Taking the shine off
Bathrooms have been dominated by white gloss surfaces and shiny chrome brassware for as long as I can remember. It remains the default choice, perceived as sensible and practical. Yet there are good reasons to question this monopoly. Chrome can feel cold to the touch, and its distorted reflections don’t flatter a hung-over face in the morning. Gleaming white sanitaryware can be lovely, but what if you want more warmth or personality?
Designers who have experimented with bolder approaches to bathroom design have shared the results on social media, encouraging others. At Perrin & Rowe and Victoria + Albert we have seen an unprecedented demand for alternatives to the conventional options.
Victoria + Albert’s new matt finish is a response to this demand. It’s hard to describe its feel in print – you have to touch it, actually to stroke it, to really appreciate the difference. It’s soft and warm. It’s gentle to rest your skin against. The light is reflected diffusely, creating an atmosphere of natural relaxation. Matt is perfect for a spa-style bathroom.
It took a while to get the finish right. The effect is achieved through the moulding process, not through any surface application. So it is 100% matt, made in the same unique Quarrycast material that all Victoria + Albert baths and basins use, and with the same qualities of strength, durability and stain resistance. (It won’t be damaged by harsh shampoos or strange-smelling bath bombs!)
I love the matt finish in white, but the exterior of the baths and basins can also be specified in any of 194 RAL colours – easily matched with a wall covering for a truly bespoke bathroom.
My Dad ran the Perrin & Rowe business when I was a boy. Running around the factory, in the days before Health and Safety, all my brother and I would see were rows of chrome tap bodies. Now it’s all changed. The unlacquered brass finishes are first choice for many designers. Exposing the quality of the raw material, they patina beautifully over time, a natural and ever-evolving finish.
If you’re looking for a more subtle and less reflective finish don’t neglect pewter, however. A silver brushed metal finish, it can suit both contemporary styles and more traditional. For the recent KBB exhibition at the NEC we presented our Deco bath filler in Pewter, and it was one of the most photographed and Instagrammed displays.
So whatever your reflections on shiny surfaces, maybe it’s time to give matt a welcome?