Modenus’ friend and regular guest contributor, journalist and social media consultant Saxon Henry visited the grand opening of INAX USA’s Manhattan Gallery last week.
The caveat “opposites attract” has been around a while where relationships are concerned—who amongst us hasn’t heard it when a courtship goes south? It’s the rare instance, however, when the the sage ism applies to design elements from a singular manufacturer. I walked into the showroom debut of INAX in Manhattan last week expecting to find lots of sleek white bowls of varying shapes and forms, and there were those aplenty—toilets, sinks and tubs in the round, the square and the beautifully fluted rectangular. But there was also a surprising textural playfulness going on within the long space that was an unexpected pleasure. It was the intermingling of bathroom fixtures with some of the most fabulous tile I’ve seen since covering Cersaie in Italy two years ago.
Serving as a backdrop for INAX’s collection of eco-friendly bathroom fixtures was the company’s ceramic tiles. There’s even an iconic American connection, as the production facility used to create the chic geometric offerings originally produced the tiles for the walls and floors of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in 1924. That was when the company, originally known expressly for those terracotta tiles, was born; it has since expanded into ceramic tiles and sanitary ware.
Sentousai, a long thin set of tiles set in varying depths to form a striated wall surface that emulates a modern version of stacked stone, was one of my favorites for its elemental beauty. Dent Cube blew me away in its geometric astuteness and its ability to create playful patterns. An even edgier rendition of this line was Lascaux, which not only intermingles solid tiles and those with cut-out centers but has angular placements that make a wall look as if it’s in the process of reinventing itself by shifting and morphing one square at a time.
The Dover sink was my absolute favorite fixture in the showroom—everything you’d want a Japanese design to be with its quiet elegance and simplicity. The Regio toilet held a starring role during the evening with its self-raising and lowering lid. It’s sleeker sister, the Satis, could be described as the Ferrari to the Regio’s Mercedes when viewed from the side. I couldn’t help the comparison given the room was filled with kinetic energy—a comment pertaining to the teeming crowd as much as the high-performance products.