State of the plumbing art: 10 examples of cutting-edge bathroom design

Regardless of who you are, you’re going to come in contact with plumbing fixtures every day. Where a simple outhouse festooned with a half-moon might have sufficed in days of yore, now there’s a 21st-century renaissance going on with toilets, faucets and the like. Designers, and the plumbing companies employing them, are encouraging us to make the most of our daily ablutions, and have risen to the occasion with admirable aplomb.

In search of the ideal bathroom components, we scoured the world for the prettiest potties, the most sumptuous sinks and the best of the bodacious baths, all certain to help you to complete your daily bathroom tour with style and grace. Prepare to be dazzled; hit Continue for the best of the best…

Design Odyssey Vertebrae
Here’s a space-saving idea that’s decidedly space age. Design Odyssey Vertebrae is an all-in-one fixture with water flowing into it from the top, giving you a shower, a cistern for storing water, a couple of storage areas, a sink and a toilet, all in one stack.

Hansgrohe Showerpleasure XXL
If there’s a bigger shower head in this world, we haven’t seen it. Team up this Hansgrohe Showerpleasure XXL with a few other water jets coming from every which way, and you’ll be standing smack-dab in the middle of a virtual tropical storm. Using special Raindance AIR technology, it provides the perfect mixture of air and water that’ll supposedly get you cleaner than clean. Maybe it'll even relax you enough to prevent a heart attack when you see your water bill.

Lacava Embrace
This is a faucet? Your guests will stand there, jaws agape, asking not only how to get water flowing from this polished chrome sculpture, but also wondering what demons possessed the otherworldly designer who conceived such a thing. Part of the Lacava Embrace series, this $690 faucet is the most outlandish component of the bunch.

Toto Neorest Air Bath
If bathing is an art, you can create a masterpiece simply by lying in the Toto Neorest Air Bath. Its flume waterfall cleanses while you control the water temperature, depth and flow speed with its LCD touchpanel. Built for two, it’ll gently cascade warm water onto both occupants' shoulders while they sit across from each other, smirking at their decadence.

Mastella Vov Bathtub
This one will practically take you back to the womb. The Mastella Vov Bathtub’s egg shape might remind you of your origins as you lie back, admiring the sparkling silver chains hanging from a ring above. The floor-mounted water filler adds to the weird illusion, as well as your choice of easter-egg colors adorning the tub’s interior.

Toto Washlet S400
Add this $1,400 Toto Washlet S400 toilet seat to your existing potty, and you get a carwash for your butt. When it's time for cleanup, a tiny spraying wand sneaks out to rinse your nether regions with soothing warm water, and then a blow dryer completes the task. Control that and a lot more with its wall-mounted remote, and it opens and closes the seat automagically for you, too.

Touch360 Ripple Faucet
This Touch360 Ripple faucet is not just a plumbing fixture, it’s “a new way to interact with water.” It's called Touch360 because water gushes out in a circular fashion, converging at an apex before flowing into your awaiting hands. You control the temperature and flow with a small metal ball, with LEDs lighting its translucent surface, color-coordinated with the temperature of the water.

Kohler C3-200 Toilet Seat with Bidet Functionality
Kohler answers Toto’s washlet juggernaut with the C3-200, a bidet seat of its own, offering similar functionality at nearly half the price (find it online for $845). This one gives you a warm wash and dry, deodorizing all the while. There are even LED landing lights for those late-night pit stops. We’ve installed one of these in our Midwest Test Facility, so stay tuned for our hands-on (butts-on?) review.

Wet X-Light Surround Sink
The X-Light Surround sink is a whole lot more than a plumbing fixture. Yes, it’s a speaker, and it’s iPod-friendly, too. Plug in that music player and you’ll be splish splashin’ your way to well-scrubbed bliss. Or something. Wonder if it sounds different when you fill it up with water...?

Aperture Shower Head
The Aperture Shower Head is a design concept whose main idea is to show you how much water you’re wasting in hopes of getting you out of that shower as soon as possible. Using the force of the water to generate its own hydroelectric power, its LEDs pour on the guilt as you get clean. If it can deliver a powerful-enough stream, it might be worth the worry.