Last time, together with Barovier & Toso, a Venetian crystal lighting brand, we harvested the glittering stars in the warmth of our homes, and this time, we will explore a more low-key and invisible element of nature - water. When it comes to the relationship between water, space and architecture, perhaps no one understands it better than Agape, an Italian bathroom home decor brand that embodies the elegant living.
Gaston Bachelard (renowned French philosopher of science in the 20th century）writes in Water and Dreams "It is the water that holds us, rocks us, and sends us to dreamland." And in Faust (famous poetic play by the German writer Goethe), the last scene contains the line "I have a wish - my soul, become a small drop of water, merge into the sea and dissolve forever." As a natural element, water carries countless dreams and spiritual images.
In traditional Chinese culture, "water is good at benefiting all things but does not compete, and places itself where people are reluctant to go, so it is the Tao." (Laotzu's Tao Te Ching), which states that the highest character is like water, nurturing all things but not competing for fame and profit. Here Laotzu explains how the saints embody the Tao with the charateristics of water.
Agape blends the Western imagery of water with the Eastern philosophy of "the still water flows deep and does not compete for fame" (ancient Chinese saying), and with Agape's unique language of water and architecture, one is drawn into the charm of this space. When we step into Agape's bathroom, an intimate space composed of water, objects and architecture, a different kind of theater opens up as the water vapor mists the mirrors and glass of the bathroom.
Founded in Verona, Italy in 1973 and then moved to Mantova, Agape has gone through nearly 50 years of evolution of design culture, architecture, technology and lifestyle, creating its own interpretation of one of the most important spaces in the household: the bathroom. Agape sees the bathroom as the center of family life, giving people profound tactile and emotional experiences every day.
The two founders, Giampaolo and Emanuele Benedini brothers, were both architects, which gives Agape an architect's core. Agape collaborates with architects and designers, and within their hands, objects become an inseparable part of the architecture. It is crucial for the bathroom space, because it is here that we have the most intimate contact with the architecture.
Like water that lives in harmony with everything, Agape's works are not meant to be isolated objects. They often emerge from specific architectural needs, able to establish a close relationship with the spaces that embrace them and become elements of a subtle and vast architectural vocabulary.
In the book From Spoon to City written in the 1950s by Ernesto Rogers (a crucial modernist architect, critic and publisher of the second half of the 20th century, a founding member of the BBPR architectural studio in Milan), the contemporary design essence was accurately described as such: "From the smallest spoon to the largest city, all should be designed." This has been the mantra for Italian architects. It also has a deep influence on the two founders of Agape. From small to big, from the spoon to the city, every tiny bit is the representation of creativity.
Agape has worked with dozens of architects and designers from around the world, including Angelo Mangiarotti, Enzo Mari, Marcio Kogan, Neri&Hu, Patricia Urquiola, Konstantin Grcic, Gwenael Nicolas and many more, and the discerning Agape has been working with many of these renowned designers even before they became masters.
Like invisible water molecules, good design values permeate our daily life and forever change the way we think about bathrooms today: designers break the shackles of thinking, the boundaries of object categories are blurred and subverted, conventional and new materials are given unexpected functions... At the same time, good design is also like water that merges everything: with so many different designers involved, it does not diminish Agape's timeless beauty and elegance.
When it comes to bathroom architecture, we need timeless solutions for timeless needs. Agape's projects and products do not follow the trends of the times, but offer solutions that will stand the test of time, thanks to top-notch materials, continuous architectural and material research and adherence to great design principles.
As the old saying goes - the quiet water flows deep, for centuries, a small family business like Agape has been shaping a style that lasts and changing people's lives with its unique essene, thanks to its exclusive craftsmanship, industrial precision and sincere heart.
Agape is synonymous with the unhurried Italian elegance of living, or more precisely, the ease, spontaneity and inclusiveness that comes from Mantova. Without Mantova, Agape would not be Agape. Although the brand has been international, it still deeply loves the land that nourishes it.
The company's riverside headquarters is located between the Po and Mincio rivers, near the Renaissance Mantova. It is famous for its Renaissance architectural and artistic heritage, and the architectural culture has long been integrated into the daily life here.
As a city between the three Italian regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, its special location allows it to perfectly blend the characteristics of all three regions. The Lombardy region, with Milan as its local capital, is a center of fashion and design, the Veneto region has a long industrial history, and Emilia-Romagna has a delightful pursuit of life with its love for food and passion for speed.
Agape, like the land, is a blend of many things - nature and joy of living, culture and tradition, high technology and sophisticated craftsmanship, creativity and lateral thinking. This leads us to believe that everything Agape does must carry some ineffable wisdom of life, just like the flowing rivers of Mantova.
Water can be like a hundred rivers entering the sea, or like a flowing thin stream, but despite its form, the eternal beauty and understated elegance comes from the continuity composed by its countless water molecules, just as Agape's elegance comes from the continuity of its countless exquisite details. With a culture of design, imagination and intuition, Agape re-explores the relationship between objects and architecture, gives us a new thinking perspective to the bathroom and brings us flowing and rich sensory and emotional experiences.
Today we live in highly formatted buildings with limited and deliberate contact with nature, while more home decor designers are incorporating natural elements into our dwellings in unexpected ways, making the design go far beyond aesthetics and decoration to carry people's endless dreams and reveries. The talent of designers is not only limited to the large pieces of furniture placed in the home, but in a 360-degree way to look at all the aspects of the entire space. In the next article, let's take a look at how home decor designers build the relationship between carpet, wallpaper and space, adding more gentle vitality to the urban home.
Organizer: JP Concept China
Image copyright: Agape