, with inspiration drawn from Roy Lichtenstein’s Entablatures series and the early-twentieth-century styles of art nouveau and art deco.
Frieze, designed by Marcante Testa, is a colourful collection with a strong architectural imprint. Andrea Marcante and Adelaide Testa looked to Lichtenstein’s Entablatures from the 1970s: a series of paintings comprising horizontal layers evoking the architectural façades and ornamental motifs the artist encountered around New York. Marcante Testa used the same geometry, graphics and colourways in the Frieze collection, creating a range of basins that sit against a horizontal band. The basin, intended as the central element, comes in bright turquoise, lilac and soft pink and can be embellished with graphic patterns. Bathroom accessories can be hung on the horizontal band and different wall finishes can be used above and below. The combinations of shapes, colours, finishes and materials allows for unique and original combinations and a versatile system both spatially and stylistically.
Also from Ex. T, the Nouveau bathtub designed by Paola Vella and Ellen Bernhardt is inspired by the distinctive geometries of art deco and rendered in a blush pink drawn from the colour palette of art nouveau. The small size and asymmetrical shape enable the bathtub to be positioned against the wall, in a corner or as a centrepiece of the room.
The Halo is made of recyclable material that United Products can recondition or recast into a new basin or bath.
As the twenty-first century marches on into territories unknown, many designers are finding comfort in the familiarity of traditional forms of basins and vessels and reinterpreting them in a contemporary way.
Hargreaves Vanity is from a collaboration of Central Coast-based designers – Loughlin Furniture, Fabric Architecture and Slabshapers – and is inspired by the classic laundry trough. It has a rectangular concrete basin, VJ panelling on the cabinetry, aged brass taps and timber caddies for bathroom accessories. “It has an underlying coastal vibe that conjures up the image of summer holidays spent at a mid-century beach house,” says Brent Fitzpatrick, co-director of Fabric Architecture.
Neri&Hu also looked to a traditional vessel for its Immersion collection for Agape. Inspired by the relaxing Japanese onsen, the Immersion bathtub is smaller, deeper and more upright than a standard tub. It has a straight outer profile and a half-spherical inner profile that allows for full submersion in a more upright posture.
Neri&Hu’s Immersion bathtub is designed for smaller bathrooms, having a deeper and more compact form than standard tubs.
The compact footprint of the Immersion tub is designed for a smaller bathroom, as is Thomas Coward’s collection of bathroom products for United Products. Halo has a decorative metal ring that enables the hand towel to be part of the basin, while Lunar has a pedestal base, evocative of a baptismal bathing vessel and able to be placed against a wall or away from it to create a stand-out and standalone piece.
With eclectic colours and forms, the new generation of products enables designers and customers to create a bathroom that indulges their own personal style. To create a space that is energising and refreshing, or calm and relaxing, setting the tone at the start or end of a day.
Photography courtesy of the designers and brands
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