Stylish silicone for the bathroom
Elizabeth Lamark/RIT Production Services
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While some people may not see the bathroom as an area of the house to make a design statement, a line of thoughtful accessories for the powder room created by Josh Owen has received the attention of design exhibits around the world and even The New York Times.
Made from silicone rubber and wood, the “WC Line” that Owen designed for Kontextür comprises a visually colorful and interconnected collection of accouterments for the loo—including a toilet brush, plunger and wastebasket.
Why silicone, and in colors such as red, black, blue and (of course) orange?
“If you were asked to forget everything you know about the bathroom, would you choose ‘cold’ and ‘hard’ as the best characteristics to define the materials of the most intimate environment you use on a daily basis?” asks Owen, associate professor and chair of the industrial design program in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. “Besides being extremely durable and suitable for the flexibility, which is an intrinsic part of the functional design of most of the items, silicone is soft and warm.”
Owen developed the “WC Line” over a two-year period. “Design and development involved a good deal of back and forth between prototyping, sampling and working with the factories to solve the challenges of production,” he recalls.
He adds that he and Kontextür share a common goal “to define beauty through the creation and dissemination of smart, useful and sustainable design solutions.” A number of the pieces in Owen’s line, for example, feature handles with wood sourced locally to their manufacturing location.
His line won a GOOD DESIGN award— the oldest and most recognized program for design excellence worldwide— in late 2012. Some of his creations also received critical acclaim (such as in the Times) in New York City as part of last year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair and Design Week.
This year, several pieces were selected for an exhibition continuing through May in Washington, D.C., and several more will travel to Milan, Italy, next month.