Tuesday, July 5, 2011

MODA: Water Dream

Water Dream tub
Water Dream tub
Is there anything more inviting than a luxurious bathroom with all the latest gizmos and gadgets?

Perhaps the newest exhibition at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), "Water Dream: The Art of Bathroom Design," can answer that question for us.

Water Dream, running now through Saturday, September 24, 2011, delves into the allure of bathroom design that goes well beyond function…and into the dream world.

From hundreds of rubber ducks on the sidewalk of their Peachtree Street address to “The Making of a Faucet” to the invocation of future, serene and ethereal bathroom settings, Water Dream is in fact a journey.

Gallery One: The Timeline

Bathroom design timeline
Bathroom design timeline
Gallery One, the hallway that flanks Gallery Two leading to Gallery Three, just might be my favorite in the Museum. The creative use of this space is absolutely brilliant.

You know that feeling of utter delight when you’re researching a project or writing a paper and you find the perfect source of information? That same feeling is what you get in Gallery One…you want to yell, “Jackpot!”

For Water Dream, the story of bathroom design—its history, specifically—begins in 1870! The timeline continues with major bathroom inventions throughout the years and brings visitors to the latest developments in bathroom design.

Gallery Two: The Faucets

Queen Mary fauctes
Queen Mary faucets
Someone left the water running! Gallery Two has more faucets than my local Home Depot. Not really, but there’s a virtual cornucopia of them in this gallery.

Don’t get your hopes up…my reference to a retailer doesn’t mean that Water Dream’s faucets are for sale. Actually, they chronicle the evolution of the bathroom—through faucets.

The artifacts in this gallery also tell of bathroom luxury, specifically with examples of faucets found on the Queen Mary ocean liner, the Manderin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona (every Manderin Oriental Hotel I’ve been in has indeed been luxurious!), and the “Volcano” soccer stadium in Mexico.

There’s also a display of faucet design specifically for children’s bathrooms. It’s perfectly alright to giggle when you see them.

Gallery Three: Water Dream

Philippe Starck design
Philippe Starck design
This exhibition has everything but the kitchen sink…for obvious reasons. They do, however, have lots of bathroom sinks…after all, you have to for a bathroom design exhibition, right? And bathroom tubs! Lots of tubs!

In Galley Three you learn about Philippe Starck, the designer responsible for a revolution that more than a decade ago reinvented the bathroom.

Beyond that catalyst for a modern approach to bathroom design, there was Water Dream, the project, which is seen in this gallery.

In 2005, Axor, a company that manufacturs bathroom fixtures, challenged a trio of European designers—Jean-Marie Massaud, the Bouroullec brothers, and Patricia Urquiola—to take the bathroom one step further, by challenging old assumptions and creating bathroom fixtures that emotionally reconnect their users emotionally with the 330 million cubic miles of water that circulate on or near the surface of the Earth. The bathrooms they conceived celebrate the transformative qualities of water in the domestic realm.”

Water Dream
Water Dream
Patricia Uriquola’s designs are reminiscent of the pioneer days, coupled with an ultra-modern sleekness. She has shown in Milan and has been published in the International Design Yearbook.

When asked about her design philosophy, she said, “I want people to approach my products and to want to touch them.”

If when you’re walking around exploring, don’t be alarmed when you hear birds chirping. They’re not invading; they’re part of the exhibition. Although not real, they are animatronic…a fun embellishment.

Bouroullec Brother
Bouroullec Brothers
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec said about design in general, “We like the idea of letting the user decide how to use an object.”

Their approach to bathroom design, for the Water Dream project, is definitely minimalistic, but enticing at the same time. As a matter of fact, visitors are invited to “customize” the Bouroullec bathroom themselves. How cool is that?!

Jean-Marie Massaud
Jean-Marie Massaud
Jean-Marie Massaud’s largest project to date is “Volcano,” the 50,000-seat soccer stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico (Go Chivas!).

When he started working on the Water Dream project, he brought nature inside. With nature as his inspiration, pebbles, branches, logs, and grasses make it into his bathroom design. His shower-through-the-ceiling I think is my favorite feature.

The Team

Water Dream
Water Dream
I’m not sure if the folks at the information and ticketing desk are museum staff, interns, or volunteers (yes, there are volunteer opportunities at MODA!), but their professionalism and courtesy are outstanding…and that always makes for a more pleasant experience.

Although not exactly a hands-on exhibition (most of it’s not anyway), throughout the exhibit’s run they’re also tasked with making about a gazillion fingerprints disappear. That, I suppose, is a challenge of such a shiny exhibition.

The necessity to meet that challenge addresses our original question: “Is there anything more inviting than a luxurious bathroom?” Evidence of so many fingerprints I think answers the question loud and clear…people are drawn to luxury, even in the bathroom.

Upcoming Exhibits

Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Posters
October 2, 2011 – January 1, 2012

The Opulent Object in Wood, Metal and Fiber: Richard Mafong, Mike Harrison, and Jon Eric Riis
October 2, 2011 – January 1, 2012

Young Architect’s Forum: Emerging Voices 2011
January 11, 2012 – January 22, 2012

Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave
February 5, 2012 – June 3, 2012

The Return

Did Water Dream whet my appetite for bathroom design enough to bring me back? Sure. I love this museum. While it’s modest in size compared to its neighbor across the street, the High Museum of Art, it packs a lot of information into its exhibitions. Their innovation and creativity alone are enough to keep me coming back…actually, I can hardly wait to see what they do next!

Touring the Museum of Design Atlanta

Date toured: Saturday, July 2, 2011
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Thursday open until 8:00 p.m.); Sundays 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Closed Mondays
Location: 1315 Peachtree Street (
directions and map)
Cost: $10 adults; $8 seniors and military; $5 students and children; members free
Parking: Street parking and nearby parking garages
Website: http://www.museumofdesign.org/

Mo'Duck and Friends
Mo'Duck and Friends

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