Transitional Style: transitions that create something new

The discussion and debate about current design trends has always been an important source of inspiration for us here at Dornbracht. One of the formative trends in interior design in recent years is the Transitional Style: a natural balance of established and new that is well thought out and inviting and quickly feels at home. Something new is created at the transitions – the interior design becomes a linking and vital part of the whole.

Just how wide-ranging and innovative this connection can appear is evident in the ideas of the well-known designers and architects we tasked with interpreting the Transitional Style using the leitmotif “Create a new balance”. The interior designers Rafael de Cárdenas from New York and Lex de Gooijer from Rotterdam, the Neri&Hu architectural design practice based in Shanghai and the architecture and design duo Irina Kromayer and Etienne Descloux from Berlin prepared visions of what “transitional” means to them. The basis for their work was to be VAIA– a series of fittings created by Sieger Design that took as its inspiration the versatile and progressive elegance of the Transitional Style.

Dornbracht Transitional Style

Contemporary references + established tradition = stylish transitions

How do you design a Transitional Style interior? Which materials, textures, colours and forms do you use and how do you combine them? And how can you combine the balancing act of traditional and contemporary references with new and individual ideas? Rafael de Cárdenas, Lex de Gooijer, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, Irina Kromayer and Etienne Descloux, have all found impressive answers to these questions and brought different interior design influences into balance.

From Past to Present – inspired by the ideas of Rafael de Cárdenas

Brick and Corian, smoked glass and moss, bog oak, cognac-coloured leather and a violet carpet. Add to this black marble in harmony with Dark Platinum matt – a dark, lightly brushed silk-matt finish that radiates warmth and originality. Signs of use encounter shiny and new, sweeping curves encounter highly angular monoliths, nature encounters architecture. The bathroom as a progressive area of conflict between traditional and modern. The fluid boundaries of Transitional Style begin their impressive motion.

Daydreams for the future, but always focused on the past

“We favour the strategic over the thematic, the cosmopolitan over the typological and the atmospheric over the static. Ever-focused on the contemporary, we take diligent note of the past while day-dreaming the future.” (Rafael de Cárdenas)

Rafael de Cárdenas / Architecture at Large – experience and creativity in numerous dimensions

Rafael de Cárdenas established his multi-disciplinary studio Architecture at Large in New York in 2006, later added a branch office in London and is now a global presence – projects range from furniture and object design to spatial arrangement and art consulting, to brand development of products or residential projects. He works together with a small and dedicated group of professional creative designers from diverse backgrounds, including fashion designers, artists, artisans or dancers.

Traditional elegance with new ideas – Transitional Style by Rafael de Cárdenas

The most striking aspect of Rafael de Cárdenas’ interpretation of Transitional Style is its unusual spatial form. Chapel-like alcoves linked by arched doorways emerge from the soft, curving S-shape of the layout and give the structure an almost sacred feel. The transparent dome lets in natural light and literally keeps the architecture open to the recurring cycle of day and night. Traditional elegance and new ideas mingle extravagantly here.

Healing Effects – inspired by the ideas of Neri&Hu

Marble and concrete, brass and wood, natural light and the elegant Platinum matt finish. The traditional Asian influences are as perceptible here as the urge to create something new. A balance that seems progressive, yet also healing. The Transitional Style idea becomes a meditation about place, texture and (bathroom) culture in the twenty-first century.

Dornbracht Transitional Style

Water as emotional and physical healing

“Here in Asia, water is not just something you drink or use for cleansing. For us, water also means emotional and physical healing. The ostensible transition area that we have created is possibly irrelevant in many cultures, but here in Asia we see water, the atrium and ultimately also the idea of life itself rather differently.” (Lyndon Neri)

Neri&Hu Design and Research Office – research as a tool for the design process

The Neri&Hu Design and Research Office was established by Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu in Shanghai in 2004. The interdisciplinary architectural design practice works worldwide with and for architecture, interiors, master planning, graphics and product design. Neri&Hu firmly believe that research is a tool in the process of design: the critical examination of the special features of the product range, the location, the function and the history. Their work is based on the results of research, keeping more to the dynamic interaction between experience, details, materials, forms and light than stereotyped style.

The bathroom as a place of transition – Transitional Style by Neri&Hu

Neri&Hu understand the idea of Transitional Style primarily in terms of architecture: the bathroom as a place in which to linger and regenerate, as a source of energy and a place of transition. The washstand is seen as a key and communicative meeting place. This gives rise to some important references for bathroom architecture.

Dornbracht Transitional Style

Celebrating life’s daily rituals

“In this collaboration with Dornbracht, we took up the challenge of looking into the ‘transitional’ idea, the transition area, not just from the point of view of style, but also in terms of culture, physical space and materials. Right from the start, we knew that we wanted to create an environment that incorporated all these aspects. So we imagined a fictional place, a house where two characters are living: an introvert and an extrovert.

