The period from the end of WWI to the beginning of the 1950s created a style revolution that impacted on fine art, design and architecture with the slogan "function should always dictate form". Modernism reflected the excitement of the machine age, and the rise of technology was reflected in the clean lines and stripped down look of buildings by Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Bauhaus School; in bold graphic art and typography; and the cubism of Picasso.
This was the era when pictures began to talk, when women were emancipated by the Jazz Age and when the automobile brought speed and freedom. The influence of Modernism is still felt strongly in modern design with the classic designs of Alvar Aalto and Charles Eames still being faithfully reproduced today. Living space became austere and sleek, with only the most functional of furnishings, and the rise of modern plumbing saw a similar stripped back style with the introduction of the functional bathroom with low maintenance tiling and the uncluttered bathroom suite.
- Chic, sleek and austere with rooms deliberately under-furnished
- Use of modern materials like tubular steel, plastic, fibreglass and laminates
- Abstract motifs derived from nature and bright primary colours.
- Engineering and the rise in mechanisation and technology
- The rise in consumerism post WWI
- The Arts and Crafts movement and the interest in pared-back design.
Tips and Tricks
Ceramics - to create the modern take on a Modernist bathroom, look for ceramic suites with clean lines and bold graphic shapes. Choose a freestanding bath with a curved organic shell to soften the look, and complement with sleek square basins. Play with scale and symmetry to create a Modernist style but keep the look uncluttered.
Furniture - one large floating vanity unit, and hidden storage if necessary will achieve sleek Modernist lines.
Floor - the only choice for a Modernist bathroom floor is tiling. However, you can take Modernist cues from the boldness of the Brazilian Modernist movement with hot oranges and yellows, or the coolness of Finnish Modernism using marble and monochromes. Concrete, wood flooring or sheet vinyl are also in keeping with variations of the Modernist look.
Colours schemes - keep your Modernist bathroom true to the principles of Bauhaus and opt for a monochrome scheme or take your cues from Brasilia and introduce turquoise and burnt orange with tropical greens. The prairie Modernism of Frank Lloyd Wright is all about using organic materials in modernist ways, so opt for beautiful wood and stone tones.
Lighting - recessed spots are the obvious choice for the sleek Modernist bathroom.
Walls - paint your walls white, tile them floor to ceiling or use a concrete paint to achieve a 'brutalist' look. Mirror tiles covering one wall are another authentic and stunning choice, or create a glass brick wall to screen a shower or toilet.
Accessories - keep these to a bare minimum as Modernism is all about achieving the 'less is more' look. Introduce pops of bright colour with art.