It's show time
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 7/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
In the U.S., Hohler is one of the biggest names in the business. In the U.K., however, the 130-year-old plumbing giant is relatively new on the scene. To make a grand entrance at this year's Bathrooms & Kitchens Expo in London, Kohler hired Hemingwaydesign.
According to the company's U.K. marketing manager Jeremy Salisbury, "Kohler is all about redefining the bathroom." And who better to redefine it than Hemingwaydesign's multitalented husband-wife team? Spanning the worlds of fashion and architecture, Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway are just as likely to be sketching a dress for their trendy fashion label, Red or Dead, as they are to be building a housing development in the northeastern city of Gateshead. Or installing a lively and inspirational Kohler environment in 132 square feet.
As the parents of four children, the Hemingways already knew a thing or two about bath time. Their Kohler concept melds that home experience with a design idea originally drawn from a family vacation to Oslo. "We saw many, many beautiful wooden buildings—and stayed in an all-wood apartment," says Wayne Hemingway. The Norwegian all-wood design scheme made such an impression on him and his wife that they subsequently decided to use panels of timber for exterior cladding at their firm's Gateshead development, Staiths South Bank.
Cedar and ThermoWood clads nearly all wall surfaces at the Kohler installation, where the Hemingways took their timber-panel hallmark one step further. The timber is now set at a jaunty angle, and asymmetrical quadrilaterals frame entryways and mirrors. Timbered partitions cant outward 35 degrees from top to bottom.
Orthogonality returns only on the sink vanities and inside the wooden fantasy tub. "The U.K. has a limited range of Kohler products," explains Wayne. "Not all their tubs were available to choose from." For added playfulness, Hemingwaydesign illuminated the tub area with Jasper Morrison's Glo-Balls, suspended from the ceiling. The floor and part of a wall are covered in a white wood laminate that looks like tile.
Then came Kohler's fixtures and fittings. On either side of the tub, the Hemingways paired Vessels Bateau basins of white vitreous china with Stillness fittings in polished chrome. Across the room stands a wall-mounted Presqu'ile toilet accessorized with a toilet-paper dispenser and wall-mounted flush press, both in polished chrome to coordinate with the sink and tub fittings.
A partition separates the toilet from the "wet room" in the far corner. With a drain in the floor and no curtains, this area acts as one large shower, featuring Kohler's polished-chrome Stillness thermostatic shower valve.
With so many children, the Hemingways always keep storage in mind. Each built-in sink vanity features two deep drawers. Above the toilet, six niches hold toilet-paper refills and children's books for bath time. "We love our kids," says Wayne Hemingway, "but we don't like clutter!"