“The everyday rituals of life are celebrated and raised to the status of a ceremony.” Bathing and cleansing became an emotional journey to a deeper connection with your inner self and also with the outside world. Sleeping and learning are the most intimate moments of our day. The psychology of these activities is manifest in the walls, the openings, the materials and the details.” (Lyndon Neri)

Selected materials highlight the narrative of transition

“We mean to confront raw with refined, cold with hot. This gives rise to the feeling of inhabiting a roughly drawn up shell structure, with added and valued components to enrich the experience. The interaction of these materials with the environment is even more crucial. The concrete, the stone and the metals – even the water, which we regard as “building materials” – are constantly changing, according to the lighting conditions and the season.” (Lyndon Neri)

Individual perspectives for innovative bathroom architectures: Lex de Gooijer, Irina Kromayer and Etienne Descloux

Lex de Gooijer, Irina Kromayer and Etienne Descloux approached the Transitional Style in sketches and draft designs, as well as studies of photos and materials. Each of them introduced their individual perspectives. While architect de Gooijer proceeded “from the outside in” and took his inspiration from the exclusive “New Orleans Tower” in his home town of Rotterdam, interior designers Irina Kromayer and Etienne Descloux saw the fitting itself as the starting point of the creative process. During an excursion into material, they initially placed VAIA in the new Dark Bronze matt finish in different urban environments, deriving their bathroom concept from their observations.

The unique character of nature – inspired by the ideas of Lex de Gooijer

Dutchman Lex de Gooijer is a graduate of the famous Willem de Kooning Academy and defines himself as an interior designer who thinks holistically and acts in context, always looking for harmony in his designs. Nature and its unique character are the main sources of inspiration for De Gooijer’s approach to the “Create a new balance” assignment. In his bathroom design, the environment for Vaia in Dark Brass matt is made up of different coloured natural stones combined with herringbone-effect oak boards. “On the one hand, it is an opulent look, but at the same time it remains modest, with captivating sophistication”, says Lex de Gooijer.

Dornbracht VAIA

Natural elements, bronze object and Art Déco details

He decided to use two kinds of marble: “wave marble”, with a distinctively organic, wave-like structure and “four seasons marble”, with expressive graining. For de Gooijer, they are the perfect embodiment of the timelessness that is characteristic of the Transitional Style. “Nature creates the most amazing aesthetics, which are superior to any trend”, says de Gooijer. He also confronts these natural elements with elegant bronze objects and Art Déco inspired details, reminiscent of the cosmopolitan yet classical look of a grand hotel.

Tower block as role model – Transitional Style by Lex de Gooijer

De Gooijer derived the geometric and exclusively cuboid-based architecture of his bathroom design from the floor plan of a building that he finds particularly fascinating: the Álvaro Siza Vieira designed “New Orleans Tower”, a prominent feature of the Rotterdam skyline . This seemed to him to be the ideal inspiration to give his designs an international and urban character. He was also fascinated by the quayside location of the building. The resultant interaction of architecture and water is reflected in the structure of the “wave marble” in his bathroom design.

Timeless and unconventional interior design – inspired by the ideas of Irina Kromayer and Etienne Descloux

Interior designer Irina Kromayer, a resident of Berlin and Swiss architect Etienne Descloux frequently work together on projects. This is in pursuit of the duo’s ambition to create interior design that is timeless yet unconventional. Descloux and Kromayer understand Transitional Style as the symptom of a society that is questioning learned traditions and forms. “When working with VAIA, we wanted to break away from the patterns that have been handed down”, adds Kromayer.

Excursion into material finds a chameleon

This resulted in the idea of positioning VAIA in Dark Bronze matt in different urban contexts. During an excursion into material, Kromayer and Descloux observed the effect of the fitting, of its colouring and material in the particular environment. “We discovered that Vaia is an excellent ‘chameleon’ – especially in the colouring of the Dark Bronze matt finish.”

Urban bathroom for a loft or studio apartment – Transitional Style by Irina Kromayer and Etienne Descloux

Material combinations discovered in the course of the excursion are reflected in the bathroom concept that was subsequently developed by Kromayer and Descloux. A place where cool tiles and plain mirrors encounter warm wood tones in a diamond pattern and colourful ceramics encounter relief-pattern glass. It was important to them both to create a tangible and realistic context for VAIA. A modular screen system acting as a flexible room divider is the basis for their urban bathroom. “It could be located in a loft, but just as easily in a studio apartment”, explains Irina Kromayer.

Dornbracht – inspired by architecture, arts & artists

The sources of our inspiration are many and varied: from the many years spent working in partnership with Sieger Design, to internationally famous architects and designers, to the contemporary artists who since 1966 have been realising exhibitions and projects with the Dornbracht Culture Projects. There has been a continuous discourse over the years – located in the area of conflict between art, music, architecture and design and the company and its products.

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