With more than 200 years of history, the German company Duravit maintains an approach that sees important names in design - such as the historic collaboration with Philippe Starck - at the service of consumer bathroom products and not just luxury products. This is the case of the D-Neo collection designed by Belgian designer Bertrand Lejoly, who recently opened his own studio in Antwerp after being the Head of Product Design for Vincent Van Duysen for years and a long-time collaborator of Matteo Thun - an activity that led him to live in Milan for seven years. His approach is not much about a minimalist aesthetic per se, but more about a functionality that recalls the archetypes of the past to obtain simple but warm products. D-Neo is a complete collection consisting of washbasins, console and built-in units, vases, faucets and a bathtub and is aimed at an entry-level public: young people who are just beginning to furnish their first home.
Apparently, the entire collection seems to belong to a large-scale consumer market, but here’s the thing: what appears to be standard furniture is actually imbued with functional and aesthetic details that betray Lejoly’s long design experience. “Entry level products lack youthful and fresh products,” the designer explains, whom we met during Milan Design Week 2021. “We started from the washbasin to design the entire collection. We took the archetype of the washbasin and made a very thin frame along the outer edges, which is durable and easy to clean and developed it with Duravit engineers. In some cases, the surface of the washbasin extends so we can place toothbrushes or body care products that are part of our daily rituals in front of the mirror.”
The cabinet under the washbasin opens with a long, straight, extruded-aluminum handle that runs from side to side, “like a shadow,” as Lejoly explains, contrasting with the cabinet’s finishes, such as dark oak. Among the cabinets under the sink, we also find an open variant to be able to place accessories without it looking chaotic, and where the siphon remains covered. “This solution can also work well in hotels, to have more easy-to-use solutions. If you then need to hide the accessories, we also designed a variant with a standard drawer.”
Bertrand Lejoly’s approach is honest and doesn’t presume to revolutionize the way we use bathrooms with eccentric shapes and materials that are then difficult to maintain in the long run, especially for those who can’t afford cleaning services. “We did not work obsessively on the coordinated piece, each product had to have a sense and autonomy for itself. Another key aspect is the volume, which had to be as compact as possible.” The compactness is represented by the freestanding tub that is only 160 cm long, definitely a space-saving element compared to the standard 180 cm. To optimize space Lejoly used a thin layer of DuraSolid®, a type of Corian used by Duravit. Both the bathtub and the toilet take up the very strong inclination of the washbasin basins, giving coherence to the collection. “The satisfaction of this project stems from the compromise between my vision and the industrial processes to be discussed with the engineers in order to achieve a competitive price: a stimulating challenge.”