The bath, moving out into the lounge Featured

A spectacular free-standing elliptical tub in resin
by 12 April 2010

The bathroom is an interior that has been progressively moving up in importance. No longer a utility space, it is now dedicated the same attention, in terms of interior design, products, and styling, as the more representative domestic interiors. The contemporary bathroom is developed in terms of wellness and personalization, and increasingly, elements of bathroom furniture, such as the bathtub, are appearing within the lounge and hotel bedroom. Such units have to be of appropriate style and quality.

An example is the free-standing tub named Jolie, created by architect Bruna Rapisarda and manufactured by Italian company Regia. Its development was something of an adventure. In fact, the company had already been making a whole series of smaller products - vanity basins, for example - in Tecnoglas resin, but using this substance for something as large as a bathtub was a giant leap forwards. A bathtub presents additional difficulties in terms of materials engineering, because of the pressure exerted by the water in the tub when full, and the temperature of the water. The product developed by the company, a specially-formulated blend of polyester and acrylic resin, has many positive aspects, guaranteeing optimum strength to prevent fracture in the case of shock and temperature excursions. It also has a superb transparency, which ensures an attractive translucent colour and its fastness over time. The resin in fact incorporates pigments generally used for stained glass.

The development process for the Jolie bathtub took one and a half years, during which various technical problems, such as the shrinkage that occurs during cure in the mould, had to be solved. However the results are exceptional. In the manufacturing process, the tub is cast in a single pour into glass-fibre moulds. After curing and removal from the mould, it is finished by hand in order to ensure an impeccable surface. The manufacturer uses a single mould, and therefore the tub is a quintessentially hand-crafted product. It is made in red, amber and blue versions, while different finishes are also available: white technoglass, and the spectacular gold and silver-leaf variants. In the latter, the interior and exterior surfaces of the resin are covered in gold or silver leaf by hand, exactly in the same way that these valuable materials have been used for centuries. A final polyester protection ensures their lasting brilliance over time.

For the free-standing version, the logical arrangement for this elliptical piece, tapware is floor-mounted. The tub can be supplied in a version for installation alongside a wall, for which a range of timber accessories is available. The size of the Jolie bathtub is 180 x 80 x 53h cm.
Comfort and ergonomics were studied carefully during the development phase, as shown by the specially-designed, removable headrest in soft, polymeric material, in matching colour.
Jolie won the 2009 Design Plus prize, one of the most important design competitions in Germany and Europe. The jury, who concentrated on the successful combination of sustainability, visual appearance and practical functionality in their assessment, chose Jolie from 350 products entered by about 190 companies.

Jolie is enjoying considerable market success. Immediately after its presentation, the first three tubs, one red, one blue, one amber, were bought by a prince from Dubai, who installed them into each of his three colour-themed bathrooms. From then on, the translucent coloured versions have been popular principally on the European and Middle Eastern markets, while the gold and silver-gilded variants are absorbed principally by Eastern European countries and Russia. Product development is still continuing, and the latest innovations introduced are based on the use of colour coatings. For example, the white versions with black or turtle-dove exterior surfaces are receiving a favourable reception on the market.

For further info, see www.regia.it
More articles:
Why Italian furniture is ideal for Middle Eastern homes
Interiors with impact
2010 Milan Furniture Show highlights