Barcelona – Tick. Tick. Tick. That’s the sound of Tik-Tap, the design that won jumpthegap®’s special We Are Water Foundation Prize, an entry by South Koreans Soyeon Lee and Hyemin Min. To raise awareness of the acute water shortage in developing countries, the designers chose a simple, powerful solution in which storytelling plays a key role for the Roca International Design Contest.
A timer on a shower head brings the daily reality of having to walk for miles to find water to the affluent world of our Western bathroom. The story is communicated by Golombo, a little boy in a developing African country whose pencil-drawn shape literally walks around the shower head as the timer counts down. Lee agrees that Golombo makes turning off the hot shower a lot more rewarding and says she takes shorter showers since she came up with the idea for the design. In Lee’s case, the ticking is temporarily provided by an egg timer she’s been using in her own bathroom. Lee and Min, students at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, came up with the idea while they were brainstorming in one of their kitchens: the flashing oven timer made them aware of the direct emotional impact of observing the progression of time.
No futuristic ingenuity, but a smart solution to a concrete problem. Exactly why Roca created jumpthegap®. This biennial design competition, which takes place in collaboration with the Barcelona Design Centre (Barcelona Centre de Disseny (BCD)), focuses on the future of, evidently, bathroom spaces. Its goal? To promote the industry by unleashing a new generation of free-spirited designers upon everything in and around the bathroom. It’s all about thinking beyond the obvious and taking a fresh look at existing interior solutions and bathroom rituals, about taking an out-of-the-box approach to long-standing issues.
The three categories, Professional, Student and the special We Are Water Foundation Prize, centre on design as a lever for sustainable development in the economic, social and cultural domains. Final entries ranged from a public urinal to a futuristic shower faucet in which showering itself, collectively, generates energy. Ecociety is another finalist with a strong social component; Bath-Theatre was conceived with an eye to the wellbeing of others as well. In the latter case, that of homeless people who still get to shower regularly thanks to this car-mounted bathroom.
Anyone who manages to reduce the essentials to a powerful, simple message or experience has succeeded
‘Ultimately, it’s a competition that tries to propose conceptual solutions for the bathroom of the future,’ says Roca brand communication director and We Are Water Foundation director Xavier Torras. Torras looks back approvingly over the second edition of ‘his’ award, created to give sustainable design an extra impetus. ‘You can see that this year, designers in all categories have given thought to the reduction of water consumption. It’s a complex domain, with complicated issues. Anyone who manages to reduce the essentials to a powerful, simple message or experience has succeeded.’