Starck X marks the spot for quirky bathroom range

More than 200 journalists gathered in Germany’s deepest, darkest Black Forest last week to catch a glimpse of the first major bathroom collection in ten years to be created by celebrity designer Philippe Starck, for bathroom specialist Duravit and Hansgrohe.

The Starck X collection marks the culmination of a 15-year design process for Starck. He launched Starck 1, his first bathroom range for Duravit and Hansgrohe in 1994, refreshing it four years later and adding to it over the years with various interim products.

But the latest range ‘is the pure intention of the original project’, explains Starck and is designed according to a new ‘principle of the minimum’.

The range now features 16 ceramic products, five items of furniture and three bath models. Taps are now slimmer and more geometrical, while product lines and shapes are clearer and more ‘purist’.

Starck wants the user to ‘play in the bathroom’ and this sense of fun is apparent throughout the collection.

Cube-shaped toilets and bidets can be stacked with vanity units to ‘build a wall of cubes, like a modern sculpture’, says Starck. Mirrors feature a border with separate clear glass areas and spaces that produce optical light tricks. Cabinets come with brightly coloured divisions – such as cornflower yellow – which Starck calls ‘sun in a box’, and the sinks and washbasins (pictured right) rest on consoles or conical forms, reminiscent of oversized children’s school toys.

But it is an overflowing bath (pictured below), complete with a retro disco lighting system that most epitomises this sense of play. The bath is designed ‘to carry the idea that water is fun, you can splash around, it is comforting’, says Starck. The freestanding model features an outer rim to absorb the overflow. It is filled with white stones and impregnated with a dirt-repellent, and also lights up in a variety of colours via remote control.

Starck explains, ‘The bathroom should move us, be bubbly, make us fall in love with ourselves, be a dreamy place and have a sense of magic.’

Starck likes to play the role of modern-day magician. With gloves tucked into his back pocket and a squat black hat, he worked the crowd, walking, dancing and, at points, stumbling down a catwalk as he unveiled each product with suitably dramatic flair.

Surreal is what Starck does so well. Take the sleepy, fairy-tale landscape of the Black Forest region – amid the towering trees there looms a super-sized toilet by Starck, embedded into the wall of Duravit’s new design centre, which he also designed earlier this year.

‘I wanted the child to say, look Papa, look at that. Even in the forest there is something magic. Design is a machine to wake us up like this,’ he concludes.

Starck will officially launch his new range at the international bathroom trade fair in Frankfurt in March 2005.

The collection will be available to buy next summer.

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