Plumbing the Depths
Judith Davidsen -- Interior Design, 3/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
For the Japanese, a bath has always been more than just a scrub. The ritual begins with shoe removal, payment, and entrance to the dressing area. Then it's on to cleansing and soaking. The first cleansing is a thorough dousing with water—the more water, the more consideration shown to the others in the soaking tub, where remaining dirt is loosened from the body. Bathers come out to scrub with a cloth and soap and to wash their hair. More rinsing follows, and it's back to the communal tub for an extended soak. In traditional Japanese homes, two were meant to fit in the soaking tub, which is narrower but deeper than Western tubs.
No lesser expert than the founding editor of Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing, Leonard Koren wrote on the history of Japanese bathing rituals for Interior Design in 1989. Hundreds of years ago, he reported, vendors would set up portable tubs at busy Tokyo intersections, and customers could have a quick bath. For an additional fee, the tub could be hauled around, so a bather could take in a variety of views. Koren's article brought readers into the present with a description of the same concept in a 20th-century guise: A hot-springs resort featured a cable car fitted with eight individual bathtubs, allowing guests to soak "while suspended over the ocean."
From left: A Paul Associates chaise percée presented the toilet as throne. At Eurodomus 4 in Turin, Italy, Eda Urbani showed a steel kitchen island for compact living spaces.
Besides the usual American Standard bath fixtures, Robert and Ellen Schroyer's Health & Beauty Center boasted exercise equipment and a TV to monitor activity in the nursery.
Hazel Dell Brown covered a kitchen's floor and walls with linoleum and provided a "diner" counter with flip-up stools.
From left: Interior Design Hall of Fame member Clodagh contributed a Japanese-style bathroom to New York's Kips Bay Decorator Show House. In the Japanese countryside, social barriers were breaking down in a bathhouse built over a hot spring.
Left, from top: Two shots demonstrate how all bathroom functions fit on a single column, designed by a pair of students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. The home-improvement loan department at Connecticut's Greenwich Federal Savings & Loan displayed a kitchen vignette projected for 2000; it offered a machine to make plastic plates rather than, say, bread or pasta.
With plastic-laminate stalls, the Formica Corporation proclaimed that public restrooms need no longer be the "stepchild" of design.
Evelyn Jablow Designs's stainless-steel mobile kitchen, commissioned by the American Iron and Steel Institute, could be rolled outside for garden parties.