11 August 2010

Italian bath design, is it what people think it is?

This is a Roman toilet. As in Ancient Roman.

And this is what just about every bathroom I've ever been in in Italy looks like.

Italian culture has been perfecting the art of indoor plumbing for thousands of years and they have it down to both an art and a science. From what I've seen, bath design in Italy is a matter of efficiency, hygiene and speed. I find a lot to admire in how they go about designing bathrooms.

But when I'm in the US and I go looking for Italian bath components, I find anything but the efficiency I so admire in Italy.

Check out this combo from Hidra:

Here's another one, a little more sedate and also from Hidra:

Or how about this one from Simas:

Here's a sink-bidet-toilet combination from Axa-Moss:

Here's another sink-toilet-bidet combo, this time from Ceramica Cielo:

Somewhere I can hear the voice of a young Haley Mills, "Father, I must have a pony..."

So if this is how Italian Sanitary ware shows up for the rest of the world, why doesn't it look like that in Italy? I've asked this question about Italian kitchen design before and I'm asking it again because I didn't get a satisfying enough answer.

Is Italian design just for export? Or do they keep it to themselves and leave the pedestrian stuff for American visitors (never a tourist here!). Do all countries do that?

To all my non-US people, how does American design show up where you are?

What is the state of Italian bath design anyhow? Is it somewhere in the wall-mounted wonders from Hidra or is my vacation picture more like it?


  1. Interesting coming after your last post.....
    Q. How does american design show up in Melbourne (Aus):
    A. " B I G ! ! ! " http://www.americanhomes.com.au/completedhomes.html

  2. Elisabeth: Ugh. That's exactly what they look like here. Cultural Imperialism is a many-headed monster.

  3. OK, I have to ask - Does everyone share a washcloth at the bidet?

  4. That's actually a hand towel. I've never seen a bidet in a public restroom, only in private homes or in hotel rooms. I suppose whether or not such towels are shared is a function of how intimately you know your housemates.

  5. Paul, are all these bath components actually manufactured in Italy or do they have sister- companies in the U.S.? -Brenda-

  6. Brenda: A surprising amount of Italian stuff is actually made there.

  7. Paul in that case, on the assumption that there is a demand for the products perhaps your question should be 'why do they appeal to the foreign consumer?' My guess; besides design 'n quality, word association may play a key role. Similar to a BMW; stylish with performance. German and foreign, though not necessarily so.

    As an 'non-US people', I give you two-thumbs up on American Design. Where it is manufactured and the price we as Canadians pay for it, is an all together different subject. -Brenda-

  8. I'm always floored when I see Canadian price tage in the US. Despite the fact that our currencies are at near parity, the gouging continues.

  9. This reminds me of when people from outside of Canada tell me how much they like Canadian beer. And then tell me that their idea of Canadian beer is.. Molson Canadian. Apparently we keep all the good stuff to ourselves too :) It makes me think that the Italians are watching people buy up the stuff they don't want and keep the good ones to themselves ;)


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