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When designing a bathroom, it is easy to forget that there is more to bathtubs than CAD’s default, 5-foot by 30-inch rectangles which tuck neatly against the wall. Instead, consider specifying a freestanding tub to become the focal point of the room, a sculptural centerpiece to be admired from all sides. This collection features gorgeous, freestanding bathtubs by designers who think outside of the box quite literally, utilizing unconventional materials and imaginative forms to push the boundaries of bathroom design.
Otaku by Tal Engel
In a clever reversal, Israel designer Tal Engel employed ancient boat-building techniques to hold water inside this woven vessel. “By crossing the two disciplines [boating and bathing], I have discovered a certain analogy between the idea of sitting in a bath and sailing on a boat, both practically and emotionally,” Engel explained. The bathtub is constructed of steam-bent strips of white ash, a highly flexible and rot-resistant wood, which have been treated with a waterproofing resin. This wooden shell weighs only 33 pounds and is supported by slender, powder-coated steel frame.
Drop by Benedini Associati
Manufactured by Agape
Drop is an irregular freestanding bathtub created by architects Camilla and Giampaolo Benedini. The organic shape, which draws inspiration from seashells and water droplets, is designed to accommodate multiple bathers simultaneously, while affording them “the same liberty of movement” as in a natural body of water. In keeping with this organic expression, the basin is constructed of a bio-based, solid-surface material known as Cristalplant.
Desco Oval by Vittorio Longheu
Manufactured by Pibamarmi
Desco Oval was designed by Italian architect Vittorio Longheu as part of the Desco Collection, a series of opulent, stone bathroom fixtures. Each asymmetric bathtub is carved from a solid block of marble — one of 40 available varieties — and weighs almost 800 pounds. The surface is treated with Acid Shield, Pibamarmi’s patented stone protectant, which prevents stains and scratches while enhancing the marble’s natural color.
Cuna by Patricia Urquiola
Manufactured by Agape
Cuna, which means cradle in Spanish, is an elegantly simple freestanding bathtub by Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola. Its basin is constructed of a solid-surface material, comprised of natural mineral dust and acrylic resins, which has been thermoformed into shape. This ultrathin shell is supported by an exposed tubular steel frame in contrasting white, accentuating the bathtub’s subtle curves.
Shell by Nina Mair
Shell is a delicate wooden bathtub by Austrian architect Nina Mair. The basin was carved from a solid block of walnut by CNC milling machines, then hand polished and oiled to perfection. This combination of technology and craftsmanship enabled the “precise positioning of every curve, and the ergonomic optimization of every radius and incline,” says Mair. It also allowed for sophisticated details such as the seamlessly integrated drain and overflow.
Prime by Norm Architects
Manufactured by Inbani
Prime is a modern freestanding bathtub with old world charm. Designed by Norm Architects — a multidisciplinary firm specializing in architecture and industrial design — the basin’s bulging form was “inspired by how the pressure of water shapes an elastic material, like a filled water balloon.” The flared rim, on the other hand, is a nod to the traditional, roll-top bathtubs of the nineteenth century.
Vieques XS by Patricia Urquiola
Manufactured by Agape
Vieques, named after a small island in the Caribbean, is another contemporary take on an old-fashioned freestanding bathtub. The basin, which resembles a metal drum, is constructed of heavy-duty, ribbed steel. Its rustic appearance is complemented by a shelf and backrest made from Iroko, a strong and naturally water-resistant wood, also known as African Teak.
The Hammock Bath by Splinter Works
The Hammock Bath is designed to be “the ultimate vehicle for total escapism,” bringing together the relaxation of lounging in a hammock with the comfort of a warm bath. The curvaceous basin is built entirely of carbon fiber, an incredibly lightweight and durable material commonly used in manufacturing automotive parts and aircrafts. This sleek finish gives the bathtub a futuristic appeal while the weave of the fibers is reminiscent of traditional cloth hammocks. The tub is available in both suspended and freestanding pedestal models, and in a variety of colors, including one gilded in 24-carat gold.
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