Roberto Palomba and Ludovica Serafini are taking Ideal Standard back to its roots: through design

The story of the body and its care within the home is a simple but at the same time very complicated story. To retrace it, Roberto Palomba (who with his studio ps+a Palomba Serafini Associati is the art director of Ideal Standard), immersed himself in the work of the great masters such as Gio Ponti and Achille Castiglioni, who designed the first bathrooms when in Italy there were very few of them at home. How? Simply – so to speak – by redesigning their work. The result is Type-Z and Linda X, contemporary tributes to two author archetypes. From which they stand out in a decisive way: the materials and industrial processes have changed, so have the architectures. But above all we have changed, as we have a different idea of the bathroom. This is why this chat seems a bit like an excursus into Italian social culture as well as a design lesson...

How have we changed since 1948, when Gio Ponti designed Zeta?

When Gio Ponti designed the Zeta line, Italy was becoming urban. It was the postwar period, less than 50% of the houses had an indoor bathroom. Ponti does a job that did not have a name at the time: he is the art director of a company that set itself the task of industrially producing bathrooms for an Italy that was reborn at that time. Achille Castiglioni, a few years later, observes how the body moves and draws Linda, another revolutionary series, which suggests a ritual use of the bathroom. He recognizes the part of well-being, the body that approaches, the movement of the hands, redefines a role and gives it a role.

In the work of Ponti and Castiglioni there is the search for the ideal standard, for an industrial project that leads to an inclusive product, suitable for everyone.

Why go back to working on these now “ancient” series?

When Ideal Standard asked us for a new product, I proposed to CEO Torsten Tuerling something that he probably already had in mind: to go back to thinking with design. Over the years the company has focused on industrial evolution. He has achieved incredible manufacturing competence. Now she needs cultural direction. Ideal standard has in its history the eternal values of design. Going back to those values requires a reflection on the origins.

The Atelier collection stems from the desire to act on the models and enhance them in an original project, whose value is declared and chosen, is intrinsic to the product. It was an archaeological work: I found the definitive drawings for the production, the various technical evolutions, in a forgotten archive.

Shall we rebuild the design story of the Linda X collection?

Linda is a wonderful object, which has not experienced obvious obsolescence. But there are some elements that had to be recounted. Linda X attributes an aesthetic value to the material. Diamatec has extraordinary expressive abilities, allows for minimum thicknesses and single-wall processing. It is light, sustainable, 40% less is used and the production cycles are more ecological and economical. There is a significant impact on an industrial product.

We have designed a step that allows you to place the product on small surfaces. Linda X is a bathroom for real homes, as is in the strings of Ideal Standard: in terms of proportion and visual impact it is completely different from its predecessor.

These are the typological innovations, alongside the loving quotes of Castiglioni's work. We can't start from scratch, it wouldn't make sense. We are reconstructing the path to prepare the reissue of the original Linda. I want it to be recognized, to make the heart explode. I loved Achille disproportionately and I want the reissue to celebrate him. For this reason I am doing slow reasoning, on the details, so that there is a strong cultural basis to give the right space and the right attention to the cultural heritage of the brand.