Could it be the quiet, safe and serene environment in which we lived immersed in our mother’s womb that hints at our need to find sanctuary, peace and repose submerged in a beautiful embracing tub or does it speak to our innate desire to replenish our weary body, spirit and mind by seeking renewal in the form of a warm, therapeutic bath in which our troubles quickly dissolve? The bath is a place where not only are our bodies cleansed, refreshed and re-energized, but our spirits can soar to new heights as they are nourished by the indulgence of self-care with the vital understanding that in achieving private wellness we are committing ourselves to a healthy lifestyle.
Though indulging in the bathing ritual of renewal and cleansing is as old as human history, the concept of bathing has at times suffered from a historical misconception – with many believing that with the fall of the Roman Empire and the precipitous plummet into the Dark Ages that bathing had faded out of vogue only to reappear during the Age of Enlightenment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Early records pre-dating the Renaissance indicate that the ritual of bathing not only for cleansing one’s body, but for renewing one’s spirit was common place in many countries and regions from Asia to Europe to the Middle East. And, many of the bathing sites and rituals rivaled those set by the famed Roman Baths. Actually, the act of bathing was quite often a social affair as described by celebrated architect, Bernard Rudosfsky,
In the Middle Ages, an epoch generally dismissed as dark and dirty, men and women bathed together and took their time about it. They often remained in the water for a meal, served on floating tables, and in time the bath became the favorite place for banquets, accompanied by song and music, with the musicians seated in the water. Men kept their hats on, women were impeccably groomed for the occasion–from the navel upwards, wearing chokers and necklaces, turbans and towering headdresses.
Unimaginable bathing behavior today, but one that is nonetheless steeped in the importance of the bathing ritual – important enough to warrant such pomp and circumstance. According to Rudosfsky’s writings the wealthy could also choose to bathe privately,
For the stay-at-home a wooden tub was brought to the bed-chamber and filled with hot water. If the chronicles are to be believed, the wealthy had elaborate installations with pipes made of gold and silver, and one Heinrich von Veldecke, an epic poet, sang the praises of a golden tub.
Von Veldecke may have song the praises of a golden tub during those tumultuous and dark days of the Middle Ages, but if he were alive today, he would no doubt be composing poetry heralding the luxurious experience that Italian luxury bath manufacturer Gessi has ushered into the world of design. And, when future design historians look back at the bathing rituals of 21st century humans, they will see reference after reference to Gessi’s inimitable dedication to “Eleganza” inextricably woven into the luxe bathing tapestry of “Private Wellness”.
My first encounter with the Gessi brand occurred nearly two years ago at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City. To this day, I still remember the moment Gessi stole my heart. I was quickly walking away from one appointment and hastily making my way to the next one, when it happened. Out of the corner of my eye I spied a bath sink and faucet unlike any I had ever seen. A graceful, tall and slender swan-like neck of elegant chrome gently curved down forming a suspended teardrop over a platinum-finish bath basin. “Sheer artistry,” I thought, and was delighted that I had had the good fortune to stumble upon it. With the knowledge that I only had a few minutes to spare, I entered the booth. The Gessi booth was designed to captivate – to capture your imagination, heart and soul and I immediately realized, once inside, that I would indeed be slightly late to my next appointment. I didn’t want to leave until I had learned the story behind each of the exquisite and luxurious bath fixtures.
This spring I found myself reunited with Gessi while in Milan with the Blogtour team. We had been invited to a private tour of the Gessi Concept Lab and showroom located in Milan’s posh fashion district. We were greeted by a lush courtyard oasis and guided further into the Gessi paradise by the gentle, rhythmic sound of cascading waterfalls emanating from deep within the brilliantly transformed former cinema building. Once inside the subterranean showroom with sparkling, sapphire blue pools, labyrinth-like staircases and vignette after vignette of bespoke bath designs, I knew I was falling in love all over again and didn’t want to leave – ever. That’s the magic of Gessi and its core vision of creating elegantly designed sanctuaries of “Private Wellness” that, even if only for an ephemeral period of time, will transport you to a serene fantasy world far away from the day-to-day chaos.
The Gessi showroom is a perfect illustration of the company’s dedication to using quality craftsmanship, artistry, and innovative technology in combination with incomparable luxury and glamour to express via design the centuries old ritual of bathing. Gessi embraces the concept of creating a complete lifestyle experience with respect to the bath – yes, they are in the business of designing and manufacturing bath fixtures – but for them that is only part of the design experience. They want to design completely immersive bespoke experiences and that means everything from the bath fixtures to the bathrobes and bath linens to the wall coverings and flooring and to the furniture and decor, every piece of every vignette on display had a story, and many of those unique décor and fashion pieces crafted by artists, craftsman and independent designers were available for purchase along with the Gessi bath fixtures – offering buyers the opportunity to acquire the entire curated experience for their homes.
Sadly, as was the case in New York, my enchanting sojourn with Gessi came to an end much too soon – it was pre-destined as reality’s alarm clock rang loud announcing the next appointment on our whirlwind trip through Milan. But, I made sure to bring back many memories of my favorite bath vignettes from the Gessi showroom to keep me inspired and to fuel my dream of one day making the artfully indulgent Gessi bath design experience an integral element in my home. I hope you enjoy these photos, and that you, too, are inspired to fall in love with Gessi.
Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this post are all my own. The trip to Venice and Milan with BlogTour Milan was made possible by the generous sponsorship provided by BLANCO America,Gessi, Clever Storage by Kesseboehmer, Dekton by Cosentino, the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and Modenus.