One Home, Three Bathrooms, Each with an Awesome Way to Use Tile

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By William Harrison / Published by Dwell
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A Vancouver architect collaborates with a team of artisans on a trio of bathrooms in his home.

Though architect Clinton Cuddington was expectedly meticulous when designing a home for his family of four in Vancouver, British Columbia, he was careful to leave select interior elements open for collaboration. "My approach was to create a test-bed for explorations based in local craft," he says. This tactic—with Cuddington as the overseer to a team of talented artisans—is especially apparent in three bathrooms spread across as many levels.

Husband-and-wife ceramic artists, Dear Human, baked x-shaped decals into store-bought Olympia Tile before arranging them in the kids’ bathroom. The tub is by Bette and the sink, set in a Corian countertop, is by Duravit.

Husband-and-wife ceramic artists, Dear Human, baked x-shaped decals into store-bought Olympia Tile before arranging them in the kids’ bathroom. The tub is by Bette and the sink, set in a Corian countertop, is by Duravit.

For each space, Cuddington worked closely with Jasna Sokolovic and Noel O’Connell, ceramic artists who run the studio Dear Human. In the upstairs bathroom, designed for Cuddington’s teenage children, Sokolovic and O’Connell took basic, off-the-shelf square tiles and added x-shaped decals in a range of tones. The duo then laid out the tiles in a manner that evokes Hungarian needlepoint, a nod to the ancestry of Cuddington’s wife. While the arrangement suggests a stylized rose, its gestural quality also permits abstract interpretation. 

The master bathroom’s Aquabrass tub is next to a window lined by fumed oak millwork framing a tethered red balloon, displayed for levity.

The master bathroom’s Aquabrass tub is next to a window lined by fumed oak millwork framing a tethered red balloon, displayed for levity.

Two additional bathrooms on the lower levels feature hexagonal tiles designed by Dear Human. For the master bath, located in the basement, Cuddington constructed an exterior retaining wall topped with stainless-steel netting and columns of bamboo that filter sunlight into the low-lying space while maintaining privacy. The first-floor powder room has a concrete floor that, like the others, is softened by natural light. 

A sculptural freestanding washbasin by Gessi is found in the first-floor powder room. The hex tiles are courtesy of Dear Human.

A sculptural freestanding washbasin by Gessi is found in the first-floor powder room. The hex tiles are courtesy of Dear Human.

In using mostly affordable fixtures, Cuddington was able to emphasize something he often tells clients: a successful project doesn’t necessarily need an elevated budget to achieve an air of exclusivity. Well-considered yet flexible collaboration is often far more valuable. "This strategy needs to have an open-endedness to it," Cuddington notes. "You don’t get great art if you micromanage."