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Design / Interior architecture / Nicola Bertini: “Once a purely functional space, the bathroom has become a cocoon where you take care of yourself”

Nicola Bertini: “Once a purely functional space, the bathroom has become a cocoon where you take care of yourself”

Devon & Devon and Gensler have joined forces to create Holiday and Dove, two modular baths with classic and contemporary lines. Interview with Nicola Bertini, CEO of the Florentine company, and Daniel Stromborg, director of product design at the American architecture and design studio, who reveal that their bathtubs illustrate a change in the status of the bathroom space.

Gensler is recognized worldwide for its skyscrapers, such as the Shanghai Tower, the tallest in China. Why is an architecture studio developing a bathroom object today?

Daniel Stromborg. Gensler has been developing hotel and residential products for a few years. The only space for which we had not yet realized an object was the bathroom. We then took the time to learn about what was on the market, and what was missing. And the result goes beyond the simple design of a bathtub: it is a question here of providing a reference object for designers and interior architects, which offers a new experience and an innovative modular product.

Why did Devon & Devon choose Gensler architecture studio?

Nicola Bertini. To understand our choice, we have to go back a few years. When it started, Devon & Devon produced in-house, with the aim of gaining a lasting foothold in the market. Since then, our reputation has been established and we have deemed it appropriate to explore collaborations with architects. Our choice fell in particular on Gensler, a hotel and residential specialist. This means that she had a deep understanding of the needs of this clientele that we were seeking to reach. We then chose to work with Daniel (Stromborg), and his team, because he could respect the style that made our reputation, and bring a touch of modernity.

Is Gensler thinking of continuing to make bathroom accessories?

DS We had already made bathroom accessories for the Canadian brand Umbra, between commercial and residential. We are currently developing a series of taps with Devon & Devon, which will complete the range of Holiday and Dove bathtubs. Since as design professionals, we strive to sublimate the space as well as what it contains, to transmit an experience of use with the help of accessories. Accessories that are none other than the taps you turn on in your hotel room.

Daniel Stromborg, directeur de la conception produits chez Gensler © Gensler
Nicola Bertini, PDG de Devon&Devon © Devon&Devon

Does this suggest an evolution in the relationship with the bathroom space?

NB For 30 years, we have observed an evolution in the use of the bathroom. A change in which we also believe: once a purely functional space, it has become a cocoon where we take care of ourselves, which protects us from the outside world. A change all the more necessary in current conditions.

You say that Holiday and Dove mark “a radical change in the traditional approach to the design, production and customization of bathtubs”. How is this the case?

DS Our intention was not to replace the designer or interior designer, but rather to create a solution, an experience, as customizable as possible. All the more so as they seek to appropriate it to find a place for it in a space. The modular approach thus offers a multitude of customization opportunities: the rim of the Holiday model, for example, allows the taps to be incorporated directly on the bathtub.

You launched both tubs on the market on June 16, 2020. How long did the development process take?

DS The creation process took about six months, from market research to the first prototypes. First, we had to learn about the Art Deco style, and its “Streamline Modern” branch, which we did not necessarily know and which was the non-negotiable condition of the Devon & Devon brief. Our work resulted in two distinct products: one modern and the other closer to demand. From there we mixed the two to create Holiday and Dove. When you think about it, it’s a relatively short timeframe, especially since these bathtubs are the first bathroom objects that my team and I made.

The body of the two bathtubs and that of the shell are made of White Tec Plus. What is this material?

NB On the one hand, we bet on the archetype rather than classic lines. We offer bathtubs that will still be relevant in 30 years or more. Such a promise involves using a material that will allow it to last. On the other hand, we guarantee modularity, which means using a material that is light and moldable as desired. We have thus developed White Tech Plus, made from partially recycled minerals, combined with resins, which gives it increased resistance.
DS It is a material that can be repaired very easily too. For example, if someone has to cut an apple on the edge of the bathtub, and they scratch or break it, just inject a resin-based paste into it and then sand it.

Rémi de Marassé

Holiday sans plinthe © Devon&Devon
Holiday avec plinthe lisse © Devon&Devon
Holiday avec plinthe © Devon&Devon
Dove sans plinthe © Devon&Devon
Dove avec plinthe © Devon&Devon
Dove sur pieds © Devon&Devon