Friday Favorites 1/24/2014

January 24, 2014

Stacy Kunstel, Homes Editor
There’s nothing like an absolutely electric interior to get your blood moving when it’s freezing outside. When I’m looking for a jolt, I turn to wallpaper, fabric, and pillow designer Mariska Meijers of the Netherlands for my warming fix. Her color-saturated creations are an antidote to the cold, frowns, and any seasonal light disorder you may suffer from this time of year. If you’re headed to Maison & Objet in Paris next week you can see her in person—or head to her website to find out where she’s carried stateside.

Photo courtesy of Mariska Meijers.

Maria LaPiana, Contributing Writer
An authentic Japanese soaking tub known as an ofuro is short and steep-sided, always made of wood (hinoki, also used for building Shinto temples, is favored), and never used for washing. I learned this while researching an article on freestanding bathtubs. I admit to being confused when a Google search promptly took me to websites for Jacuzzi, Kohler and American Standard, all of whom make nice, deep, conventional tubs. But I discovered that manufacturers and bath designers alike often misuse the term; they say “Japanese soaking tub” when what they really mean is “a tub deep enough for total immersion and long baths.” It’s not surprising. The centuries-old Japanese tradition of relaxing up to your chin in steaming hot water after a long, tiring day is more than a little appealing to Westerners. But to be clear, even the deepest, most Zen-inspired bath is not an ofuro. A Japanese soaking tub is part of a daily ritual: you take a shower or sponge bath first, then soak. The tubs are made of aromatic woods such as hinoki, a type of cypress known for its anti-bacterial qualities, longevity, and woodsy-citrusy scent, especially when heated (unlike a hot tub, an ofuro has no independent heat source). A plus: because you sit and don’t lie down in them, many of these tubs can fit into smaller spaces. Purists will want to visit Bartok Design, a Tokyo company that will customize your tub—you choose the wood, style of construction, size, shape and installation. Also check out Zen Bathworks, an Alaska-based company that makes all of its tubs by hand.

Photo courtesy of Zen Bathworks.

Photo courtesy of Indigenous Tiles.

Photo courtesy of Rapsel.

Photo courtesy of Zen Bathworks.

Photo courtesy of Bartok Design.

Photo courtesy of Bisazza.