Product design mashups are strange beasts. But few are as strange as this hybrid bathroom-living room fixture that turns a floor lamp into a portable shower.
Nendo, the highly prolific Japanese design firm, conceived of the prototype for Axor’s Waterdream project, which asked designers to re-envision the bathroom as a social living space. Note: The bathroom may not be in need of socialization as much as Axor may be in need of splashy promotional events.
Even so, the design playfully responds to the open-ended brief, which Oki Sato, director of Nendo, interprets in quasi-metaphysical terms. "Bathing is no longer a functional aspect, but something more emotional," Sato tells Co.Design, about bringing that bathing into the living room, with all of its emotive, sentimental objects suggestive of home.
Of course, Sato could also be more concretely referring to new design trends, arguably introduced to the U.S. by Toto, like bathrooms where toilets can be flushed with the aid of tablets and lights programmed to set the mood. It’s a growing market as fixture makers like Kohler and others have realized.
The Waterdream doesn’t support tablet connectivity, but it does have a charming magic trick of its own. Flip the switch, and, yes, the lamp turns on. A second switch then activates a secret showerhead—surprise!—integrated into the lamp guard. Water sprays out and falls onto the carpeted, or worse, hardwood floors.
If Nendo succeeds in finding a niche market of people who would like to shower in their living rooms, perhaps this will be the end of floor plans as we know them. As Philippe Grohe, head of Axor, explains: "What traditionally took place in separate rooms—reading under a lamp in the living room, taking a shower in the bathroom—can now be experienced free from spatial allocations or confinements."
Sato stresses that the Waterdream is still only a prototype. He also says that the first practical designs will be unveiled in September, leaving us wondering who will buy one and how long they can hold out showering in the confines of their bathrooms.