Show Navigation

The Art of the Bespoke Bath

Once upon a time, the bath was merely a functional space. Get in, get out — and fast — was the raison d’être for even the most luxurious lavatories. Not today. Modern bath spaces have transcended the bathe-and-bolt model, as affluent homeowners have sought to make grander design statements with sanctuaries that are completely customized to their individual tastes and styles. Whether it’s adorning the bath with a one-of-a-kind backlit onyx sink or a monogrammed crystal-inset faucet, it is increasingly common to see bath customizations that are tailored to a homeowner’s exact desires and tastes.

“Wealth has grown tremendously in the last 20 years,” explains Pedro Uranga, North American director for THG Paris, a French manufacturer of bathroom fittings and accessories. “It’s become a little bit of a sport. To have a home built exactly to your measure, from top to bottom, is like displaying a trophy. More and more designers are venturing into this world, of molding the house around the client.”

Uranga would know. THG is known as the “luxury atelier of bathroom fittings.” Mastering the French tradition of fusing one-of-a-kind craftsmanship and artistry with precious materials, THG Paris is an obvious resource for some of the luxury residential sector’s most beautiful, daring (and expensive) bath customizations. In the last three years, requests for bath customizations among the most affluent homeowners have grown by 30% to 40% — especially those who live overseas. About 5% of the company’s business is residential customizations at the very highest end of the market, with about 20% of its business in the hospitality sector.

“It’s something we’ve always done, and it is part of our DNA,” Uranga says. “Requests for complete custom bath projects have grown exponentially in the last year because clients are demanding them, and it’s easier to do customizations thanks to automation and computers.”

To get more insight into the rarified world of bespoke baths, Homes & Estates recently sat down for a tête-à-tête with Uranga.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Has the desire for a bespoke bath increased recently?

Pedro Uranga Yes, we have certainly seen an increase over the years for more bespoke bath designs. The clientele of the high-end residential market — we are talking about homes for high-net-worth individuals—want something signature for their home.

For instance, we currently offer 40 different finishes, but we are seeing more requests for additional custom finishes outside of our standard selection. We have also taken many of the bespoke requests clients have designed and modified them to create a new THG Paris standard line of products. Examples of this include our Beluga collection, which started as a custom project, the Jaipur collection, which was originally designed for The Peninsula Hotel in Shanghai, and our popular Profil collection with Lalique crystal inlays we modified for a honeymoon suite. We’ve designed faucets in the shape of a yacht and have created a golf-themed collection. The allure of these customizations for clients is that no one else has them. We once had a gentleman who wanted eight faucets with spouts in the shape of his favorite Sterling for his horse ranch in the Middle East. They were made of solid brass and very intricately detailed.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What is the general price range for bath customizations?

Pedro Uranga It varies. For personalizations where we might match a handle and use an existing spout, the price starts at approximately $2,000 per faucet. As the faucet design calls for more detailing and use of high-end materials — for example, if we add stones with cut fossils at the top of a handle — the faucet becomes more expensive. Bath customization is more than just the design — it requires a review of engineering, renderings and molds. The price of a project with customized fixtures throughout the entire house can range anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Do you think this trend is also being driven by the hospitality industry?

Pedro Uranga I think that’s a myth. Customizations are driven by design. Even in the residential market, designers are being daring, and clients are being bolder. For example, interior designer Timothy Corrigan’s inspiration for his THG Paris line came from a client who said, “I don’t want anything in the house that can be had by anyone else.”

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury You mentioned Timothy Corrigan. How did that relationship come about?

Pedro Uranga Timothy Corrigan has been a client and friend to THG Paris for years, using many of our products in his projects. He wanted his product to be highly customizable, with different insert and different side skirt (base of handle) options. He wanted his collection to be something that people could play with.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Design collaborations are a THG Paris hallmark. Where do you see the collaborations intersecting with customizations?

Pedro Uranga The development of a product is often part of the inspiration that comes from the designer when building a project for the client, whether it’s a hotel, house or yacht. They come to us and say, “We’re building a house that has this certain feature. We should have a faucet like this.” The yacht sector is where everyone applies innovation and experimentation in design, because the budgets are so much higher. You may have an expensive home priced at $50 million, but a mega yacht may be worth $300 million.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What sorts of styles are most people gravitating toward when it comes to customized faucetry?

Pedro Uranga We are seeing more transitional, traditional and classic modern styles. We don’t see a lot of customization in the contemporary sector. For ultra-modern products, it’s less relevant because the design is often so minimal.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What are the most popular finishes people are asking you for right now?

Pedro Uranga For residential projects, we found the most popular finish requests are for colors homeowners can live with for many years, which usually translate to warmer finishes and variations of gold. After that, we see requests for finishes that have more textures, more patina or more character. We also create many bespoke faucets for the private aircraft industry, where custom finishes like a black matte or gun metal with a swirl finish, or brushed finishes are desired for the entire airplane — but we typically don’t see this in residential projects.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Are there any interesting details, materials or design elements that are being requested?

Pedro Uranga Our company is known for its meticulous selection and work with high-end materials like semiprecious stones, crystal, porcelain and natural marble. Recently, we are seeing requests for faucets outfitted with natural stones such as onyx and ebony. In a recent residential project in Miami, we used a unique white enamel finish to create a “Miami modern” look.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What are some of the most elaborate or over-the-top custom faucet designs that THG Paris has been involved with?

Pedro Uranga The Masque de Femme, which features a mounting of crystal resting on a bezel at the base. First, we engrave the handles with Masque de Femme’s intricate pattern. Next, our artisans hand-enamel the pattern with two to three different tones. There are very few craftsmen in our Picardy factory — about two hours west of Paris — who can execute this skill, though we employ about 250 artisans. It’s a beautiful work of art.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What is the most expensive faucet THG Paris has ever designed?

Pedro Uranga Masque de Femme or Beyond Crystal, which are both standard collections from THG Paris. We do an LED version for Beyond Crystal that illuminates the faucet. The starting price for this collection is approximately $20,000.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Do you expect to see the trend of customizations continue?

Pedro Uranga Yes. When THG Paris started over 60 years ago, the company recognized each interior of a luxury home is different, with its own individual style and discerning taste. We have seen the affluent homeowner become more discerning in design, which has led to the growth and number of bespoke projects coming out of our design studio over the years. It is our job to bring a client’s vision to reality.

By Alyson Pitarre

This story originally appeared in Homes & Estates magazine. 

You Just Read:

The Art of the Bespoke Bath

More Interior Design Stories