The history of the bathtub is a complicated subject.
From a 3000-year-old five-foot long tub on a pedestal found on the island of Crete, to self-draining Greek baths, and from Roman bath houses to Victorian clawfoot bathtubs, the origin of the free-standing tub may never be known. And do we care? It’s their function and beauty we long for. Formerly, bathtubs were simple bucket-like containers that featured no plumbing; water was heated and then poured into the tub for bathing and very often the bather could only fit part of his or her body in the tub at one time. The materials used to construct them varied from metals like sheet copper and zinc to cast iron and porcelain.
However, I have a great story on the subject.
American scholar and journalist, H.L. Mencken wrote an article for the New York Evening Mail on December 28, 1917 entitled A Neglected Anniversary, where he states that the bathtub was invented on 20 December, 1842. The article was so convincing that the hoax lasted well into the 21st century. He saw it as harmless and thought he was providing a much-needed laugh in a time of war and found it preposterous that people took his article seriously and believed it was true even after putting in obvious absurdities. The power of the written word!
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Today, free-standing bathtubs are a centerpiece in bathroom design.
They are not built into a wall or anchored to the floor, but are an independent unit that can be moved. Most feature a fixture by which the tub can be filled with water for bathing and may or may not feature a shower head. These faucets can come out of the wall at the side of the tub or be a floor-mounted fixture.
Materials for tub production
vary greatly these days.
Where once enameled cast
iron was king, manufacturers
are looking to sustainable,
creative solutions for their
wares. One of those is
composite stone, a material
that has the appearance and
beauty of natural stone but
without the drawback of the
excess weight. Acrylic and resin
are popular sources but there are
other materials such as porcelain,
stainless steel, and wood.
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In March, we featured some of the new styles and technologies in bathtub design being exhibited at the Kitchen & Bath Industy Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas. Victoria + Albert, one of the House of Rohl brands founded in Shropshire, England, provided a wonderful showing this year. Their ENGLISHCAST™ freestanding tubs and basins are made of volcanic limestone mixed with resin and cast for high-performance. Moreover, they have ventured into the color-craze, offering 194 hues, in addition to six finishes.
The sleek and smooth designs are works of art in form and design. The various shapes, textures and colors will give your bathroom superb style, well beyond the average lavatory.
• • •
Aquatica specializes in recyclable materials. AquateX™ is their brand of solid surface made from composite material: 60% aluminum mineral derived from bauxite with weathered volcanic rock—a high percentage of natural materials; and a low percentage of state-of-the-art acrylic resins. Meticulous checking of each item that includes visual scrutiny and testing of all components to confirm every product is 100% fit for purpose and 100% recyclable.
Today’s luxury tubs are not just outfitted with air jets, in-line heaters, or speakers. New innovative features include:
- Ergonomic design
- Air massage and chromotherapy systems
- Thermo-insulating materials
- Surface shower panels
- Foot spas
- Audiotherapy/Acoustic transducers (full spectrum sound)
- Bluetooth stereo audio
- LED lighting
Wet Style is a company that has embraced and been recognized for their commitment to sustainable design. Winner of the 2015 Green GOOD DESIGN Award by the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, Wet Style developed WETMAR BIO™, an eco-friendly thermo-insulating material made primarily from a mix of soy and mineral stone. Non-porous and more durable than acrylic, it is slip resistant and exceptionally strong.
An industry first, Toto’s Flotation freestanding bathtub, has a new technology known as Zero Dimension Technology. This tub is shaped to simulate a zero-gravity floating position. It is slip-resistant, has an adjustable headrest, a Capacitive, or touch-sensitive keypad, and a toe touch drain and push-button design. That sounds like an amazing way to end the day.
If you are considering renovating a bathroom, you might want to consider the addition of a freestanding tub. One of the benefits to this style is that it opens up the space so, if you’re limited to a smaller footprint, this might be just what is needed. Happy soaking.