Hip to be square
Aric Chen -- Interior Design, 1/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
It's usually taken for granted that faucets are tubular. "Why can't they be square?" asks Antonio Citterio. Answering his own question, his new bath products for Hansgrohe's Axor collection include flat-sided faucets that are square in section. "If you look here," he says, drawing a diagram that shows how a spout encases side-by-side tubes for hot and cold, "you'll see that a square faucet is just as rational, if not more so."
Now that the bathroom has moved from the down-market neighborhood of necessary afterthoughts and into the prime real estate of living spaces—where words such as wellness reign supreme—it's also become fertile ground for Citterio. For over 30 years, this Interior Design Hall of Fame member and cofounder of Antonio Citterio and Partners has dexterously integrated architecture and interiors with products, and he had the same synergy in mind for Axor Citterio, his most extensive bath line yet.
"This project is architectural, because we were working for a planning solution. Conventional typologies may be well designed, but sometimes they don't fit well in a space," he explains. Providing an unconventional antidote, he therefore created strikingly simple and handsome chrome faucets and showerheads, mineral-polyester composite tubs, resin washbasins, and miscellaneous accessories, from towel bars to soap dispensers.
Axor Citterio's smaller-proportioned pieces include a bathtub that can come with a built-in shelf to accommodate a custom sink, saving on space but not skimping on design. "Compact, in this case, doesn't mean unsightly or budget-minded," Citterio says. Meanwhile, that same tub can serve as a freestanding room divider when the space is more generous.
All 70 items in the range reflect his unyielding devotion to the hard-edged modernist credo, tempered by sensitive curves in Cartesian compositions of planes, lines, and (usually) right angles. "I've been working for many years with the idea of bi-dimensional design," he says, referring to a process that relies more on old-fashioned sketching than on computer-enhanced manipulation to determine the critical facets of an object. (A rectangular box, for example, looks square on the ends but oblong on the sides.) "The square is bi-dimensional," he continues, "giving you the perception of quality more than a tube."
It was Citterio's emphasis on quality, even timelessness, that initially attracted the company—which previously launched a line by Philippe Starck. "With Antonio, we could count on long-lasting design," says Axor brand manager Philippe Grohe. "His work from 20 years ago easily combines with his work today."
Putting that assertion to the test, Citterio will be incorporating the Axor line in some of his current projects, including hotels for Bulgari in Milan and Bali, Indonesia. In fact, when asked how he designs objects when their context doesn't yet exist, he responds by saying, "You invent one."